Mastur Class!

Happy 2016! I hope everyone’s holidays were epic, and that you got lots of good stuff.

There’s no better way to ring in the new year than to highlight the … um … peculiar culture that somehow got attached to our instrument. You can’t make this shit up.

Hard to believe, but […]

A Funky Fingerstyle Challenge! Mutant Travis Picking

Here’s a fingerpicking idea I’ve been kicking around for a while, though I couldn’t figure out a great way to present it till now.

It’s a challenging series of ultra-syncopated variations on traditional Travis picking — a funky fingerstyle challenge.

I started down this path while trying to create one of those fake-out song […]

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

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)

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]