Guitarists love to hear other guitarists talk about their craft. Jas Olbrecht, former editor of Guitar Player magazine, has had the honor of speaking with some of the most famous guitarists in history from diverse genres, and a number of those interviews are collected in the volume Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. From the blues guitar of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown to the rockabilly stylings of Ricky Nelson, the philosophy of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia to the two-handed tapping of Eddie Van Halen, Talking Guitar has a little bit for everyone.
The Van Halen interview is especially interesting as it was an unscheduled sit-down with the up-and-coming guitarist after Olbrecht was blown off by Pat Travers. After playing a game of one-on-one basketball and explaining his predicament, Van Halen said, “Why don’t you interview me? Nobody has ever wanted to interview me?” He introduced himself, Olbrecht started recording, and Eddie Van Halen’s “first major interview” was underway.
Johnny Winter went on record about open tuning and slide technique, Carlos Santana speaks to the importance of tone and emotion, while Tom Petty talks about understanding rhythm guitar and how important Mike Campbell’s lead work was so important in Petty’s success. Talking Guitar also features interviews with Nick Lucas, Ry Cooder, Barney Kessel, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Carol Kaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Gurley, Gregg Allman, Neil Young, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and Ben Harper.
Also included is an audio CD that includes excerpts of the interviews, including Eddie Van Halen explaining how “Eruption” ended up on the debut Van Halen record, and James Gurley explaining how John Coltrane influenced psychedelic guitar.
Talking Guitar is a fascinating collection of interviews, highly recommended for aspiring rock stars.
B.B. King’s Lucille. Eric Clapton’s Blackie. Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat. Keith Richards’ Micawber. Over time, guitar legends become so connected with their instruments, that it is difficult to think of one without the other. It seems strange to imagine Slash playing anything but a Les Paul, or Yngwie Malmsteen with something other than a Stratocaster (and a vintage white one, at that). In Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition, Dave Hunter explains how these musicians became so connected to their instruments of choice, often revealing how such instruments were acquired and why the artists chose them.
This book covers a variety of genres, from classic rock (Duane Allman, Clapton, Richards) to blues (King, Stevie Ray Vaughan), alternative (J Mascis, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo) to punk (Joe Strummer, Steve Jones) to country (Waylon Jennings, Brad Paisley). You will read about Reverend Horton Heat, Ike Turner, Nels Cline, and even see a picture of Billy Gibbons sans beard. One of the best entries describes Randy Bachman’s work on a 1959 Fender Stratocaster he named “The Legend.” The leader of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive changed nearly everything he could change on “The Legend,” which was stolen years ago. Bachman said, “It would be the thrill of a lifetime to get he guitar back, but it was just a wreck, so unless someone knows what it is…But what a sound and monster it was.”
A fantastic collection of stories and photographs, Ultimate Star Guitars: Expanded Edition shows that music history is not made with pristine instruments designed to be on display in glass cases, but with beat-up, modified, and often underappreciated models.
The Fender Stratocaster Handbook, 2nd Edition
by Paul Balmer
Voyageur Press, 2012
Whether you are looking to purchase a new or vintage Fender Stratocaster, or fix up that Squier axe you picked up at the pawn shop, this is the place to start. Author Paul Balmer breaks down the guitar, explaining each part and its importance to the integrity of the Stratocaster model. The subjects of adjusting the bridge and neck, aligning the tremolo, and replacing parts are all covered in this handy guide. Balmer examines several different types of Fender Stratocasters, from those made in Japan and China to the ones crafted here in the United States. He wraps up this useful book with a brief look at some of the most famous Strat players in history, from Buddy Holly to Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix and back to Clapton again.
If you’re interested in the Strat, you’ll be interested in this book.
The answer, of course, is, “No.”
This is the awesomest thing in the world.
This guy has talent and presence! Watch his face (if you can keep your eyes off his fingers). If nothing else, fast forward to about 3:45 and watch for about 10 or 15 seconds. I couldn’t stop laughing! Hope this kid keeps it up!
Some say that Randy Rhoads would have left Ozzy Osbourne’s band to focus on classical guitar had he not died in the early 1980s. While I would have missed his hard rock stylings (and do miss them greatly…Zakk Wylde is great, but he’s no Randy Rhoads), I’m sure he would have been very successful in the classical genre as well.
I found this cool video of some dude playing “Fur Elise” on YouTube this morning. I could probably play about 10 seconds of the song, but this guy goes a full 3:20 and does a great job with it. Check it out.
I’ve heard some electric versions of the song also, but they are just not as pleasing to my ears.