Articles Archives

Killer U2 shimmer tones – with Electro-Harmonix POG2

If like me your a guitar effects geek – you’ll love nothing better than an afternoon of guitar pedal tweaking generating some weird and wonderful tones sometimes producing something that sounds more synth like than guitar.

One tone that I’ve always loved is the “shimmer” sound employed by U2′s The Edge – he uses it an awful lot both in recordings and live (check out live recordings of “Still havent found what im looking for” as an example).

Whilst Edge uses a variety of hard to get equipment to generate his shimmer – U2 fans/guitarists often look for an “off the shelf” alternative – Line 6′s Verbzilla was always a good one to try – it’s octo-reverb can produce some great tones – but what if you want to try something else?

Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal

Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal

Well Electro Harmonix have a great solution – as demonstrated in this fantastic Youtube Vid linked to at the foot of this article

Using a channel splitter a POG2 and a delay they’ve created some fantastic string like tones which could be put to a multitude of uses.

The POG2

Electro-Harmonix have this to say about the POG2

Back in 2005, Electro-Harmonix unveiled the original POG, a polyphonic octave generator that enabled guitarists to conjure everything from the surreal jangle of an 18-string guitar, to rich, thick walls of symphonic sound.

The POG2 will take you even higher. Use the new attack control to fade in lush, smooth swells. Tune in the new second sub-octave to reach deeper than ever before. The 2-pole resonant low-pass filter now includes two additional Q modes. Slide in the newly enhanced detune to further refine your sound.

The POG2 delivers unrivaled tonal variations—and now you can save your favorite settings, and recall them with a click. The POG2 just plain sounds better, thanks to an enhanced algorithm that delivers a more focused and in-the-pocket harmonic performance. And all this is now packed into our rugged and pedalboard-friendly diecast chassis.

Here’s the fantastic vid – (be sure to check the others out in the EHX series).

Learn Jazz guitar comping

Effectively accompanying other musicians, or ‘comping’ as it’s known is a key skill that any Jazz guitarist needs to master.

Comping is used to effectively accompany the soloist (either another instrument or voice) – historically, in the world of jazz, this has often been the piano player – however with it’s rhythmic qualities the guitar makes for a wonderful accompanying instrument and if you want to play jazz – comping is definitely a skill you need to master.

Chordal use is often very different to those employed in other musical genres and comping is as much about chord voicings (and chord extensions) as anything – while comping is all about supporting the other instrument – the highest note in your chord voicing provides a natural melody – and a well chosen chord extension can provide necessary color. However – choose carefully – 3 or 4 note chords work best – 6 string voiced chords can drown out your soloist.


Comping is also heavily reliant on rhythm. Here there’s no substitute other than practice (and listening to a rich diet of Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery!)- Comping rhythms are often improvised but due thought needs to go into them to ensure that it doesn’t just come off as random chord stabbings that make no rhythmic sense focus on swinging the beat and building rhythmic ideas that add texture to your track – and remember to leave plenty of space to let the music breath.

Common Problems with Comping

What makes comping difficult? Perhaps is that it looks relatively easy can often fool novices – commonly the usual problems of bad timing, poor style and poor chord selection are often glaring (its really difficult to accompany subtly allowing the soloing instrument to take the lead – guitarists often dont like playing 2nd fiddle!

Comping is all about “owning” that secondary role – leaving as much space as needed while providing harmony and sufficient interest – it’s not about merely repeating yourself over and over following your chord pattern religiously (remember comping can be improvisation too!)

CHeck out these great Youtube Comping vids

Acoustic Guitar Tapping

Tapping or the use of hammer on and pull off’s to create a rhythmic percussive guitar part has been around for years – once mainstream in rock it’s to be found all over the place now – with lots of great guitarists using it to good effect in a wide variety of musical genres.
Newton Faulkner have bought this into mainstream)

There’s loads of tutorial websites out their for those interested in learning (websites such as This one and as always check out youtube for some inspiration).

Be prepared though – this one takes time to master it can be as irritating as hell to start off with as it seems nigh on impossible BUT – persevere – remember always work with a metronome or click device – check out your tunings (this style works best with Open Tunings – start slowly and build up your tempo – aim for clarity of notes rather than speed at first and practice practice practice.

We’ll leave you with one of our favorites the fantastic Erik Mongrain and Airtap!!

If you want a killer tone with vintage sounds but think that is only available with a $1000+ price tag – then think again – mini guitar amps – pack a real punch in both tone and price and can be the secret weapon you need to deliver a truly legendary guitar tone.

Mini Guitar Amps – vintage tone in your pocket

VOX AC30, Marshall JCM, Fender Twin and more – truly legendary sounds available in your pocket! – too good to be true? You know that there are two things that deliver great tone your guitar and your amp – guitar’s comes down to personal preference (make mine a custom shop Strat!) but when it comes to amps there is some amp “royalty” models like the Vox AC30 and Fender Twin series have a real aura about them with a sound that’s instantly recognizable. Vintage enthusiasts will be pleased to see a range of mini guitar amps that model their bigger cousins at a fraction of the cost while producing some truly authentic tones –

Vox amPlug AC30 Headphone Amp

Killer Mini Guitar Amp tone with the Vox Amplug

Check out the amazing Vox Amplug at MusiciansFriend!!!!

Need convincing? check out this video of a VOX Amplug pocket amp being put through it’s paces on a cover of U2’s “Where the streets have no name” (Talk about daylight robbery – VOX Amplug’s retail for under $50!!!!)

Headphone amps packed with features

The days of practice amps with just a headphone socket and a volume control are gone and these headphone amps pack some serious features from gain and tone through to more advanced controls and for those that want to travel light most of these are battery powered so you’ve got both portability and great sound.

But the best thing about the range of mini guitar amps is the choice available and the price (I can’t believe how cheap these are for what’s on offer) – there’s a wide range available which means that you can put together your own collection at a fraction of the cost of a fully fledged tube amp – check out our list of what’s on offer courtesy of Musicians friend.

Shop at the World's Largest Music Gear Company!

Killer Range of Mini Guitar Amp’s

Vox amPlug AC30 Headphone Amp

Vox Amplug at MusiciansFriend
Fender '57 Mini Twin Amp
Fender ’57 Mini Twin Amp
Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Guitar Mini Amp Aqua
Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Guitar Mini Amp
Fender Mini Deluxe Amp
Fender Mini Deluxe Amp
Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack
Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack
Danelectro Hodad DH-1 Mini Amp
Danelectro Hodad DH-1 Mini Amp

10 All new Guitar Heroes

Looking back to the 60’s and 70’s the world seemed full of guitar heroes we had Page, Clapton, Hendrix, Richards to name just a few – the names from this period have gone on to dominate the guitar over the last 30 years

Whilst everyone needs inspiration, we think the great guitarists from the 1960’s and 70’s have had enough plaudits and it’s time to find an all new generation of guitar heroes – but who are they and which bands will they come from: Has anyone from the modern generation got the staying power to be talked about in 20 years time? Hear we take a punt on 10 modern guitar heroes – that we think can stand toe to toe with some of the all time greats.

1/ The Edge – U2

He may be Mr Effects for many but you can’t help but admire the man for using a delay pedal and turning it into a signature tone – been around for 25 years – and has an array of the best vintage guitars you’ll ever see taken on any world tour.

2/ Jack White – The White Stripes

Odd Vintage riffs – played with gutso – sparse – raw tones played on fantastic tunes – punk blues? We’re not sure but we like it!

3/ John Mayer

Controversial choice? Pop hero turns blues enthusiast – how many times have we heard that – well with Continuum we think he means it – sure he’s got the chops – he’s performed with Clapton to name but one vintage hero– but does he have the staying power?

4/ John Frusciante – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Red Hot Chilli Peppers will go down as one of this periods best bands – Frusciante’s playing all funky and punky remains a high point – Under the Bridge as the new stairway to heaven anyone?

5/ Jonny Buckland – Coldplay

People either love or loath Coldplay – however theirs no escaping it they are the next U2 and will no doubt dominate adult rock for the next x years and as such Buckland will be at the heart of it.

6/ Noel Gallagher – Oasis

With the release of the Oasis best of Gallagher emphasized his role of 90’s guitar superhero with tracks such as Wonderwall and Don’t look back in Anger setting the foundations for brit pop. No doubt influenced by the Beatles but to call Gallagher a one-trick pony would be a disservice – made semi acoustics cool again.

7/ Dave Keuning – the Killers

Having recently emerged – the Vegas band “the Killers” have it all – power hooks, crunchy rhythm and a firm grip on the zeitgeist. How long will they last? Who’s to know but enjoy it while it does.

8/ Kirk Hammet – Metallica

An inspiration to many up and coming metal players – trained by Satriani – and still hitting the high notes of a career that’s spanned over 20 years. Career highlights including anything from their Black Album – a rare guitarist that’s as good live as they are on record.

9/ Slash

Killer riffs – great tone and instantly identifiable image – had it all with Guns and Roses and with Velvet Revolver proved that it was still there in abundance.

10/ Billie Joe Armstrong – Green Day

Well if anyone embodies modern power-punk it’s green day – and as it’s lynch pin Armstrong has a meaty raw rhythm tone to back up the bands raucous energy whilst his choice of a Les Paul Junior shows fine taste!

Getting a great Blues Guitar tone

Part two – BB King’s sound – Chicago Blues

Chicago Blues came from Chicago Illinois and developed the delta blues by drawing upon a band environment (typically drums, bass, piano, guitar). One of the key men in Chicago Blues is BB King and in part two of our series on how to get a great Blues Guitar tone we’ll take a look at how BB Kings gets his sound.

King started his recording career in the 1940’s and has gone onto influence a plethora of artists from U2 to Eric Clapton – he has a number of classic tracks (“Thrill is gone”) and classic albums (“Live at the Regal”) to call upon. Today at the age of 81 – King continues to play live to a raft of adoring enthusiasts.

King is famous for his guitar “Lucille” – Typically Lucille has been a Gibson 335 of which King has been a close associate over the years. There have been many “Lucilles” over the years and King has played many different guitars throughout his long career, including various Fenders, Gretsch and Gibsons.) These days Gibson produces a BB King signature “Lucille”. A semi hollow body electric with two humbucker pickups.. Gibson also produce BB King signature guitar strings which he is also a user – King uses .010 to .054 gauge.

Today’s Gibson “Lucille” is that familiar 335 shape – semi hollowbody but with no sound holes (King has played 335’s with f holes over the years) – King opts for no sound holes to avoid feedback – the guitar also features a varitone switch which allows King to dial in the right tone that he requires. Gibson’s “Lucille” also features stereo output. Pickups are Gibson’s standard 490R and 490T humbuckers.

King’s amp of choice is a Lab Series L5, a solid-state 2×12 combo. When on the road King opts to rent his amps in each town he plays where L5’s aren’t available he’ll opt for Fender Twin Reverb.

Effects wise it’s pretty easy – BB King doesn’t generally use effects; his sound comes from his guitar, his amp and his technique – on a typical tube amp – look to boost everything but the mid range – and dial back down on the guitars volume and tone pots until your able to produce an approximation.

To get that BB King sound – look at his technique –he shows great use of vibrato and picking style incorporating slides and bends. He incorporates some classic riffs and his style is one of accompliment rather than rhythm (King doesn’t play rhythm) his style incorporates that classic call and response blues technique that is so apparent within classic blues.

Eric Clapton Custom Shop Blackie Fender Stratocaster

The history behind Eric Clapton’s famous Fender Stratocaster guitar “Blackie” is fairly well known. A combination of three Fender Stratocaster guitars (bought by Clapton in the early 70’s). Clapton took the best bits from each and constructed what was to become his mainstay for years to come.

Clapton used the guitar extensively during the 70’s and early 80’s. It featured on a variety of his album covers throughout this period and it appeared with Clapton at Live Aid. Clapton auctioned the guitar in 2004 and it raised $959,500 for his charity and the guitar became the world’s most expensive 6 string.

Guitar Center Inc (who bought Blackie at the famous auction) commissioned Fender to reproduce the guitar which will see a portion of the profits go to Clapton’s Crossroad Centre charity. The instrument represents a faithful replica of the famous guitar down to the smallest detail. Fender have had access to the original, taking it apart making measurements, taking photographs and then building 275 replicas through a painstaking production process.

Blackie was played extensively for around 15 years and was retired in 1985 – by that time the neck was pretty much worn out and there were concerns whether the guitar could take another fret job. Given its age and its history Blackie looks a little beaten up and Fender’s custom shop have had their work cut out reproducing the guitars unique look such as the cigarette burn on the headstock the worn paint job and worn hardware.

For Clapton’s fans the guitar is a must – and while it won’t set you back close to a million bucks the bad news is that the limited run was an instant sell out so it may take a little searching to get your hands on one.

The Birth of the Blues in Britain

First a Trickle then a Flood.The Birth of the Blues in Britain
By Robin Piggott

Chris Barber’s Jazz Band with the beautiful Otillie Patterson on vocals brought the sound of New Orleans to British traditional Jazz buffs in the late fifties and early sixties. This was just the beginning of a wave of new sounds that culminated in what came to be known as the British Blues Boom! On Banjo was the great Lonnie Donegan who became the Godfather of Skiffle a year or two later. All of the early musical melting pots were springboards for the next generation of musicians and within a couple of years the Music scene was to change forever.

My first exposure to the blues was on Barber’s wonderful L.P. New Orleans Joys. I forget all the titles now but the haunting sounds stirred up strange sensations and led me a few years later to a life long passion for the Blues as I am sure it did with many young kids at the time.

The year 1962 saw the birth of several Blues gigs in London Clubs, notably the Famous Marquee which made its home in Wardour Street, Soho. The great Alexis Korner was to prove to be a nursery slope for what was to come. Cyril Davies on Harp, Dick Heckstall- Smith on the most wailing of saxophones, Mick Jagger (yes that one!) on vocals to name but a few. I guess that first Album recorded live at the Marquee…Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, started the trickle which very rapidly gathered momentum and soon the Blues was the talking point of all young music heads.

Playing at the Marquee shortly after, in 1963 was the man destined to become the Godfather of British Blues… John Mayall…. John’s famous band, The BluesBreakers went onto fame and fortune as many musicians joined and left in quite a procession over the next couple of years. John celebrated his 70th Birthday a couple of years ago and is playing as well as ever. This gives lie to the notion that life is over at forty and its all downhill from there on. The list of John’s protégées is a who’s who of the music business; a good proportion of whom are still playing today. John McVie, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood, Jack Bruce of Cream, Eric “Slowhand” Clapton, Peter Green, Aynsley Dunbar, Mick Taylor and many more.

The band that I believe was the turning point at this time was undoubtedly The Yardbirds, whose incredible energy and enthusiasm were absolutely unparalleled on stage. My first exposure to this Juggernaut was on a Monday morning at school one time when some friends told me about this amazing band that they had seen at the Marquee who had a Guitarist that was simply unbelievable. The Year was 1963, the man in question (well he was only 18 years old!) was Eric Clapton.

The Legend was already underway at this stage and I believe Eric was responsible for the huge interest brewing in the Blues in Britain as the Yardbirds became household names on the R n’ B circuit. Many Guitars were sold at this time as young bloods attempted to emulate Clapton, some with success and many without. Probably one reason for the upsurge in Guitar bands as opposed to wishy washy pop sounds of the time was the discovery of the almost forgotten Gibson Les Paul which produced the sound closest to the Chicago Blues of a decade earlier. Eric’s use of this instrument took the Blues to a new height and no-one could escape the flood that was on the way. With the Yardbirds there was a mix of Gibson and Fender guitars in use. Eric initially played a Fender Telecaster with Rhythm Guitarist Chris Dreja using the Gibson 335, but the favourite in years to come particularly in ’65 and ’66 was the Les Paul.

In 1963 one of the first Bluesmen to arrive on this side of the Atlantic for a Tour was the legendary Harp player Sonny Boy Williamson who recorded a wonderful live album with the Yardbirds that was not released for several years. The restrained backing that the band provided to Sonny Boy showed them to be tight and controlled but Keith Relf the Lead singer and Harpist was a little put out at having to take a back seat to the Master during the gig. Many more Blues legends toured Britain and Europe in the following years which not only revitalised their own flagging careers but gave the budding white Blues players a chance to learn from the Maestros. These include Howling Wolf and the legendary Son House who had been a contemporary of Robert Johnson in the nineteen thirties. The author was privileged to see Son House play in London in 1970 shortly before he died. He was very frail but he certainly could make that National Steel Guitar sing sweetly!

The Album that preceded the Flood was of course the 1966 rendition by John Mayall entitled simply “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton” recorded on the Decca label .This album marked the first vocal airing by Slowhand and he chose Robert Johnson’s “Rambling on my Mind” as his debut. The interrelating of Mayall’s gutsy Barrelhouse Piano together with Eric’s Les Paul and his tentative vocals, wrote a piece of Blues History that day in the studio. That Album sums up for me not only the musicianship involved and the passion of the music but the very essence of the British interpretation of the Blues. I have listened to this song so many times now since the first momentous day that it came through the speakers and every time it’s hard to keep the emotions steady.

The Robert Johnson Legacy forms an integral and vital part of the Birth of the Blues in Britain and is responsible for the undoubted vitality of today’s thriving Blues scene on both sides of the Atlantic. There are no Blues Bands past or present who do not owe a debt to Robert Leroy and his magic. His genius and virtuosity with the bottleneck will live forever!

Robin Piggott is a Professional Driving Instructor in Ireland, with a lifelong obsessional passion for the Blues. He treasures his Gibson as much as his Motor and just can’t make up his mind which is number one! Please visit his web site and blogs for a mix of Motor and Musings designed to help Beginner Drivers and those visiting Ireland.


  • So you’ve tuned your guitar right? – You can play an Open E chord and it sounds great?…Ok now play a E bar chord an octave up – still sound great…? Sounds out of tune? Maybe your guitar’s intonation is out. If your intonation is out then your guitar will sound out of tune the higher up the neck you go so it’s important to get right.

    Intonation means that a guitar plays in tune at every fret. To put it right all you need is a little time a screwdriver and a tuner.
    So let’s get to it and adjust our intonation.

    1. Tune your low E string.

    2. Play your low E string at the 12th Fret. If your tuner shows a change in the pitch your guitar is incorrectly intonated and will need adjusting.

    3. Where a string is not intonated properly you’ll need to adjust the position of the saddle on for the string on your guitar’s bridge. Electric guitars can have a variety of bridges so you’ll need the correct screwdriver for this task. By tightening the screw you’ll flatten the note and loosening it will sharpen the note. Adjust the screw appropriately.

    4. Retune the string to a perfect E.

    Now repeat the steps on all strings – depending on your style of guitar and importantly your style of bridge you’ll probably need to repeat this a couple of times to get it right.

    So there you go – that’s how to get spot on intonation!

    Guitar tab – How to read guitar tab

    It’s never to late to learn to read music. Reading music opens up the world of other peoples compositions and often when playing in a group or with other musicians is essential in order to know what should be played and when. While guitarists can read traditional musical notation, guitar tablature or ‘guitar tab’ is also available. This article will help you with the basics for understanding guitar tab. Guitar tab can seem daunting but actually reading tab is quite easy and with the help of our article you’ll pick it up in no time.

    One of the best things about learning to read tab is that you’l be able to read other peoples work, or learn the licks of the greats – reading tab well may take practice but it’ll pay off in spades. There are loads of resources around on the net which feature guitar tabs and most guitar magazines carry features with guitar tabs so it’s really useful to get the hang of.

    Guitar Tab differs from normal music notation as it shows the strings and fret positions rather than musical notes on a traditional musical stave. In Tab the staff has 6 lines representing the six strings of a guitar. The bottom string represents the low E string. Where a number is shown the guitarists should play the fret indicated for example where you see a 3 on the third line from the bottom you should play the 3rd fret on your D String. Where the tablature shows a 0 it means to play an open string.

    In the example below you would play 3 notes the first and 3rd frets of the high E string followed by an Open High E String.


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