Weekly Kindling: Jimi Henchicks, Guitar Smashing, and “Real” Guitar Video Games

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Weekly Kindling is a new feature on The Punch-In and will feature the latest guitar news, tricks, tips, and inspiration. Check back at the end of every week or subscribe via email in the right sidebar.

Fuel for the Fire:
“The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought.”
- Sir Thomas Beecham

What’s Burning This Week:

>> Art Lovers Flock to See “Jimi Henchicks” An obscure art exhibition featuring live birds “playing” electric guitars has become a runaway hit and internet sensation. Last week people going to the exhibition at the Barbican centre in London were waiting up to 90 minutes to see the birds perform — with queues far longer than for the blockbuster Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy. Read the full article and check out the video of the birds below:

>> Entertaining rock and roll expression or blasphemy? Gibson examines the art of guitar smashing with “5 Ways to Destroy a Guitar” featuring Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Kurt Cobain, Ritchie Blackmore & Stevie Ray Vaughn. Read the full article or check our favorites from the list with videos below:

Set It on Fire Like Jimi Hendrix

Play The Hell Out of It Like Stevie Ray Vaughan

Hot Topic of the Week:

>> Are guitar video games good for teaching kids guitar or should they just try the real thing?

Power Gig logo- A video game with a stringed guitar!? A new twist to the popular music game genre will bring players one step closer to the rock icons they seek to emulate — Power Gig: Rise of the Sixstring features a guitar controller with real strings (instead of buttons). Power Gig is similar to other music games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and features “beat-match” style play in which players must match the onscreen beats with their instruments. Read the full article from PCWorld.

Gene Simmons Kiss- “I’m the voice of Guitar Hero 6,” says KISS front man Gene Simmons during a video clip produced by Game On, a division of UK media site ITN. And that’s all he says. The clip has been removed from the context of what’s assumed to be a full interview and essentially turns Simmons’ statement into a gag line. Still, Simmons does appear to be the first “official” spokesperson to outright name the next iteration of Guitar Hero, albeit unofficially. Read the full article from Joystiq.

Guitar Vision- “Real” guitar teaches you to play as easy as Guitar Hero? This concept is a guitar where you learn a real, actual, applicable beyond the game skill. The designer of this project had the idea come while he was watching friends jam upon Guitar Hero and Rock Band all day long. He was so good at that, but couldn’t play a real guitar at all! Read the full article from Yanko Design.

Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments!

Featured TrueFire Guitar Lesson of the Week:

>> “Amazing Grace” from Fretboard Epiphanies

This example illustrates the creation of the arrangement. The first chorus features mainly the bass and the melody. Later, harmonies and chords are introduced. Then, chord substitutions are made and some filler notes are added.

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Guitar News from NAMM

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Last week we offered a sneak peak from the floor at NAMM, the mammoth trade show of the musical-instrument business. (That’s when we revealed the inside word on Gibson — a you-gotta-be-kidding story that is still not being reported.) Now that everyone’s back home, we asked industry vet HP Newquist, Executive Director of the National Guitar Museum, to tell the Punch-In what caught his attention at the four-day show.

Despite the economy, the mood was upbeat at NAMM. There really was nothing too radical by way of product introductions; manufacturers are sticking to the tried and true, and taking few risks this year, which is probably a smart move. That said, NAMM is as much an experience as it is a product showcase, so here are the experiential takeaways from Anaheim, CA this past week.


Green Diamonds

Blue is the new red. Every amp manufacturer worth its salt has replaced the glowing orange/red of tubes and the red on/off gem lights with glowing blue lights that resemble the inside of a New York afterhours goth club. (Diamond Amplification is bucking the trend with green lights on its 2008 Phantom head — maybe for the holidays?)

If you have a 4-string bass, you’re missing a string. Every custom bass builder, and most of the majors, all sported 5-strings and shuffled the 4-strings off to a little corner of the booth where they wouldn’t be noticed. This did not stop Stu Hamm from rocking the hell out of his 4-string at Muriel Anderson’s All-Star Guitar Night.

If you like the furniture in your grandparents’ house, you’re going to love the amp styles coming your way. From brown and tan vinyl to brass hardware, retro-style amps are in, looking like amps that were made before amps were actually made (this even includes Marshall and Randall). The only thing missing is the matching avocado-green refrigerator.


Weasel Trap

Do you really need a capo that sits high enough off the fretboard to activate string harmonics? Well, you’ve got one now thanks to Weasel Trap. And believe it or not, this little thingby is rather cool.

Martin had one of its D-100 deluxe dreadnoughts featuring more inlay than Madonna’s bedroom. Asking price is a mere $109,999 — and for a brief moment, when the showroom lights were hitting the pearl just right, we could actually believe it was worth it.


Agent Orange

Over 80 Orange amp cabinets formed the walls to an immense booth, creating more cool orange-osity than you’ve experienced since your first glass of Tang.

Orianthi wowed the attendees with a show in the Convention Center lobby. The lobby, which is wide but not very deep, is incredibly ill-suited to concerts, as there’s no room for a front-of-house board. Thus, the coolest part, other than seeing a young woman who can Vai-shred effortlessly, was watching the sound tech mix the show live while moving through the crowd with a wireless tablet running Studio Manager.

Brown’s Guitar Factory showed off its ongoing efforts to popularize the “Fretted/Less” guitar, which has no frets above the 12th fret and allows players to play “fretless.” Weird concept, but it does look cool.


Pyramids of Power

3rd Power displayed its triangle-shaped cabinets, which form a pyramid when stacked together. Looks cool — but we’d hate to be the guy who has to load those suckers in the truck.

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Daily Kindling: Goodbye Gibson?

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gibson guitar logoThe Winter NAMM show is in full swing as we write. In case you don’t know already, NAMM is the semi-annual trade show of the National Association of Music Merchants; or, as we musicians think of it, the biggest candy store you’ll ever see. On the convention floor in Anaheim, CA, hundreds of manufacturers show off their product lines and new gear, and dealers place orders for the instruments you’ll be drooling over in their store windows. Wildly talented players demonstrate the new wares, famed endorsers perform live, and industry big-wigs rub elbows. For the musical-instrument community, NAMM is ground zero.

And that’s why it’s a shocker that Gibson does not have a visible presence at NAMM for the first time anyone can remember. The only public display from the venerable guitar institution is a shared space in the Monster Cable booth, where Gibson is showing a few signature models and the questionable Dusk Tiger guitar. We reported on The Punch-In last autumn that Gibson might be on the selling block. Now insiders at the show are murmuring that Gibson could shutter its windows by this summer.

If you think Gibson guitars are expensive off the rack, just wait till every one becomes a collector’s item.

We’ll have more news from the floor, and TrueFire will have exclusive footage from the live events our crew is producing at NAMM, including All-Star Guitar Night. Meantime, here’s a small handful of new products that have caught our eye.

  • Godin Guitars, the revered guitar co. from Quebec, is expanding its line and upgrading several existing models.
  • Gator Cases announces the terribly cool “Bone,” an ergonomically shaped, powered pedalboard that will retail for just $69.99.
  • Iconoclast guitarist Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine) is showing off his new Reverend Signature guitar. Reeves will be performing at All-Star Guitar Night.
  • Vox debuts new VR amps in the $500 – 800 range. Long famous for their class-A amplifiers, Vox is also releasing new solid and semi-hollow guitars.
  • PRS Guitars is celebrating its 25th anniversary in high style with a gorgeous new Custom 24, plus other anniversary models, new Tuxedo amps, and more.
  • Budda has a new line of 3-Channel amps.
  • ESI Audiotechnik muscles its way into the handheld-recorder niche with its Rekord M, which is smaller than a cell phone.
  • And for anyone who finds a typical acoustic just doesn’t have enough strings, and standard tuning is way too high, Taylor has released an 8-string Baritone.
  • Thanks to industry vet HP Newquist for an inside word from the show floor.

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    Happy New Year!

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    Guitar New YearWe’ve had a great time launching TrueFire’s blog this past year, and the feedback we’ve received from players around the world has been nothing short of inspiring. If this is your first time punching in, be sure to check out some of the archived posts listed down there on the right. We live on the feedback of fellow musicians, so please let us know what you think.

    At the coda of 2009, we posed a handful of questions to some of the people who have been instrumental in making the Punch-In a success. With thanks to all of them for sharing their wit and wisdom, here’s what they had to say.

    We hope your stockings were stuffed to the top with gear and that you make great music in the new year. –Rich Maloof, Editor


    Brad Wendkos is the founder of TrueFire

    BradWendkosBiggest WTF of 2009
    Hendrix Electric Vodka packaged in a “purple haze bottle”

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    Larry Carlton playing “Kid Charlemagne” on the Steely Dan tour

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Eating my own dog food at TrueFire

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Attempt to sing. Not even back-up!

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Larry Carlton

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo (product released in 2009)
    Enounce software (slows and speeds streaming video on the fly without change in pitch

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009
    Nik Huber custom snakewood Dolphin guitar

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Larry Carlton, Monte Montgomery, Tommy Emmanuel

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Be the water, not the rock.


    Lee Knife is a musician, and is General Counsel to the Digital Media Association (DiMA) in Washington D.C.  DiMA is a trade organization that represents digital media companies.

    LeeKnifeFavorite Record of the Year
    Bleu – “A Watched Pot”

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    That people STILL insist on talking about what new idea or approach will “revive” the music business. It’s over, folks! Recorded music will never be the type of stand-alone entertainment destination it was before the advent of the DVR, On-Demand, video-game consoles, cell-phones, the internet, IM-ing, texting…


    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    Seeing Lady GaGa — the princess of disposable pop for 2009 — belt it out, with just her and a piano, proving she is (was? could have been?) the real deal.

    I improved my playing this year by…

    Slowing down. Trying to pay attention to playing interesting melodic vignettes

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….

    Tell anyone that I know how to play an instrument.

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Allan Holdsworth, even for a minute.

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    REAPER 3.0

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009
    Either REAPER 3.0 or Toontrack Superior Drummer 2.0

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee, Guthrie Govan

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Play because you want to. Because it makes you feel good and fulfills you. Not to “make it” in the music business or to be famous.


    Rich Tozzoli is an award-winning producer, mixer, composer and sound designer. Check out his official website.

    RichTFavorite Record of the Year
    Ace Frehley’s Anomaly

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    The continued lack of any new real bands with “sack.”

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    She’s from Venezuala, but I stilI don’t think she wants me to put this in print.

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Studying online.

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Work on a project basis instead of hourly — unless there are strict parameters.

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    Creation Audio Labs Holy Fire Overdrive / Distortion pedal — Holy s#)*!

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009
    Black Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop Custom – game on.

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Don’t work for the man (or woman). Somehow, figure out how to get the man (or woman) to work for you.


    Learn more about Pete Prown here.

    pete-prownFavorite Records of the Year
    Agents of Mercy‘s The Fading Ghosts of Twilight, Karmakanic‘s Who’s the Boss in the Factory

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    Gibson’s obscene line of Jimi Hendrix Strat-style guitars.

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    A universe of brilliant guitar vids online. YouTube has changed music and guitar playing forever.

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Turning down the distortion and exploring a world of clean electric-guitar tones.

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Shred to show off (well…maybe a little) :^)

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Pat Martino. He plays guitar on a level beyond most mortals.

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    PRS Starla or PRS Sweet 16 tube amp

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009
    M-Audio M-Tron Pro (Mellotron sampler), Seagull Coastline 12-string acoustic

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Julian Lage…the next jazz-guitar sensation

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Turn it down. You’re missing so much of the music in your own playing.

    HP Newquist

    HP Newquist is a widely published author, and Executive Director of the National Guitar Museum

    newquist_hp_lgFavorite Record of the Year
    Silversun Pickups – Swoon

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    Gibson’s introduction of a Hendrix-sanctioned Stratocaster model — and it’s subsequent disappearance.

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Playing in a band with musicians who are better than I am.

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Leave the house with a guitar but without a tuner.

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Steve Vai

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    iPhone guitar apps

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Orianthi Panagaris

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    All things must pass.


    CharlieDFavorite Record of the Year
    The Flaming Lips: Embryonic — a step back into the band’s darker side and a giant leap into the future of alternative rock.

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    Gibson’s Jimi Hendrix guitar

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    The death of Michael Jackson, I think everyone remembers where they were when the news broke.

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Learning how to play my favorite songs; it’s amazing how many new chords and licks I picked up (thank you, Neil Young).

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Blindly go into any band audition I happen to find on Craigslist.

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Brian May. The delicate vibrato, the humming sustain…a constant source of inspiration.

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    Some people have to change their pants after they play The Mothership
    Analog Synthesizer
    pedal from Pigtronix. But not me, I can control my

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009

    I’ve got student loans.

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Johnny Hiland. Take the last 30 years of rock guitar and put it on an evolutionary timeline — Hiland is the pinnacle.

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Take the road less traveled.


    Tammy has a great blog that provides inspiration, motivation and practical advice for musicians. Check it out.

    TammyBiggest WTF of 2009
    The circus surrounding the death of Michael Jackson

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    Stumbling across Tina Turner in Concert on Pallida. 70 years old and she still moves like she’s 16. And sounds better than ever.

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I…
    Put all my music-business eggs in one basket.

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    Mairead Nesbitt from Celtic Woman

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Chris Sheridan from Simplified. Great tone, perfect fills, awesome player, humble guy. Who could ask for more.

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    “Hitch your wagon to a star, or you will stay just where you are…” —D.H.Lawrence


    Marc Schonbrun is the creator of the new TrueFire course The Efficient Guitarist

    MarcSFavorite Record of the Year
    Muse, The Resistance

    Biggest WTF of 2009
    The Tea Party

    Jaw-Dropping Moment
    Seeing my bride walk down the aisle.

    I improved my playing this year by…
    Practicing less. Having less time has made me more efficient. It’s focused me on parts of my playing that really do need attention, rather than just reinforcing what I already know.

    I’ve learned from my musical mistakes: Never, ever again will I….
    Start sentences with, “Back when I was touring….”

    I would sacrifice at least one of my toes to play like…
    I don’t see it that way. I have lots of guys who I love, but at the end of the day, I sound like me. I’d give a toe to accelerate my own playing curve so I sound like me with 20 years more experience right now.

    Favorite New Gear or Gizmo of the Year
    Digidesign 11 Rack

    Favorite Instrument/Gear/Software I Bought in 2009
    Metric Halo ULN-8 recording interface

    Guitarists I’m Watching Closely
    Jonathan Kreisberg

    Words of Wisdom for 2010
    Keep doing something different. It’s only through constant change that we evolve. You won’t get anywhere by doing the same things over and over.

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    A TrueFire Thanks

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    by Brad Wendkos, Founder of TrueFire

    We’re celebrating our 18th Thanksgiving as a company today. Jacquie made us an incredible brunch of blueberry waffles, egg casserole, sausage and potatoes, which we inhaled in a matter of moments.

    We sat and ate together surrounded by vintage Buscarinos, D’Angelicos, Gibsons, Fenders and 87 other “essential” tools of the trade hanging on the walls. Even in the midst of our busiest season, as we’re posting our 2009 Thanksgiving Giveaway, the team is laughing and in high spirits. Someone is playing Larry Carlton, Monte Montgomery and Frank Vignola throughout the building. Its times like these that make us realize just how much we have to be thankful for.

    We get to work with the sweetest and most talented guitar players on the planet – over 450 of them! We get to craft and produce curriculum covering topics that we ourselves have always wanted to learn or drill down deeper on. We get to eat, breathe, talk and play guitar 24/7.

    But it’s really all about our members, students and friends of the fire. Yes, we’re talking about you! You make this possible for us. Your support, feedback, guidance, loyalty and friendship keeps our “fire” burning bright. We appreciate and thank you for this gift.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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