Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Recommendations: (Bass Players) Norm Stockton Grooving for Heaven Instructional Videos

I was able to connect with Norm Stockton (@normstockton) at a bass guitar clinic at, and picked up all four of his Grooving for Heaven instructional videos. I just wanted to post my overall thoughts on the first three videos, (I am still working through Vol. 4).

Just a note that I have a good background in theory and technique, (BA in Music from University of North Texas), so I am making these statements as a help others make a decision on which of these videos to purchase.

1. If you get any of the videos, purchase the accompanying exercise transcription book, (the single book covers all four volumes, and includes drum transcriptions). I always try to save money by not buying these type of books, but the fact is that they are almost worth more than the videos themselves.  They are useful in your practice time as both exercises through which to work, and rhythmic and sight-reading practice.

Vol. 1/Vol. 2:

2. The best feature of Vol. 1 and 2, are the "meat and potatoes" intervals and rhythmic examples.  This is the first time that I have seen straight-up examples of need-to-know intervals and rhythms through many different styles. I realized that most of the instructional videos focus on soloing, and Grooving for Heaven gives us concepts for playing in an ensemble as a rhythm section player.

3. I found that much of the other material was presented, but not supported with 'why', or 'how' we use them. This is a difficulty that I have in my own teaching, so am not criticizing, but letting beginning players know that they may feel overwhelmed or somewhat lost with the amount of material presented in Vol. 1 and 2.

Bottom Line: I would recommend buying the transcription book and working through the exercises in Vol. 1 and 2, and bypassing the videos. I would really start with Vol. 3.

Vol. 3:

1. I would consider Vol. 3 to be much more solid in pedagogical presentation. I felt that the material was presented, and then supported. Clearly, this was done in response to feedback on Vol. 1 and 2, and Norm did a great job of assimilating the feedback.

2. The addition of drummer David Owens really helped me to understand the actual breakdown of bass and drum interaction in each style presented.

3. The playing examples were superb, and both Norm and David were very clear and concise as to the note and rhythmic choices for each style.

4. In addition to the note and rhythmic descriptions, they also discussed how to react to different playing styles within each musical style. For example, if the bass guitar is playing a lot of notes, the drums tone it down. Alternately, if the bass guitar is leaving a lot of space, the drums can play more to help propel the music.

I really see Norm's Grooving for Heaven series to be a bridge between more stylistic instructional videos, (ie. how to pop-and-slap, how to play like James Jamerson), and more philosophical videos, (ie. Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop). I think that you could have a great bass playing future if you were to only be armed with Norm's Grooving for Heaven Vol. 3, the Grooving for Heaven transcription book, and Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop.

Using an octave pedal on bass

I have been inspired by Tim Lefebvre in his D'Addario Strings video What a cool way to get the keyboard bass effect!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hydrogen Drum Machine on Windows - load sound libraries

I was having issues importing drum libraries into Hydrogen for Windows, and found this great posting How To Add New Drum Kits To The Hydrogen Drum Sequencer (Without Tearing Your Hair Out).

I think this is simpler now, so am including the following instructions:
 $ cd /c/Program Files (x86)/Hydrogen/data/drumkits/ 
 $ mv ~/Downloads/GSCW-2.h2drumkit .
 $ tar xzvf GSCW-2.h2drumkit

I then restarted Hydrogen and GSCW-1 and GSCW-2 were available in my sound library.

The only note that I would add is that you will need a tar for Windows, (ie or, as h2drumkit files are compressed tar files.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What model of 2003 USA Telecaster is this?

I just bought this 2003 Fender (made in USA) Telecaster from Guitar Center as an 'American Standard', and I don't believe that it is. The serial number is Z30XXXXX. It is a beautiful guitar, but the inconsistencies are:

1. the neck plate is plain, (no logo).
2. no tilt adjust on the neck. 
3. the bridge has no logo or engraving
4. the saddles are a bright chrome, as opposed to the brushed finish on most of the American Standards that I have seen.

I thought it may be a HWY 1, but it has a lacquer finish, and most HWY 1s also have the logo neck plate, right?

Any help that you may provide would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Amp hunting

Checked out a lot of great amps today. ( Roland VGA-7, Trace Elliot Super Tramp Twin Stereo Quad Chorus, Peavey Stereo Chorus 212 (80s), Fender Blues Deluxe, Orange Crush 10, (which was Clara's fave), Peavey ValveKing 112). My thoughts:

(2nd place) Roland VGA-7 was very cool. I am a big Roland JC-120 fan, and was looking for that fat clean sound. The VGA-7 had it, but... It was so heavy (80+ lbs), and I am not looking for a modeling amp. They had a VGA-5 as well, but it didn't have the great low-end that the VGA-7 had.

(3rd place) Fender Blues Deluxe, overall best sound. Fender really voices their amps to work with their guitars, (mine was a 1988 Fender American Standard Tele), and this combo rocked! I considered buying this amp, but it was over my price range, and had a rattle that the shop couldn't explain. If it hadn't rattled, it would be in my house right now.

(4th place) Peavey Stereo Chorus 212. I went into the shop to buy this amp, but it had rattles, (that were fixed while we waited), but still didn't have the low-end definition that I was expecting from a 2x12 stereo chorus amp. (My Roland JC-120 spoiled me).

Coolest surprise of the day: Orange Crush 10. This thing was amazing! They worked really hard to make it not sound like a small practice amp, (though it still did). To tell the truth, I just found out that it was a 6" speaker in this amp. I was torn between an 8" or 10" when I was demo-ing. It sounds that good!

What went home with me?

(1st place) Peavey ValveKing 112. I was going to ignore this amp, but Mark was busy with another customer, so I thought I would just take it for a spin. Wow! This had the tube-sound that I like, the size that wouldn't kill, and the price I was looking for. I shouldn't have been surprised, as my all-time favorite amp was a 1990's Peavey Classic 50 4x10.

I can recommend: Music Go Round (Burnsville, MN). Mark was a great help(!), and I always drop in to see what they have when we are driving through.