Joined: 14 May 2004 Posts: 278 Location: Boulder, CO
Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:42 am Post subject: Scott answers your questions - round 2.10 - 8/25/10
I was talking with Rick Skillman of Celestion and he asked me to post my findings here - I'm happy to do it.
I've been kind of bummed because my 90's English Greenbacks are pretty old and they're starting to get worn out. I've listened to just about everything out there during the last six months, and haven't been able to find speakers which sound like mine. I have Chinese Greenbacks in my live cabinet, which I've taken out and put in my recording cab to compare to the English ones - contrary to popular opinion, my Chinese Greenbacks don't sound as good.
I've read posts about some people's A/B testing between these two speakers. I don't want to sound like a know it all, but my experience is that it's difficult to hear subtile differences in gear when you have to stop, plug in something else, then play again. I have problems hearing subtile differences in gear just because I'm playing at the time. What I've learned is that recording is the best way to do it. I like to switch between tracks with one press of a button - then I can really pay attention to detail. I have a learned "solo" which I play over a bass & drums track, being careful to pick in the exact same place on the string, all knobs on the guitar & amp the same, mic placement, etc. I'm really anal about it. I can definitely say that my English Greenbacks sound better than my Chinese ones - until now.
Celestion just sent me some brand new Chinese Greenbacks, and after breaking them in for 24 hours, I'm unable to hear any difference between them and my English ones. As happy as I am about it, I was also confused and curious about why. Rick told me that he chalks it up to ten years of experience at the factory in China. My Greenbacks which didn't sound as good were from the factory's first couple years of operation.
So, I just want to say that if you're thinking about buying Greenbacks, they sound as good as ever. The Heritage Greenback is a good speaker also, but I prefer the regular one because it's a bit darker and has more bass.
hey scott! question:
1. do you watch the office (tv series)? its quite funny
I don't get a chance to see it that often but the ones I've seen were really funny.
2. i'm not a very good player (yet!!) and still improving, anyway, i keep hearing from great player that most of the time when they"re improvising, its mainly putting together ideas and licks that they've known and practice before and true improvisation is only about 30%, as in a real lick or ideas or pattern that just created on the spot at that time, is that true? i just want to know what goes in your mind, do you think " well i can develop this ideas with this lick and then continue with this idea, etc, etc"? its just fascinating to hear how great players think when they're playing
Here's my answer to a similar question in round 2.6:
True improvisation, defined as playing things we've never played before 100% of the time, especially at fast tempos, is pretty much a myth. All improvisers have their personal vocabulary of small licks which they re-arrange to create different ideas and phrases, just like we use words to create our ideas when we talk. Listen to Coltrane's solo on Giant Steps and you'll hear many small "words" repeated many times, but even though the same words are used on the alternate take, it's a totally different solo. Improvisation is just another language and the same concepts apply.
One very important point which I missed in that paragraph is: vocabulary is meaningless without good phrasing and tone, motific development, dynamics, and space. Players who are good at these things can create great music without a big vocabulary of licks. I'm not saying it isn't good to have one, but it's not what you know that matters, it's how you play it. BB King has a much smaller vocabulary than Pat Metheny, but they're both equally great because of how musically they play the material they know.
Back to your question, it's always the goal of improvisers to play things they've never played before. I think tempo has a lot to do with the percentage rate of creating brand new ideas. At slow or medium tempos, it's easier to truly improvise - at fast tempos, we have to rely more on things we know just to keep our fingers up to speed.
I hope this hasn't been answered already, as I would love to know if there are any plans for a DVD of the Trio?
Again, sorry if this has already been answered. I figured others would have asked already. But, I didn't see it in the previous Threads.
Knowing how critical I am when listening to my own playing, I'd have to tape at least four nights to feel comfortable making a DVD. That's pretty expensive, so no plans to do it at this point.
recentrly i had a very bad experience with a od 100,itīs sounds terrible. i was wondering if thereīs huge differences between the standart the classic plus etc,in you opinion and experience. I tried the one that has nothing written down the od 100 logo and the dirt channel sounds terrible.
i still want buy one but in my country itīs very hard to check one ,it takes to travel to other cities and maybe itīs just that i donīt like this amp.
I'm sure there was something wrong with the amp - bad tubes, or some type of parts failure. It's impossible for an OD-100 to sound terrible, just like it's impossible for a 1968 Plexi Marshall to sound terrible. I don't mean any offense, but there are only two things that can make a great amp sound bad - the amp is broken, or the player doesn't know how to get good tone from his fingers or doesn't know how to EQ the amp properly. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and saying that the amp you tried is probably broken in some way. The differences in the standard, classic, and classic+ are subtile - those small differences wouldn't make you say one sounds bad and the others don't. It's too bad the amps are hard to find where you live - I'm sure if you played another one you'd have better luck.
Here are some tips for tweaking the OD-100 and old Marshalls. Usually, the amp starts sounding hairy and fizzy if you turn the presence above 6. Below 6 it starts to get thin, but depending on the type of tone you want, turning the presence below 6 can be compensated with the treble knob. The bass knob IS NOT BASS - it's low midrange. Personally I don't care for that frequency - it makes the notes woofy (especially on the neck pickup) and it interferes with the normal midrange, making high notes sound thin. Jeff Beck and many other players turn the bass completely off. I love single coil pickups and 4x12 cabs, because that combination has enough bass so I don't need any from the preamp. Treble is more of a personal taste thing, depending on where you set the guitar's treble knob. I roll off treble on the guitar, so I don't have the normal rock n' roll type tone. I set the amp treble on 5. Midrange is also a personal taste thing, but most people hear a sweet spot between where the amp starts sounding thin, and where it starts to sound too honky. On my plexi Marshall, the sweet spot is 4, but on my Suhr amps it's around 5 or 6.
hi scott, i play half of Lady P for now and i really enjoy that song. Id like to know what are the different effects that you used for the many parts of the guitars. Sometime the notes sing very sweetly i would like to reproduce that as close as possible. Thanks
Michael from Montreal
There are a lot of FX on that song. For the main guitar melodies and solos, I used a Suhr classic with V60LP pickups, Dumble modded Fender Bandmaster through a 4x12 cab with Greenback speakers, and two pedals combined - a Tube Screamer and Roger Mayer Voodoo 1. For the chords, a Danelectro 12-string with the same amp and cab, but with an MXR micro amp for a clean boost, and a Boss Dimension C which is a type of chorus pedal. I also used Waves plug-ins Enigma and Mondo Mod for some of the rhythm guitar parts.
At first, just wanted to say thank you for the music you're making. I've been your fan since 20 years now - I think your musicality and creativity is just endless.
Now three questions:
1. How do you approach practicing rhythm? I mean, how to play correctly time-wise generally, how to make it controllable, how to make music groove. I realize that the latter is a feeling thing, but maybe you know some ways to formalize, analyze and work it out?
Would be generally interesting to know your thoughts on this topic.
Part of your question is answered in 2.9, which was about developing good time. It's also important to develop a good vocabulary of rhythmic ideas, and the best way to do that is to memorize solos by great improvisers. I've been doing that since I first started playing. Sometimes I'd actually learn the solos on guitar, but that's not the important part - you don't need your instrument to memorize a solo and sing along with it. I don't mean sing as in make every correct pitch - just be able to sing the shapes and rhythms, and get as many correct notes as you can. Those rhythms you learn will eventually come out in your own solos. Don't listen too much to one person - listen to lots of different players on lots of different instruments, and at some point, your favorite rhythms will become a big part of creating your own voice.
2. I like your tone (and not only the tone) on your first albums the most. And also the tone on the Chick's "Electric Band" album. In my opinion no other solo ever played in his band by any other guitarist comes even close to the solo you played in "Silver Temple" (in any respect). The sounding of guitar on those albums was incredibly singing smooth and it seems to me, it was somehow connected with the fact that you used (AFAIK) the Electrovoice speakers for those albums. Could you, please, tell us a bit more of those speakers and if my assumptions are right or not?
Speakers are a big part of the tone, and EV's have more midrange than most others. I was also using humbuckers in those days, so my tone had way more midrange than it does now. It's a smooth tone, but also small in my opinion. If I used the tone from those first records in my current trio, it definitely wouldn't work. I'll probably use humbuckers again for some of the new Tribal Tech album - I think they sound best with keyboards or rhythm guitar, but they're too bass shy for me to use in a trio.
3. Are there any plans to visit Germany (Karlsruhe?) in 2010?
Thanks you very much again,
We were there in February. I was bummed because the "spinner" guy didn't show up - hope he's OK.
1. I have an HH guitar but always use a push/pull knob to split the coils. Do you have some insight on how the tone of a split humbucker compares to a true single coil and should I go through the trouble of installing real single coils if that's what I play mostly (I do know the signal is weaker on a split pickup)?
Actually much weaker. If you play mostly singe coils, get real ones - a split humbucker is a crappy substitute.
2.On a video you said you have your Gain and Volume on the RC booster all the way up, but when I do it with my 30W tube Marshall combo (running at 16ohms, yuck, I'm getting a cab to make it 8..), I get a huge amount of crackling from the speaker. The amp works great, and I've been told I'm overriding the preamp. Is that because 30W amps have less headroom?
I'm sorry, I don't understand your situation, because I don't know what "crackling from the speaker" means. If it means what I think, then the speaker's getting ready to die. That doesn't have anything to do with a pedal, it just means you're playing your amp too loud for the speaker. So, without actually hearing what's going on, all I can give you is a general answer.
To get a good distortion tone with a pedal, your amp needs to be crunchy, not clean. If your amp has a master volume, it's easy - just dial in a crunch tone on the preamp, then turn up the master to the desired volume, but not more than the speakers can handle. If you don't have a master volume amp, you could have problems. The only way to get the amp to be crunchy is to turn it way up - combined with a pedal, that can push the speakers too hard. As a rule, non master volume amps should use twice the amount of speaker wattage as the amp. A turned up 100 watt plexi Marhall with just one 100 watt cab is going to eventually kill the speakers. That's why Hendrix and all the players who used those amps ran them with a stack - two cabinets equals 200 watts of speaker power. I had a plexi Marshall which I sold because it was unusable with just one cabinet. Even with a variac on 90 volts it was still too loud. So, if I'm guessing right about what's going on in your rig, you need more speakers, or a higher wattage speaker.
On your old website you described a table that you made for the cab so that the bass frequencies don't transfer to the floor while recording. I can't find it anywhere anymore..
Could you go through that again? I remember there was a diagram of it. I'm thinkig of making one myself. Do you think its worth it? Many thanks again!!!
Sorry, I don't have that diagram anymore. I used the table a few times but then stopped because it took away bass. The cabinet sounds much better sitting on the floor, but that also generates bass throughout the house. Just tell your family that low frequencies are good for them.
Hi Scott, this great guitarist offer on his site tabs and backtracking of his songs, this is a great idea. You should do that, id be the first to buy your stuffs. You could use midi guitars to do the tabs, that would be faster. Even Steve Vai sell is backtracking of his albums. What do you think about it?
It's a good idea but I just don't have time to do it. Any free time I have for music goes to writing or practicing.
By the way i really think that you're the best blues guitarist, and to me to do a new tribal album is not the best news (i dont really like the fusion sound). Hope for an other modern blues for pretty soon. Thanks a lot for your extraordinaire music.
I realize I can't please everyone. There are jazz, rock, and blues fans who listen to my music - I try not to think about it and just write and play whatever's in my head at the moment.
Did you ever come to Montreal ? There's a lot of Festival here that you could do. Michael from Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Tribal Tech used to play in Montreal every year until L' Air Dutemps stopped booking jazz. I'd love to play a festival there, but someone has to invite me - my agent hasn't had much luck booking me in the US or Canada
Hi Scott,I'm your biggest fans from Jakarta-Indonesia, i have a few questions for you
1. in round 2.9 you said "Mentioning Paganini in the same sentence as Mozart is like mentioning Mr. T. in the same sentence as De Niro" ha ha ha... , that one of the most funny thing you ever said, please explain us what do you feel about music that composed by Paganini than music composed by other great Composer like Mozart,Beethoven? I know you said that you want too keep opinion about other musician for yourself, but this is different case because none of these composers still alive.i'm wonder why many guitar shredder so in love with paganini, because i thing his composition not as deep as other great composer.
It's easy to see why shredders love Paganini since his music is mostly fast minor scales with not much intervallic variation, not to mention his harmonies are pure vanilla, even for that time. Saying that other composers are deeper is a huge understatement.
2.I have often heard that "Every great improviser said when he/she improvising they tried to developing idea and not just playing a bunch of notes", i can understand the meaning of the sentence if i hear Improviser like You, Wayne, Herbie, that style is playing a motif and developing it through the form, but i can't understand the meaning of that sentence when i hear other great improviser like holdswoth,miles, mike brecker, metheny,scofield etc, they're rarely playing motif, can u tell us what they developed on their playing if not motif? Are the meaning of developing idea in improvising is mean only developing motif?
Some improvisers use motific development more than others. It's just a tool, you can use it or not. There are plenty of great solos without one repeated motif, but personally I like to hear that sometimes if done in a musical way. It's also something that I naturally do sometimes because once in a while I come up with melodies that seem like they need to be developed further.
3. Are every great Blues Player playing and developing a motif in their playing like beck,albert king,hendrix,vaughan,landau etc?
I've definitely heard all those guys play motifs.
4.Have you ever experience that your guitar got crack in the body in the place bolt on join to the neck, i see many guitar have that crack? is there any influence on the sound?
thanks a lot Scott
That's very common on guitars with bolt on necks. The pressure of the neck screws eventually crack the paint - I've never seen the actual body crack, which could hurt the tone. I've only seen the paint crack, which doesn't do any harm.
have you ever read the book "The Artist's way", by Julia Cameron? In what way books like these (Effortless Mastery) have changed your playing and your thoughts about music?
I've never read The Artists Way. Effortless Mastery is a really good book, but in my opinion it has a flaw. I wouldn't tell a beginning or mediocre player to think of himself as a master. A future master, maybe, but a master right now? I don't think so. Am I a master? Yeah, if I compare myself to the dog. Master is a pretty lofty word and I reserve it for the true geniuses and innovators of music like Mozart, Miles Davis, or Joe Zawinul. I don't have to think of myself as some great master to play my ass off and have fun on stage every night.
I still think it's a great book, but this is my message to students: Do you have those moments when you think you suck? Great! Then you're in good company. Michael Brecker was one of the best improvisers ever, and was very critical of his own playing, as are most great musicians. Actually I don't know many musicians who aren't. Anyone who says we should always be happy with our work is being unrealistic. I don't think I'd try as hard to get better if I was happy with everything I do. Besides, I don't think musicians who say "I suck" really mean it in a literal way. It's usually said in anger after a mistake or a bad night. Deep down inside, we also have a voice that says "there are some very cool things about my playing" and we should listen to that voice more than the self-critical one, never acknowledging our limitations without also acknowledging our qualities. "I suck" should be re-worded to a more positive and accurate statement, like "my playing has room for improvement". We should always be confident in our abilities, especially on stage, but still be humble enough to keep growing. With all the amazing musicians out there, I'll never have a problem remaining humble.
The main point of Kenny's book is excellent, which is simply to relax when you play. Being nervous while playing is the #1 reason you'll play badly. So, the more you care about playing well, the worse you'll play. If you're relaxed, and honestly don't give a shit if you play well or not, but play simply for the sake of having a good time, you'll play your best and be the most creative. We have to stop taking ourselves too seriously and have fun - it's not brain surgery or flying a 747. If you get that wrong, people can die. What's going to happen if I don't play my best? Nothing, that's what. No one will even know it but me, which has been proven many times after below average gigs, when the most people come up and tell me how great it was. Being nervous on stage is just a waste of energy.
There will always be gigs that are worse than others, but one of the great things Kenny says in his book is not to dwell on them, or regard them as important events. He states that some musicians live their lives according to how good they think they played on their last gig. That's so true. Again, taking yourself too seriously leads to an emotional roller coaster ride. Enjoyment is the key - if you're relaxed and enjoying yourself, you'll do your job well. If you're nervous, you'll more than likely fuck it up.
Hi Scott !
First I would like to thank you for all tips you use to share about your music, your tone, your gear and recording experience.
I am a big fan since I interest to Jazz-Rock music and guitar playing in general way, that's the way I discovered you and your music more than twenty years ago. I really like your tone since you turn to vintage like stratocaster guitars.
Here are my questions.
You currently associate your tone to Plexi Marshall amps and told us that you owned '69 Plexi Marshall Super Bass that we can hear on "Dolemite" LP version for exemple ...
... and you have a great tone ! I assume that it is a 1992 model, can you confirm this ?
You wrotte on your own pages that you bought a 50W Plexi Marshall amp for the "Tore Down House" recording sessions which it was used for about half of the the album ...
Have you still got it ?
What can you say to us about this amp, what model it is ?
I sold the 50W and Super Bass. Too loud!
You use to talk about your main amp, Suhr SH100, as to be a "clone" of your '71 Marshall amp. Could you tell us wich model is your '71 Marshall amp ?
I still have the 1971 Marshall, but it's not stock - John Suhr modded it with a master volume and FX loop. It just says Super Lead 100W, there's no model number. The SH-100 is a clone of that amp, but with some improvements which exist in the second channel of the OD-100 Classic.
I read a lot about Mike Landau who is an amazing guitar player and a Tone Wizard. I especialy like the tone he's got with his '63 Fiesta red Strat. I know that you are a big fan to !
I read on the Mike's gear pages that he recently put Eminence Tonespotter speakers in his Fender Hot Rod Deville and '64 Pro Reverb amp.
Have you ever try this speaker and what is your taste ?
It's too bright for me.
On your Marshall amps, do you use to plug into the Normal Channel or the Lead Channel ?
Hope to see you one of these days in the West Indies !
I've never heard Marshall channels described that way. It's channel 1 and channel 2, each having two inputs. I've always plugged into the top input of channel 1.
How long is the cable from your amp to the speaker cabinet in your home studio?
It's about 25 feet.
Does the speaker cable length influence the tone?
Absolutely, not just the length, but the size and brand. I don't like Monster Cable because it's really bright. The best and most natural sounding speaker cable I've found is 10 gauge Marshall Sound Runner by Mogami. I use it in my studio and on stage. This site sells it in bulk but you can find shorter lengths in most electronic stores.
I also separate the positive and negative and use it to wire my speaker cabinets. Quality speaker cable won't make much of a difference if your cabinet has that cheap television wire like Marshall uses.
What is the optimal length in your opinion?
Many thanks and all the best!
Just try to keep it as short as possible. I've heard if the speaker cable is over 50 feet, you start hearing a difference in tone. When I did the first VTT album, I had to use an 80 foot speaker cable to reach the guitar cabinet room. My amp wasn't as responsive and the tone on that record is thin.
Hi Scott, i love your music & playing ... very psyched about this trio with Berlin & Chambers (both tremendous players!) ... any plans down the line to record anything together? A super grp. like this needs to be properly documented!
p.s. equally psyched about the upcoming TT release ...
We're planning to record, but not sure when. If we want to make any publishing money, we may have to do one of those "writing in the studio" records, since we're saving our own songs for individual solo albums. It would be fine with me if we just recorded the covers we play on the road.
Do you think that the Boss RC 2 works fine creating backing tracks right on the spot in a concert? Do you used it this way?
When are you coming to Brazil? Hope to see you soon!
It'll work fine that way, but if you're using it while the band's playing, they'll need to hear it loud enough in their monitors to stay in sync with it. Unfortunately like most Boss pedals, it's not true bypass so it changes your tone when you're not using it. That's why I don't use mine in my pedal chain - I just hook it up at sound check for practicing and to loop some playing to check the sound in the PA.
We're playing in Brazil in November - I'll post the dates soon.
Have you tried the Marshall JTM45 or JTM30 ? What are your thoughts about them ?
I've never played through those, though I've heard that a lot of people like them. In general, I like 100 watt amps more than smaller wattage amps because they produce a lower bass frequency.
Talking about pedals, the Lovepedal Provalve 2 seems a good option for those who use the volume pot a lot. Have you heard or played this pedal ?
No, the only Lovepedal I've heard is the COT and I really like it.
I know you're not a Les Paul guy, but maybe you could help me: I have a Gibson Les Paul Standard with stock Burstbucker Pros and I noticed that when I put a distortion/OD pedal in front of my Fender (Deville), I get a harsh sound specially when playing loud. I was wondering if that comes from the 6L6-type amp or it's a bad combination of gear.
Thnx for helping!
Actually an SG was my first guitar - I played it for about five years, then played a Les Paul for five years. The keyboard player in our top 40 band was a Sri Chinmoy follower who worked at an electronics place - we used to call him Maha Soldering Iron. He knocked my Les Paul off the stand, breaking the headstock of course - he couldn't afford to buy me another one so we got a Strat. So he's the guy responsible for me playing Strats, and I also like to blame him when I use the wang bar more than I should, and for playing the occasional bad solo.
Your problem is bad pickups. I have a 2003 Les Paul and a 2008 SG. They both sounded like crap when I bought them - the reason I picked them is because they're light guitars and sound good acoustically. I knew I'd have to change the pickups, which I did, and now they sound great. Both Gibson and Fender put harsh sounding pickups in their guitars - that's why Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio make a lot of money. Some of the better current Gibson's are lightweight and very well made, so you'd think some of that quality control would result in good pickups, but they don't come close to Seymour's or other quality brands. I couldn't believe the difference when I put Suhr SSV's in my SG - now it sounds as good as my friend's vintage SG.
I suggest you get rid of those BurstPoopers and put in either Suhr SSV bridge & neck pickups, or a Seymour Duncan '59 in the bridge and Seymour Duncan Jazz in the neck. That's what I have in mine. Les Paul's can sound a bit woofy in the neck position - the Jazz has less windings than a normal neck pickup, which makes that position a little brighter and clearer sounding. For the bridge, even though I prefer SSV's in general, the '59 has more midrange - it's the more traditional Les Paul tone. BTW if you have the Well To The Bone album, the slide guitar on Lola Fay was played with the neck pickup of my Les Paul, a Tube Screamer and a Fender amp - my friends can't believe how good these brand new Gibson guitars sound.
1. which amp simulator was that you used at the clinic at "La Cicala" in Dragoni?
It doesn't have the dynamic range or versatility of Axe FX ($1499.95) or Avid Eleven Rack ($899.99), but it fits in your pocket and sounds amazing. I wouldn't use any of this digital stuff for recording anyway, so I don't see the point of paying big money for a practice tool. I've tried both Axe FX and Eleven Rack in the studio - I know this sounds crazy, but I was able to get closer to my fat mic'd up Marshall tone with the Korg!
If you want the tone I had at the clinic, here it is:
Dynamics - off
Amp - US MDN Gain 7.0 Middle 10.0 Bass 1.0 Treble 2.0 Volume 7.0 Presence (available through computer editing interface) 10.0
Cabinet - 4x12 MDN Volume 10.0
Modulation - off
Delay - Echo3 Volume 4.0 Dly Time 500
Reverb - Plate2 Volume 3.0
Noise Reduction 3.0
howdy ho scott!
several questions, i hope they're fun ones, or ellicit some fond memories:
what guitars (make, model, year, etc) did you play as you were first learning how to play guitar?
which one was your favorite?
why was it your favorite?
I had a black Les Paul with a creme pickguard and switch. I didn't know anything about tone back then, I just loved it because it looked so cool.
do you ever get a chance to play any of those old models, and if so, how does it make you feel to kind of walk back in time?
Every time I play my Les Paul or SG it reminds me of those old days, and I always end up playing some Zeppelin riffs and smiling. But now I'm hooked on my Suhr's - they sound like vintage strats but have the easy playability of Gibsons.
amps, are different. at least to me, it's a different thing, talking about the old amps, but if you have a cool story about a particular amp or weird-assed setup that you really dug at the time, i know folks would love to hear about it (and i'm not talking pro rigs, just the early formative stuff)
(like a pignose into a peavey standard head, or stuff like that!)
It was a Peavy - a Special 130 1x12 combo which I used for quite a long time. When rack gear came around, I took the amp out of the box and rack mounted it, and plugged from the FX send through my rack FX into the FX returns of two Peavy Heritage 2x12 combos. Those were tube amps so it warmed up the sound, but each Heritage had two EV12L's, so it felt like they were nailed to the floor. That's what I used on the Ned Flanders gigs (sorry, I meant Chick Corea). Eventually a friend of mine was able to take those Heritage power sections and make a stereo power amp from them, probably the first of it's kind for guitar. Many years later, Boogie came out with it's first power amp and I switched to that, mainly because it was lighter.
what was the 1st gig you did, where you forgot what you were playing, because some foxy chick was taking your attention away.....?
That sounds like all my gigs. But the first one is easy - the Candy Bar strip club in West Palm Beach, Florida. I only knew bar chords at the time, but if I missed one by a half step it was pretty obvious. Luckily no one was paying any attention to the music, not even us.
I think Frank pretty much summed it up. Music had nothing to do with why I was fired from Chick's band. David King, who was posting his opinion about my freedom of speech, picking technique and ego, has a lot to learn. Great band leaders rarely choose musicians for their technique. Phrasing, tone, and creativity are way more important. If I was known for my technique, I'd give up music. Chick liked my playing and I liked his, and still do. We didn't get along well, but I have the utmost respect for him as an improvisor.
It's true that I'm not a fast picker. I make up for that with my legato style, which tone-wise I prefer to picking anyway. Good legato players can execute fast lines with perfect timing just as well as guys who do it by picking. Regardless of playing style, Chick's music is difficult and requires a lot of practice to play, and one of the only proud things I took away from that gig is that I nailed every note in perfect time. Now that I'm older and see music in a completely different way, that doesn't mean shit to me. I still play fast lines from time to time, but rarely use them in composing because I think it sounds too athletic. I watch the NFL for that. I see students every day at GIT practicing on nothing but how fast they can pick, and the sound of it makes me want to throw up. Apparently some people really get off on the sports aspect of music. I know from experience - that wears off after you reach musical puberty.
Frank is correct when he says I was always a Joe Zawinul and Weather Report fan. I loved Chick's pre-Scientology jazz records and the first version of Return To Forever, but to be honest, I didn't like much of the music he wrote for the Elektric band, except for Silver Temple, the song that introduced me to the band and misled me to believe that all the music would be that good. Compared to that tune, most of the other music bordered on happy jazz. Even though Chick has written a lot of great music in his career, it was my feeling that this music was written mainly to make money. Not to mention my role in the band being so one-dimensional. I don't think I ever got to play two notes at the same time. So Frank is also correct to say my heart wasn't really into the gig.
My behavior with any girl I met on Chick's gig never made me late, or was in any way unprofessional. What got me fired was my refusal to obey Chick's orders, basically because I thought they were stupid. He told me not to go out with women from his audience because, and I quote, "it degrades the music." I disobeyed that order every chance I got. In fact I was furious that he'd bring music into a matter which was clearly about his religion. I had to really bite my tongue on that one. I said "I'm sorry, I don't want to offend anyone" but I came really close to saying "listen pal, the only one who's degrading music is you, for writing this cornball shit." In hindsight, even though that comment would've cost me a lot of money, I really wish I had said it.
I've never told this story publicly before but hey, why not, it's funny. There was a girl in Torino who was our interpreter for four days. I hit on her the first day and was hanging out with her every night. On the bus away from Torino, Chick and John were having a conversation. John said he had a religious experience there because he had visited one of the places where Jesus taught. Chick said he also had a religious experience there because he had visited one of the places where L. Ron Hubbard taught. Then Weckl said, "yeah, Henderson had a religious experience too - he fucked the interpreter". Chick gave me an evil look, walked to the back of the bus and didn't speak to me for over a week. That little bitch acted like I was doing his wife. So fuck him, fuck Scientology, along with all the other religions who try to stop people from having a good time. Life's too short for that crap. I will say that Chick never once tried to convert me, but probably only because he knew it would be a total waste of time.
Frank is correct, I had a stereo rig, and to walk out 20 feet in front of it made it sound out of phase and weird. I don't play as well if my tone sounds bad to me. When I told Chick this, he said, and I quote: "Your perception of how you sound isn't as important as what the band looks like to the audience". That statement is appropriate in a Vegas revue or pop gig, not in a jazz group. If I want to stand there and play on the spot where it sounds the best to me, that's exactly what I'm going to do. If Chick didn't like me refusing his orders, he could fire me, which he did.
Someone posted that I was putting down being a sideman. I wasn't. Most jazz musicians get their start being sidemen, which is a great opportunity if it's for the right band leader. I was just saying that for those who want to be band leaders, writing your own music is more important.
I don't apologize for my views on religion - I was asked a question and I gave an honest answer. I also posted a warning that religious people could be offended by it. If people who read my board think my answers are inappropriate, ask your fellow posters to stop asking inappropriate questions. My opinion is that it's a forum, so all questions are OK, except for music lesson questions which should be accompanied by money.
I only ranted on Christianity and Scientology, because those are the only religions I've had any personal experience with, though I have no doubt that if I read the doctrine of any other religion, I'd find it to be equally ridiculous. If people want to wear beanie caps or parkas so god can't see their heads, fantastic, good luck with that, but don't try to take away my right as a comedian to make fun of it. To close this matter, many of my religious friends and relatives are among the nicest people I know, and just because I choose not to believe as they do, I would never try to change them, any more than I'd want them to change me. Freedom of religion is one of the things that makes us a civilized society, and even though my personal wish is for religion to go the way of the dinosaurs, I don't practice intolerance toward people unless they bother me first. I just feel sorry for them for allowing themselves to be brainwashed, therefore ruining their chance to enjoy the Roast of Flavor Flav and David Hasselhoff. Actually I take that back - there are many religious people who still maintain their secular sense of humor. I was just unfortunate to grow up with some hard core folks who wouldn't eat at Sizzler because they serve beer.
How often do you have to refret your guitars?
I'm a lucky guy to have a Suhr endorsement, but not the best guy to answer your question. John makes a new guitar for me about once a year, and each one seems to be better than the last... so I don't often need the frets replaced. I've only done it on a couple guitars, and I think it was after about five tours (approximately 100 gigs) that I noticed problems. Dents in the frets are clearly visible, plus dead notes and fret-outs when bending are easily heard, so you'll know when it's time. Stainless steel frets last much longer, but John says they sound a bit brighter so I've never tried them.
Is it true that you are seeking a replacement for John Humphrey in the blues trio? If this is true, what type of a bassist are you looking for? Is the trio headed in a new direction that requires a different type of player?
John's a great bass player, but now that the trio is instrumental, we've been playing more funk, and tunes with more complex harmony. I need a bass player who's more comfortable with the new music. I have a few guys in mind, but haven't asked anyone yet since the trio's not touring until Spring, so I don't want the new guy to learn all that music just to play at the Baked Potato. John and I have no hard feelings and he'll be the first to say he enjoys playing rock and blues more than jazz fusion. When he joined the band, we had Pat O'Brien on harmonica and were playing strictly blues and music from Dog Party, which is more the style of music John enjoys playing.
It's my Suhr SH-100, a Kerry Wright open back 4x12 slant cab with Greenbacks, and an RC Booster pedal. Just for those who aren't experienced with delay FX, the intro is played using a delay with one repeat, set to a dotted eighth note. I couldn't pick that fast to save my life. I was told that it was Les Paul who invented that trick.
Once again I was asked to check out Frank Gumbale's message board after my last 2.10 post. I feel I need to chime in once more as well, and this is the last thing I'm going to say on this subject. Come on guys, this was 20 years ago!
Frank is absolutely right. Any employee must obey the orders of the employer to keep their job, end of story. At that time, I really needed the money which I was making on Chick's gig, yet I didn't agree with him telling me where to stand, or how to live my personal life. I had mixed feelings about keeping the gig, to say the least. I knew that I'd eventually be fired for not doing what he told me, and Chick did the right thing by firing me and getting someone who would do what he wanted. As angry as we got at each other sometimes, we parted with no hard feelings and he even hired me again a couple years later for a movie score.
Unlike Frank, I'm not a big fan of Chick Corea's music, even though I liked some of his earlier work. That certainly doesn't mean I don't respect him as a genius player. I agree with Frank, he could be a very warm person, but I saw another side of him when my actions offended his religious beliefs. Another short story: I'm not going to mention names, but a great straight ahead jazz guitarist, much better at straight ahead than me, really wanted the gig in the Elektric band - he had jammed with Chick many times. He asked Chick why he wasn't considered for the gig, and Chick told him "I don't need a virtuoso, I just need someone I can tell what to do". I learned this after I'd been fired, and it put everything in perspective for me. I was like, OK, now I get it.
For all this talk about it, I was only in the band for six months, and that was a blessing, because I went on to much better things, like getting the opportunity to play with Joe Zawinul for four years, and become a touring band leader myself. Just a short note on my first experience playing with Joe - of course there were written parts I had to learn, like in any band, but I was always asked to phrase melodies in my own way, and many times asked "can you come up with a cool guitar part in this section?" or "do you think it would be cool if we played this four times instead of two?" And most importantly from a guitar perspective - "come up with some hip voicings to play under this synth melody". As much of a true genius as Joe was, his band member's opinions about the music were important to him, and he liked that everyone had a role in the creative process. In Chick's band, you play what he wrote and that's it. That gets old real fast, and it's another reason I wasn't into the gig that much.
My time in that band aside, the main reason I'm writing this is because I want it known that I posted comments about religion on MY message board, and only after being asked to do so. This guy ES347 who posted that people in the public eye shouldn't give their opinions on religion or politics because it'll piss off their fans - that's such a cowardly attitude. This is a free country and anyone can voice their opinion about anything, so those who tell others to shut up when they answer a question about their beliefs should move their ass to a country where free speech is not allowed. Besides, I'm not pissed off at anyone for their beliefs, so why in the world would anyone be pissed off at me for mine? I don't like Scientology, but if Chick does another acoustic piano trio album, I'll probably buy it. Frank said in his post "Dave and I are pretty skeptical about the whole organized religion thing". He didn't go into detail about it like I did, but he still voiced his opinion. Anybody planning to stop buying his records? I don't have to agree with someone's beliefs to enjoy their art, and people who do are either religious fanatics or close minded fools.
My problem is with evangelists - people who feel it's their job to convert others. This is where I totally disagree with Frank when he says "Chick is all about the music." Chick is first about Scientology. This is documented: Chick Corea has given sermons on Scientology AT HIS GIGS. As much as I believe in free speech, I believe it's inappropriate to give a speech on your beliefs to people who came to hear music. I've never said a word about it at one of my gigs. Nor have I ever gone to any public place, real or virtual, to voice my opinion on religion or politics - only on my own message board, where people ask me questions. If anyone is so offended by my beliefs that it stops them from buying my records, it's fine with me because I don't want to sell records to idiots.
Just to set the record straight, I'm not an Atheist. That's just another religion in my book. Science hasn't proven there's no God, anymore than it's proven there is one. My take on it is simply this: In my current human form, I have no idea who or what created me, so instead of guess about it, or take the word of a cult leader or some ancient book, I'd rather simply acknowledge that at this time I'm not meant to know the secrets of the universe, and be OK with that. My mission is to try to help others as much as I can, try my best to improve my skills, and enjoy my life. I can't help but think it's funny when people organize themselves into groups, for the purpose of worshipping a god with a different name than the god of other people's groups. That whole concept is ridiculous and absurd to me. Nevertheless, I maintain many friendships with people who do it. Whatever makes people happy is OK with me, and who am I to try to change their minds? If asked for my opinion, I'll give it, like I did on my message board.
So, enough about this stuff. 2.11 is open for questions, but no more questions about Chick. I wish him the best.
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