jol dantzig

Gain is fun in all its forms, from overdrive to fuzz, but let’s talk about a great clean tone.


We’re all here for one thing. It’s the singular sound and magic of the stringed instrument called the guitar—and its various offshoots, including the bass. Okay, so maybe it’s more than one thing, but the sentiment remains. Even as I write this, my thoughts fan out and recognize how many incarnations of “guitar” there must be. It’s almost incomprehensible. Gut-string, nylon-string, steel-string, 12-string, 8-string, 10-string, flatwound, brown sound, fuzztone…. It’s almost impossible to catalog completely, so I’ll stop here and let you add your favorites. Still, there’s one thing that I keep coming back to: clean tone.

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Our columnist shares the devices and materials needed to do some of his favorite guitar maintenance tricks.

The problem with giving advice is that there are many different approaches to everything, and usually more than one "right" answer. With my five decades of taking guitars apart, and sometimes putting them back together, I take a lot of stuff for granted, and I admit that I'm still learning. But ignoring all that, I'll just forge ahead and share the inexpensive tools and materials needed to do some of my favorite little tricks.

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You don't need to become a pro to develop a thoughtful and informed approach to playing music that will enrich your life.

Being a professional musician can be a difficult path, especially if you want to play your own music. We hear about the acts that are attracting the attention of the media or are forging a following on the internet, who seem to be enjoying success. Then, there are established megastars who continue to play their catalog to adoring fans who grew up listening to their recordings. But, as we all know, one day you're hot and the next day you're not. I can't count the times someone has mentioned a performer that has "fallen to the depths" of playing county fairs or small clubs after having once ruled the stadium circuit. "Imagine," they say, "having to play (insert decades-old hit song name here) every night." Very few performers sustain financial success in popular music, and even session players have a limited shelf life as styles change. It's a young person's game, especially if you play pop music.

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