I was watching Conan O'Brien
a couple of nights ago and the guest band was Rancid. They were
interesting for three reasons. First of all, they weren't nearly
as "punk" sounding as their name would suggest. (They
looked all scary and stuff, but the music was decent.) Second,
they had TWO left handed guys. (The rhythm guitarist/rapper and
the drummer.) And third of all, they had a guy playing a Hammond
B-3! Since you're a guitar player like me, you may not know what
a B-3 is... It's a big, heavy organ that you play through a big,
heavy Leslie rotating-speaker cabinet. The disadvantage of a
B-3 is the aforementioned "big" ... and the aforementioned
"heavy." The advantage is that it sounds wonderful.
There is no better organ sound than a Hammond. (Vox organs are
cool in their own way... but their coolness lies mainly in their
cheezy-ness.) So it was impressive to see a B-3 in a band called
Rancid. It showed that despite their desire to appear "I-don't-care-about-anything"
punk-like, they really did care about the sound.
It reminded me of a conversation
I had with the late César Diaz. (He stayed at my house
several years ago when he was in town for a liver transplant.
He used up his old liver touring with the Rolling Stones and
Stevie Ray Vaughan...) César once said, "If I played
keyboards I'd take all of my money and buy a B-3, a Leslie, a
van to carry them in, and a dolly to move them. Sure it would
be hard to get it around, but you'd always find work. There will
always be someone who needs the sound of a B-3 in their show."
I guess even Rancid agrees.
Oddly enough, moments ago we
were looking for something on the shelves beneath the counter
here at the store, and we found some Danelectro Rocky Road "Spinning Speaker"
pedals. They're Danelectro's attempt at getting the same rotating
speaker sound that you get when you play a B-3 through a Leslie
cabinet. (Examples of this sound: Curt Cobain's guitar in "Come
As You Are," George Harrison's solo in "Let It Be"...)
The Dano pedal is a fun effect.
You wouldn't use it in every song, but it'll add a little surprise
now and then. Besides, it's inexpensive and weighs almost nothing.
And with this week's email special it'll cost you next to nothing
(compared to buying a Hammond and a Leslie...)
See you soon,
PS: The winner of last week's
contest for a New Fender Deluxe Acoustic Gig Bag is Bethany M.
Thanks to all who entered!
PPS: Here's a picture of Jeff Bell accepting his Free
Martin guitar, from last month's Pittsburgh Guitars T-Shirt Contest.
PPPS: Customer web site:
(Sadly Cesar passed away in 2002, but his family is still selling
his amps and pedals.)
The other day I was watching
one of the Ed Sullivan reruns that they're showing on WQED, and
the band on this episode was The Young Rascals. The show was
from 37 years ago, but the song they were doing, "Good Lovin',"
is still around. (And I suspect it will outlast anything by Limp
Bizkit...) The semi-unique thing about this song is that there's
no bass guitar on it. The Rascals were a four-piece band: guitar,
drums, hammond organ and tambourine. (Quick: Who are the three
most famous tambourine players in Rock History???) (Answer in
one of the PSs below) Getting back to The Rascals, the multi-tasking
guy in the band was Felix Cavaliere. Felix not only wrote a lot
of their songs, he also did most of the lead vocals, played organ
AND played the bass parts on the organ bass pedals. Grab a CD
copy of "Good Lovin'" and listen to one side of the
stereo mix. You can clearly hear the unusual sound of bass pedals...
and you can hear a few mistakes. (I like the mistakes. It gives
it a human feel. Besides, he was already singing and playing
the keyboards, including the solo... all while using both feet
to play bass parts!)
I said "semi-unique"
above because there is at least one other big hit song with no
bass guitar: The Door's "Light My Fire." On that song
Ray Manzarek played the bass with his left hand on a small Fender
Bass keyboard, while playing the rest of the song with his right
hand on the regular keyboard.
But these days... everyone has
a bass player. And if you want to get started, we have just the
deal for you. Fender has discontinued their Frontman Bass Amp
series, and we have a few left. (We also have the new "Rumble
Bass" series that is replacing it.) This week's email special
features great prices on the discontinued bass amps. They're
brand new and have a five year warranty.
See you soon,
PS: Felix Cavaliere didn't write
"Good Lovin'"...it was a cover song.
PPS: Speaking of "covers"
I can't get over how much I don't like NBC's version of the British
sitcom "Coupling." At first I was confused about my
lack of enthusiasm. But then BBC America started playing the
original version (on Channel 162 on Comcast cable) immediately
after the NBC cover version. If you tape them both you can A/B
each scene. The British cast is simply much better at getting
into the characters. The US cast seem to be just reading the
lines. (The British version is also edited tighter...) How does
this relate to music? Well, if you're playing cover tunes, don't
just play the notes. Try to get into the song, and make it your
own. That's what The Rascals did with "Good Lovin'."
PPPS: The greatest Rock tambourine
players: 1) Davy Jones of the Monkees, 2) Eddie Brigati of the
Rascals, and 3) Tracy Partridge of The Partridge Family (played
by Suzanne Crough). Alternative: Gene Clark of The Byrds (who,
by the way, once sang with The New Christy Minstrels!) (See the email special from 9/19/03.)
PPPS: Customer web site:
Bunny Five Coat
The other day someone from The
Post Gazette called and asked what my favorite horror movie was.
You may have seen my comments in last Friday's paper... The bottom
line is: I don't like horror movies.
What DO I like, you ask? Well,
I remember back in 1996, a good friend of mine, Steve Hansen,
gave me a book about a guy who owned a record store. In the book
customers would come in and hang out and talk about music, just
like here at Pittsburgh
Guitars. It was called "High Fidelity" and it's
a fabulous book. In 2000, they made it into a movie starring
John Cusack. In the film his record store is full of wacky eccentric
characters, just like our customer base. I liked THAT movie.
John Cusack was great in the
film, but the movie was practically stolen by one of his "employees"
played by Jack Black. Jack's impact in "High Fidelity"
led to a variety of movie roles... ultimately resulting in the
new movie "School Of Rock." I REALLY liked this movie!!
It's got comedy. It's got guitars! It's got Rock! (And it co-stars
Joan Cusack, John's sister...)
Jack's two main instruments in
the film are a Gibson SG and a white Gibson Flying V. And while
teaching the kids to rock, he generally plays through a battery-powered
little practice amp.
In honor of the kind of movie
that I like, this week's special is small battery powered practice
See you soon,
PS: I will give a free Mini-Deluxe
practice amp to the first person who can tell me what kind of
bass they are using in the movie. I honestly don't know. It looks
German. It has a bound headstock with a design on it, but no
logo. I didn't recognize it as a Hofner model. It may have been
a Framus. I'm curious...
PPS: Last week I mentioned the
world's greatest tambourine players and a lot of people wrote
in with their recommendations. I definitely forgot a great one:
Betty Cooper of The Archies. Two other heavily suggested players
were Roger Daltrey and Stevie Nicks.
PPPS: Customer web site:
PPPPS: Saturday, November 1st
Of The Singing Dead, #11"
The Rex Theatre 8PM