Monthly Archives: February 2016
A guitar pick or the plectrum is a small triangular piece of plastic which is quite a necessity among guitar accessories as it is used for plucking the strings on a guitar. Many guitarists usually use their fingers, but for beginners and those who want clarity in music, picks are very useful. These plectrums don’t have to be single colored and boring. They can be as colorful and unique as the swanky guitars they are used with. Nowadays with most of these accessories being personalized, the picks are also made to look unique and attractive. One of the most popular ideas is getting them engraved with symbols or shapes of any design.
Custom Guitar Picks
Just like guitars are available in every imaginable shape, guitar picks are also very unique and can be found in a variety of styles. Even though the shape of each pick is standard, there are many other alterations which can be done to make these picks look attractive and appealing to the buyer. They can also be personalized with names, signs, symbols, designs, and any other ideas which can be treasured as a memory. The most valued of these are the personalized picks with special inscriptions.
These engraved picks are also made with various materials like wood, glass, metal, and stone. Some of them are usually just kept as souvenirs and are not used for playing.
There are many variations in metal picks. Since not many people like to spend a lot on these picks, the most popularly used metal guitar picks are made from steel. Steel is cheaper and can be easily engraved.
A lot of people get their names, pictures, or other designs engraved on these picks. Steel picks can also be worn as pendants. These picks are usually not used to pluck strings, as they are heavy and can damage the guitar. There are silver picks which are also popularly used as jewelry. They make great personalized gifts for friends.
Most plectrums are made from plastic, but plastic can’t be engraved easily. This is where materials like glass and wood are used to make custom engraved picks. Because they are delicate and slightly more expensive than metal picks, they are not very popular, but they are something people like to invest in as personalized souvenirs. There are some particular types of glass picks usually used by jazz musicians to play the ukulele, these are very rare.
Wooden picks are considered to be more exotic than glass, they are one of a kind and surely a treasure. Wood is known to be a very classy material which sets a signature statement. The type of wood used in making these guitar picks are Cocobolo, African Blackwood, Lignum vitae, Bocote, Zebrawood, and Rosewood. Only the hardest wood is used for strumming as it brings out a very different sound from the strings. They are engraved with unique designs and can be used as gifts.
In the world of advanced guitar playing, using pedals and guitar effects processors is a standard. If you are adept at playing the electric guitar, and want to move further in the skill. One of the initial steps is to play using guitar effects. Guitar effects can be created from either individual stompboxes or effects processors. Distortion is the most used effect in advanced electric guitar playing. If you are thinking about the most appropriate distortion pedal, you need to consider few important things which have been discussed in the following.
Best Distortion Pedals
Those searching for distortion pedals should take in mind that stompboxes vary in types of tones, distortions, and brands. This usually creates a lot of confusion among guitar players. Good distortion pedals are manufactured by brands such as Boss, DigiTech, Ibanez, Rocktron, TC Electronic, and many others. Choosing distortion pedals largely depends on the type of music you are going to play. There are pedals that differ according to the intensity of distortion and overdrive levels as well. In the following, you will get to know about some good distortion pedals in musical instrument stores.
Vox Joe Satriani Satchurator Distortion
Those who love Joe Satriani’s signature tone, can go in for this model of distortion pedal from Vox. This pedal has been made with a collaboration of Joe Satriani and Vox. The Satchurator pedal has quite high gain levels, yet the distortion tone sounds very smooth. You may have to pay around $130 to get this signature distortion pedal.
Boss MT-2: Metal Zone
Boss is the operating arm of Roland corporation and focuses on the guitar and effects requirements of musicians. Its ‘MT-2 Metal Zone’ distortion pedal creates the best heavy sound for heavy metal music. It mainly has super-long sustain and sounds like a stack of overdriven guitar amplifiers. It is probably one of the best-selling pedals from the manufacturer.
DigiTech DF-7 Distortion Factory
The ‘DF-7 Distortion Factory’ from DigiTech is the best bet for guitarists who need a wide range of distortion effects in a single stompbox. Along with tones similar to seven distortion pedals from other brands, it also consists of an EQ control. It’s also durable enough to handle pressure in rough touring conditions. The manufacturer offers this pedal at around $100.
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
This one from Ibanez is rated the top distortion pedal for tube amps. The sound of this pedal can be heard in the guitaring of musicians such as Eric Johnson, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Kirk Hammett. It has a solid tubelike distortion and a fatter tone; just what distortion enthusiasts need. The street price of the Tube Screamer is believed to be about $100.
Like the ‘MT-2′ from Boss, this is also claimed to be one of the best-selling pedals of all time. Popular artists who have used this pedal are Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Kurt Cobain. This is even a suitable pedal for those who want to start experimenting with distortion sounds. Be it soft rock or heavy metal music, the DS-1 surely gives you the expected sound. The price of this popular pedal comes around just $40.
These are only a few of the best distortion pedals. There are many others from these brands and other manufacturers as well. Other good ones are DigiTech Screamin’ Blues Overdrive/Distortion, Vox Joe Satriani Ice 9 overdrive pedal, DigiTech Metal Master, Boss DS-2: Turbo Distortion, Danelectro Fab Tone Distortion, just to name a few. There is a lot of confusion as to which pedal is the best. Therefore, the best way is to go to the musical instrument shop, try out distortion pedals yourself, and then select ones with the appropriate tones you prefer. If you are thinking of a good distortion pedal for bass guitar, you can go in for the Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive.
If you are a beginner and are still not used to tuning your guitar by the ear, then the facility of tuning your guitar online is just the right thing for you. Many websites dedicated to guitar basics and techniques also give information on how to tune it, and support their information with different kinds of online guitar tuners. Worrying about which guitar tuner would be the best is not a concern as all of them create the same sound. For example, the sound ‘E’ will be exactly the same on all guitar tuning websites.
Depending on the way in which they help a user tune their guitar, there are two types of tuners. The first one actually takes in the string’s sound frequency as an input, and displays the result on the screen. It tells you whether you need to tune the strings to a higher or lower pitch. To send sound frequencies as input to the tuner, the guitar needs to be first connected to the computer through a special cable. The tuner acts as a virtual graphical guitar tuner, which allows a user to virtually tune the guitar. Since very few authentic websites with this facility are present on the Internet, not many users are aware of it.
The other type of tuner is that which is found on most of the guitar tuning websites. Here, the guitar doesn’t have to be connected to the computer for tuning. Just switch on the speakers connected to the computer, click on any one of the displayed strings on the monitor, listen to the sound being played from the speakers, and then tune the same string on your guitar according to the sound. This method certainly enhances the listening skills of the guitarist.
Online guitar tuners have other functions as well, such as a metronome which provides an accurate tempo. A strum feature, which includes a continuous sound loop of all tuned strings, is another facility. The user just has to press a button on the screen and the loop starts. He doesn’t even need to click on every string individually, to check the tuning. These tuners also allow users to choose a type of sound, like a sound from either a guitar or a piano. They even have shortcut keys to perform functions. If the user has to play the 1st ‘E’ string on the monitor, he simply needs to press the ‘1’ button on the keyboard. Other facilities include drop tuning, and a delay or sustain switch which prolongs the sound produced. Such features allow the user to use the online tuner more efficiently.
To be able to use an online tuner, having a musical ear is the basic, underlying condition. This is important as it helps you determine the difference between a high-pitched note and a low-pitched one. If you don’t have this basic musical sense, you may end up with either detuned or broken strings. Using it is not recommended if you are preparing for a gig, as you would also need to be in tune with your fellow musicians.
Buying a suitable guitar might be easy, but tuning it according to one’s needs is the important part. This free online guitar tuning facility has certainly proven to be very useful for beginners in guitar playing. So go ahead and get that guitar tuned, and play some great music for all to hear.
Spanish music, over the centuries, has been heavily influenced by French, German, and Moorish cultures. All these cultures have left their indelible mark on Spanish music. Guitar and flamenco are words which instantly conjure up in our minds when we think of music from Spain. But there’s much more to Spanish music than just this. Western classical music has been deeply impacted by Spanish music. The Renaissance period from 15th to 17th century saw a great many Spanish composers traveling all over Europe, especially Italy, and returning to Spain to spread their skills, armed with superior musical knowledge. The most notable among early Spanish composers was Tomas Luis de Victoria. The Baroque era saw the evolution of zarzuela, a form of light opera, which became immensely popular in the 18th century.
Spanish Music by Region
Every region in Spain has its own distinct genre and instruments. Let us see in detail the musical styles originating from the various regions of Spain.
Galicia, Asturias, and Cantabria
These regions lie in northwest Spain and the music is full of Celtic influence, since the Celts settled here as early as 1000 BC. Everything from the instruments, the rhythms, and the melody has a distinctly Celtic feel. Traditionally, people in this region use the gaita (bagpipe), more commonly in Galicia and Asturias. Tamboril, a percussion instrument, which is similar to a snare drum, accompanies the gaita. These instruments are used in marches and processions. The different types of songs played using the gaita include the muineira, carballesa, redonda, ribeirana, chouteira, and contapaso. Galician music essentially features the use of various harps, flutes, and fiddles. The most popular Galician form of music has to be the alalas. These chants, which were popular even in ancient times are melancholic in nature. As opposed to alala, pandeirada and foliada are swift, joyful songs and are often played at public gatherings.
Andalusia is synonymous with flamenco, arguably the most popular form of Spanish music and dance all over the world. Flamenco originated from the Andalusian gypsies. The guitar is the most important instrument used in flamenco. Cante jondo and cante chico are the most popular type of flamenco songs. Cante jondo, popular in eastern Andalusia, is usually sung by one singer. It is replete with sad lyrics, with the main themes being death and unrequited love. Cante chico, on the other hand, is a lot more catchy, since it has a quick, dance-oriented beat. Other popular styles include the sevillana and siguiriyas. As the name suggests, sevillana originates from Seville and is a kind of folk music. It has a lively, feel-good quality and its themes center around rural life, mainly maidens, love, and pilgrimage. Siguiriyas pertains to the cante jondo category and is noteworthy for its rich, colorful style.
Catalonia is most popular for its traditional music, cobla, which accompanies a dance style known as sardana. Cobla involves the use of clarinets, and other folk instruments including tambori and tenora. Other types of musical genres include the rumba catalana, which has been developed by the Catalonian gypsies. It owes its origin to the Afro-Cuban styles that were popular around the late 19th century. Another world-famous music is the havaneres, which is sung at parties and special occasions. The story goes that havaneres were introduced into Spain by sailors, and hence this genre is more widespread in the coastal regions along the northeast of the country.
Castile, Madrid, and Leon
These regions, occupying central Spain, have been heavily influenced by Jewish, Moorish, Celtic, French, Visigothic, and Portuguese music styles. Jota, a style originating from Aragon has a slow tempo. The most common musical instruments in use are shawm and tabor pipe. Tuna is a popular type of serenade, played by students, and originates from the city of Salamanca. Guitar, bandurria, and tambourine are traditionally used to play the tuna. Chotis, both a type of music and dance form, thrives in Madrid.
The Basque country has a long musical history, and the Basques are well-known for their songs, especially their choirs. Txitsu, txalaparta, and alboka are traditional instruments native to Basque music. Txitsu is a kind of flute that emits a shrill sound, and is typically played with one hand. The txalaparta is a percussion instrument with wooden boards and sticks, while the alboka is in the shape of a horn. The music associated with trikitixa, a dance genre, is another very popular form of Basque music.
The most famous music style originating from Aragon is the jota. It is played using the guitar, bandurria, tambourine, and castanet, accompanied by singing. Characterized by repetitive drum beats, Aragonese music is influenced by the Berbers who lived in Northern Africa. Jota is often accompanied by dances and is rhythmic, with a fast tempo, as compared to its Castilian counterpart. Albadas and rondas make up the other genres of traditional Aragonese music. A popular instrument used in Aragonese music is the guitarro, a small kind of guitar. Others include gaita de boto, a type of bagpipe, and chiflo, a kind of tabor pipe.
Navarre and La Rioja
Geographically close to the Basque region and Aragon, these regions share musical characteristics of both these areas. The shawm is a popular musical instrument, whereas public processions make use of the dulzaina and the txitsu.
Murcia was once colonized by the Moors, hence the music also reflects Moorish influence. This dry region borrows heavily from Andalusian music. Cante jondo, played using the guitar, is as popular here as it is in Andalusia. Rondallas are plucked-string instruments especially popular in Murcia. Auroras are songs sung in churches, often unaccompanied by any musical instrument, other than the ringing of church bells. During festivals such as Christmas, people sing cuadrillas, which are often accompanied by a dance.
The music of Valencia is distinctly Mediterranean. Bandes, which are groups of musicians playing various brass instruments, are commonly found performing all over, even in small towns. The havaneres are popular along the Valencian ports, and religious and work songs, sung accompanied by musical instruments are well-known in Valencia. Other types of music genres popular nowadays include techno, Valencian rock, and Ska music, which is Jamaican in origin.
The music of Extremadura is heavily inspired by neighboring Portugal. Tabor pipe is the most widely used musical instrument, and the jota is also popular, and is played using castanets, guitars, tambourines, zambombas, and triangles. Extremadura is popular for different songs, like de ronda, de bodas, de quintos, and de Nochebuena.
Jota is the traditional form of music found in this region, has a slow tempo, and is often accompanied by rattles. Musicians gather together to play the colla de xeremiers, the traditional musical style.
Latin American influence prevails over the music of the Canary Islands. A variant of jota, known as isa, is practiced here. The use of timple guitar and charanga is widespread. Carnivals are popular in this area, and the music for them is lively and produced using brass instruments.
Contemporary Spanish Music
Madrid, Barcelona, and the Basque country dominate the rock scene in Spain. The Basque country produces its own style of punk-rock music. The rock music in Basque originated in retaliation to the oppressive regime of Francisco Franco, and the music reflected the struggles the people had faced over the years. It reached its zenith during the 1980s.
Jazz is Spain was heavily influenced by Americans. The regime of Francisco Franco saw a decline in the popularity of jazz, but after his reign ended, the jazz scene returned with a bang. The folk music of Galicia and Catalonia has a deep impact on Spanish jazz. Live jazz festivals are very popular in the country, and crowds throng to attend them. Jazz clubs abound in Spain. Some of the well-known jazz festivals are Festival de Jazz de Vitoria, Festival de Jazz de San Sebastian, and Festival de Jazz de Terrassa.
This genre of music, which was repressed under Francisco Franco’s dictatorial rule, witnessed a boom in the early 1980s, and continues to prosper. Deeply influenced by British and American pop music, contemporary Spanish pop is an amalgamation of various genres, including rock, punk rock, reggae, blues, etc. The industry has also produced several artists who tasted international success, the most famous being the father-son duo of Julio and Enrique Iglesias.
With an intense variation in style and form, traditional Spanish music has evolved and even seamlessly blended well with modern genres like pop and hip hop. You now know that music and dance is an integral part of Spanish culture, so if you ever visit Spain, enjoy and soak in the rich, beautiful music that’s certain to leave you spellbound.