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# Tuning Up: 2 + 2 = 5 (or “The Formula to Avoid Being Formulaic”)

### PG’s chief editor theorizes a wacky equation that puts a happy face on Orwell’s math.

The messed-up math from George Orwell’s 1984 (“2 + 2 = 5”) is pretty much never brought into a conversation to describe a positive situation. Used specifically or generally, it’s shorthand for calling out a cover-up of some sort of gross malfeasance. But as big a fan as I am of Orwell’s depressing dystopic masterpiece, I’m going to turn this equation’s frowny face upside down for a change.

I’m no numbers brainiac (I nearly sliced my wrists when I ended up in a calculus course for a couple of weeks because a college counselor mistakenly said it was required for my degree), but when it comes to music—or any of the arts—I actually think Orwell’s totalitarian math is the magic equation that should rule our creative lives.

Exactly what the hell am I on about? Here’s my theory: If you want your songs (or screenplay or sculptures or whatever) to be remotely compelling—for you and your audience—you gotta use Big Brother math. In other words, unless you’re okay with either accidentally or purposely replicating everything that’s come before, make sure your music adds a couple of out-there, WTF elements to a couple of familiars in order to end up with something that’s more than the sum of its parts. The equation is probably better expressed in remedial algebraic form:

The specific WTFs and familiars are up to you, of course—that’s the fun of it all! A fraction of the musical elements you can mix and match are below:

• Tone: Classic or wacko? Wild or comatose? Gurgling or screeching? Clear or garbled?
• Arrangement: ABABCAB vs. AABCDAAB vs. ABCDEAAA or….
• Time signatures: Nothing grooves like 4/4, but nothing slaps people awake like an odd meter.
• Melody: Simple, catchy, and repetitive? Endlessly epic? Nonexistent?
• Feel: Loose or lockstep? Swinging or syncopated?
• Rhythm: Rollicking? Stuttering? Relentlessly punishing? A barely detectable heartbeat?
• Mood: Elated? Doldrums? Furious? Pensive? Reverent?
• Dynamics: Blaring or barely audible? Blaring, then medium, then blaring, then barely audible? Steady as she goes?
• Instrumentation: Power trio, me and my voice, or pots-and-pans percussion plus guitar, a toy piano, and sampled swamp noise?
• Technique: Busy or restrained? Complicated or boneheaded?
• Key: Ride a single one the whole way through? Change for the bridge—or for each section?
• Chords: Cowboy or finger-mangling custom grips?
• Scales: Butt-simple pentatonics? The more adventurous choices among the seven standard modes? Chromatic? Exotic? Atonal?
• Subject matter: Feel-good lyrics about the love of your life? Sociopolitical screed? Who-cares party anthem?
• Vocal delivery: Breathless? Erotic? Anthemic? Demonic?
• ????: ???? vs. ????

Obviously pretty much every song has most of the factors listed above, not just four of them. So Big Brother math is more of a mnemonic device, I guess. Just keep in mind that the magic happens because of the ratio of comfortable familiarity to intriguing newness. Too many WTFs, and you overwhelm your listeners—though I’d argue that’s often better than nonstop predictability. Sometimes it’s a draw, though. I mean, I really couldn’t tell you which terrifies me more—the thought of enduring a black-metal/folk opus spoken in Tolkien’s Elvish tongue, or a yet another twangy bullshit ode to loyal mutts, pickup trucks, dirt roads, Budweiser, and chicks in cutoffs.

## Guitar Center Presents: Holiday Gift Guide

Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.

### Les Paul Desert Burst Satin

Gibson
\$2,399.00
<p>The newest addition to Gibson’s Traditional series, the Trad Pro V electric shares the same DNA as a Les Paul—mahogany body and neck, carved maple top—but adds modern advancements. It’s super comfortable thanks to its weight-relieved body, and it feels awesome in your left hand with its asymmetrical neck shape. Playability is paramount: the compound radius rosewood fretboard makes it easy to bend strings cleanly high on the neck. You'll hear the difference, too: With its dual Tradbucker pickups and advanced electronics – allowing coil splitting and tapping – this versatile tone machine can handle almost any musical style. If you’re looking for a guitar that combines the best elements of classic Gibson mojo and modern features, you’ll find it here.</p>

### Spark MINI

Positive Grid
\$229
<p>It might be tiny, but Positive Grid’s Spark MINI delivers a huge quantity of tones…and fun. This 10-watt practice amp sounds great with electric, acoustic and bass. It’s battery-powered and easily recharged via USB, and is barely larger than the palm of your hand. It contains four onboard guitar tones (Custom, Solo, Lead, Rhythm) and access to 33 amps and 43 effects via the free Spark app. The app also offers educational and play-along tools, and makes it simple to post your performances to social media. It’s rare to find a product that has so many potential uses: sidewalk busking, songwriting, practicing, home recording and more. No matter what style you play or your level of experience, you’ll find a lot to like in this amp.</p>

### GAMMA 50w

GAMMA
\$199 \$169
<p>Looking for a flexible amp that’s equally at home for practice, rehearsal, or live gigs? Check out the GAMMA G50 and take advantage of its special holiday pricing. This 50-watt, dual-channel 1x12 combo amp delivers all-analog tone in a lightweight package – a perfect grab-and-go companion. It’s loaded with features like Bluetooth connectivity and multiple amp voices, so it can cover any music style or genre. With its premium quality True Blue High Headroom speakers, the GAMMA G50 also provides clear, punchy clean tones, making it a great choice as a pedal platform too. If you’re in the hunt for a portable, powerful and affordable amp this holiday season, be sure to include the GAMMA G50 on your wishlist.</p>

### Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand Tweed

Fender
\$279
<p>Here’s a guitar stand that’s as eye-grabbing as the instruments it’s holding! The Fender Classic Series 5 Guitar Case Stand boasts a classic vibe, from its tweed exterior to its rich red plush lining. And it’s great for gigging. The Classic Series 5 looks like a traditional case, but easily turns into a roadworthy, super stable guitar stand. Rugged features include a 3-ply hardshell wooden case, vinyl-wrapped steel carry handle and steel latches. The interior plush lining ensures that your guitars are protected from scratches and dents. If you want a great-looking way to display your guitars at home, or if you’re looking for a backstage/onstage solution to safely hold multiple guitars, here’s a handsome option.</p>

### Fender Holiday Guitar Cable Keychain

Fender
\$4.99
Here’s the perfect stocking stuffer for every guitarist and bassist: grab a bunch of these Fender Pluginz Guitar Plug Keychains and spread the holiday cheer with your friends and fellow musicians. This cool keychain features a genuine Fender guitar plug. If you already have a Pluginz Jack Rack key holder, this will fit right in. By the way, you can also use these as tree ornaments if you’re looking to add a dash of rock ‘n’ roll to your holiday spirit.

### Fender Limited Edition Holiday Sweater

Fender
\$49.99
It’s an annual tradition: each year the folks at Fender reveal their newest limited edition holiday sweater, and it’s a smash hit. This year’s model is particularly sharp looking: black sleeves emblazoned with the famed Fender logo, and a torso adorned by red, white and green seasonal graphics. Don’t miss out: grab your sweater while supplies last, because this limited edition item will sell out faster than you can say “winter wonderland.”

### Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array Speaker System

Harbinger
\$799 \$599
<p>The Harbinger MLS1000 Personal Line Array offers a professional PA solution with big sound and a wonderfully compact footprint. Acoustic musicians, DJs and bands will find it a great choice when performing in small venues, coffeehouses and practice spaces. But don’t be fooled by its modest size: the MLS1000 delivers the perfect blend of mobility, robust sound and full-featured electronics. Its built-in mixer supports up to five sources at once, including Bluetooth audio. You can go from the car to the stage in a single trip, set up in two minutes and give your audience a well-balanced sound that evenly fills an entire room. Built-in reverb, chorus and 2-knob EQ per input allow an ideal mix for vocals and instruments, while a 10" subwoofer and a six-speaker vertical array cover the full frequency range with high-quality sound. Comes with a column bag and sub cover to protect the system for transport and storage, and Smart Stereo capability gives you the option to link two units for unified sound, control and signal routing. </p>

### Sterling Audio P10 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Sterling Audio
\$79.99 \$54.99
If you’re looking for an affordable microphone for acoustic guitars, amps, snare drums, and more, meet the P10. Sterling Audio’s dynamic instrument mic is an all-purpose champ, ideal for live shows, practice spaces and home recording. It complements acoustic and electric instruments alike: Its custom-tuned microphone capsule focuses on bringing your sound to front-of-house, with crafted mid-range and high-frequency detail. The cardioid polar pattern provides superior off-axis noise rejection on stage, ensuring that your instrument is heard, while an isolated custom capsule suspension system minimizes stage noise and rumble. And it’s rugged: the reinforced grille and die-cast head assembly and body are designed to survive the rigors of the road. Includes protective microphone pouch and mic stand adapter – a complete, road-ready package.

### Sterling Audio Harmony H224 USB Audio Interface

Sterling Audio
\$149.99 \$99.99
The Sterling Harmony H224 audio interface is a dynamite choice for recording in a home/project studio or mobile sound environment. Compatible with popular recording apps, it offers studio-grade circuitry and flexible monitoring, all optimized for desktop recording. With the H224 it’s easy to achieve clear, transparent sound. Its class-leading NXS mic preamps deliver less noise and a cleaner signal for all your recordings, while its front panel instrument inputs have their own optimized circuitry that makes the H224 one of the best interfaces for recording guitar or bass. The advanced flexibility of its four (4) output design allows for two separate stereo output mixes at once, so you can easily have a separate mix for performers, route tracks for re-amping or run separate A/B studio monitors or other independent audio outputs. Plus, the H224 is fully USB-powered, so you can record without a separate power supply, and the included MIDI I/O connections allow your hardware to perform as a MIDI interface too, so you can layer your projects with specialty instruments, MIDI controllers and synths alike.

Apogee
\$229.99

## Mono Releases the M80 Vertigo Ultra Case

Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.

Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.

### The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:

• Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
• Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
• Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
• Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
• Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials

Mono
\$349.99

## Gibson Unveils the Generation Collection of Acoustics

The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.

The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.

### G-Bird

The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.

### G-00

Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.

### G-45

The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.

### G-Writer

Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.

### G-200

Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.

Gibson Acoustic
\$1799.00

## Gibson Unveils New Digital Amp

Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.

The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.

Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.

The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.

The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.

The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.

As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.

Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.

### Learn Guitar With The Gibson App

The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.

The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs \$19.99/£16.49 monthly or \$119.99/£98.99 yearly.