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This is where I'll put other interesting points of information. Might or might not be related to guitar.

The Top 10 Immortal Bands of All Time

posted Feb 26, 2010, 1:37 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Mar 7, 2010, 10:57 AM ]

I'm often asked what my favorite band is. A while back, I'd just simply answer 'AC/DC' and the person would scoff, which would immediately result in a quick punch to their face, but not anymore. As my musical tastes have expanded, I have realized it's impossible for me to just name one favorite band. Therefore, I've come to the brilliant idea that I'll make a list of the best bands to ever grace the face of this earth, because there are so many amazing bands, that they cannot be compared or ranked higher than another.

That's why the following list is just the best bands ever. The bands in the list are simply in alphabetical order, not by order of greatness. You have no idea how long it took me to decide what bands to include on this list; it was a grueling process. I believe music is not just a group of mathematically correct sound frequencies in order. I believe music is one of the greatest forces to man. Music transcends economic, social and racial barriers. Music can inspire us when we need it. Music can provide that one last burst of energy you need to get across the finish line.  I believe that there are only a few merchants of this drug called rock; and they are listed below.

AC/DC


It's hard to describe the contribution AC/DC has made to the world of rock. Starting in 1975 all the way up to their most recent album in 2008, every single album has reached at least gold status. In case you don't know, 'gold' is a term used to describe an album that has sold at least 500,000 copies. That means that even the least liked, most hated AC/DC album sold more than half a million copies. That's quite a feat. And when you look at the year 1980 when the guys released 'Back in Black'... you're at a loss for words. The album has sold upwards of 43 million copies worldwide. Think about that. That's a crazy number. 'Back in Black' is the best selling album by a band. 'Wait a minute,' you might say, 'I thought Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was the best selling album?' Yeah, 'Thriller' is the best selling album ever, but that's by a single artist. As in, one person wrote the songs, performed them, and released them under his single name. AC/DC's 'Back in Black' was written by a band, and the album is the best selling album to ever be recorded by a band. 

Airbourne


Most Powerful Musical Moments in Rock/Metal

posted Dec 13, 2009, 3:33 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Dec 14, 2009, 1:30 PM ]

In guitar-based music, there are only two kinds of 'moments': the kind when the song is just so beautiful, it's insane. Then there are the kind of moments in which you think your neck might break from all the headbanging. The following list dedicates what I think are only some of the latter moments. The list is not in order of greatness.

Metallica - Sad but True

At the 0:18 mark, the band stops for a moment, and then Lars's crashing snares blow your mind and a kickass riff bursts onto the scene. Also, the part near the very end of the song when James yells "I'm you!" is pretty awesome too. In fact, I think I'll write a whole article on how James's voice sucked after 1991.




AC/DC - Sin City

Even the whole song is one of the best songs ever composed, one of the most awesome parts of the song is the prechorus. The D chord is flying way over the top of the sound spectrum, and it drops away to a riff that crushes itself into your brain, topped off with Bon Scott's snarling vocals. One of the best songs ever to get whiplash to, I have to say. Another brilliantly exectuted part is the prechrorus, before the solo. The high-flying bends and the piercing guitar shreds while Angus's brother Malcolm lays the foundation of this piece of badassery.

Metallica - Enter Sandman


Enter Sandman is one of those songs you will indubitably hear every time you go to a guitar store. And it's also got one of the best parts of metal, ever. The verse is chugging along until the prechorus: "Sleep with one eye open, grippin' your pillow tight...". A moment's pause and then your ears are assaulted with a wicked riff and James's roaring vocals "EXIT LIGHT!! ENTER NIGHT!!!!"

Esteban guitars

posted Nov 27, 2009, 8:14 AM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 27, 2009, 9:06 PM ]

Since this website is pretty orientated toward beginning guitarists, I feel I need to touch on this subject.

Stay up late one night, and watch HSN, which is the Home Shopping Network. You know, the channel where the usual items being sold are things like vases, food blenders, etc. Sooner or later, you'll either want to either go to sleep, or first kick a hole in your TV because you're watching HSN. Either way, chances are that before you have a chance to do either, you'll see a very eye-catching commercial. Or infomercial, whatever term you prefer. It shows what appears to be this guy:



...except he's selling guitars.

Yeah. That's Zorro. I don't know much about Zorro, except two things. One, he's famous. Two, he wears a mask, cape and hat. But what the hell does this dude have to do with the HSN?

Take a look at that picture. A deep, long look. And now take a look at this:



'Wait a second,' you might say, 'is that Zorro playing guitar?' Well, I don't know what to tell you. Meet Esteban, who is perhaps the greatest fraud perpetrated upon home shopping. 'Esteban', who's real name is Stephen Paul, claims to be an 'award-winning musician'. No arguments there. Esteban sure is an award-winning musician. You see, he's a musician, and he's won awards before. Both of his awards were presented to him at the 2004 Electronic Retailing Association Gala Awards. One of his awards is entitled 'Best Male Presenter for an Infomercial', while his other 'award' is called 'Best Live Shopping On-Air Guest'.

At this point, you're going to be scratching your head and asking, "Why should I care?". You should care because this fraud, Esteban, is attempting to lure you into his trap. What is his trap? Selling guitars at a 'great deal'. Assuming you haven't killed yourself after viewing the first few seconds of his infomercial, pay attention to his method of selling. His babble includes phrases such as "steal of a price". Sometimes he adds phrases like "I love playing the guitar". Another one of his favorites is "I love these guitars." I can tell you he loves not only playing the guitar and the guitars themselves, he also loves conning you out of your money and selling you a P.O.S. guitar.

You're probably thinking what could be so bad about Esteban's guitars. After all, why would he lie? He says that they're beautiful, built to last and will give you a "lifetime of enjoyment". Too bad so many people killed themselves after watching his commericial, they didn't have enough time to enjoy his guitars. Is it seriously that bad? Yes. It is very bad. It's bad to the point of where you want to know why Esteban is not in jail yet in the same cell as Bernie Maddoff. What Esteban is doing is pretty much the same thing.

Don't believe me? Click this link now and read the reviews. If you're too lazy, I'll copy and paste the best review there:

Features : 10
The body of this particular guitar is made of only the finest dried goat manure, aged balsa wood, and shellac. It features strings made of particularly brittle barbed wire and components made of the cheapest (and therefore, most cost-effective) plastic available.

One interesting new feature: Insta-Brake technology. The Insta-Brake system guarantees that each and every component of this guitar will break within the first week of owning. This is a refreshing change of pace for people who are SICK AND TIRED of guitars that actually last a lifetime... they have to sit around and wait for their guitars to become old and unusable and sometimes that never happens.

Sound : 10
The music I play is Experimental Noise. I deliberately try to create atonal and un-musical sound effects, much like John Cage when he dropped random objects on piano strings. The Esteban is perfect for me because when I strum the strings, it doesn't sound anything like music! Instead, you get a repulsive squawk, like someone smashing a ball-peen hammer on sheet metal.

Action, Fit, & Finish : 10
I firmly believe that musicians should have to WORK when they play guitar. A guitar shouldn't make the act of playing EASY... no, it should be a painful and difficult chore so that you learn discipline. Nothing is handed to you.

For my money, the Esteban is perfect in this regard. The incredibly high action is positively agonizing. My fingers were hemorrhaging blood within mere seconds. NO aspect of this guitar is comfortable, from the body shape (which could best be described as "shaped like a diseased rhinoceros") to the frets (that gouged into my hands like needles).

In other words, this guitar will make you a tougher player! Thumbs up! (assuming you have any thumbs left after using this guitar)

Reliability/Durability : 10
Personally, I'm really tired of guitars that withstand years of reliable and durable live playing. Where's the fun in that?? I mean, if you have a reliable and dependable instrument that you can count on to deliver the same quality sound every night, it can get a bit boring. Talk about predictable.

The Esteban models are guaranteed by the manufacturer to be in a different tuning each and every time you pick it up. In fact, all Esteban guitars are purposely designed to be so unreliable you never know what will happen next. In one case, my new guitar changed itself to open G tuning mid-chord. In another case, the bridge spontaneously fell off. Another night, it exploded, starting a fire and killing four people.

Yes, I gig with it! It's a blast!

Customer Support : 10
I called HSN to congratulate them on producing such a unique instrument. I was placed on hold for 3 1/2 hours, after which time, I was transferred to a Romanian brothel where I was verbally abused in an unspecified eastern European language for 30 minutes. I hung up, called back, and was lucky enough to speak to a customer service rep who actually spoke English.

Her name was Liz and although she knew nothing of guitars, she introduced me to several new swear words. She explained that whatever my opinion, I was wrong. I tried telling her that I had nothing but good things to say and she told me to cram it. She then began screaming and crying.

There is no warranty, but HSN will charge me $200 to return my guitar. This may sound like a raw deal, but I get to keep my autographed photo of Esteban! That's right, you can return the guitar and they never ask you to return the beautiful photo of Esteban's lovely face. THAT'S a policy I can agree with!

Overall Rating : 10
This guitar is simply a 10!!! The sound sets you apart as a musician and tells everyone listening that you don't NEED to be in tune to sound good. The action and playability are so painful you will become a stronger player (if you survive). Truly, it's impressive. I couldn't make a guitar like this if I tried.

Make sure to not forget this link.

The Satch Scream

posted Oct 16, 2009, 5:14 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 13, 2009, 2:34 PM ]

Yes, another Joe Satriani-related article. Don't whine.

Yeah, that guy.

No matter how often I listen to Satch's stuff, I am continually amazed by his trademark, the Satch Scream. It's generally a love/hate relationship: either the sound of it infuriates you, or you keep rewinding 'Surfing With the Alien' just to hear that part again. I'm part of the latter club, I think it's one of the coolest sonic bombardments I've ever heard.

But wait, do you even know what the Satch Scream is? I had better explain.

The Satch Scream is simply a pinch harmonic on the open G string.

Pinch harmonic? What?

I've never really understood what a harmonic is. All I know is that it sounds cool and I know how to do it. The easiest example of a harmonic is this: very lightly mute the E string (the heavy one) and while you are running up and down the string, pick it. You should hear something very similar to... I don't even know what to compare it to, but that's a harmonic. Now, head over to the G string, and hit a harmonic on any fret and as soon as you do, tear up on the whammy bar. This equation = Satch Scream.

It is difficult to understand, so I've found the perfect video explanation on it:

The Satch Scream

Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P. bro) also used to do something similar, but those were nicknamed 'pig squeals', and Dimebag had a slightly different method of doing it. You can see his detailed explanation about it here:

Dimebag Darrell Squealing Lesson

Airbourne

posted Oct 15, 2009, 3:39 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 13, 2009, 2:34 PM ]

In the current music world of rap, pop, etc., the genres we know and love are slowly decreasing in popularity. Gone are the days where every kid had the album Back in Black. There was a time when it was like this:
  • Sex
  • Drugs
  • Rock 'n' roll
Unfortunately, the world looks a little bit more like this nowadays:

  • AIDS
  • Syringes
  • Rap
Bands like AC/DC, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin... bands that kept it real, just believed in having a good time and whiplash. Then rap and pop started to rise, and people began to forget rock 'n' roll...

Then these mofos showed up:


Meet Airbourne. Just for fun, I've come up with a kind of Venn Diagram between AC/DC and Airbourne:




There isn't much difference between the two bands. I guarantee you, if Airbourne had existed in 1980, they would have sold just as many albums as AC/DC.

Airbourne's brand of rock 'n roll is the almost exact carbon copy of AC/DC's in-your-face, rock-all-night style. It's hard to imagine members of either band attending a party at an embassy, or donning a tuxedo. They'd much rather rock out, beers in hand.

Many people slam Airbourne, saying that they sound too similar to AC/DC. This incredible fallacy is always the product of people who say that AC/DC's music is repetitive. The rock-solid retort to this situation is, who the hell cares if it sounds similar if it still keeps on kicking your ass? That's why Airbourne is going to stick around for a lot longer; rock 'n' roll might fade in popularity, but when it comes back, it reminds all the fools what they were forgetting.

Long live rock 'n' roll.


Most Iconic Guitars of All Time

posted Sep 27, 2009, 5:09 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 12, 2009, 4:19 PM ]

Even before I start this article, let me say that this is about guitars, not guitarists. And this list is not in order of greatest guitars, it's merely an out-of-order list of some of the most famous guitars.

FRANKENSTRAT

Used by: Eddie Van Halen.

"Wait, only Eddie Van Halen used this guitar?" is what most people will say. Well, that's true because only one was built, and that was by the man himself sometime back in the early 80's. Then a completely new company called Kramer built Eddie some replicas and EVH started to advertise for the company. Nowadays, you can find this guitar in abundance on eBay and numerous other sites. Trouble is, the currently produced replica costs around $24,000. It's far easier and cheaper to make one yourself.


GIBSON SG

Used by: Angus Young, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

The Les Paul guitars weren't selling that great in 1960, so Gibson decided to up the heat on the competition (namely Fender) and completely redesigned the Les Paul. When this guitar first came out, it was still called the Les Paul. Unfortunately, Les Paul didn't like the radical design of it and asked Gibson to remove his name from it. They did, and from then on it was known as the SG, short for 'solid guitar'.


GIBSON LES PAUL

Used by: virtually every professional guitarist at some point in their career.

Yes, that's true. Even Angus Young (who is reputed to have played the SG for almost 40 years) owns several Les Pauls. That's because this is one of the most influential and versatile guitars ever built.


FENDER STRATOCASTER
Used by: everyone that has ever played guitar.

That's true...to some extent at least. I guarantee you everyone has seen some sort of incarnation or representation of this guitar, let it be either a cheap Chinese Strat ripoff, or the real thing.


Satch and Coldplay

posted Sep 17, 2009, 7:08 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 13, 2009, 2:36 PM ]

If you're any kind of a musical person at all, you've heard that the real-life guitar hero Joe Satriani:


has been suing these losers:

In December 2008, Satch sued Coldplay because their song 'Viva la Vida' was a direct copy of Satch's song 'If I Could Fly'.  And unfortunately for Coldplay, Joe's fans (like myself) heard the song and immediately attempted to notify Satch's representatives. Once Satriani got wind of this, he shook his head, 

From there, it only went downhill for Coldplay. As Joe continued the unbearably long lawsuit process, another dude came up smiling and accused Coldplay of ripping off his song. This guy's name is Cat Stevens. Wait...maybe it's Yusef Islam, but who cares? Virtually no one listens to his music anyway, so we can forget him. Stevens (or Islam) said he'll postpone his suing of Coldplay to wait and see how much luck Joe Satriani has with them.

Well Mr. Islam, the ball is in your court. No doubt Coldplay whined and cried about their fiasco, but Satriani decided to give these assholes a break and cut off his lawsuit before Coldplay would end up paying millions of dollars in copyright claims.

You can even check this out on Youtube. Just search for 'Viva la Vida and I Wish I Could Fly'. Same chord progression? Yeah. Same time signature? You bet. Similar themes? Obviously. What the hell did Coldplay think they were doing?


Eddie Van Halen

posted Sep 13, 2009, 6:15 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Nov 13, 2009, 2:36 PM ]

That name is synonymous with the sound of numerous guitarists giving up their instruments. I myself nearly gave up guitar after a 12 hour session of attempting the first 15 seconds of Eruption. I have to admit, I am a giant fan of his playing and music. I have almost all of the Van Halen albums, and I'd like to see them on their 2010 tour.

Sure, Eddie grants interviews, signs autographs, smiles and takes photos with admiring fans.

Eddie Van Halen as a guitarist is brilliant. Eddie Van Halen as a person is an asshole.

Stop for a second and read that sentence again. Did I really say 'EVH is an asshole'?

Yes I did. And before you send death threats via email, I'll explain my reasoning to you.

When the band Van Halen was founded in 1974, the four members were Eddie Van Halen, his brother Alex, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony. The classic Van Halen song structure was strongly based on Eddie's scorching guitar runs and Diamond Dave's vocals. Alex and Mike provided one of the best rhythm sections that ever existed.

Now, Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen's relationship was great, up until the album Van Halen III, when Eddie only let Mike play bass on 3 of the album's 12 tracks. That was kind of odd. Michael Anthony, bassist for Van Halen for over 24 years barely played on the album? It wasn't that big of a deal until it was actually found out in 2006 when Mike gave an interview and let it slip that he only played on 3 out of the 12 songs. Eddie's never said why the sudden inspiration to play the bass himself, but the album lists Mike Anthony as playing all the bass parts on the album. Oops, they messed that one up: Eddie didn't want to get a bad rep by sidelining his bassist.

Now fast forward to September 8, 2006. Eddie Van Halen announces that his son, Wolfgang, will replace Michael Anthony as bassist for Van Halen.

Now, I've got nothing to say about Wolfgang replacing Mike.

Wait, did I say 'replacing' Mike? Sorry, I lied. Mike can't be replaced. Michael Anthony's shoes were to big for even Jesus to replace. I've got nothing against Wolfgang joining the band, but as of September 8, 2006, I consider the band Van Halen to be dead.

And more recently: I'm sure you've heard that Guitar Hero: Van Halen is coming out soon. And in GH:VH, only songs sung by David Lee Roth are going to be on there. Let's get this straight: DLR is awesome. He's one of my favorite vocalists of all time, and the best frontman Van Halen ever had. Unfortunately, lots of people think Sammy Hagar sucked. I think Sammy Hagar rocked. Too bad Eddie doesn't think so too, because now I hear that Sammy Hagar has been axed out of GH: VH.

All right. I can handle that. After all, 95% of VH fans hate Sammy. I guess I'll have to ignore the fact Sammy was in the band.

But wait! Reading further into the article, I read that not only was Sammy cut from the game, but Michael Anthony was too.

I read that once and then went back and read it again. Immediately, I began laughing. I thought it was some sort of hoax or prank, but then I read another article which confirmed that Mike had been cut from the game.

Van Halen's bassist of 32 years? Cut from the Van Halen game. That just doesn't make sense. So you know what's going to happen? Wolfgang is going to re-record all of the bass lines for all of the songs in the game. It seems to me like a conspiracy.



And now I hear that the classic album Van Halen I has been airbrushed so as to remove Michael Anthony from the front cover.

Dennis's Favorite Guitar Solos

posted Sep 11, 2009, 6:47 PM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Sep 19, 2009, 10:45 AM ]

I've decided to make a list of my favorite guitar solos. I can already hear you assholes writing your angry emails: 'LOL U FURGOT ENTER SANDMAN LOL !!!!!11!!ONE1!!!'

I know. I've heard too many solos to list every single one off, so you can stop writing those emails now and delete those drafts. Keep in mind that I have so many songs in my library I can't remember each one off the top of my head. I'll post solos here after I listen to them. There are good solos, then there are brilliant solos. This list is only comprised of solos I think deserve my mention.


Edit: THIS LIST IS IN NO SPECIFIC ORDER.

1.   Joe Satriani - Motorcycle Driver
2.   Joe Satriani - New Blues
3.   Joe Satriani - Surfing With the Alien
4.   AC/DC - Big Gun
5.   AC/DC - Boogie Man
6.   AC/DC - C.O.D.
7.   AC/DC - Cold Hearted Man
8.   AC/DC - D.T.
9.   AC/DC - Have A Drink on Me
10.  AC/DC - Highway to Hell
11.  AC/DC - Night Prowler
12.  AC/DC - Overdose
13.  AC/DC - Rock 'n Roll Train
14.  AC/DC - She Likes Rock 'n Roll
15.  AC/DC - Sin City
16.  AC/DC - Smash 'n Grab
17.  AC/DC - War Machine
18.  Airbourne - Fat City
19.  Airbourne - Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
20.  Audioslave - Doesn't Remind Me
21.  B.B. King - The Thrill is Gone
22.  Eagles - Hotel California
23.  Eric Clapton - Cocaine
24.  Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine
25.  Joe Satriani - Back to Shalla-Bal
26.  Joe Satriani - Up in Flames
27.  Led Zeppelin - Black Dog
28.  Led Zeppelin - Good Times Bad Times
29.  Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
30.  Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
31.  Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
32.  Pink Floyd - Any Colour You Like
33.  Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
34.  Pink Floyd - Mother
35.  Pink Floyd - Time
36.  Pink Floyd - Young Lust
37.  Rage Against the Machine - Born of a Broken Man
38.  Rage Against the Machine - Bullet in the Head
39.  Rage Against the Machine - Bulls on Parade
40.  Rage Against the Machine - Calm Like a Bomb
41.  Rage Against the Machine - Freedom
42.  Rage Against the Machine - I'm Housin'
43.  Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
44.  Rage Against the Machine - Know Your Enemy
45.  Rage Against the Machine - Sleep Now in the Fire
46.  Rage Against the Machine - Take the Power Back
47.  Rage Against the Machine - The Ghost of Tom Joad
48.  Rage Against the Machine - Township Rebellion
49.  Rainbow - Run With the Wolf
50.  Rainbow - Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
51.  Rainbow - Starstruck
52.  Stevie Ray Vaughan - Crossfire
53.  Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride and Joy
54.  Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood
55.  Stevie Ray Vaughan - Tightrope
56.  Stevie Ray Vaughan - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
57.  Ten Years After - I'd Love to Change the World
58.  Van Halen - 5150
59.  Van Halen - Aftershock
60.  Van Halen - And the Cradle Will Rock
61.  Van Halen - Atomic Punk
62.  Van Halen - Beautiful Girls
63.  Van Halen - Black and Blue
64.  Van Halen - Bottoms Up!
65.  Van Halen - Cabo Wabo
66.  Van Halen - Cathedral
67.  Van Halen - Eruption
68.  Van Halen - Finish What You Started
69.  Van Halen - Fools
70.  Van Halen - Good Enough
71.  Van Halen - Hot for Teacher
72.  Van Halen - House of Pain
73.  Van Halen - I'm the One
74.  Van Halen - Ice Cream Man
75.  Van Halen - Little Dreamer
76.  Van Halen - Man on a Mission
77.  Van Halen - Mean Street
78.  Van Halen - Push Comes to Shove
79.  Van Halen - Runnin' With the Devil
80.  Warrant - Cherry Pie
81.  ZZ Top - I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
82.  ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man
83.  ZZ Top - Waitin' for the Bus
84.  Van Halen - So This is Love?

Helpful iPod touch/iPhone apps

posted Aug 31, 2009, 10:54 AM by Dennis Gess   [ updated Sep 17, 2009, 6:50 PM ]

I guarantee you, almost everyone you know has some sort of iPod, but there are far fewer that have an iPod touch or iPhone. I'm lucky enough to own an iPod touch:


Too bad the WiFi chip is broken, so the WiFi doesn't work... but that has nothing to do with this article.

Browsing through the app store one day, several interesting apps caught my eye. One of them is aptly named 'Guitar Tuner'. It looks like this:



See those buttons on the bottom? Press one and you'll hear the corresponding string. It's a crude but effective way to tune your guitar. Unfortunately, the only tuning you can use is Standard.
EDIT: The update for Guitar Tuner today bought us support for Drop D tuning.

A second app called 'Tap That' is just as useful.


All you do is tap the screen to the tempo of the song and the app will give you its best estimate as to what the tempo of the song is. It also seems the app has built-in support for DragonForce songs:


There were a couple more apps like 'Guitar Chords' that I saw, but for some reason it won't sync onto my iPod. Thanks, Apple. You guys suck.

EDIT: Please don't email me about PocketGuitar. I know. I don't see the point in paying money for a crappy pseudo-guitar app.

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