Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ibanez and me...

You know, when you've been playing for many years on many guitar brands you develop a kind of sixth sense towards gear.

I've been playing Ibanez (a "sabre" model and the first John Petrucci model, the JPM 100, that I've lately sold on eBay) for something like 6 years and I can now say that there are basically 3 types of Ibanez players :

- Ibanez whores
- fanboys
- beginners.

The thing is, every time I see a guy with an Ibanez guitar I know there are 80% chances that the guy sucks as a guitar player. Let me explain :

1) The Ibanez whores are, as the name implies, people who are paid to play on Ibanez guitars. Steve Vai and "Joe Satriani" being the most famous. Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with that. I mean, a guitar brand offers you to get your own model, with your own specifications, and you get as many guitars as you want ? Any musician would sign. I would. What you must understand is that those guys would play the same on any other guitar, because they can play.

2) Fanboys. I would say that 90% of people playing on Ibanez are fanboys. Really. When I see all those guys on Youtube playing on this :

I know all these guys think there is a kind of "Steve Vai Inside" sticker on the guitar. Just because Steve Vai plays on this doesn't mean you will sound like him or play like him. I can't say this guitar is a piece of shit but I can say that for the same price you could get a baby that looks 10 times better. I mean, look at the guitar : it's WHITE. For the price you get a plain WHITE guitar, whereas if you asked Carvin you'd get a AAAA quilted maple top guitar with super high craftsmanship. But because you're such a fanboy you probably never heard about Carvin guitars, right ?

I've already talked about a friend of mine (the one that couldn't help playing shitty because of a really bad rythm guitar player). Well, that friend of mine played most of his life on an old shitty plain yellow Aria Pro II. He did not change pickups nor anything, he just trained his fingers so he can play on anything because the sound comes from the fingers, remember ? When you see him going on stage with his shitty guitar you start thinking that he must be a noob, then he starts shredding your ass out and sweeps arpeggios all over the place. As soon as he puts some of his stuff on Youtube, I'll link to his videos (he doesn't play on that guitar any longer though...).

3) Beginners are an easy prey for Ibanez for several reasons, like fanboyism, beautiful ads, beautiful guitars, and affordable guitars. Let's face it, Ibanez guitars have a sweet design and are quite affordable. They don't play bad either. The problem is that manufacture-wise, it's cheap. The neck feels cheap, the accessories are cheap (screws and all), plus there is that so common "composite sound" that has no real personality, it doesn't sound woody. I think that cheapness is really what defines an Ibanez guitar and that's why I switched to something better.

Beginners also lack the technical knowledge that could help them smell fishy stories... Take this one for instance :

That's the "new" tremolo developped by Ibanez. It's called the ZR bridge (for "Zero Resistance") and it should be revolutionary. OH REALLY ?! Let's be a bit technical here : a "normal" tremolo uses a knife edge as a point of contact between the floating bridge and the guitar body (the position of the floating bridge is maintained by the tension between springs in the guitar body and the tension of the strings). The problem is that the permanent friction tends to make the guitar end up out of tune. Here the knife edge is replaced by ball bearings, which sounds like a really cool idea : no friction, so the guitar stays in tune forever. That's the beautiful story Ibanez wants to sell you, but 2 "details" remain untold :

a) that ball bearing system has been discovered and already been used for decades by French guitar maker Patrice Vigier (Vigier guitars). A revolution, indeed.

b) "ball bearings" means "less friction", which also means "less contact between the bridge and the guitar body", which also means.... "great loss of sustain". Oooops !

To be honest, Vigier doesn't talk about it either...

Not all the people playing on Ibanez suck, but when I see a guy with one going on stage I know I shouldn't have high expectations, because guitar players who are really serious about their gear or sound usually tend to play on a more personal kind of gear, something that's not "the average".

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cry me a fucking river...

If there is one thing that beginners do better than intermediates or pros it's to complain/bitch/whine about their guitar/amplifier/cables/
pick/fingers. Man, if I had received 10$ each time I've heard my pupils whine about their gear, I could probably buy a new guitar by now.
The thing is, most of the items above can be bought. The only one you can't change is your fingers. Sure, Steve Vai's got the perfect hands to play the guitar - or any other instrument, actually - but guitar is like fencing : it's not the sword that cuts, it's the skills.

All of you crybabies out there should check this out :

I know, his music sucks big time and he dresses like shit (reversed cap + curly hairs ? Come on !), but at least he can play the guitar decently. And you know why ? Because the guy probably thought it would be a good idea to turn whining time into practice time.

Now for all of you miserable morons who still think you will never be able to play amazing stuff because you've got small fingers and it's such a hindrance to play fast/swept arpeggios/wild stretches and such, please look at this guy :

His name is Frank Gambale and, as you can see, his fingers look nothing short of yummy cocktail sausages. With hair.

Now here is the same guy, many years later, performing "The Flight Of The Hairy Sausages" just for your viewing pleasure :

Frank Gambale actually released a guitar video called "Chopbuilder" which is a great testimony of how much the 80's totally sucked fashion-wise, but is also one of the best guitar instructional video ever released. If you're serious about your guitar playing you should definitely buy the DVD from Frank's site.

If you think you sound shitty because of your gear, there is a high probability that you would actually sound shitty on any piece of gear. It's your fingers that make the sound, not the gear you're playing with.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The truth about "Joe Satriani"...

Well, I think that one of my duties as a teacher is to tell the truth to my pupils. You know, like not saying to someone that he plays great when in fact he doesn't. Teachers should tell the truth.
Today I'd like to share a sad truth.

You know that bald guy with sunglasses that makes gigs around the world and plays Joe Satriani stuff ? Yeah, that one guy you go to see in concert with "Joe Satriani" written on the ticket. Well, sit down son, because.. you see... that guy is NOT Joe Satriani.

Yeah, I know, I know, he plays the same stuff and he plays on the same guitars. Big deal. I buy that very same guitar tomorrow and you'll start calling me "Joe", ain't you ? That's not so easy.

I don't want to say things like "Joe Satriani is dead so his producer uses a double", or things like that, we've already heard it with Paul mc Cartney's supposed death. Maybe Joe is not dead, maybe he has just retired somewhere and lives happily with his family, I don't know.
What I DO know is that this guy IS NOT Joe Satriani. You want proofs ?

Evidence#1 : pictures

The guy on the left has made tons of magazines' covers and books, and videos and gigs and he NEVER EVER wore sunglasses. And he had hairs. The guy on the right, well, he looks more like a bank robber than like a guitar player, doesn't he ? Actually that guy on the right always wear sunglasses because... He's got brown eyes. Joe's are blue.

Evidence#2 : pictures again

Image Google "Joe Satriani" and what do you find ? Millions of pictures of the right guy, and some pictures of the left guy. Well, it's pretty normal since the right guy is Joe Satriani and he's famous. Except the REAL Joe Satriani was already famous since 1986 and the fake is around since 1996. Ten years of fame each, and such a huge difference in the media exposition ? Isn't that weird ?... As a matter of fact, the new Joe Satriani is touring non-stop since 1996 with the G3, as if someone wanted people to see him, to know he's real. Think about it, something smells fishy.

Evidence#3 : the music

That's probably the most obvious element. Listen to "Crystal Planet", what do we get throughout the album ? Great riffs, and nothing after that. That's the way the new Joe Satriani composes : great riffs, poor songs. You won't make me believe that this is the same guy who wrote "The Mystical Potatoe Head Groove Thing", "Surfing With The Alien" and such. Same goes for the "Supernatural" album and his live performances with the G3. I've seen the REAL Joe in february 1993, during the Extremist tour and there is NO WAY one can mistake the two. The fake lacks consistency. He's a good guitar player, no doubt, but he's NOT Joe Satriani. Get over it.