Do you want to play an instrument but don't want to 'learn' anything? Well then you're a perfect candidate for the AUTOHARP! It's just barely harder than playing the radio. All you need is someone to tell you what chord to play and you just press that button and strum all the strings. It's that easy!! We even have an electric autoharp in our shop so you could plug in and get crazy psychedelic if you so desired. There's nothing stopping you. If you have 2 working hands and you're not in a coma then you could master this thing by the end of the day!
The many times that his friends were at the house, my wife and I were happy to evacuate the living room and give them their space. We often commented on how energetic and happy this group can party. Loud laughter, dancing, snacks, and unjudgemental friendship. Did I mention, no alchohol or drugs. We've learned a lot over the years watching this group interact with one another. He kicked my ass in a chess match last night, I'm not used to that. My competitive side was hurting but my pride was elated that my baby out-bested me. The next day, mom prepared one of our favorite meals, chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli, so that softened the blow. He's leaving tomorrow, back north, and we will miss him.
We have many relationships in our lives but none compare to the love for our children. We've watched their every step, we've cured their pain and confusion, and our love for them has given us the strength and the creativity to make their journey as obvious and transparent as we are capable. We love you Perry.
Experimenting with your effects chain is an easy avenue to pursue if you're looking to diversify your guitar sound. A simple example which I have found to be pretty fun is placing your reverb pedal before your distortion and cranking them both! Most "common-sense" guides discourage this because your tone loses all sense of clarity and separation, but it is so awesome come on! Instead of your distortion box clipping your clean signal, it takes this massive ocean of noise and then it sets that ocean of noise on fire! But anyways, try stuff out, experiment, never give up trust your instincts!
I thought I'd attempt to tickle your funny bone this week so here's a list of some good music related jokes. Most of the musicians or instruments in the jokes are interchangeable, so you can change them to rib whichever bandmate shows up late for practice.
"Whats the difference between a large pizza and a drummer?"
"A large pizza can feed a family of 4"
"What did the banjo player get on his exam?"
"How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb?"
"One Five One Five One Five"
"How can you tell if the stage is level?"
"The banjo player is drooling out of both sides of his mouth"
- A man walks into a music store and says to the clerk, "I'd like to play that big red saxophone". The clerk replies, "You must be a banjo player". The man says " I sure am, how'd you know?" Clerk scoffs, "Because that's a fire extinguisher."
"Whats black and blue and lying in a ditch?"
"A guitar player that told too many drummer jokes"
"How does a lead guitarist change a light bulb?"
"He holds it and the world revolves around him"
"What is a gentleman?"
"Someone who knows how to play mandolin but doesn't"
"What does a mandolin player use for birth control?"
"How can you tell there's a mandolin player at your front door?"
"They can't find the key, the knocking speeds up, and he doesn't know when to come in"
"Whats the difference between a ukulele and a trampoline?"
"You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline"
"Whats the difference between and ukulele and an onion"
"Nobody cries when you cut up a ukulele"
Fifty years ago or more I spent hour after hour staring at and dreaming about the electric guitars on display at Lyon & Healy, Chicago’s largest musical instrument store.
This was the era before Fender Strat and Gibson Les Paul copies so dominated guitar design. Local guitar manufacturers such as Kay, Harmony, Valco, Supro and more were experimenting with wonderful “out of the box” designs. These were soon followed by imports such as Teisco, Greco, Guyatone and others.
Crazy shapes, crazy electronics, crazy colors and crazy materials; I drooled over them all. Some had vibrato systems, most of which barely worked. Some had built in speakers – you can imagine how that sounded. Body styles and designs were as varied as can be. Remember, this was the time when automobile design was featuring fins and tons of chrome. Product design in general was beginning to reflect the culture’s fixation on outer space. Electric guitar design didn’t escape this trend. But all of these electric guitars had one thing in common – they were cool, very, very cool!
And now Sylvan Music is about to make that cool available again. We’re set to receive our first shipment of Airline electric guitars in about a week and we’re all excited about it. These instruments have the same cool factor as the originals but are built much better, sound much better, and feature better overall playability than the originals. Best of all, this retro cool is available at very reasonable prices. Make sure to come by soon and try them out.
I love music and I love movies, so naturally I love movies about music. In recent cinema history we have been blessed with a bevy of great music documentary's and I thought I'd share some of my favorite's.
My number one has got to be The Band's 'Last Waltz.' I know it's almost 40 years old but it is absolutely timeless. Aside from the song they do with Neil Diamond, all the music is spectacular. From the song choices to the stellar list of musicians that join them and even down to the killer velvet suit that Van Morrison wears, the whole thing is just a masterpiece.
Next is a more recent one: Rush's 'Beyond The Lighted Stage.' Now, I like a lot of Rush tunes but I am in no way a die hard Rush fan. That being said, this documentary is so engaging from start to finish that it made me appreciate the band in a whole new way. There are great stories from the band members and from other musicians who toured with them and who were influenced by them. there are hilarious moments and heart breaking ones and the director does a great job of always keeping it interesting.
My next two picks are both very informative and very, very long. George Harrison's 'Living in the Material World' and Tom Petty's 'Runnin' Down A Dream' are each nearly 4 hours long, but cover every single facet of their respective lives and careers, both musical and personal. I know it's hard to set aside 4 hours to watch a dang movie, but if you split it up over a few nights it'll be well worth it. Or just wait until you get mono and can't leave your room.
I'll leave you with a short list of some of my other favorite's:
- Rolling Stones 'Crossfire Hurricane'
- Bob Marley 'Marley'
- 'Buena Vista Social Club'
- 'Festival Express' - with the Grateful Dead, The Band, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy & more!
- Metallica 'Some Kind of Monster' - so funny to see what tools these guys are!
Mike Sparber has been roaming the hallowed halls of Sylvan since 2004 and is an admirer of all stringed instruments. He moved here from the DC suburbs in 1999 and can usually be found with his wife at concerts around the Bay Area or with his dog, Ernie, at the beach.
My wood working skills don't stop at the shop. On my day off, I mounted a new mail box at the house. Ok, you caught me, it's metal. The mailman will leave me a dark chocolate raisin cluster when he see's this. It's the deal we have. Till next time! - Al
Of all the many musical genres, I think metal is by far the most misunderstood. I will be the first to admit that metal isn't for everybody, and that to some degree, is intentional. Metal will forever be a fringe genre, occasionally finding a brief spotlight of popularity with some of the more radio friendly bands, but the majority of its diversity remains unknown. Diversity in metal is one of the things that most non-metal listeners don't appreciate. There are as many or more sub-genres within metal as there are sub-genres within the amorphous blob of folk/bluegrass/pop/americana.
One of the most commonly heard fallacies about metal is that it's 'angry' music. While it's true some metal can be called angry, I would say the majority of metal isn't. Metal topics run the gamut of emotions just like any other genre, just maybe a little more intensely felt. Metal genres often embrace the darker parts of humanity, choosing to contemplate rather than ignore.
In the end metal is just like every other music genre; it can be complex or simple, dark and scary or light and joyful. So whether you love it or hate it, next time you here metal blasting out of someones car window, try to hear it with ears unclouded by misconceptions.
Here's a couple of examples of different kinds of metal that I've been really into lately.
Life without music would be intolerable.
Wanna make great music??? Listen very, very carefully and remove the silence where it doesn't belong.
There's been a lot of hubbub over balanced tension string sets lately. What the hell are they? Can you even tell the difference?? I'm going to attempt to give a simple explanation of balanced tension sets and offer a bit of insight into their growing popularity and what makes them such a hot topic in the string world.
There are two basic components that make up a steel string: a core and a wrap. When you look at the two smallest strings on an acoustic guitar, you are basically looking at an unwound core string. Wild, huh? Those naked little B and high E strings look just like their four bigger brothers minus that shiny bronze wrapping. Now, when we talk about tension on a guitar we are pretty much talking about lateral tension -- that is, the force that the individual strings exert laterally across the neck and soundboard of the instrument. [Note: this differs from instruments with floating bridges (mandolins, banjos, arch top guitars, etc.) where downward, or vertical tension becomes more important -- for more on this check out Siminoff Strings]. Now given the two basic components of a steel string, what would you say determines lateral tension? Well, if you guessed the wrapping, I'm happy to say you are absolutely wrong...It's the core, of course! A string's core determines its lateral tension -- remember that!
D'addario Balanced Tension sets are developed with this in mind: each core string is made to expend an equal amount of lateral tension, thus creating a more "balanced" feel and sound across the strings when they are strummed or plucked. In theory, this should make for a better playing experience. But who am I to say? Pick up a set and see for yourself!
McCoy Tyler is a salesman at Sylvan Music with an aptitude towards acoustic guitars, amps, and pickup systems. When he's not spouting musical knowledge on the sales floor, he can be found doing some hot picking and sweet singing with his group The McCoy Tyler Band.