Your Daily Dose of Guitar News & Reviews
Alter Bridge Rocks The Big Apple
On Thursday (5/19), Alter Bridge treated their fans at the sold-out Best Buy Theater in New York City's Times Square to nearly two hours of ear-splitting, fretboard-scorching rock and roll courtesy of guitarist Mark Tremonti's explosive riffs, singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy's dynamic and powerful vocals, and the thunderous rhythm section of bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips.
As house lights dimmed, the arpeggiated bass synth sequence of "Slip to the Void" swelled, with Kennedy taking the opening verse on a dark stage in a seductive loud whisper ... Game on. "Find the Real," from One Day Remains, followed, and although Tremonti burned through plenty of lightning-fast fills in the opener, it was Kennedy who took the solos in the first two songs of the evening (and several more later on), officially cementing his status as co-lead guitarist in the band, not just the singer playing rhythm parts.
The next four tunes all came off the band's second album, Blackbird, which has seemingly emerged as the fan favorite so far. In fact, of the 19 tunes in the set list, nearly half were from that album. The band's newest single, "Ghost of Days Gone By," made a well-received mid-set appearance, preceding a trip down memory lane to "Broken Wings" and "One Day Remains." The show then shifted into full-on metal mode with head-crushing tracks "Ties That Bind," "Still Remains," and "Come to Life," Tremonti's pummeling drop-tuned guitar and infectious headbanging leading the charge.
A crafty interpretation of the Beatles' "Blackbird" riff by Kennedy served as prelude to their own epic of the same title. AB then closed the show with their first hit "Open Your Eyes." After a brief break filled with fan chants of "Alter Bridge, Alter Bridge, Alter Bridge" filling the venue, Kennedy reemerged with a stool and a Taylor acoustic for a solo rendition of the ballad "Watch Over You," a vocally impressive move considering the 100 percent he'd already given to 16 previous tracks.
Following a particularly heavy take on their recent hit single, "Isolation," Kennedy and Tremonti indulged themselves in a little guitar duel that was more an insight into how they enjoy playing off one another and having fun than the typical "look at me and my killer chops" solo spot before launching into show closer "Rise Today."
Given the fraternal cohesion the band showed this night, it sure seems safe to say they've finally exorcised their own ghosts of days gone by, and for both them and AB Nation, it's a sign of many good years to come.
For a list of remaining tour dates, visit the official Alter Bridge web site.
Slip to the Void
Find the Real
Before Tomorrow Comes
Brand New Start
All Hope Is Gone
Ghost of Days Gone By
One Day Remains
Ties That Bind
Come to Life
Open Your Eyes
Watch Over You
Happy 66th Birthday Pete Townshend
Look who's getting his kicks on birthday number 66: Pete Townshend. As the mastermind behind the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia as well as countless classic rock treasures, and an instrumental player in the development of the "Marshall stack" as rock's iconic amplifier, Townshend's contributions to the art form that is rock 'n' roll are simply immeasurable. Cheers, Pete!
Phil Collen Live Chat Tuesday May 17
On Tuesday, May 17, guitarist Phil Collen (Def Leppard, Manraze), along with some typing help from his lovely wife Helen, dropped by GuitarInstructor.com to answer questions from his fans in a live online chat. If you missed it, you can take a look at the transcript here.
Def Leppard will be releasing their first-ever official live album, Mirrorball, on June 7, exclusively at Walmart and Sam's Club in the U.S. (other countries to follow). Meanwhile, Collen's other band, Manraze, will be releasing their sophomore effort later this summer, with the first single, "Over My Dead Body," hitting iTunes on May 31, worldwide.
Classic Jeff Beck Truth Guitar Tab Now Available
For more Jeff Beck guitar tab, click here.
EMG Creates James Hetfield Signature Pickups
Metallica frontman, rhythm guitarist, and riff writer extraordinaire James Hetfield has long been one of the most famous users of EMG pickups, so it's a little surprising that the company hasn't pursued a signature pickup before. But apparently it's never too late. Working closely with Hetfield, EMG has finally created the EMG JH Set, which comprises the JH-N (neck) and JH-B (bridge) humbucking and according to Hetfield has the "clarity and punch of a passive pickup ... and the fat wall of sound of an active 81." Here's the description from EMG's web site, and a video clip of Hetfield describing the process.
The JH Set is a totally new dimension for EMG with the design being driven solely with the input of James Hetfield. In early 2009 James Hetfield contacted EMG Pickups president Rob Turner and presented him with a challenge: to create a "stealth" looking set that captures the clarity and punch of a passive pickup and still retains the legendary active tone that molded a generation.
Featuring sleek black nickel plated caps and EMG's Solderless Installation System components, the JH Set consists of the JH-N (neck) and the JH-B (bridge). Both pickups were patterned after the pickups James has used for 30 years but the end result was a completely different animal. The JH-N has individual ceramic poles and bobbins that feature a larger core and are taller than the 60. This produces more attack, higher output, and fuller low end in the neck position. The JH-B uses the same type of core but has steel pole pieces, unlike the 81 that uses bar magnets. This produces the familiar tight attack with less inductance for a cleaner low end.
Live Review of Eric Johnson at Bitter End in NYC
After nearly 45 minutes of waiting in a line that stretched a block down New York City's famed Bleecker Street, the doors to the cozy but iconic Bitter End opened, and a flood of excited fans streamed inside, filling the stage-front tables in mere seconds for an up-close view of master guitarist Eric Johnson. A short time later, Johnson, along with his special NYC rhythm section of Will Lee (bass) and Anton Fig (drums)—famously of the CBS Orchestra for the "Late Show with David Letterman"—hit the stage and launched into "Vortexan," from Johnson's 2010 release, Up Close.
Armed with his black signature model Fender Strat, a couple of Marshalls and a pair of Fender Vibroverbs, Johnson quickly filled the relatively small space with his crystalline clean tones and signature "800-lb. violin" lead sound as he conquered the first of several surprising covers this evening—an uptempo take on the Beatles' "Dear Prudence." From there Johnson turned again to Up Close with the elegant "Gem," which features chiming harp harmonics and a wide-interval arpeggiated melody.
Stepping back to cover material, Johnson next showed off some chicken pickin' skills while covering country-rockabilly style the Les Paul tune "World Is Waiting for the Sunrise," followed by a fuzz-drenched take on "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan, who was a frequent performer at the Bitter End back in the '60s. But it was Johnson's next cover that was not only most surprising but also most daring (and rewarding)—John Coltrane's "Mr. PC." On this uptempo bebop blues, Johnson and his versatile rhythm section truly stretched out, exploring out sounds and phrasing I've never heard from EJ before. Fans of Coltrane may have noted Lee's clever quotation of "A Love Supreme" during his bass solo.
EJ returned to solo material with "Hard Times," from his 2002 release Souvenir, featuring a healthy dose of Clapton-esque licks and phrases reminiscent of Slowhand's not-so-slow fret work on "Crossroads." Shifting back into jazzy gear, Johnson debuted a new, echo-drenched and octave-driven as-yet-untitled "but we'll just call it 'Title'" piece that borrowed a bit from Miles Davis's classic "So What," before returning to full-on rock form with the energetic "Fatdaddy" and autobiographical "Austin," both from Up Close. Johnson then offered up another new song, with the working title "Anthem for Today"—a tune that examines the state of our world and encourages us to focus on humankind's similarities rather than our differences.
A trip to the Venus Isle vault returned "When the Sun Meets the Sky," followed by sparkling solo guitar chord improvisation that eventually led into the set-closing anthem "Cliffs of Dover." Following a standing ovation, the trio returned to the stage for a rousing cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" And after this night's musical experience, the crowd's unanimous answer to that question was an emphatic "yes!"
If you live in the greater NYC area, the trio is playing the Bitter End once again tonight (5/11) at 10:00. Tickets available at ticketfly.com.
Live Chat with Mark Tremonti on May 13
Our live chat with Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti on Friday, May 13, at 3:00 pm CST was a stunning success. We'd like to thank Mark for graciously spending some time on his day off with us to answer your questions, and a big thanks to all of Mark's fans and our users who tuned in.
If you couldn't be there live and want to see what Mark had to say, simply go to this page and replay the chat.
Mark was the first in what we plan to be a long line of world-renowned guitarists and instructors who will take part in the GuitarInstructor Live Chat series. We've already scheduled Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, on Tuesday May 17, at 3:30 pm CST (click here to set up a reminder email), and we're working on schedules with several other top names right now, including a few who are instructors at our site. Stay tuned for the latest updates and announcements at our Facebook and Twitter pages.