U2, the Edge, The Unforgettable Fire and Delay

Hello today another blogarticle about U2 and the Edge and the sound they discoved by using delay.
For today I mainly want to focus on the change in the U2 sound and what this meant for later albums. In the next blog I will go into detail how you can create that sound yourself and I will also go into detail about The Edge and his use of the Volume Pedal. All of that is for next blog, for today mainly a short discussion about the change in the U2 sound which happened with the album “The Unforgettable Fire”

The album “The Unforgettable Fire” came out in 1984, by that time U2 was established as a well-known name, but their status as global Rock band was still growing. There are quite a few articles on the net about U2’s albums and the Edge and his use of effects. For most of the articles I write here I use my own experience and my own views of how I see U2 and how I experience their sound and songs. It is interesting to see that a lot of critics seem to see things in a similar way when it comes to “the Unforgettable Fire”: The album can be seen as a transitional album which sits in between the earlier albums “Boy”, “October” and “War” and the next album “the Joshua Tree”.

“The Unforgettable Fire” meant a change for their sound: More and more use of digital delay where the guitars would sit in between drums and bass and form a part of the rhythm rather than being part of the main structure of the song: Usually the guitars play chords and riffs and both of these from the structure and the body of the song. Not with U2, a lot of the guitar parts they created from about 1984 onwards form little embelishing parts which add detail to the song. They can be seen as the extras, and yes, these extras are important, but they do not form the body of the song. The bass from now onwards would lay down the harmonic structure of the song where the guitars could play around with the rhythm and some effects. A lot of bands have copied this approach, not literally, but you can see where there sound comes from. I am thinking of the Killers later work and ColdPlay. In a way ColdPlay can be seen as a modern version of U2, in their global status and their changes in sound throughout the years.

Some of these changes mentioned before were brought onwards by working with producer Brian Eno, but is it fair to say that U2 wanted a change in their sound themselves around 1984. As a result  of the changes in sound, U2 would become bigger and bigger, they had created a template with the sound of delay and other atmospheric treats which they were able to adapt over time, make the U2 sound work within the framework of time and the sound of the popmusic of the day.

Fastforward to the “Joshua Tree” album and we find U2 with a more American, traditional Roots Rock sound which has more in common with Blues and Folk music rather than a British Sound. Having said that, U2 always had that Irish sound, the Folk is in their sound, regardless of how hard they Rock, a song like “New Years Day” brings this all home, no matter what the critics write about “War” being U2’s rawest Rock Album. Truth is the U2 sound is a mix of so many different musics, which is a healthy aproach to making music. The digital delay gave them a more modern element which would help them to stay at the top of their game.

“Rattle and Hum” the last album of the 1980s would see U2 once more in the field of American Roots Music. It opens with the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” played with so much passion and energy. It is really hard to see why critics disliked the album so much. It was once again U2 doing what they do regardless of all the musical trends of the time.

The 1990s would see U2 with three more albums: “Achtung Baby”, “Zooropa” and “Pop”.  “Achtung Baby” was and is still seen as the most important album of all those three. Again it meant a change in sound, more electronic–think of the dance movement of the late 80s and early 90s— but the U2 sound was still there. “Zooropa” contains more softer songs and “Pop” is more beat-based music, more produced and less of a live-rock band sound.

Let me bring you now back to the song and album which started this discussion about the change in sound and the U2 sound in general. Here is a prime example of the U2 sound, complete with delay, harmonics and volumepedal bringing in sounds which remind you more about keys from a keyboard being touched rather than strings of a guitar being strummed.

Here another one, maybe this one is clearer and more in your face with regards to the characteristic U2 sound and its use of digital delay:

Here U2 themselves talking about the album, some of the changes ect.

That is it for today folks, for next blog I want to talk your through some of the specifics of that delaysound, what kind of set-up you can use, the use of volumepedal in that set-up to create other sounds.
Not pretending to know all the effects the Edges uses to get his sound, but I do listen closely, think and experiment. I firmly believe you can get close to some of the sounds Edge uses with only a handful of effects, but that is the stuff for next blog.
Enjoy for now, and hope to catch you soon again,

The Edge and U2 articles taken from Guitar Player and Sound on Sound

Before I create the next article about more U2 songs and the use of delay have a look at these two articles here. The first one is an interview from 2000 for Guitar Player with Edge about the making of the album “How to Defuse……..”. Second article is about the recordingprocess of the last album.

Here is the first interview:
http://u2_interviews.tripod.com/id91.html  N.B The LINK DOES NOT WORK.

To read the interview go to google and seach for: INTERVIEW EDGE GUITAR PLAYER 2000
Once you have the interview up you will see the same html address. Not sure why my link here does not work. Anyway hope you can find the interview.

Second article:

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again.

The Edge and the Guitar Sounds of the first U2 Album

Today a brief article about the Edge and the sounds he made on U2’s first album “Boy” I will talk you through some of those sounds, how they are made ect. No tabs for now, maybe later as I will mainly deal with the sound of those parts.
I must be kind of crazy you may say to take on something like talking about the Edge’s guitarsound as the man uses that many guitars and effects and one can never be really sure what is going on soundwise. Just go back to the last article to see for yourself how many different guitars and effects he uses. It really is amazing.
Before I go deeper into the sounds and songs of the first album let me first make a few general comments about the Edge’s guitarplaying and the music of U2 in general.

The Edge’s guitarplaying is full of characteristics he uses regularly. To get some of these sounds you need to look at his playing, how he thinks musically. His guitarrig is not the only part where these sounds come from. A big part of the Edge’s sound comes from playing in a Trio Set-Up where Rhythm-and Solo playing are blended into each other. Think of other great Trios such as Jimi Hendrix, Andy Summers from the Police, Johnny Marr from the Smiths and you see similar features popping up: Being able to flesh out the song on the guitar in different ways: Play your chords in different places, go from  playing chords to  playing single notes without any hesitation. The sounds,which are being used by all the guitar players I mentioned above, are used mainly to enhance the song, to add character and variety to the exhisting  bandsound.

Looking at the Edge’s guitarplaying you can see riffs being used which are made up from parts of small chords instead of single notes. The chord he plays are often small, most of them are being played on the top three strings of the guitar, or the inner four strings. He does not use barrechords too often. Barre chords can make your sound muddy especially when you are using distortion. You get a cleaner bandsound  by leaving this registre of the music to be covered by the Bass guitar.
Apart from riffs made up from small chords the Edges uses a lot of harmonics. A main staple of his effects are echo and delay. Not too much delay on the first album, this would become more important from the Fourth Album “The Unforgetable Fire” onwards. I will go into detail about this in future articles about the Edge’s guitar sound. For today’s article I will focus mainly on the sound of the First Album.

The drums and the bass play a major part in U2’s sound as well: We have a drummer here who is not affraid to create his own drumparts: The drumming on some of the earlier songs sounds very fresh, very different from a standard Rock beat. Most of the Bass- and Drumparts fit around the guitarwork of the song, in this way there is space for the song to breath. On top of this we add a vocalist with a lot of charisma and strength and we have the formula for an orginal, fresh sounding band.
When U2 broke through in the early 80s they stood out, they were different, they were loved by audiences from different backgrounds, they were the band who voiced the big anti-nuclear-power demonstrations of the early 80s. Their sound would change throughout the times, but within these changes there would be particular sounds which would remain and form the consistency of the U2 sound. On top of this, the band never had a change of any of their members. They stayed together as a family and they are still there, this is another feature of their successstory.

The guitar sounds on the first album sound very brash and bright. Thinking about the Memory Man (which was the inspiration for creating these articles) a clear example of the Edge using the Memory Man is the song “A Day Without Me”. Listen to the intro and there we have the Memory Man at work used as a delay.

As the song progresses you can still hear the Memory Man in combination with an envelope filter. The whole intro comes back later in the song. Let me not go too deep into the different guitarparts but yes, you can hear several of them, all overdubbed of course. The gallopping basssound, yes that is a guitar as well and gives the song that distintive rhythmfeel, there are even some harmonics  being played at some point. You may have to listen to the song a few times to get used to hearing all these different parts. Great to reintroduce the intro again at a later point in the song. This song is on of the few where the Edge plays a longer solo than his usual chordstabbs. The sound of the solo is very bright and is mainly played on the top two strings of the guitar.

The next song is somewhat unusual in title and effect: An E-Bow. It is introduced at 0.06. To most of you readers it may sound as feedback but it is not, it is an E-bow. Later on Edge would use more of this because of his introduction to Brian Eno, who used this effect on “Heroes” of David Bowie. The effect is reintroduced (or brought up in the mix again) at different points in the song. Again it is very subtle and all makes part of the building blocks of the sound of the song.

Next song does contain some of the chorussounds (1.51) from an Electro Harmonix Clone Theory. They sound very mechanical and metallic as opposed to the smoothness of a Boss CE-1. The basssound on the intro may be a Memory Man, as it sounds more glassy and having a tad more space and wetness on it. It is overdubbed, but you can do these things live, I will explain later on in another article which will go into detail about different set-ups using the Memory Man while using an extra delay in combination with a second amp, but that is the stuff for later on, today only sounds from “Boy” as means for introduction and to open up your ears to those sounds. 

Last song for today, it is “Shadows and Tall Trees”. Again somewhat unusual for the time to record a song in this way: What we hear is an acoustic guitar being played through a Memory Man and a Clone Theory to give it more body. The sound in itself is artistic. Not many people would love to take their acoustic though any of these boxes to amplify the acoustic sound of the guitar, but Edge does not mind. Gives the guitar that metallic sound I mentioned before, but this time it comes from an acoustic. In one of the videos of the previous article you can see the Edge using an acoustic for electric sounds, the guitar does have a device which can detune the guitar automatically. Again, not many players will like this kind of thing, and Edge uses this acoustic guitar to create electric sounds! Fantastic!!

For next article I will look at more U2 songs from a later period. I will not go throuh all the albums, mainly look at echo and delay and some other issues.
I have been experimenting with my guitar set-ups to get some of these sounds. What I discovered  is in one word fantastic because I have never gone out of my way to recreated the sounds of another player. As I was doing so I got close to Andy Summers and Dave Gilmour. In a way there are similar things going on with the sounds of all these players. I will go more into detail about these set-ups in later articles, for next article it is more U2 songs and sounds.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,

U2’s Guitar Player The Edge about His Approach to Guitar Playing, Gear, Guitars and Making Music

I had not planned to do a special about U2 or the Edge, mainly mentioned him as one of the main users of the Memory Man. Originally wanted just to describe how the Edge uses his Memory Man to get some of those sounds. This was all before I started trawling YouTube…………….
I came across some videos, and there there was this documentary: “It Might Get Loud”. I remembered the name from a few years ago, there was a student who had mentioned this at some point, but I had forgotten about it, not seen it, not interested at the time, anyway.
After having found some really good videos which explain a lot about U2, the Edge, The Music and his approach to playing the guitar and making music, I felt like I should start off with this article first. It will explain a lot to readers who do not use many effects, are not that technically minded etc. What I found was not new to me. I can hear these things going on on the actual recordings. In fact I can go into some details of particular sounds which have not been featured yet in videos, but that is the material for future articles about U2 and the Edge. For today I want to put up five videos which will explain some of those U2 guitarsounds, where they come from and how they were being made.

Okay first video, where the Edge talks about his first guitar, the accident he had with it ( I love how casual he is about it, after all it is just a plank of wood and anything materially in this world can be repaired ) the different type of guitar players and more about his gear.

Part two which is about more gear

Now some snippets of the documentary “It Might Get Loud”, this part deals with some of the early years of U2

Fourth video with more about  the early years of U2, Ireland, the Edge,sounds and what playing with effects  means for your guitar playing. He says it all here, can’t say it any better.

Last video, The Edge’s guitar tech soundchecking Edge’s rig before Cardiff gig:

Next time I will go into detail about some of those early U2 songs and the Memory Man in particular and how you get close to some of those sounds yourself.
See you soon,

Electro Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe as Echo/Delay Pedal Part Two

Today the second part of the Memory Man article which will focus mainly on the function of the Echo and Delay  features of this unique pedal. I have also used the Memory Man with two different amps and one of them is shown in the image of this article. It is the amp right at the front, not the Twin which is at the back of the image.

As mentioned in the previous article, the Memory Man may be better at Echo rather than Delay because of its fairly short delaytimes. However, it is possible to modify the Delay Pot meter to “upgrade” the pedal to the delay times of, for example, a Boss DD3. This modification will make the pedal more useful and certainly more versatile.


Okay, so here we have a delaypedal, how does this one differ in sound and feel compared to any other delays and in particular any other analogue delays? Well, as mentioned before the pedal is crude and primitive, but that is part of the beauty of its sound: On short delaytimes the pedal gives a very natural echo, not too glassy. Want a more lively sound? Turn up the Feedback and Blend controls and you are there. The controls in themselves are primitive as well: With the Feedback control all the way down the pedal still gives you one repeat! Alright, some of the Boss Digital Delays do this as well you may say. True, but turn the Feedback control two quarters up and you still get only one repeat, turn it up further and then the amount of repeats will increase. The echo does remind me somewhat of a reverb on an amp. I have tried to mimick the reverb of a Fender Twin. To get this sound I placed a Boss DD2 behind the Memory Man, to brighten up the sound (Think Twin here with its bright reverb sound). In this set-up you can get close to that Twin Reverb sound, which is great. Overal the Echo of the Memory Man is very good.

   Sound Quality Repeats:

Is distorted as mentioned before, there will be a slight hiss and it does have its own sound, no matter how you put the controls, the repeat sound will be distorted. Have a listen to one of the few videos I found about this pedal. You can hear the hiss right at the beginning of the video. The video mainly demonstrates the Delay Quality of the Memory Man.

  On the repeats there will also be a ever-so-slight whistle on the repeats, not a problem, but you can hear it. Sounds like a Long Wave Radio when using the dial to find the next station. Some people will love this feature, especially when you start playing with the Delay control to get those “Out-of-this-World” sounds. Anyone who has ever used an analogue delay knows what I am talking about here! Yes the Memory Man is good at that, but it may be more the experimentalists amoung us who willl love this feature. If you are into bright pop, do not shy away, this pedal will also be for you.
Using the Squelch control will cut down the number of repeats and will also silence the whistle.
Turn up the Delay control and use a Chorus before the Memory Man and you get a sound which reminds me of a sythn sound. Have a listen to this video here. For this song a Memory Man and a Clone Theory were used. I do not know this person, but the sound is exactley the sound you get when using both pedals. From 119 onwards you can hear that synth sound I am talking about. You get this sound when you turn the Delay control at max.  The Clone Theory [A Chorus/Vibrato/Flange pedal] help to thicken up that sound even more.

  Placement in Signal Chain: 

Because the Memory Man is in your signal chain all the time I placed the pedal BEFORE a distortionpedal. Somewhat unusual you may say. Here is my reason for doing so: Putting the Memory Man before a distortion lets you control the level of the Echo, and the distortion becomes your overal signal control. Place Memory Man at end of chain and the Memory Man becomes your overal signal control, echo and direct signal will be blended. Basically having the Memory Man first creates a better mix for your overal tone.
I used several set-ups, have a look here:

Gtr—> Boss LS2—>Memory Man—>Boss SD-1—> Amp

Using two amps I connected the pedals in the following manner:

                                                Direct Out—> Amp 1 (set up for bright and clean sound)
Gtr—>Boss LS2—>Memory Man
                                                Echo   Out—> Boss SD-1—> Amp 2 (set up for a darker sound)

N.B: Notice how I use the Boss SD-1 to enhance the distorted repeats from the Memory Man.
Using the two different amps gives you the ability to control the difference between the delayed repeats and your clean direct sound even better. You can set up your amps for contrasting tones, and you can even add more pedals in between the two amps.

 Why do I use a Boss LS-2 in this set-up?

Mainly to control the overal volume: Depending on the amp, I sometimes will add more volume on the LS2 or bring it down a bit. The LS-2 in this set-up is just a luxury, and one of my own personal preferences because I do not like playing loud, it will not have any effect on the soundquality of the overal sound.

 Why use a Boss SD-1?

I have found that the SD-1 comes close to the original dirty sound of the repeats of the Memory Man. In order to stay close to that sound I used to SD-1 to enhance its overal sound a bit. Using any distortion pedal after the Memory Man  will let you customize the sound of the repeats. Cool! 

 Using Boss Digital Delays to Mimick the Repeat Sound of the Memory Man:

I could not resist trying to find a way to mimick the sound I got from the Memory Man whilst using two amps. You can use ANY of the Boss Digital Delays and a Boss SD-1 to get fairly close. Set-up your delay for Direct/Effect sound and connect similar as I did for the set-up for two amps. The big difference will be that the Boss delays will give you longer delay time, try going for just under 800 mS. for natural sounding repeats. Not too much Feedback, as the Boss delays will give you much longer Feedback. The great thing is that Effect Level will turn up the level of amp two, which is where your repeats are. Go for a contrasting sound between Amp One and Amp Two. I used a Marshall for my direct sound and a WEM for the repeats, but any amp will do, as long as you get a good contrast.
When you start playing with this set-up you will see how the Edge got his sound during the Achtung Baby period. Instead of using two amps you can use as many as you like, and put as many pedals in between both amps as you want. Just keep two things in mind: One side is for DIRECT SOUND and the other side is for EFFECTED SOUND. In a way it is very simple set-up, but for some reason not many people had used that sound before, not at least with those distinctive sounds.
More about those sounds for next blog.

Happy Playing for now.

Electro Harmonix Memory Man Deluxe (the blue, 1970s version with Squelch knob) as Pre-Amp. Part One

Hello, no blogs last week but today a new article about the Electro Harmonix Memory Man Delay/Echo pedal.
Let me explain first what you can expect for the next few articles: Today an article about the Memory Man used as preamp. The next few articles will look at the Memory Man as delaypedal. There will be an article about U2 and the Edge, who is the most well-known user of this older delaypedal. I will give you some videos of U2 songs and explain you where he uses the Memory Man and how he uses it. This is somewhat a guess, as we all know how recordings get manipulated after the recording process, but I think I can be fairly close, because I do know the sound of the pedal, and the amps the Edge used at that particular time. The top-amp in the image of today’s article comes quite close to that sound. It is a 1960s Selmer and works quite well with the Memory Man.
Furthermore there will be an article about the Clone Theory, again a Electro Harmonix pedal from the 1970s, it is the one with the chorus-vibrato/vibrato-vibrato/vibrato-flange control at the back.
Both the older Blue Memory Man and the Clone Theory are not featured heavily YouTube. There are many videos of later pedals based on these models but not many of the models I mentioned here.

Okay, quite a few articles there, let me kick off with today’s pre-amp article. I have mentioned the term pre-amp before in previous articles. It its most basic form a pre-amp is another volumestage which can put extra volume into your guitar amplifier. This extra bit of volume can create some distortion.
The Electro Harmonix Memory Man is it it’s strickest sense is a delay/echo pedal. It is a very primitive delay pedal, which may be better at echosound rather than delay, because it’s maximum delaytime is very short. However, it is very easy to modify this pedal to get delaytimes as almost as long as a Boss DD3, but later on more about the delay function of this pedal. I will create another article which will deal with this function.
The uniqueness of the Memory Man lies in the fact that the level control, controls the overal tone and level of your guitarsignal. In other words, the levelcontrol on the delay will work as a master volume for your guitarsignal. Put the level at max and your guitarsignal will be boosted. 

    Controls on the Memory Man :

The Memory Man does have the controls you would expect from any standard delaypedal: Level which controls your overal guitarsignal. Blend- to get a mix of your direct- and effected level-, Feedback, which controls the amount of repeats you get from the delaysound. Delay, which controls the time of the delayed sound. There is an output for Echo and for Direct Sound, which is useful if you are using two amps. What is not usual is the Squelch control at the backside of the pedal. This control works as a filter, when engaged it cuts down on noise and the number of repeats. When using the pedal as pre-amp you want the squelch control to be off, as it gives you a somewhat hotter signal. Furthermore, there is a footswitch to switch the effect on or off. The pedal does have its own build-in transformer which operates on mains, which means you do not need an external powersupply, just put the powerplug into the mains and you are in business. The pedal is switched on by a small switch which is connected to an LED to let you know pedal is on or off.  Use the footswitch to put the EFFECT into your signalchain.

As mentioned before the Memory Man acts as a very primitive delaypedal: The controls are crude compared to any of the Boss Delay pedals. The soundquality of the delay is crude and raw as well. When you hear this pedal for the first time, and you are used to your crisp and clean digital delays, you will be in for a shock: The pedal sounds downright rude and harsh to say the least. However none of this is an issue when you put the pedal in the mix of a song. The overal sound can become part of your distorted tone and this may be the joys why guitar players like using this pedal!

   How To Get Distortion Out of the Memory Man?:

Simple really, put level at near max, blend somewhere half way –yes you do need this!!– Feedback halfway as well, and maybe a bit of delay to create a not-too-dry sound, all depending on your amp and taste of course. Squelch is off!
The result is a distortion which does not remind me of any particular pedal at all. It is a primitive sound, and reminds me most of the sound of raw punk: It is pure and not too far off from your original sound, just adds a little bit of bark and hiss to your tone.
I used a distortion pedal after the Memory Man, just to add a bit of crispness and to get a less dryer sound. Dry sound? Play through a mixer, and put the pre-amp up and listen to the kind of distortion you get, compare this to the sound of a pedal, or a distortion-channel of an amp. It is quite dry and needs something extra to create a more pleasing sound.  I tried a Boss OD-3 and SD-1 and found that the SD-1 was a bit better, more primitive if you like. I have to admit, this may have depended on my mood of the day. Anyway, the OD-3 was good at creating more brightness and treble to the sound. But then, my Selmer did not need any more of this sound as it does have enough treble of its own [Think any British amp for that matter: Marshall, Vox ect.]

  By-Pass and Older Pedals:

When you are familiar with discussions on the web about tone, you will know that by-pass is a hot topic: A pedal which can directly bypass your signal is a desired pedal because it does not colour your orginal guitartone when the pedal is not engaged. Guess what is the case with the Memory Man? This pedal does not bypass your tone at all! You can switch the pedal off, and although you may have switched off the delaysound, the level control of the pedal will still be active for your original, dry signal. This feature gives the pedal it’s unique character in being able to overdrive your original guitar signal with an extra bit of boost. Quite uncommon to find this feature on a Delay pedal.
There are other delay/sample pedals which do feature in-and outputs which control your  overal signal, but not many can actually overdrive your sound. The digitech PDS 2001, for example, does contain an out-and input control which is quite useful, but this is another pedal altogether, and will not do what the Memory Man does.

  Other Analogue Delays and Over Drive?:

Will any analogue delay be able to give you the sound the Memory Man does? Well the sound is a combination of the pedal not bypassing your tone and being able to overdrive this tone with a bit of extra signal. The fact that it is analogue is also a feature, but less important really. As far as I know, I do not know of any other analogue delays which are able to give you this sound. I also do not know if newer Memory Man pedals can create this sound. The key is in finding out if the pedal bypasses your sound or not. There are videos on You Tube about the predecessor of the Blue Memory Man, and these pedals are praised a lot for their overal sound and uniqueness.
Once you have found a Memory Man, check it out carefully to see if all works as it should. They can be repaired if faulty, although to replace the delaychip may be harder as they are harder to find these days.

Next time: The Memory Man used as a Delay, and U2 and the Edge with lots of videos from their first three albums. 

See you soon,

Guitars, Pedals and Amps: Make Sure They All Work As They Should!!

Today a very short article about equipment and why you should take care all works as it should.
Isn’t this common sense you might say? Well, recently I noticed a message on a van saying: “Common Sense is Rapidly on the Decline” .
On a more serious matter, I have met countless musicians, guitar players and other bandmembers who had issues with their equipment. Most of these issues were relatively small and easily solved, but still, they took time, caused a halt to the vibe of the moment.
When you are in the middle of writing songs, rehearsals with a band or other guitarist, the last thing you want is something failing to work  at what it should do because it spoils the moment.

When you are serious about making music, and most of the people I met in cases like the ones described above were, you cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to doing small repairs to any of your guitars, amps, pedals or PA system.


My own personal approach is: They all should play as well as they should: Volume-and tone controls should all work, tremolosystem should have a nice vibe to give you some vibratosounds. Fretboard should be clean, strings should be clean and definitely not rusty!
You want to pick up your guitar and it should make you want to play and play and play.
Okay I may be far too serious about this matter for some of you. If you have multiple guitars should they all have fresh strings from time to time? Even the ones you do not play that often? Well, if you have a few guitars and there are some you do not use that much, make sure that at least your favourite ones are in top notch condition, give them some fresh strings from time to time and make sure they play well as they serve  you as a source of inspiration.


Amps may be a simpler issue compared to guitars. They do not change that much  and once they work they will be fine for a while. If you are a gigging musician things are a bit different: You still will need to check from time to time if  your tonecontrols are all working as they should, speaker is still fine ect. Valve amps? More maintenance is required and extra care should be taken with them, but again, once they work they should be fine.
What I get often myself: Buy a second hand amp and there are often all kind of funny issues: Crackling tone-and volume controls, broken input sockets ect. all things I will get repaired as soon as I can. Once the amp is again in good condition it tends to stay like that, especially when you look after it. Why should you not? All your equipment are sources of inspiration. I have created countless of songs on the basis of a particular amp-or guitarsound. Getting them to work as they should is the least you can do, so you can get on with the business of being creative with your music without too many extra external worries.

 Pedals and other Sources of Effect Processors: 

Similar as amps really, once they work they should be fine for a long time to come. As what I mentioned before about buying second hand amps relates to pedals as well: Buy any second hand pedal from a shop or Ebay or whatever outlet and you may have some issues with broken pots, faulty in-or output sockets, or even a pedal not  functing at all.
First of all you should, whenever you buy anything secondhand, research that particular piece of equipment very well. Make sure you know what it does, how it should sound ect.
Electronic equipment can be funny: You may buy a pedal and it works well, use it for a while and then put it away for a few months. When you pick up that pedal after three months it may not work as it should. Why is this? Because some electronical components dry up, or an electronic part has gone faulty because it is old and has seen a fair bit of usuage. These things do happen, I do not make this up! Sometimes the repairs for those pedals can come to as much as what you may have paid initially for the pedal. Worth doing the repair? Up to you and to how much you like the sound of the pedal and how rare the pedal is. I have had cases where I never had heard a pedal perform properly, because of worn parts, and then eventually this particular pedal gave up the ghost. Once pedal came back from the repair it sounded fantastic, better even than how it sounded initially. The repair in this case was definitely worth doing!

Now go on and check out all those guitar cables you use.
See you soon!


Short Loop Pedals and the Joys of Using Modest Gear

Today a short article about equipment and why using simple gear may sometimes be more effective to expand your creativity.

Anyone who creates music may sometimes have these moments when they listen to music: “Hey I could  have created something like that”. You may practise for days, feel you do not come up with any good ideas ect.
When you listen to most current music it is actually very simple: A lot of songs have Four-or Eight bar ideas which are varied by adding new sounds to the mix, or soloideas from additional instruments or vocals. Sure you could create something like that without needing to have a studio full of advanced gear!

To be creative with music it may sometimes be better to use simple tools, tools which do not have that many features and functions. Once you have many options you may get confused and not be as free to create music anymore.
When it comes to playing solos for your own songs why not first sing some of those ideas? You could first play the chord and then play some of the soloideas to give you an idea what it will sound like on a recording. I know, today there are many recorders on the market where you can record virtual solos: Play and play and play, until you get the best ideas, then copy and paste and create the solo out of the ideas you played. Why not think about that solo before you play and once you know where you are going then press Record. Record again if you feel you need to, but hopefully you have captured your ideas more or less in one take. The feel and energy of the solo will be more genuine than the Copy/Paste approach. More work? Yes, certainly, but you will have learned a lot during all that time when you were preparing yourself to get the best possible guitarsolo.

Going back again to my previous example of the current music of today: A lot of the simple Loop/Delay pedals we have today can be used to create simple ideas like some of those songs. Of course you could get a Loop pedal which will act almost like a small computer complete with backing-tracks and drumsamples, but as mentioned before, why not be creative with your gear: If you have a few Short Loop Pedals you may be able to get your drum sounds from one loop and connect it to the other looper while you create your short Four-or Eight bar chordsequence. Simple, but very effective and it will work. Once you have those two loopers playing in time you could record the results onto one track of your recorder and add more ideas on the other tracks to enhance the original loop idea.

Working in this manner will make you sweat for hours to get the right sounds, to get the loop-pedals to play in time with each other. Once you have a good sequence you will know why it sounds so good, this will help you for your future songs. If you were to use drums from the computer you will not experience in a similar way why they work so well with your bassline and guitarideas. It may work quicker, but your next song may sound very similar because of your method of working is similar.

     Harmony and Loops:

Want to create harmony guitars but not sure about the music theory behind it? Use a short looping pedal to experiment to get the right results!
Of course, you could get yourself a dedicated Harmony Pedal and just play, but by creating your own harmonies you will learn so much more, you may even get interested in studying some music theory. Once you have a working knowledge how to create harmonies with your guitar you can still get a dedicated Harmony Pedal as it will make your life easier.

    Using Simple Tools to Record Demos:

In the process of writing songs to record a demo? Why not record all your songs on a simple Cassette Four-Track machine? Bruce Springsteen used this approach to record his next album after his massive success with “Born in the USA”. Bruce could easily have gone to any studio and get to work. No, he descided to go off on his own and use something simple as a Cassette Multi-Track recorder to get his next album under his sleeve.

For those of you new to Cassette based Multi-Track Recorders: On a machine like this you will need to plan: No virtual tracks, samples or any other bells and whistles here. You will need to play anyhing yourself, which means the feel will be more honest and pure. You could still get the results of a polished soundrecording, but you do need to know how to do it manually, and will need to play anyhing yourself, no automation or anything of that kind. Once you can get great results on machines like this you will be King of Production in any advanced, digital Music Studio.

Once you have your finished Cassette based Multi-Track Demo, you could take this to a more advanced studio, or use more adanced tools yourself, and work the song into a finished product. The Cassette approach may have given you ideas which you may have overlooked while working with advanced gear in the first place. Again this approach to recording, and making music, will take more time but it may give you better sounding songs, and is that not what it is all about?! 

See you soon,

Metronome Only For Beginners?

The metronome may not be a populair device, especially among those older students who used to have piano lessons in the past. Often they were told to use a metronome and often these came as large, chunky clocks which you had to touch from time to time to get them to click in time.
Not matter what the popularity of the metronome is these days, it still is a very powerful tool which can help any guitarist and musician to get a better rhythmic feel.
In this short article I will highlight some ideas how to use a metronome to improve your accuracy, speed, scales and melodic ideas.

Today metronomes come in all kind of style and sizes. The chunky mechanical ones I mentioned before, are still there but there are also the smaller and digital ones. If you do not have one yet, try to find a dedicated metronome, that is one which is not part of a tuner or something of that kind. Dedicated metronomes will often give you more useful options such as being able to tap in the time of your playing, giving you more options with regards to beats etc. Go for a handy size, as it will fit your guitargigbag, and you do not need to worry about breaking it [try that with those mechanical ones I mentioned earlier………….]

Any beginner who has been asked to play with a metronome will use the metronome in a straightforward way: Set the metronome at a particular speed and play on every beat. Each click of the metronome is played by a quarter note on the guitar. Easy peasy as the metronome clicks and you cannot forget where to play.  Of course this will help your sense of rhythm, but the metronome reminds you where those beats are. What about getting the metronome to play only a handful of beats, and you playing on those beats the metronome does not click? In this sense you need to feel where those beats are. How do we do this? Simple, get the metronome to click on beat One and Three, while you play on all beats, that is beat One, Two, Three and Four. I am talking Four beats to a bar here. In this way you need to feel where beat Two and Four are while at the same time keeping in time with the Four Four feel of the music. If you have never tried this idea first try it at slow speeds, something like 40 to 45 Beats Per Minute will do.

Once you are comfortable with this, then put the metronome on beat Two and Four, which is often called the Back Beat in music. Very useful to feel these beats. Similar as above, just play all four beats while metronome is clicking on beat Two and Four. Next, just put metronome on beat One, while you play all Four!

Use the above ideas to play your scales, riffs and melodic ideas. Once you get them down at a particular speed, speed up and see if you can still play them as accurately as you did while the metronome was clicking as a lower speed.


No fingerpatterns today, no breakdown of the basics of any kind of scale yet, all of this is still to come at a later stage. No, for today just a few simple words of common wisdom:
Play your Seven Note Scales [Any Major or Minor Scale] with seven different fingering positions, where each position starts on a different note of the scale. First start on the Root, then progress to the second note ect. untill you have covered all the seven notes of the scale. In this way you create your seven different fingerings and they will help you to move along the fretboard.
Similar idea for the Five Tone Scales, the so-called Pentatonic Scales —Penta means Five in Greek hence the word Pentatonic, which is a scale made up of only five tones instead of the usual seven tones.

Most students get comfortable with the Rootpositions of any of these scales. Great, as this is a start, but do start playing the scale also from the other remaining notes as they will help you to see more patterns. Be sure  to stay in key. Play the First chord of the key to help you to tune your ears into the key: [Am when you are playing Am Penta, D when you are playing D major etc.]

Play your scales first with Quarter notes, then progress to Eights. Once comfortable with this try Triplets, then Shuffle and Swing Feel. Play your scales straigth up and down, then play your scales in melodic intervals like
Thirds, Fourths and Sixths. Once you can do that, why not play some melodic ideas which come from the scale? Shuttle back and forwards to scale notes and melodic ideas, all this while your metronome keeps clicking and you [hopefully] still playing in time!
A lot of work you may say? It sure is, but it is fun, you will learn so much by doing this: It will open you up to become freer with the fretboard and music in general. 

Before I shall return to more Music Theory related articles you can expect more blogs about Loop Pedals and the joys of making music with them.

Stay Tuned

3 Reasons Why Guitar Players Should Learn To Play Scales

Today a very short article about scales, it really is a preview for some longer articles I will create about the subject of Scales in relation to rhythm and speed. For today just a brief outline why it makes sense to learn scales.

When I took up guitar lessons myself I wanted to get deeper with theory and understand how music worked in general. I was not interested in learning songs, I felt I could create these myself, and the theory would help me along the way. Okay, when I took up guitarlessons I was not new to making music, I had more than 10 years of playing organ behind me, had played in a band and with other musicians, but I still felt I did not know the finer details of how music worked:  Words like Keys, Harmony, Chord Extensions ect. all things I was aware of but I could not put my finger on it. My guitartechnique, at this point in time, was still very weak. An issue I was  painyfully aware of and wanted to resolve as soon as I could.

During my first lessons I asked for a lot of ideas to get my fingers to work—I only used three fingers at that time!!—. Some of those finger-ideas were scale based.The scale excursions improved my dexterity and opend up the doors to my own musical ideas. 

The guitar lessons turned very quickly into  extended Jamsessions. I really enjoyed them as I was playing with another guitar player who was much better than me. Finding other people around you to play with is a problem in general, and most of the people I knew at that time were not motivated to get really good at the guitar. Then there were the ones who were good, and I could not keep up with them, another frustrating issue. Jamming in a controlled environment with a teacher was ideal: It opened the door to playing the guitar in many different ways.

Usually I would study a particular scale in various positions, or particular chords, and I would bring them to the next lesson, usually I had done something with these chords: I would put them into a sequence or create a riff around them so it would sound like a short songidea. This idea would then  then be used for the jam.
Out of the jam something new would appear: A particular riff or a new chord ect., and I would explore this idea for the next week as my “homework”.

Scales will certainly improve your knowledge of the fretboard, and they will open you up to playing the guitar in different positions.

Scales are the ideal vehicle for exploring melodic ideas or riffs. Once you become aware of the joys of making melodies on the guitar you will never stop playing the guitar again. This will also open up the world to writing your own songs.

Scales are great for improvising, and improvising will make you become freer on the guitar, and with music in general.

I would say that knowledge of scales will benefit any guitar player, no matter what kind of style of music or playing level you are at. Even if you are only interested in learning to strum  along some chords for the songs you like to sing, the scales will help you to become aware of the notes you are singing, how they work, where they come from and where those notes can be found on the fretboard of the guitar.

More about the subject of Scales for next article.
Now work out those fingers and hope to see you soon again,