Archive for January, 2009

Slash’s House Party a Bust

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Former Guns N’ Roses and current Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash and his wife Perla bought a Hollywood Hills home in 2006 with the intention of being able to host car-in-the-pool, rockstar-level parties.  Slash turned to Sotheby’s International Realty to find his dream home.

Unfortunately the party didn’t turn out as planned.  The home ended up being smaller than advertised.  Plus they were on a public street with parking restrictions.  You can’t just have any random people showing up Slash’s house parties, right?

So Slash took Sotheby’s International Realty and the real estate agent Gregory Holcomb to court.  Today the judge in the case refused to throw out the claim and it looks like they’re going to trial.  Slash did not rock out at Friday’s hearing.


Sweaty Guitarists Fret No More

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Anyone who’s ever sweated while playing guitar (is there anyone who hasn’t?) knows that nothing ages a plain steel string (i.e., the first and second strings) faster than rust. Until now, only wound strings (3rd through 6th) were protected.  Now, Elixir Strings pioneer of long-life strings, has come to the rescue by broadening its Anti-Rust string product line at Winter NAMM 2009. For the first time, a ll Elixir Strings acoustic sets will feature Anti-Rust Plain Steel strings, using Elixir’s proprietary alloy plating. These strings will feel and sound the same as ordinary strings but will last three to five times longer, according to Elixir. Anyone complaining?

Buy @ American Music Supply: Elixir NanoWeb Acoustic Guitar Strings

Trey Gets His Ross Compressor

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

It's a compressor!

A few weeks back we did a little story about Trey Anastasio and the Ross Compressor.  A quick recap – Phish fans from really wanted Trey to put the Ross Compressor back into his signal chain.  Trey had the pedal at the end of his signal chain, after a couple of Tube Screamers, to kind of smooth out the overall sound.  But alas, Phish’s lead guitarist had lost his Ross Compressor.

But talk about fans – the kind folks over at pooled their resources and bought Trey a new one and sent it to him via Tom Marshall, Phish’s lyrists and official PhantasyTour liasion.

Trey had a great note back to the fan’s about his eagerness to try out the new pedal, but it seems like he’s missing another piece of gear…


Academy Snubs Springsteen – Fretbase Still Big Fan

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

While some folks are up in arms about Wall-E not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, to us here at Fretbase the biggest snub from yesterday’s nominations was Bruce Springsteen’s The Wrestler not being nominated for Best Original Song.  Not only was the song not chosen, but only three songs were nominated overall.  Two weeks ago “The Wrestler” won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song and it’s a just a tremendous song in its own right.  The song goes right to the character’s heart with powerful chords and haunting lyrics.  There is no question in our minds the song is better than anything from Slumdog Millionaire.

Download The Wrestler (Amazon)

The Wrestler Page on Fretbase

iPhone Apps For Guitar Players

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Last summer, after the launch of the iPhone App Store, we did a story about on 5 Great iPhone Apps for Guitar Players that listed some of the best guitar related apps we’d seen to date.  Well it’s been more than six months since and we decided to revisit the iPhone App Store and see what else had been developed for guitar players.

Overall we’ve seen a lot of upgrades to existing iPhone guitar apps, making for some really powerful applications.  But we’ve also seen some pretty shoddy excuses for applications too.  So to help you sort it all out here’s an updated list of the some of the best iPhone Apps for guitar players.

iPhone Apps for Guitar Players

Clicking on the links below will launch your iTunes application.

App Name Icon Description iTunes Link
Tab Toolkit iconicon Tab Toolkit allows you to take your guitar tabs on your iPhone and iPod Touch. In addition to the twenty tabs that come with Tab Toolkit, the application is also enabled to allow you to upload tabs in Power Tab, Guitar Pro, text and PDF. When it comes to guitar tablature, you *can* take it with you. TabToolkit
PocketGuitar PocketGuitar The PocketGuitar turns your iPhone into a guitar neck and lets you finger chords and play the string via touch screen. It's got some pretty cool features like different guitar types like an acoustic-electric, classical guitar, electric bass and even a ukulele. You can also add effects like chorus and delay (all configurable) and use alternate tunings. But the PocketGuitar isn't without it's drawbacks. It's biggest is the difficulty in actually playing it. The touch sensitive screen isn't always accurate and sometime there are lags with the sound. PocketGuitar
7 Chords 7 Chords Another popular IPhone app for guitarists is 7 Chords - a library of guitar chords displayed in chord diagrams. It's a pretty comprehensive library and has all the chord positions up and down the neck and with a lot chord varieties like sus2, sus4, augmented, diminished, 13, 7+5, m6 to name a few. 7 Chords will even sound the chord for you too. It's a pretty basic app, but a useful tool for guitar players. 7 Chords
GuitarToolKit GuitarToolkit This is one my personal favorites. The Guitar Took Kit app has been out for a while now and was in our first line up IPhone Apps for guitar players story. GuitarToolKit manages to back in a tuner (along with 40+ alternate tunings), a fretboard that displays scales up and down the neck (with sound), a metronome with tapping feature so you can set your own tempo. It also has chord diagrams and can be set up for use with a 6 and 12 string guitar as well as bass guitars. GuitarToolkit
RIFF RIFF RIFF uses a unique interface of colored boxes to let you play lead guitar along with included instrumental tracks or from music from your own library. RIFF gives you three sets of controls that let you play a pentatonic scale with either muted notes, harmonics or just regulars style. But the really cool feature is bending notes by sliding your finger up the scale or creating vibrato by shaking your finger on the button. It might take some getting used to the controls but we think this is a pretty cool app if you can master it. RIFF
TouchChords TouchChords TouchChords helps to teach you chords and a whole lot more but turning you iPhone into a virtual guitar tutorial. The application will display chord grips on a guitar neck and you have to properly finger the chord in order for the chord to play. It's a great tool for beginner guitar players (and they even have some advanced stuff too) to help train on remembering chord voicing. They've also added "songbooks" to give you fully licensed chord progressions to popular music from the likes of the Rolling Stones to Boys Like Girls. TouchChords Premium
Guitarist Guitarist Similar to PocketGuitar this app is mini guitar rig in your IPhone. Guitarist gives you a 21 fret guitar that display up 10 frets on the screen and let's you even record and save what you play. The idea is to give guitarists a guitar whenever inspiration hits. One of the coolest features is the Wah-wah and Whammy effect. The Guitarist app makes use of the IPhone's motion sensor and you can activate these effect by tilting the IPhone back and forth. But the Guitarist app has some of the same drawbacks as the PocketGuitar - it's a bit difficult to play. Guitarist
FourTrack FourTrack FourTrack turns your IPhone into a mini 4-track recorder. The app records at 16 bit, 44.1 kHz and includes a built in metronome. It also has some great recording features like panning, faders and compression. You can save your recordings and export them through a simple interface. FourTrack comes from Sonoma Wire Works the makers of RiffWorks - a well known name in this space. However it looks like FourTrack has some problems with IPhone OS 2.2 - so beware. FourTrack
iStroboSoft iStroboSoft One of our personal favorites. Peterson Tuners has offered tuning solutions for over 60 years and in keeping up with the latest and greatest, they've built an iPhone app called the iStroboSoft that uses an exclusive strobe display to allow you to achieve a very accurate tuning. They're also planning an adapter that can plug directly into the iPhone/iPod Touch for an even better performance. iStroboSoft
Guitar Rock Tour Guitar Rock Tour? Think Guitar Hero or RockBand for the IPhone. More guitar oriented than it's famous cousin Tap-Tap Revenge, Guitar Rock Tour displays a guitar fretboard and challenges you to tap the notes in time. Will it help you become a better guitar player? Probably not. Will it be a lot of fun? Hell ya! It includes songs like Message In A Bottle and Smoke On The Water. Guitar Rock Tour?
Guitar Guitar Guitar is a simplified version of apps like PocketGuitar and solves one of the major problems with PocketGuitar - it's playable. Instead of trying to fret string you press pre-set buttons that represent chords and then just strum. It's got a built in library of over 1900 chords and ability to enter and save your own chords too. It also has guitar scales as well if you want to do leads. Easy peasy! Guitar
Visual Metronome Visual Metronome Visual Metronome is a dead simple metronome that displays a large number for the beat count. They've also included 8 different sounds for the beat and a reference pitch too. Also a key feature includes a tap tempo so you can tap in your own beat and it automatically reads your tempo and sets the metronome. Visual Metronome
RiotFX RiotFX - Guitar Multi Effects RiotFX is a guitar effects app for the iPhone and iPod Touch featuring seven high quality effects. RiotFX can be used with both acoustic and electric guitars however you'll need a PRS Guitarbud for electric guitars or you can try building your own. RiotFX includes distortion/fuzz, expander, pitch shifter, reverb, flanger, autowah and tone. RiotFX - Guitar Multi Effects
iGuitarChords GuitarChords Don't let the bad icon fool you. iGuitarChords is a cheap and easy to use chord diagram app. It features a nice clean interface that allows you to easily dial in most of the standard chords up and down the neck of the guitar. It could stand to be a little more comprehensive but overall it does a decent job, especially for the price. It's also available in Italian. GuitarChords
FretBoard FretBoard: Visualize Chords & Scales FretBoard is a reference tool for players of the stringed instruments supporting Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki, Bass (4, 5 and 6 string), Mandolin, Violin, Viola, Cello, Lute, Viola da gamba, Ukulele, Dulcimer, all Chapman Sticks, Warr guitars FretBoard: Visualize Chords & Scales
Pocket Tabs Scale Cards Pocket Tabs allows you to download tablature directly to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Once a tab has been saved to your device it can viewed with or without an internet connection - handy for Touch users. The tabs available for download are listed on Pocket Tab's website. We've found the tab selection limited when compared to other major tab sites but users are adding new tabs all the time. Other features include auto-scrolling with speed settings, font sizes can be adjusted for better viewing and you can email tabs to a friend. Pocket Tabs
Chordmaster Chordmaster Planet Waves, a division of D'Addario, has released "Chordmaster", a guitar chord library of 7800 various chords in all shapes and sizes. It's got a great, simple layout and it's pretty easy to navigate up the neck to view other inversions of the selected chord. You can even strum the chord and hear how it sounds. It even has a "Lefty" mode for all you communists out there ;-) Chordmaster
MySongBook MySongbook - Lyrics & Chords It had to happen eventually - an app for guitar tabs. MySongBook displays the chords and sometimes lyrics to songs in a nice, convenient format for the iPhone and even includes auto-scrolling. They've integrated with as well. One big concern we have with apps like this is copyright law. Publishers who own the right to publish the music may shut apps like MySongBook down. That said, we've had tab websites for quiet awhile, so it might be around for the long haul. MySongbook - Lyrics & Chords
iPractice iPractice iPractice turns your iPhone or iPod Touch into a mini guitar tutor. The app is geared towards beginner and intermediate players providing a set of 170 individual guitar lessons to help you work on fundamentals and rhythm playing. iPractice provides the backing track and drummer so you can practice with a beat - an important part of any practice session. Priced at $2.99 it's cheaper than any book you'll buy at the store and much more interactive. This app is Fretbase recommended. iPractice
Fret Surfer Guitar Trainer Fret Surfer Guitar Trainer The idea behind this app is to help you learn all the notes on your guitar. The app has two game modes - finding the right fret given a note and a string and naming the note based on a fret. The games are customizable so you can focus on particular strings, sharps or flats. You can even play the games in alternate tunings. Fret Surfer Guitar Trainer
Chord Cards Chord Cards Chord Cards provides 25 different chord diagrams in shapes that can be moved up and down the neck. The best part about Chord Cards is the eye candy. has built a very nice looking, easy to read fretboard and included photos and videos of the chord being played. This app is definitely for the beginner guitar players and good practice tool when you're on the couch. Chord Cards
Scale Cards Scale Cards Scale Cards, like it's sister app Chord Cards, provides a easy to read interface with over 50 essential guitar scales. Scales are displayed in neck diagrams or with guitar tablature. Also included are photos and videos of the scales being played. Scale Cards
PRS Jam Amp PRS Jam Amp The PRS Jam Amp is an app that combines three applications in one. It's a guitar amp simulator, an accurate tuner and practice tool that lets you upload tracks (MP3, ACC and AIIF) and jam along with the music. You can even slow down and loop sections of the song for practice. Requires a PRS Guitarbud. PRS Jam Amp

Easy Acoustic Guitar Songs

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

We have created a list of some of our favorites songs that are easy on acoustic guitar.  And we’re not talking about easy songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb.  We’re talking about some all-time greats on acoustic guitar  – songs like Friend of the Devil, Eleanor Rigby and Hurt.  Check out the list.  We think you’ll like it.

(Image by Mark Avery via Creative Commons License)

Do you think we’re missing one that should be there?  Let us know in the comments.

Easy Acoustic Songs (Fretbase)

PRS Guitars Debuts New Acoustic Guitars At NAMM Show

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

PRS Guitars chose the recent Winter NAMM Show to unveil the first two models — fancifully named the “Angeles Cutaway” and the “Tonare Grande” models — in its new line-to-be of acoustic guitars. Manufactured in its Stevensville, Maryland facility after nearly four years of design and prototyping with acoustic artist Ricky Skaggs and luthier Steve Fischer, these models will be in production sometime early this year. They feature quality woods: German spruce tops, beautiful dark rosewood or curly mahogany backs and sides, rare Peruvian mahogany necks, and red spruce and mahogany bracing, as well as a proprietary hybrid bracing pattern.

PRS Guitars on Fretbase

Recording King ROS 627 – A Reasonable Rosewood Parlor

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Recording King ROS-627

Brian and I are still catching up after being dazzled by so many beautiful guitars at NAMM.  One brand that continues to impress us with its reasonably priced and well made guitars is Recording King.  We have written before about the all solid spruce/mahogany Recording King ROS-626.  Well, at NAMM we were lucky enough to try the Recording King ROS-627 – sometimes known as the 626′s rosewood brother (at least that is how it is sometimes known by us).

In most respects, the ROS-627 is similar to the 626.  It has the same AA Sitka Spruce Top, the same beautiful slotted headstock, the same vintage “V” profile neck, an ebony bridge and Grover Butterbean tuners.  But instead of solid African Mahogany back & sides, this one has solid East Indian Rosewood – giving it a little more punch.  Most impressive is the price.  While the Martin 00-28VS is a beautiful and wonderful sounding guitar, it will set you back over three grand.  The Recording King ROS-627 will only set you back about $900 on the street.  This one definitely seems worth consideration.

Recording King ROS-627 on Fretbase

Taylor Launches T3 Semi-Hollowbody Guitar

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

The New Taylor T3/B

After a successful entry into the electric world with the SolidBody models and the Taylor T5, Taylor announced at this past Winter 2009 NAMM show the Taylor T3 semi-hollowbody guitar.  The T3 comes in two different models – the Taylor T3 and the Taylor T3/B.  The main difference is the T3/B comes with a Bigsby Vibrato.

The T3 and T3/B borrow from the Taylor T5 body shape but the similarities seem to end there.  Both versions of the T3 have humbuckers and the standard 3-way toggle switch, but Taylor added coil-splitting (pull up on the volume knob) to give you an extra dimension of tone.  Coil-splitting two humbuckers essentially turns those humbuckers into two single coils and gives the guitar a more “biting” tone often associated with single coil pups.


From NAMM: Godin Adds a P90 to the 5th Avenue

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Godin Guitars had a great display up on the 2nd floor at the winter NAMM Show.  We had a chance to walk around with their head of PR and preview some of the great brands and instruments coming out of the Godin family.

One of the highlights of the 2008 Summer NAMM was the Godin 5th Avenue, a classic looking archtop guitar made from Canadian Wild Cherry that’s not only a great playing guitar but very reasonably priced for an archtop.  Godin has upgraded the 5th Avenue to now include a their own dog-eared P90 pickup.

It looks like something Charlie Christian would be playing but don’t take my word for it, have a look for yourself.