Blackstrap Electrik

Do you love vintage fuzz? Appreciate absurd levels of care and rare parts? There is no one more on top of their game than Blackstrap Electrik. Matt has already been declared a Tone Bender god, and he’s expanded to Power Boosts, Fuzz Faces, and OD-1 replicas (with the original quad-amp chips). I picked up my MkII with NOS Mullard OC81D transistors, Wima caps, and UK vero board over a year ago, and it’s a permanent fixture on my board. If you have a chance to grab a Blackstrap pedal, you will be glad you did!

Intervals Across the Neck – 3rds

Thirds are a lot more useful as double stops than seconds, and obviously they’re key building blocks of most chords. Luckily, no stretching or string skipping is required to grab major or minor thirds across the neck. They work nicely hammered on to/from fourths or from major seconds as well.

click for full size…

Intervals Across the Neck – 2nds

This may be the least useful individual diagram I ever post, but for the sake of completeness, I am starting my run through of intervals with major/minor 2nds. I worked through Truefire’s Interval Insights course, and I now feel even more confident that knowing where to grab all of the intervals on the neck is a worthwhile skill to have. I can’t demonstrate how to use them in context here, as Rich does, but it should be pretty simple to lay out the locations of each set to refer to for your own experiments.

Seconds are neither particularly consonant nor comfortable to grab. I kept stretches to a three fret minimum in this diagram, as going out of your way to grab either of these doesn’t seem necessary.

click for full size…

It’s Good: Danplifier 5E3 Tweed Deluxe

You may know Dan from 4114 effects and the Flux Capacitor Delay, which now borders on impossible to obtain (Paul Gilbert’s Flux apparently resold for $999!) and ended up on some pretty famous boards (Ryan Adams along with Gilbert). You might not also know that Dan makes some beautiful, meticulously crafted amps. One of those amps, a mini 5E3 Tweed Deluxe with built-in attenuator, happens to sit in my living room (comfortably on the bar cart to boot).

Danplifier 5e3 Tweed Deluxe

I don’t have any internal shots of my build, but take a look here, here, and here to see just what kind of attention to detail goes into these amps. Dan, like nearly all of the UK builders I’ve encountered since moving here, takes his craft seriously, and that means this little box will be kicking out classic 5E3 dirt (Neil Young: Cinnamon Girl/Southern Man, Eagles: Hotel California/One of These Nights, Larry Carlton with Steely Dan: Don’t Take Me Alive/Kid Charlemagne) for decades to come. This one is in the permanent collection…

My bar-cart friendly 12W 5E3 has a solid-state rectifier to make the footprint possible and dials down to just 1W on the back, giving me living-room friendly volumes when I can’t turn up, which is basically always. I’ll have to plug into the UA Ox to record some good clips, but in the interim, take a listen here.

It’s Good:

Truefire has become an indispensable resource for me in the past couple of years. The quality of material on the site coupled with the reasonable cost of courses make it a no brainer if you’re looking to make consistent progress in your playing. Their Guitar Lab: Triads course inspired me to map out triads up and down the neck along with extensions in each position, some of which you already see here. Bruce Arnold’s Guitar Physiology course has noticeably helped to me keep my wrist and hand in healthier shape than it used to be, something that will pay dividends for years to come.

I picked up about 10 classes worth of new material in their holiday sale (for barely more than $100, you can see them all below). There’s nowhere else that I know of to get this level of instruction without paying a lot more or working with a top notch teacher in person. I’ve actually taken a couple lessons with both Jon Finn (Improv Target Practice) and Jeff McErlain (Soloing the Changes), and I don’t think my recent purchase even covers an hour of of their time.

whole lotta learnin…

All Triads 3 – Strings 2/3/4

I didn’t realize just how useful learning all of these triad positions would be until they started clicking, particularly up and down between the three core shapes in a given key (root on string 2, 3, or 4). Beginning with the shape below as the I chord gives you a ton of options nearby. The ii, IV, and vi have multiple options that are easy to grab or switch between.

With a bassline or second harmony covering the low end, you can easily cycle through the upper extensions of the underlying chord (upper structure triads once you’re beyond R,3,5 if I recall correctly). Throw sus2 and sus4 in and your palette extends even further. I should probably record an audio example to demonstrate.

The best thing to me is that you can always map a diatonic mode back to a home Ionean key, so just knowing which I chord you refer back to means you can grab extensions up and down the neck. For instance, A Aeolian is just the sixth mode of C Major, so all of the triads will be the same as those in C. Even grabbing the C Maj triad just gives you an Am7 over an A bass note.

*click for full size