Tag: Guitars

Ronzworld: Artist Ron Williams Discusses His Unique, Hand-Painted Guitars

Photo: Kate Page

If you’ve attended a rock festival recently, chances are you’ve seen one of Ron Williams’ striking, hand-painted guitars.

Founded by Williams, Ronzworld Guitars are all painted by the artist himself, without the use of stickers, prints or wraps. Each design is original and done entirely by hand, which means that no two instruments are exactly alike.

Williams and his art made its debut at Summer NAMM 2016 and caught on like wildfire, leading Williams to partner up with leading manufacturers like ESP, PRS, Ibanez, Dean and Fender, among others.

This summer, and in partnership with The Music Experience, Ronzworld will launch the Official Festival Guitars Experience at a number of rock, alternative and country music festivals.

At each festival date, Ron and The Music Experience will raffle/auction off a limited number of official, one of-a-kind-festival guitars hand-painted by Williams. Fans can enter by making a donation to the current partnering charity for that festival date.

Guitar World recently spoke with Williams about his passion for painting guitars and more in this new interview.

How did you get into painting guitars? Was a career in art and music something you aspired to growing up?

I always played guitar as a kid and had bands when I was in high school. I really love the art and style of the Charvels and Jacksons from the Eighties. I also loved to draw and actually went to college for art. After graduation, I got a job in advertising doing storyboards. That led to a 24-year career as a creative director in New York City. I was eventually transferred to Florida about five years ago.

At the time, my family still lived in upstate New York. So, I was living in an apartment in Florida until we could move everyone down. My office was close to my apartment, and at night I had nothing to do. It was then that I decided to take up drawing again, but I discovered the art store in town couldn’t get an illustration board like the one I used to draw on. I started thinking to myself, “All right. What am I going to paint?” Lo and behold, I saw a Jackson sitting in the corner of the apartment and decided to put some art on it. It came out great and I found a guy who could do a clear coat finish for me. I remember after I got the guitar back, it was the coolest thing in the world. So, it went from being something that I did out of boredom to what I’m doing today.

What kind of mediums do you use for painting?

It’s all acrylic. I started out using a paint brush, but found that the finish you use to seal the guitar turns bumps into a white haze. I now use acrylic paint pens. They look like magic markers but flow acrylic paint. There’s no edge because the paint goes on very thin, and the finish comes out ridiculously cool.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

When I’m showcasing my own personality, I paint what I like. And since my favorite genre is heavy metal, skulls and tribal art are the aesthetic leaning I appreciate. But if it’s a commissioned project, I take the customer’s ideas into consideration. The body style of the guitar also helps out a bit too. There’s not a lot of “canvas space” on your typical standard Strat, and especially if you put a Floyd Rose on it. You get a little more space and can detail more on guitars like Explorers and Deans.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Ron Williams by Clicking Here!

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A Discussion with Fender’s Newest Master Builders, Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn

Fender recently announced the addition of Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn to the esteemed list of Master Builders in its prestigious Fender Custom Shop.

The appointments come at an opportune time for Fender, which is poised for continued growth. Sales remain strong for fretted instruments, and the ever-increasing demand for Fender Custom Shop guitars could only be satisfied by bringing on some of the greatest luthiers to the company’s Master Builder team.

Thorn brings decades of expertise in guitar luthiery; namely inlay work, to the Fender Custom Shop. His relationship with Fender stems from his wildly successful inlay business, Thorn Inlay, which has been the sole inlay provider for the Fender Custom Shop since the mid-90s.

McMillian brings fifteen years of musical instrument experience to the Custom Shop. A Fender employee for 15 years, McMillian also recently finished a five-year apprenticeship under Principal Master Builder, Yuriy Shishkov, where he worked on nearly 1,000 guitars with the esteemed builder.

Guitar World recently spoke with Master Builders Kyle McMillian and Ron Thorn about their new roles at Fender and more in this new interview.

Congrats on your new positions. I guess the first question to ask would be, what’s it like working for Fender?

Kyle McMillian: Working for Fender is an absolute honor. They have the greatest reputation and the finest instruments, for both players and collectors. I’m still beside myself that I have the honor of being a Master Builder.

Ron Thorn: The same goes for me. I’ve only been doing this a short while, but the amount of pride flowing through me is unbelievable. I’ve loved the product for decades, and to be part of the team is really a dream come true.

What do you think makes Fender guitars so special?

Thorn: They have a beautiful design, and what people might not realize is just how much they’ve impacted rock and roll and almost every other genre of music. What’s been done with them over the last 50 years is a testament to that.

McMillian: In my opinion, they’re the best designed, most copied and the most practical. They’re my favorite guitars, hands down.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Kyle McMillin & Ron Thorn By Clicking Here!

Guitarist The Commander-In-Chief Discusses ‘2 Guitars: The Classical Crossover Album’

Commander-Photo by Jeff Xander

Guitar fans might remember seven-string guitarist the Commander-In-Chief from her Zigeunerweisen Op. 20 guitar-duel video, which she made with classically trained guitarist Thomas Valeur.

That video, which was premiered on GuitarWorld.com, was one of the site’s 10 most-watched videos of 2013.

Late last year, the Commander teamed up with another classical guitarist, Craig Ogden, for a new album of guitar-driven goodness—2 Guitars: The Classical Crossover Album—that takes metal virtuosity back to its classical roots.

Ogden, the principal lecturer on guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, was recently featured as one of the top classical guitarists of all time by ClassicFM.

In addition to inspired versions of Caprice No. 24 by Niccolo Paganini (the Italian composer whose music has influenced scores of guitarists, including Yngwie Malmsteen) and an instrumental version of Carlos Gardel and Alfredo LePera’s tango, “Por una Cabeza,” 2 Guitars also showcases the Commander’s vocal skills on an original song, “Let It Go.”

We also should add that the Commander’s Caprice No. 24 video was one of GuitarWorld.com’s 10 most-watched videos of 2014.

I recently caught up with the Commander and asked her about her new album with Ogden, her gear and more.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to do a project like this?

After the guitar duel, I noticed a lot of comments from people asking about the next one. I had only planned on doing one, but everyone kept saying how they couldn’t wait for more. So I thought it’d be cool to do another one.

The piece I found was the massive “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” [by Camille Saint-Saëns]. Once I checked it out, I knew it was going to take me a while to learn. So rather than just doing one piece and video at a time, we decided to instead make an entire album.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with The Commander in Chief
By Clicking Here!

 

The Freezing Snowman: Author B. Hagen Discusses New Children’s Book / Guitar Duel

Freezing SnowmanGuitar fans already know about B. Hagen (The Commander-In-Chief) from the amazing guitar duel she recorded with Thomas Valeur. The video of the 24 year old Norwegian guitarist performing Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen Op. 20 went viral and became one of Guitar World magazine’s top viral videos of 2013. But Hagen’s creativity goes well beyond the instrument. She’s just released her first children’s book, “The Freezing Snowman”.

Written and illustrated by Hagen herself, this beautiful 46-page book tells the magical story about a snowman suffering from the elements and unable to help himself. For young readers, the story demonstrates not only the power of persistence, but also the rich rewards for helping those around them.

I spoke with Hagen about her book, the guitar duel and the other projects she’s currently working on.

What made you decide to write a book?

Originally, I thought it would make a cool Christmas present for my younger siblings. But when the rest of the family figured out what I was up to, they all pushed for me to self publish it.

How did the idea for the story come about?

I was making a snowman with my two youngest siblings back in the winter of 2012. I remember needing a hat and a scarf for him so I asked my youngest brother Eric if I could borrow his. He was not at all interested in any of HIS things being used, so I told him that the snowman was freezing and desperately needed something to keep himself warm. That was how the idea of the Freezing Snowman was born.

What is the real story behind The Freezing Snowman?

It’s about many things and can be interpreted in many different ways. At first, I was thinking it was about someone being utterly miserable; in a situation they cannot influence. The snowman is not really happy until he starts melting, which is obviously ironic. The kids hold on to him though, just like kids do when they have a pet that is suffering. It might be better for the snowman to “die”, but that would be terrible for the children as they refuse to let go of who they love. They have given him an identity and perceive him as living. The mother of the children (who is a grown up) doesn’t see this. That of course leaves the question of whether or not the snowman is alive or only exists in the imagination of the children. Ultimately, I think this book is about love.

How long did it take you to write and illustrate the book?

I started making the drawings during the winter of 2013. I showed them to my then 7-year-old brother just to see what he thought and he got very excited about the story and wanted more. The writing took me a bit longer, as I waited to get feedback from my 19-year-old brother and mother. I remember there was a major discussion in the family about the ending. I then re-did all of the illustrations later in the year using different materials. The original drawings were all made on cardboard, which I cut myself.

CommanderInChiefDo you come from an art background?

I do. I had my first exhibition when I was 13, when I was doing geometric abstraction. My big dream since I was 5 was to become a designer. I got accepted into my high school’s advanced art program and later took classes with Linda Cohn and Kirsten Leenart at the Hyde Park Art Center. Everyone expected me to pursue a career in visual arts, but I took a 4 year break from art to focus on my music. I still design my own stage outfits and in late 2012 started doing art again. All of the illustrations in the book were made on Langton watercolour paper using Faber Castell watercolour pencils, Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolours, Derwent Inktense Blocks and Staedtler pigment liners. I also used a variety of brushes and a very handy sponge!

Tell me a little about your Guitar Duel. How did you choose the song and how long did it take to prepare?

I grew up listening to classical music. Itzhak Perlman’s recordings were always played, and the “Zigeunerweisen” was a personal favourite. It was my manager/mother (Elisabeth) and my idea to do a guitar recording of it. It took me 5 months to prepare and I even got injured: dislocating my collar-bone while practicing. But I always like a challenge, and it feels really good to be able to play such a fantastic song. I’m thrilled at how well it has been received!

What other projects are you working on? 

I’m currently preparing for a new guitar duel with a very successful British based classical guitarist. We have picked two of the pieces already and will have our first rehearsal soon. As far as my solo career is concerned, I have another tv appearance at the beginning of next month. I’ll get to play two of my original songs on ”Good Morning Norway” and will also be interviewed. I’ll also be performing at the Musikkmesse in Frankfurt, which I’m really looking forward to! And I was just a guest on the biggest Saturday night TV talk show in Norway. More than 600,000 people saw the program so that was very cool!

Do you see yourself writing more children’s books in the future?

That would be great! I have tons of ideas for more stories, both picture books and morbid short stories for older children. Most of them, if not all are inspired by my siblings or my own childhood.

What satisfies you the most having completed your first book?

The illustrations look good in print! Now it’s time to see what children think about it!

For more info on The Commander-in-Chief and The Freezing Snowman
check out the Official Website by Clicking Here!

In the U.S you can purchase a copy of the book here!

Metal Method’s Doug Marks Talks “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar”

DougMarksSince its beginnings in 1982, Doug Marks’ Metal Method has become one of the most successful rock guitar courses of all time.

What started out as a supplement to help him achieve his own dreams of rock stardom, Marks’ lessons have taught guitarists everything from fundamental shapes and barre chords to improvising leads and writing songs.

From his early days of snail-mail cassette tapes and booklets to today’s digital downloads, Marks continues to inspire and make thousands of guitarists better players.

I recently caught up with Marks, who told me about “Speed and Accuracy for Lead Guitar,” his first new lesson in years. In the program, Marks uses his easy-going teaching style to present rapid-fire three-note-per-string patterns that increase essential skills. Marks also discussed his Hawk project from 1985, which was associated with some very familiar musicians.

GUITAR WORLD: What prompted this new program?

Last year, I started giving Skype guitar lessons. It was the first time I had given actual private lessons since I put together Metal Method. As I watched students work through the course, I was able to see first-hand one of the biggest struggles most students face: lack of precision due to a lack of focus. It was working with students through Skype that really inspired me to get to work on something new.

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You can read my complete Guitar World interview with Doug Marks and see a demo for “Speed and Accuracy” by Clicking Here!

The Commander-In-Chief Discusses Zigeunerweisen Guitar Duel and Gear

CommanderMany guitar fans know about the Commander-In-Chief from the amazing guitar duel she recorded with Thomas Valeur.

The video, which was featured earlier this month on GuitarWorld.com, has since gone viral in guitar circles. It came in at No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Viral Guitar Videos of 2013.

The duo met last summer at a music festival and decided to collaborate on Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen Op. 20, an extremely challenging piece of music, particularly because it was written for violin and orchestra.

The Commander-In-Chief is also a classically trained opera singer and has harnessed her guitar skills in master classes with Steve Smyth (Testament, Nevermore). She also worked with producer Sterling Winfield (Pantera, Hellyeah, Damageplan) on her debut EP, Evolution.

I recently spoke with her about the physical and mental preparation it took to create the guitar duel. We also discussed her gear, influences and more.

GUITAR WORLD: How did you and Thomas Valeur connect, and what inspired you to take on such a challenging piece of music?

We met at the Bergen International Festival in Norway, where we shared the stage. Thomas first thought we would cover something more mainstream, but I wanted to play something classical and step into a different world for a change. I grew up listening to Itzhak Perlman’s violin recordings and the “Zigeunerweisen” was always a favorite. I normally don’t play other people’s music, but it was very motivating to work on something this challenging.

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You can read the rest of my Guitar World interview with
The Commander-in-Chief by Clicking Here