Sunday, December 25, 2016

You Know More Chords Than You Think You Know

Print this jpg to as an addendum to this video...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Son's YouTube Channel

Check out my son Alex Strahle's YouTube channel.  He tends towards the subject of gear and tone.  Maybe subscribe too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why So Many Guitars? Acoustic Edition

I didn't get my first acoustic until I was 30.  It was a 1990 Gibson Dove.  I chose it over everything else I'd played at the time because of the price ($1000) and that it was the loudest of the all the guitars I tried.  I was going to be leading worship for a Sunday school class of about 100 without a PA so that was my criterion. At the time I couldn't tell much of a difference between acoustics.  I was an electric player.  

Five years later, I purchased my next acoustic. A Lowden F-22.  As soon as I played it I loved it’s tone.  But mainly because it was different than the Gibby.  Way different.  Brassy, not as woody.  Still my ears were relatively inexperienced.  I bought it to take on the road for some clinics I was hired to teach starting that Spring.

I didn’t have the guitar two weeks when I got a call from Taylor guitars asking which model I would like as they were one of the sponsors of the clinics and wanted me to have one.  I didn’t know anything about Taylor models and they told me everyone else was getting an 814-ce.  Sure.  Two days later one arrived at my door step.  And it was very different sounding from my Lowden and Dove.  The 814 was definitely brighter than my Dove but not as brassy as the Lowden.

It was about this time in my mid-30’s I started to notice the difference between Martin’s and Gibson’s on recordings.  Getting to the point, where I’m sure so many of you are at, where I could listen to a record and say “that sounds like a Martin.”  Or Gibson.  Taylor’s were rarer on recordings and harder to pick out. 

Then when I was working on a session for a major Latin artist, the producer, whom I’d never worked for before, grinded me on my guitars.  One after another he told me my acoustics were too bright.  Isn’t that what EQ’s are for?  I thought.  Self-conscious I powered my way through the session thinking I need to get a dark guitar.

It was beginning to make sense what my teacher in the 80’s, Carl Verheyen, told me… “You can’t have too many acoustics.”  I didn’t have any at the time, and remember thinking… really?!?!

I determined that I needed a Martin.  So the hunt began.  At the local Guitar Center, of all places, I spotted a tattered, abused, orphaned 70’s Martin D-35 for $1100.  It played great and had a familiar tone.  But not flashy.  Subtle.  Serious.  And dark.

Now I had 4 very different guitars.  Plus a Taylor 655 12-string that I had gotten from Taylor from their B stock.

The Martin has been my go to guitar for sessions.  One thing I noticed, over years of playing on records, is that when I use the Martin, my guitar is hotter in the mix when I get the final product.   The Taylor sounds like a Taylor. The Dove definitely sounds like a Gibson.  The Lowden is very unique sounding.  But the Martin just sounds like a guitar.  Like a guitar we’ve all heard on recordings from the beginning of time.  My Martin at least, doesn’t demand too much attention and shares the sonic landscape with singers quite generously. 

I’ve since acquired two more Martins, a new Baritone, the prototype actually, that is serious times ten, and a 1924 O-28k, a small bodied, koa instrument that is so tender and sweet.  Great for fingerpicking and soft strumming.

I also acquired a 60’s Gibson Folksinger in trade for playing on a friends record.  It has a decidedly “boxey” quality that I’ve found is useful for that “hipster” sound.  Whatever that is.  You know like a Target commercial.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Recent Session - Mercury Plains, composer Austin Wintory

I played acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar and baritone electric on this film....

Recent Session - Deepwater Horizon, composer Steve Jablonsky

I played a Fender Jazz Bass, Fender American Standard Stratocaster guitar, a Martin D-35 acoustic and Gretsch Resonator guitar on the very ending credits on the film Deepwater Horizon.  You have to stay to the bitter end to hear it or you can just listen below...

Also used...

Elixir Strings - acoustic and electric sets.
Wegen Picks.
Golden Gate slide guitar convertor.  Convert any acoustic guitar or round neck dobro into a raised action square-neck type dobro.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Session Ace Michael Thompson

Here's a compilation of 30 years of session work by guitarist and friend Michael Thompson.

And an interview with him by Tim Pierce and Pete Thorn.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cool Skill - Natural Harmonics

My latest YouTubery offering (and my 400th post!)...

Watch to the end to learn a cool Eddie Van Halen trick.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

Practically Toto - "Lowdown" - Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs could be credited with creating Toto, he used them so much on his records.  He gave them lots of opportunities to play under the pressure of the studio, with the "red-light on". On this record....

David Paich - Keyboards, Mini-Moog & ARP
Jeff Porcaro - Drums
David Hungate - Bass


Fred Tackett and Louie Shelton on Guitars.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Wrecking Crew - Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell

Released in October of 1968, this was a hit written by Jimmy Webb for a former member of the Wrecking Crew, Glen Campbell.

Players on this track include Glen Campbell, James Burton and Al Casey on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass and Jim Gordon on drums.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Demystifying Chord Symbols

Here I, hopefully not too feebly, explain how the chords got their names.

To create dominant chords I used a two octave C Mixolydian scale...


C7 - CEGBb

To create Major versions I used a two octave C Major scale...


Cmaj7 - CEGB
Cmaj9 - CEGBD
Cmaj11 - CEGBDF
Cmaj13 - CEGBDFA

To create Minor versions I used a two octave C Dorian scale...


Cm - CEbG
Cm7 - CEbGBb
Cm9 - CEbGBbD
Cm11 - CEbGBbDF
Cm13 - CEbGBbDFA

If you want to go insane get Chord Chemistry by Ted Greene.