June 2006 (Issue No. 162)

AG 162 June 2006 Cover
 

Issue Highlights

Ben Harper talks about how he avoids writer's block, how he got the vintage sonic vibe on his album Both Sides of the Gun, and why he feels like a classical musician trapped in a guitarist's body. Bryan Sutton's insights about rhythm, the influence of players around you, and the importance of relaxation to the clarity of your tone and precision of your playing. Report from Winter NAMM 2005. Five songs to play, including "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson. Fingerstyle lesson with Ed Gerhard. Player spotlights on Calexico and Ernie Hawkins. How to make the most out of your practice session. Slurs, hammer-ons, and pull-offs lesson. Profile on Schwartz Guitars. And more!

Featured Songs

Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley and Vera Matson

The Cuckoo - Traditional, arr. by Ron Forbes-Roberts

Bridge Over Troubled Water - Paul Simon

Whiskey Before Breakfast - Traditional, arr. by Bryan Sutton

Forked Deer - Traditional, arr. by Bryan Sutton

In This Issue

BOTH BARRELS BLASTING
Ben Harper's command of roundneck and lap-steel guitars—not to mention singing, piano, bass, drums, vibraphone, and production—makes him perhaps the premier roots-rock Renaissance man of Generation X. Here he talks about how he avoids writer's block, how he got the vintage sonic vibe on his latest album, Both Sides of the Gun, and why he feels like a classical musician trapped in a guitarist's body. By Shawn Hammond.

HANGING WITH HEROES
Bryan Sutton's new album, a round-robin with the world's greatest bluegrass guitarists, provides the flatpicking master a perfect opportunity to regale us with insights about rhythm, the influence of players around you, and the importance of relaxation to the clarity of your tone and precision of your playing. By Craig Havighurst.

FROM HERE TO GEARVANA
Every January, musical-instrument and accessory manufacturers hold the industry's largest domestic trade show in Anaheim, California. And every January, the editors of Acoustic Guitar spend four days scouring the NAMM show aisles for cool new products that we can rush back to our offices and write about, so that you can get the cutting-edge gear scoop you crave as soon as humanly possible. Here's our report. By Teja Gerken.

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC
Love Me Tender. Words and music by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson. 

PRIVATE LESSON
A Private Lesson with Ed Gerhard. The acclaimed fingerstylist tells how he expresses emotion in a song, how to create movement in an arrangement, and where tone comes from. By Doug Young.

NEW GEAR
Peavey Briarwood DR-3ER CDS. A steal of a solid-top acoustic-electric with focused midrange that's perfect for blues cats and slide aficionados. By Pete Madsen.
Taylor GS Flattop. The company's first new body shape in more than ten years boasts hallmark playability but breaks the mold with thumping bass and a smooth, complex character—Taylor's strongest acoustic statement to date. By Teja Gerken.
DigiTech JamMan. An easy-to-use, great-sounding digital looper with liberating CompactFlash media storage and a USB port for unlimited possibilities. By Teja Gerken.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Songcraft
Calexico. Front man Joey Burns describes how the indie-rock masters of Southwestern soundscapes turn toward pop by tightening up their song structures and rekindling a relationship with the steel-string guitar. By Derk Richardson.

Roots
Ernie Hawkins. This veteran bluesman toiled for years to unpack the depths and mysteries of the genre, as revealed to him by his mentor, the immortal Reverend Gary Davis. Then a simple method for learning to play a song in various chord forms illuminated the blues for him as nothing had before. By Ian Zack.

HERE'S HOW
Make the Most Out of Your Practice Session. Practice doesn't have to be boring or onerous. Well-organized, efficient practice sessions make a palpable difference in how well you play—and make playing more fun. By Rik Elswit.

THE BASICS
Slurs—Hammer-ons and Pull-offs. Especially useful in folk songs, this simple technique—in which you play two or more notes with a single string pluck—is relatively easy to learn and will add a nice flair to your playing. By Ron Forbes-Roberts.

STAGE AND STUDIO
Out of the Box. Although the process of recording to hard disk doesn't have to be much different than capturing your music on tape, it offers possibilities that you may not have considered. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your digital setup. By Mitch Gallagher.

LUTHIER'S WORKBENCH
Schwartz Guitars. Toronto-area luthier Sheldon Schwartz specializes in fingerstyle flattops. A scientific approach to construction, carbon fiber-reinforced braces, and long scales results in guitars with a unique voice and distinctive appearance. By Simone Solondz.

G.A.S. STATION
Guitar Suspense. Having acquired more than 100 guitars, Jonathan Kellerman has moved on to other wooden pieces of art: Custom-made chairs with guitar themes. By Ben Elder.

PLAYLIST
Jessi Colter, Out of the Ashes/Shooter Jennings, Electric Rodeo. By Kenny Berkowitz.
Ray Davies, Other People's Lives. By Derk Richardson.
Woody Mann, Road Trip. By Ian Zack.
Lynn Miles, Love Sweet Love. By Céline Keating.

WOODSHED
Accompanying a Singer. Add the right amount of color to an arrangement by visualizing bite-sized chords up the fretboard, then add open strings and embellish these portable chord shapes. By Andrew DuBrock.

SONGBOOK
Bridge Over Troubled Water. Words and music by Paul Simon.

GREAT ACOUSTICS
1970s Mark Whitebook Dreadnought. A classic guitar from one of the premiere members of the second wave of modern, small-shop luthiers. By Rick Turner.

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