Many moons ago when I was in journalism school, I covered the local music scene for the student newspaper. Stylistically, it was a small, somewhat homogenized scene—mostly kind of
Many moons ago when I was in journalism school, I covered the local music scene for the student newspaper. Stylistically, it was a small, somewhat homogenized scene—mostly kind of tame alt-rock, with the occasional jam band or jazz outfit. Like all scenes, though, there was a great variety in the quality of music being played.
As a passionate musician, I took my job seriously—I felt I owed it to students to be frank about the performances put on by bands vying for a piece of their meager ramen-noodle budgets. The hilarious part was the reaction I got when I called out certain bands for what I felt was offensive audacity. I’m talking about the ones that seemed to think investing in POS gear and posing like a rock star— without putting much time into practicing and songwriting (or even remembering song lyrics)— made it okay to charge a fairly significant entrance fee.
The hate email I got—mostly from band members’ relatives and friends—was hysterical in its contradictory exclamations: “Who do you think you ARE?! What gives you the RIGHT to say such-and-such about so-and-so! You are [INSERT THE MOST IMMATURELY INSULTING THING THAT COMES TO MIND HERE]!”
I eventually had to write an op-ed on the subject. In a nutshell, it said, “Who do I think I am? Er, I think I’m the guy whose job is to share his opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but it’s still my job. Take it or leave it.”
This jaunt down memory lane came to mind after writing my recent review of what’s probably the most anticipated album of the millennium so far—Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth (click here to read it). I’m not in any way comparing Van Halen or their new album to the shoddy bands I reviewed in college. It’s just that the virulent response the review has gotten from some readers is similar. But I knew from the outset that I’d be playing with fire if I wrote anything other than a glowing piece, because Eddie has arguably inspired more guitarists than any other player to emerge in the last 35 years or so.
We put the review online the day the album came out, and I prepared for the crap storm. And what a storm it was! It’s gotten far more comments than any other album review we’ve ever done—and it’s in the top five for most comments on any article ever posted to our website. I’ve been pilloried left and right as everything from a bitter Van Hagar fan to an Elvis Costello wannabe to a hater of rock ’n’ roll. Frankly, some of the comments had me questioning some people’s reading comprehension levels, but in the end it all slid like water off a duck’s butt. I mean, I get it—we all have a passion for music, so it’s natural to have these vehement reactions to such a huge album.
Now that the review is also in print, I anticipate a bit of a repeat. So let me add a little context for anyone mortally offended by my lukewarm reception of the album. For the record, I started playing guitar because of Eddie Van Halen. In a third-grade careers project, I wrote that I wanted to be a rock star because of Eddie. I doodled pictures of striped electric guitars and pictures of myself with long hair and a VH-logo necklace. I took our 8-track tape of Van Halen II to friends’ houses in effort to convert them. One friend’s dad, an evangelical preacher, told me I was a big disappointment and that the music was, and I quote, “straight from the pit of hell.” My brother and I recorded the band’s live 1983 U.S. Festival appearance on cassette and listened to it over and over. The first concert I ever went to was the 1984 tour when I was 12. The whole time I sat in the nosebleed section, fantasizing about being invited onstage to jam. I stood up to endless ridicule from New Wave-loving ’80s peers for being a hardcore Van Halen fan instead of being into Erasure. When Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” came out, I stayed up late for the video debut on Friday Night Videos, crossing my fingers that Eddie would come sliding in on his knees for the solo. Because of Eddie, the first electric guitar I chose for myself was a red Kramer—the same model Floyd Rose is playing in an old ’80s ad where he’s sitting on the back of a Harley driven by Eddie himself. I went to the 5150, OU812, and Balance tours, bought T-shirts at all of them, and, as a teen, even named our dog Eddie. I had at least 10 posters of Eddie and the band on my bedroom wall, and I had my artist sister paint me a custom sweatshirt depicting Eddie onstage playing Frankenstein. The first four VH albums are some of my all-time favorites, as a reread of my review should make pretty clear. Yeah, I’m a Van Halen fan.
Some readers said my comments about rehashed, old material proved I didn’t know jack about old Van Halen, and they compared Ed & Co. to AC/DC—a band that proudly refuses to evolve. But that argument overlooks a wealth of evidence to the contrary. I don’t have room here to run down the laundry list of items I think conclusively prove evolution and progressive thinking have long been integral to what many of us love about Van Halen. But I’ve listed them in a series of four posts in the review’s comments section.
So if you feel the need to beseech the gods to rain “Blood and Fire” upon me and my house after reading the review (in which case, I would definitely want to “Stay Frosty”), by all means, click the link above to read Exhibits 1-4 in my closing argument, and then submit your opinion. Hell, we might as well do this in proper EVH fashion and cause a cyber “Eruption” of jaw-dropping proportions.
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.
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.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.