Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews

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SpongeBob SquarePants Is Coolest Clip-On Guitar Tuner Ever

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Saw this at Peter Hodgson's excellent blog,, and I might have to get one. My twin 5-year-olds are SpongeBob fanatics, and I admit I rather enjoy the show myself. Here's the press release:

Get in tune with the SpongeBob SquarePants Clip-On Chromatic Tuner
SpongeBob guitar tunerJohn Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd., exclusive worldwide trade distributors of SpongeBob SquarePants Real Musical Instruments, introduces the new SpongeBob SquarePants Clip-On Chromatic Tuner.

SpongeBob's happy, smiling face will now be with you from the moment you pick up your instrument with the release of this brilliant new tuner.

The SBT01 is a fantastic little piece of equipment, fully chromatic, that clips easily on to any instrument. With a full twelve note range, the SBT01 lets you tune any instrument – not just guitars or ukuleles – to a very accurate +/-1 cent tolerance.

Fully adjustable, the SBT01 SpongeBob spins, ducks and dives, meaning you can view the blue backlit LCD display from any angle. But what's really funky about this little gadget is that SpongeBob's teeth light up as you tune each note, instantly letting you know if you're flat or sharp. His two front teeth will light up when you're in tune. The note you're playing is also displayed as a large letter where SpongeBob's tongue would be, and three LED lights across his belt also help out.

The SBT01 is ready to go straight out of the box (sorry, clam shell for easy display and recognition), running on its included battery. You won't believe how much fun tuning up can be with SpongeBob, and at only £12.99RRP, this is the tuner everyone's talking about!


Joe Satriani to Headline Benefit for Jason Becker

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 4, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Jason Becker's Not Dead YetAccording to a report at, Joe Satriani will headline the "Jason Becker's Not Dead Yet" benefit, which will also feature performances by Richie Kotzen, Steve Lukather, The Kehoe Nation, Flametal, and others. The event is scheduled for March 26 at Slim's in San Francisco. Tickets are $25 and go on sale today (2/4) at, by phone at 1-888-233-0449, or in person at Slim's box office. Proceeds from the event will towards medical supplies for Jason as well as to a trust fund, to help provide for his future needs.

Jason Becker was one of the most promising guitar prodigies in the business, getting his first break at age 17 along with Marty Friedman in Cacophony. He the joined the David Lee Roth band for the stellar 1991 album A Little Ain't Enough. But shortly after joining DLR, Becker was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), which robbed him of his motor skills and eventually his speech.

Twenty years later, Becker is still alive and composing music, with the help of special computer programs, collaborators, and a system of communication using eye movements that was developed by his father, Gary Becker.

Joe Satriani called Becker's 2001 album Perspectives—Jason's first recorded work after losing his motor functions (originally self-released in 1996)—"a triumphantly powerful and beautiful album."

Steve Vai has said, "Jason has discovered a brilliant source of inspiration within himself. His deep soul searching has resulted in a body of music that reveals courage and insight and is deeply moving."

And Marty Friedman adds, "To call Jason a genius is an understatement. He doesn't cater to trend, target audiences, marketing gimmicks or anything like that. He plays out the emotions from his heart and makes real music that is a salute to the human spirit. Jason is a prodigy and on 'Perspectives' he realizes his miraculous potential."

For those unable to attend the festival, donations can be made via PayPal at

For more on Jason Becker and his fight with ALS, go to Check out the video below for a touching and inspiring ABC News story from late 2008, and the one below it to hear Becker in his prime.


Kindergarten Girl Has Better Chops Than You - Really.

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 4, 2011 at 8:44 AM

While the leader of her country may be insane (OK, is insane), North Korean kindergarten student Kang Eunju is an insanely talented guitarist. And although the term "child prodigy" is tossed about way too casually these days, you could make a strong case for putting Miss Eunju's photo next to the term in Merriam Webster's next dictionary edition.

Classical guitar video lessons and guitar tab

In the video below, Miss Eunju is, according to the video poster, playing a song from the children's movie "Boy Commander." (We haven't been able to find a movie with that title. If anyone knows the name of the piece, please leave a comment below.) The video was posted nearly two years ago, so she's now either in 2nd grade or the North Korean equivalent of the Juilliard School.

So without further ado, sit back and prepare to be amazed:

Poll: Which Rock Guitar Legend Would You Most Want to Take a Lesson With?

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 3, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I've been very fortunate in my former gigs at Guitar One and Guitar Edge magazines to have either conducted or sat in on lessons with some of the greatest guitarists on the planet, including Billy Gibbons, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Mark Tremonti, Neal Schon, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Eric Johnson, Dave Mustaine, Mike Stern, Vernon Reid, and John 5, to name just a few. And when asked about the coolest thing I'd ever done in the business, it had to be jamming with AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young in a New York City hotel room for a lesson I conducted back in 2003.

So, if you had the chance to have a lesson with one of rock guitar's greatest living legends, who would you choose? Vote now, or leave a comment if he/she isn't on the list.


White Stripes Officially Disband

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 3, 2011 at 8:23 AM

In a statement posted on his Third Man Records web site, Jack White announced that he and Meg White have officially disbanded the White Stripes. "The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue," the post says, "nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health."

White Stripes guitar tab

The post continues, "It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way."

Although the band says they will make no further recordings or perform live, Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings.

The band closed the post with the following statement:

"The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful."

Interview With Bobby Long On His New Album

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 2, 2011 at 10:47 AM

From the fuzz-drenched album-opening title track to the intimate roll-the-credits closer "A Stranger Song," Bobby Long's new album, A Winter Tale (released Feb. 1), takes you on a journey of heart and soul so complete you're not sure if you should laugh, cry, smile, or do all three at once. Overwhelmingly, visions of a snow-covered countryside observed from the warmth of a roaring fire and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea entered my mind.

A Winter Tale coverAlthough A Winter Tale is a full-band album, the highlights are often acoustic numbers like "The Bounty of Mary Jane," a haunting acoustic fingerstyle piece that evokes tired eyes and heavy heart driving down the Interstate in the middle of the night, with echoes of Beatles-inspired chord changes spicing up its solid folk foundation. Or "In the Frost," where Long's rural North England roots shine through, not unlike Mark Knopfler's solo material of late. And on "Sick Man Blues," an insistent solo acoustic piece, Long shows  off Long's considerable fingerstyle chops, yet does so without self-indulgence.

We recently had the privilege to talk with Long about his full-length debut.

For a "folk" album, the title track offers up a pretty big fuzz tone riff!
Ed Turner—the electric guitarist we had in the sessions—and I are both big Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi fans, and so is Liam [Watson, producer], who suggested using the distortion on that song. We had been talking about Sabbath in the studio, so we went after a Sabbath-y kind of tone for the guitar.

How did you approach the arrangements in terms of adding a full band to your acoustic beds?
The whole album was recorded live in the studio with the full band. In the morning I'd bring a song in, and we'd work on it for about two hours. We all shared ideas and laid it down, with the producer, Liam Watson, kind of orchestrating it all.

A few songs, like "In the Frost," reminded me of Mark Knopfler. He, like you, is from Northe England and has a great affinity for American folk and blues music.
I love Mark Knopfler and his guitar playing. I was born in the North but left when I was very small. Still, I feel a strong connection to it, because all my family is from there. There's a harshness to the North; it's an industrial kind of place. But there's a real beauty to it, too. Lyrically, I like to write about it, alongside the influence musically of folk music and blues stuff from America. I definitely feel they're intertwined in my music.

Guitar-wise, what did you learn from doing your first proper studio album?
It was the first time I'd recorded with a full band, so I really had to watch my time. We were doing the first song, and Liam kept focusing on the bass player, saying "No, do this, do that." And after about an hour I was thinking, "Wow, I'm doing great." Then a little later, Liam came in and said, "Actually, Bobby, it's you. You're the one knocking the bass player out. You need to take more care to play with the drummer." And I was just like, "Damn." But after about 20 minutes, I was able to lock in and get it done.

For all the latest new, tour dates, and links to purchase A Winter Tale, visit


Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 02-01-2011

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 1, 2011 at 4:25 PM

As I was reading through some classic jazz transcriptions recently, I couldn't believe how much I had to slow the tempo down to get through some of those bebop charts accurately. But before I beat myself up too much about it, I also noticed that great bebop licks sound great whether played at 300 bpm or 120 bpm. And then I began to think about how cool a bebop lick might sound in a blues.

Jazzin' the BluesSo I pulled out a trusted resource, John Ganapes' excellent book Jazzin' the Blues (click here or on the picture at right for more info on it), and sure enough, John touches on that very topic. This week's lick, which is borrowed from Jazzin' the Blues, features a phrase so common to jazz solos that John calls it "the bebop lick" and implores his readers to learn it and learn it well.

The lick itself is the six-note phrase that occupies beats 2-4 of the first bar. It is usually played over a ii-V progression and begins on the root of the V chord. In this example, the ii-V (Cm7-F13) progression is spread out over two bars, so the lick is repeated, using a little rhythmic variation to keep it fresh. Note in both instances, however, that the "bebop lick" begins on F, which is the root of the V chord, F13.

Jazz-blues guitar tabs, video lessons, and jam tracks

In terms of technique, it's pretty straightforward, except for the position shift on the "and" of beat 3 in bar 1, and on the "and" of beat 2 in bar 2. At the lick's bluesy tempo of 120, it's pretty easy, but killer bop tempos may present a challenge if you dive right in, so use your metronome to gradually work up to it.

As John says in his book, this is a lick you'll hear often if you're a regular jazz listener, so make sure you get it under your fingers and practice using it in your own improvisations.

Lick of the Week 22

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