Search

Alex Creese

Guitarist | Guitar Tutor | Occasional Blogger

Amps? Shmamps!

Recorded straight into Logic, with nothing else added. First impressions? Impressed!

I don’t really follow many of the technological developments regarding amps.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m an amp luddite, but it’s pretty hard to argue against a good valve amp… or even an average valve amp.  That is until the (quite recent) advent of Fractal’s AXFX, which I started to hear about around 2012; and the Kemper profiling amp, which over the last two years all my friends have been buying and raving about!

I’ve always felt (and still do) like as long as I have a decent guitar plugged into a decent amp I can cover all bases (with the addition of a few good pedals, natch). However, a few months back I got to use a Kemper on a panto gig and it was a real eye opener!  Not only did it sound every bit as good as a “real” amp but it sounded every bit as good as about 30 different amps…. AND was incredibly easy to use – a patch programmed specifically for each number in the show.  I was converted.

Problem is, that combination of high quality sounds and convenience rarely comes cheap.  So, I was very excited to learn about the Atomic AmpliFIRE, which is works very much like AXFX/Kemper but at a quarter of the price.  It’s actually like a grown-up version of the old Line-6 kidney shaped POD, which itself was a bit of a game changer back in the day.   So I got one!  Only had it a few days but it’s really easy to use and I’m really impressed with the results.  I still have lots of experimenting to do, but like a good amp it sounds great from the off – Now it’s just about the tweaking!  More to follow…

Advertisements

Introducing FRiSK

Who?!

Recently some friends and I formed a new party/events band, we called it FRiSK.  www.friskband.com

What?!

A stripped down acoustic/festival type band.  A line up of male and female vocals (doubling on sax and flute) backed by guitar, double bass and cajon.  We play all the best tunes, and none of the rubbish ones.

When?!

If you book us, we will come.

Where?!

www.friskband.com or our Last Minute Musicians page.

Why?!

God knows.  You’d think we’d know better by now.

Gypsy Rhythm Lesson AC02

Here’s a follow up to the first video on this (huge) topic.   This time we’re putting the chord on all four beats and adding the upstrokes,  which should be kept light and late.  Robin Nolan has referred to this approach as the “Dutch School” and you can hear it on most recordings featuring the Rosenbergs, for example.   I really like this sound,  it’s hard to execute at high tempos but if you get it right it has a great feel!

 

Here’s the TAB: AC02 and here’s a link to Robin Nolan’s video which is well worth a look.

 

 

Gypsy Rhythm Lesson AC01

The first instalment features a simple rhythm study which will help you grasp the basic idea of the “La Pompe”  feel.  Traditionally Gypsy jazz ensembles don’t have a percussionist, so that role is taken on by the rhythm guitarist(s) who really have to drive the ensemble.  It’s all about being consistent.  The main thing is getting used to putting the chord on beats 1 and 3, and the dead notes on 2 and 4 – which seems odd at first, but think of those dead notes as a snare drum or peddled hi-hat and it should make sense.  Consider this as the foundation of Gypsy style rhythm playing, there are lots of variations other complexities . Just go and listen to the greats – Django, anybody called Rosenberg, Bireli Lagrene… the list goes on.

The TAB is here:  AC01

Tim Robinson, who is something of an authority on the UK scene (more so than me anyway!) made an excellent short video that I also found very useful a while ago.  If you’re interested in a  second opinion, you can see it by clicking here.

JWC Modele Jazz in pictures.

Boring New Guitar Post

So here’s my first blog post on my new website.  Other new things include a second baby (guitar), and a second actual baby.  I’ll limit myself to talking about the former. Four or five years ago I started to get into playing Gypsy jazz through a good friend, one thing lead to another and I bought a Gitane D500.  It features on Musicradar’s 50 Guitars to Play Before You Die – they refer to it as a “credible starter with a unique sound and feel.”  I completely agree, It’s a great guitar for the money (£600ish) and although not without it’s limitations (most noticeably the lack of volume in an ensemble setting) I can’t recommend it enough for any serious Gypsy beginner.  Here’s Djangobooks founder Michael Horowitz’s review, which is well worth a look:

You can hear mine by clicking here and listening to the first tune on the page. After a few years  I started to feel like I had outgrown the D500, but not in a snobbish way. When I started with it the greater number of limitations were in my playing rather than in the guitars construction, so naturally after a period of time addressing these limitations the balance tipped and so the limitations of the guitar became more apparent.  I’m sure this happens to everybody. So, I upgraded!  Interestingly the next step up from the D500, would probably be something like the D255, or the D250M or maybe one of the signature models – all would set me back about £1000, give or take.  I spent a year looking at options, I’m not normally so conscientious, it’s just that none of the afore mentioned guitars I played seemed significantly better than my D500…. though I did play a 2nd hand Del Arte Pigalle which was very good, but somebody beat me to it.  In the end, I decided if I was spending around the £1000-£1500 mark, I’d get the best value if I went bespoke.  I found JWC guitars, who have a few notable endorsees and who’s prices start at the very reasonable £995.00 (including a Hiscox case).  I made enquiries and the guys actually brought some samples to my house, when they were passing through a few weeks later.  Anyway, I placed my order and three months later here it is, my JWC Modele Jazz!

Under Construction
Under Construction
Finished
Finished

Worth very penny, and a really fantastic sounding guitar that I can continue to grow with!  I would insist that anybody looking for “the next move up” from an off the shelf Selmer style guitar pay a visit to JWC Guitars,  excellent value and beautifully made.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑