Tag: Guitar

Guitar World Interview: Joe Bonamassa Discusses The Guitar Center Blues Masters Challenge

bluesmastersGuitar Center’s Blues Masters, through a partnership with Joe Bonamassa, is offering ten musicians the chance to perform in Los Angeles backed by Bonamassa’s band as well as provide one undiscovered blues guitarist with a career-altering opportunity for development and exposure under the tutelage of one of the biggest names in blues rock.

Now through the end of April, guitarists can submit videos of their best lead guitar performance to one of ten official Joe Bonamassa backing tracks. The videos will then be judged through a series of selection processes by both industry professionals and eventually, Bonamassa himself.

The grand prize winner will receive an opening slot at Bonamassa’s headlining show in Los Angeles this fall as well as a cash prize and gear from Gibson, Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification and Dunlop. In addition, the winner will also receive an in studio mentor session with Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley, who has worked with the likes of Journey, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and more.

I spoke with Bonamassa about Blues Masters as well as some of his latest projects.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me a little about your involvement with Guitar Center and Blues Masters.

I’ve been involved in Guitar Center’s King of The Blues Competition for the past several years and it’s been a lot of fun. Everyone is playing so well that it makes me wish I was 18 again. These guys are so unbridled and enthusiastic. The Blues Masters is a chance for aspiring blues guitarists from across the U.S. to submit their best lead guitar performance to one of my tracks. There‘s a submission and selection process and I’ll be getting involved more towards the end of the year when they finalize the selection, and then we’ll pick a winner.

Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Joe Bonamassa Here.

For  official rules and other information concerning Guitar Center’s Blues Masters, please visit: http://www.guitarcenter.com/bluesmasters.


Guitar World Interview: Gin Blossoms’ Jesse Valenzuela On Band’s Plans For 2013


GinBlossomsSince taking their name from a caption on a W.C. Fields photo and signing a record deal more than twenty years ago, Gin Blossoms have been synonymous with catchy melodies and jangle pop. But it was their breakout 1992 album, “New Miserable Experience” that solidified them on the charts for nearly three years and threw the band into the mainstream. With singles like “Hey Jealousy,” “Allison Road,” “Until I Fall Away,” and “Found Out About You”, New Miserable Experience went on to sell over 4 million copies and made the band a 90’s radio mainstay.

After a four year hiatus that began in 1997, the band reunited in 2001 and continues to record and tour, performing as many as 120 shows a year. In 2010, Gin Blossoms: Robin Wilson (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Jesse Valenzuela (Vocals & Guitar), Scott Johnson  (Guitar) and Bill Leen (Bass) released “No Chocolate Cake”, an album which shot straight to # 1 on Amazon, hitting Billboard’s top 200 at # 73 and the Indie chart at #14 and landing them back on the singles chart again with the single, “Miss Disarray”.

2013 will once again bring the band to over 100 cities, as well as a five-artist rock cruise, international shows and perhaps even another new album. The band is also partnering with Fretlight Guitars to give fans a chance to win an autographed Fretlight FG-421 at several stops during the Northeastern winter tour.

I had the chance to speak with guitarist Jesse Valenzuela and get his thoughts on the origin, music and future plans of Gin Blossoms.

Hey Jealousy

“I Don’t Want To Lose You Now”


Gin Blossoms Tour Dates

GB Schedule

Read my Guitar World Article with Gin Blossoms Here

Guitar World Interview: George Lynch Discusses T&N: Slave to The Empire

After tracking songs for what was once to become a new Lynch Mob album, it was drummer Brian Tichy who proposed the idea of bringing together George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown (The “Big 3″ of Dokken) for a project similar to what Heaven & Hell was to Black Sabbath. The result is T&N and a brand new album, Slave to the Empire.

The new album is both melodic and thought provoking music with a purpose. The message being, you don’t have to be a slave to the empire. Featuring seven original songs (with Pilson on vocals) as well as five re-recorded Dokken classics with vocal performances by Tim“Ripper” Owens, Doug Pinnick (Kings X), Sebastian Bach, and Robert Mason (Warrant). Slave To The Empire also adds to the mix the hard hitting, multi-talented drumming of Tichy as well.

A second album of new material and classic remakes of Dokken material is slated for next year that will also coincide with a tour.

I spoke with George Lynch to get his thoughts on Slave to The Empire as well as his other passion: the documentary “Shadow Train”.

Read the rest of my Guitar World interview with George Lynch Here.

Guitarist Dee J Nelson Discusses “It’s Alive”

Guitarist Dee J Nelson is making a name for himself. The Chicago based southpaw shredder, whose DVD “Monster Power Chords” has become a huge hit on Metal Method, has recently released “It’s Alive”; an album of guitar wizardry that will have players everywhere asking, “How’d he do that?”

Dee J credits some of his early influences to the Sex Pistols and Naked Ray Gun. But it wasn’t until he saw Steve Vai perform that everything changed.”When I saw Vai play for the first time, that was it for me”, Nelson says with a smile. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a guitar player.”

From there, Dee J hunkered down and began to seriously improve his chops. He studied with Shrapnel alum George Bellas and majored in music composition at DePaul University. While studying guitar and writing orchestral music in college, he supplemented his time by regularly giving as many as fifty students guitar lessons each week.

I had the chance to speak with Dee J and get the inside scoop on his new album, how he became a Metal Method instructor and also what he’s up to now.

Where did you find the inspiration to record songs for “It’s Alive”?

DJ: I usually start out with an inspiring idea or concept and build the song from there. Often times it’s riff inspired. I’ll find something that I really like and it will remind me of something.

Other times, I’ll have a concept in mind for song. “Scream Bloody Dream”  is a good example of that. I decided one day to write a song about a chick screaming with a neo-classical feel. Another track with a plan was “The Living and The Dying”. That song was something I had a vision in mind for. I pictured it being a zombie-esque story and started out using ominous chords which eventually become something more when the “zombie” actually comes out (high bends). Those ideas were both planned well before even writing a note.

Who were some of your early guitar teachers?

I studied with George Bellas, who was one of the Shrapnel recording artists. He’s a phenomenally intense player and someone who really inspired me a lot. During college, I studied classical guitar with Mark Maxwell and jazz with Bob Palmieri, who’s worked with Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson and The Pat Metheny Group, among others.

How were you introduced to Doug Marks and Metal Method?

I was introduced to Doug by Stephen Jensen. Stephen designed the logo for Metal Method and does artwork for other major bands. He also, coincidentally designed the cover for my book, “Monster Power Chords”. The book was a basic program I developed based on power chords that players could use to practice their rhythm technique. Stephen introduced me to Doug who then made the book available to his students. There was such a great reaction to it that we decided to change the format of it to DVD. So, I flew out to Doug’s studio in LA to film it.

What was it like working with Doug?

Amazing. Doug really is a great guy and a metal legend. At one point, we took a break so that we could go out to dinner and I remember just sitting there thinking how cool it was to be there with him. I had always remembered him from the magazines and had been inspired by him, but to be there with him in person was pretty cool.

What other projects are you working on right now?

Edsel Dope invited me over to his studio to do some recording and we’ve just recently completed a guitar track for the WWE. It’s going to be used as the new entrance music theme for Ryback, so watch for it!

Guitarists: Check out DJ’s fingering exercise (Click on image to enlarge)

You can keep up with Dee J Nelson on his official website.

My Metal Method Story

It was sometime in the summer of 1985. I was a young, skinny, pimply faced teenager who had just started taking guitar lessons at the local music store. My Mom had rented me a Gibson Explorer with the only stipulation being, I take weekly lessons. Now a junior metal-head and armed with a black guitar, there was no stopping me.

I’ll admit, those first few months of learning how to play were rough. I had to endure my siblings berating me for playing “the same thing over and over” and to this day still have nightmares about muddling my way through a Mel Bay lesson book and painfully maneuvering my left hand in a futile attempt to form a “G” chord properly.

Fortunately though, my teacher always saved the best part of every lesson for last. Towards the end of each session, he would take a recording of any song I brought in from home and we (or should I say, “HE”) would figure out the chords to it for me. He was one of those little weasels who could figure out any song and lead on the guitar just by listening to it on the stereo. So songs by Bon Jovi, The Scorpions, AC/DC and Quiet Riot were all quickly added to my repertoire. My arsenal of music was slowly beginning to grow, and I was on my way to becoming the metal head I wanted to be.

But still, it felt like something was missing.

One day, I was at my local music store performing my ritual of staring at the expensive Gibson Les Paul guitars hanging on the wall when I happened to pick up my very first  guitar magazine. As a new player (and well before the advent of the Internet), those magazines were like the Bible. As I perused through the pages of gospel, I suddenly stopped when the face pictured in this post caught my eye. It was a picture of Doug Marks and an advertisement for his Metal Method guitar lessons.

These were lessons that were geared towards teaching how to play “METAL”, which was right up my alley. So, over the next few years I supplemented my weekly guitar lessons by purchasing all eight of the initial lessons and immersing myself in playing chords and leads geared towards the style of music I wanted to play. It was wonderful.

The thing I loved the most about Metal Method was the fact that there was always something you could use to make you better. And it wasn’t something that you had to rush to figure out; you could take your time with it. I’ll never forget the first time I learned how to play the two-handed tapping method that Eddie Van Halen made famous. If you listen to Eddie do it, you say to yourself: “This is impossible”. But the fact is, as long as you have the desire to play it, you can do it.

I’ve come a long way since the day I first picked up that tattered magazine. Today, I actually own one of the Les Pauls I spent years gawking at on the rack. And Metal Method is still going strong; continuing to make countless guitarists better players.

Even I, someone who now plays “G” chords with ease, recently checked out some of the updated lessons and still benefited from them. But I suppose that’s the real power and joy you get out of being a musician, no matter how long you’ve been playing.

You truly never stop learning.

You can read my Guitar World interview with Doug Marks from Metal Method Here.

Guitar World Interview: Loverboy Guitarist Paul Dean

Loverboy, the Canadian rock band whose songs “Working For The Weekend,” “Hot Girls in Love” and “Queen of The Broken Hearts” have become staples of classic rock radio, have released Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, a new album of re-recorded hits and new songs.

The band is on a massive nationwide tour supporting fellow veteran rockers Journey, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.

I had the chance to speak with guitarist Paul Dean about Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival as well as his current guitar setup and the origins of some of Loverboy’s biggest hits.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to re-record and put together Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival?

The album started off with “Heartbreaker,” a song outline sent to us by acclaimed producer and good friend Bob Rock. Bob and I go all the way back to 1980, when he was the engineer on our first self-titled album. The first time I heard the song, it was instant for me; I could hear Mike Reno singing the bejeezus out of it….

Read the rest of the interview here

How Badly Do I Want To See Van Halen?

Like everyone else I was stoked when Van Halen finally announced “A Different Kind of Truth“, their long-awaited new album with original singer David Lee Roth. But even more amazing than the first new music with Roth on vocals in 28 years was the bands plan to embark on a tour to support the new record.

I never had the opportunity to see Van Halen with either of its two singers, Roth or Sammy Hagar (I don’t count the Gary Cherone “experiment”). And even though original bassist Michael Anthony would not be taking part I still wanted to hear Eddie shred on Eruption and experience “Jamie’s Cryin”, “Ain’t Talking Bout Love” and “Hot for Teacher”. I mean, let’s face it, Eddie Van Halen is one of the few remaining Guitar Gods. I had to see him and pay homage.

All the while I was consuming myself with the thought of seeing Van Halen for the first time a little voice inside my head was telling me that I had better hurry up and order a ticket. For if the past is any indication, I’m quite certain that it’s only a matter of time before the devil they’ve been running with inevitably rears his ugly head again and breaks up the band again. So time was indeed of the essence.

I was very excited to discover that the band would be making a stop in Philadelphia on March 5th and so I immediately grabbed my credit card and proceeded to the ComCast Tix website to make my purchase.

Since I ‘d be going alone I didn’t really care where I sat. I noticed that the cheapest ticket available online was in the upper bleachers for $49.50. That sounded good enough to me so I added the ticket to my shopping cart and proceeded on to the next screen.

“Uhm… excuse me, is there something wrong here? There must be some mistake.”

I was greeted by a screen that told me that the $49.50 ticket I was about to purchase would also require me to pay a “fee” of $11 and another $5 “order charge”. What these so-called “fee” and “order” charges were wasn’t explained but suddenly my ticket cost had gone up to $65.50 (a 32% increase).

As the blood pressure started to rise I was able to calm myself by singing out loud some possible Van Halen songs I’d hear: “Might as well JUMP! JUMP!”…. “PA-NAH-MA!”…”Daaaance The Night Away!”….That seemed to work although my dogs, which were within earshot of me in the living room, made a bee line for the exits. My confidence had been restored.

I was next asked by the website if I’d like to purchase advance parking for the event ahead of time. “Yes, I guess that makes sense”, I said to myself as I clicked on the link.

My cart was immediately updated and now things were beginning to get a bit out of hand. Parking for the show would be $25 and, you guessed it, that cost did not include another additional $2.25 “fee” bringing the total for my original $49.50 cheap-seat ticket to see Van Halen to a whopping $92.75. Beg pardon Comcast, but you do realize that now I am paying almost double the cost of what my ticket is worth don’t you?

But if you thought it ended there, wait….there’s more!

I had the ticket and parking covered but now the question was: how did I want to receive my one SINGLE paper ticket? My choices ranged from an additional $2.75 just for the opportunity to print the ticket out at home up to a $19 charge for express delivery.

After adding everything together, including the mandatory toll charges to and from the event, I concluded that the cost for me to go by myself to see Van Halen in Philadelphia with a $49.50 ticket was going to be over $100. I clicked “Cancel” on the transaction screen.

The more I think about it, the angrier I become. Not at Van Halen mind you. My issue is with these outrageous parking fees and the Comcast Tix, Ticketmaster and Live Nation sites who are supposed to be doing service to the fans but instead wind up screwing them with fees. It’s frustrating to essentially have to pay double the price printed on a ticket just to see the show.

Worse still, it makes me do something else I’ve never done before besides see Van Halen. It’s made me start to second guess just how badly I want to see a concert.

And shame on these ticket outlet sites and venues for making me feel that way.