My Favorite Rock ’n’ Roll Solo (It’s Not on Guitar)

Screenshot 2015-07-11 19.29.20

I’ve long been obsessed with Sam “The Man” Taylor’s epic sax solo on the Chords seminal 1954 rock ’n’ roll hit, “Sh-Boom.” But I never got around to learning, transcribing, and analyzing it till now. I heard it about 100 times while making and editing this video, and it still thrills me on every […]

Less-Boring Looping (“Pumped-Up Kicks” Cover)

Less-Boring Looping

For a while I’ve been playing this loop-based cover of Foster the People’s “Pumped-Up Kicks” at solo gigs and with my duo band, Mental 99. At risk of sounding like a pompous dick, I’ve annotated the performance, highlighting techniques I’ve found useful for making loop-based performances livelier and less predictable.

I’ve covered some of this ground before, […]

Cue the Drummer Jokes!
Playing Drums with MIDI Guitar

I’m thrilled to bits about a show I’m playing Thursday eve in San Francisco featuring two guitarists of impeccable skill and taste, plus me.

Teja Gerken and I are co-hosting a monthly solo guitar night at El Rio, my groovy neighborhood dive.Our guest is the amazing Eric Skye who, among other things, plays […]

Guitar Solo Obsessions

Are there any particular guitar solos you’re obsessed with lately?

Here’s one I can’t stop listening to: Jim Hall’s solo on Sonny Rollins’ 1964 recording of “God Bless the Child.”

This may seem like a weird statement, given how much self-indulgent wanking infests this site, but I have a love/hate relationship with guitar […]

The WRONG Way to Use a Talk Box

Any talk box fans out there?

Whew. Didn’t think so. I mean, doesn’t everybody hate those godforsaken things? Wasn’t it all downhill after “Tell Me Something Good?”

But did you know that the “talking guitar” has a rather exalted history four decades pre-Frampton Comes Alive? Check out this performance by Alvino Rey, the steel guitar […]

Tonefiend Book Week 2013
Monday: Theory and Technique

Monday: Theory and Technique Tuesday: Gear Wednesday: Repairs and DIY Thursday: Biography Friday: Fiction

This week we’re talking about our favorite guitar/music books. The plan is simple: I discuss a few titles I’ve found particularly enlightening, useful, or entertaining, and then you jump in and do the same. I’ve organized the days of this week by […]

Tonefiend Book Week is Coming!

Next week at tonefiend we’ll be talking about our favorite guitar/music books. I’ll write about some of the titles I find especially useful, inspiring, or entertaining, and I hope you’ll chime in with some of your recommended reading.

Since there’s so much potential material here, I suggest we focus on a different book category […]

MIDI Guitar Meltdown

Okay, I promise: tonefiend is not going to become an all-digital blog. I’ve got two new DIY analog pedal projects in the pipe, plus a piece on that delightfully retro technology, the book.

But while there’s more to life than MIDI, for the last few months my particular life has been all MIDI, all the […]

Playing with Pain

I’m lucky — I’ve never suffered from any playing-related pain. (I mean, other than expected stuff, like spurting blood all over a guitar when you bash it a little too hard, or picking up a soldering iron by the wrong end.) But I’ve been blissfully untouched by carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness, arthritis, etc.

Until […]

Who Dares Predict Our Fretboard Future?

We care about the future, because that's where we will be spending the rest of our lived.

“We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” — Criswell, Plan 9 from Outer Space

UPDATE: Wow, I can’t believe all the cool stuff folks have been posting to comments. I find myself feeling quite inspired about the future […]