Other Players

For Proggers only - or…maybe jazzers…Tele guys?…do you like m…

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Part of the process of finding more articulate pickups and ideal strings for the Agile 8-string has involved exploring lots more 8-string builders - and players.

And, quelle surprise, there's a lot of djenting and chugging and various sorts of hyphen-metal shredding. The assumption seems to be these guitars will be used for that, so it's hard to find demos of pickups clean. The search leads to listening to players I don't know.

In general, I'll tolerate 30 seconds or so of low-string speed-chugging, then skip through a track to see if there's anything close to my evolving sense of how these guitars can be used. I wouldn't say I'm developing a taste for the dominant tone in these exercises (naturally highly gainful, and generally bright and tight so the low end doesn't blatt out), but I at least get why it's requisite for the genres.

One measure of growl-scream vocals, though, and I'm out.

If it's not high-velocity djent-n-chug relieved by metal-cliche modal shred, it's technical, sometimes mathy prog metal. Here there's more of interest, and I'm looking forward to listening to more of Tosin Abasi, Sarah Longfield, and other mostly young players who are truly re-defining what can be done on electric guitar, and who represent the same kind of progression from the various status quos that any of our old favorites have represented down through the years.

Different times, music has evolved and fragmented and specialized, and they all have the entire history of electric guitar to incorporate, build upon, fuse, and extend - so of course it stretches the ear, and (at first) familiar notions of structure, groove, texture, and tonality. That's all good.

That said, some of the technical exercises and flamboyant techniques (well, actually they're rarely flamboyant at all - they're studied and controlled and careful and just...seemingly impossible) haven't let me into their musical secrets just yet. With Tosin Abasi and Animals as Leaders, I get that there's a lot of seemingly supernatural stuff happening on the guitar, embedded in music whose complexity so far defies my analysis - and sometimes my will and interest in investing the effort.

I'm glad to see the evolution of the instrument all the same, and flat thrilled to see so many really good female guitarists. It should always have been this way.

But sometimes I run across something that puts it all together for me - has enough hooks into my musical past, enough apparent melodicism and structure to provide some comfort, as well as sufficient convolution and proggy fusion to satisfy. (It doesn't hurt when it echoes Gentle Giantesque techniques without slavishly and nostalgically applying them. More like the music seems to come from the same head-space.)

I found this feller - Richard Henshall - on Strandberg's site, clicked the video to give him a chance, and ended up listening raptly to the whole 9 minutes (which almost never happens). You have to tolerate some nods to contemporary low-string uber-crunch guitar percussion in a few places - accompanied by silly camera-work - but you can hear how it works in the overall composition, so don't turn it off for that.

Lotta contrast, variety, and dynamics in the piece, all delivered with deft assurance and complete "authenticity." Maybe you can dig it? It sure saw me coming.

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Try this on for size Tim. Maybe it'll give you some ideas. Jazzers have been playing 8-string guitar for quite some time (and I don't mean just Charlie Hunter).

8 String Jazz Guitar https://www.youtube.com/res...

I wish I could get an 8-string guitar, but I can't use nickel or stainless steel strings due to my allergies, I don't trust coated strings (the coating has tendency to peel off), and Ernie Ball doesn't make cobalt 8-string guitar string sets. I'm still trying to find a 7-string guitar that doesn't have a thinner than thin neck, though my axe of choice would be the not so common Schecter Jazz 7 (I used to have one, and foolishly traded it a few years ago).

My old Schecter Jazz 7

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Charlie Hunter is the man! You absolutely need to see him live and see the impossible being played in order to get it. Dude plays Bootsy Collin type bass lines while simultaneously playing lead guitar lines. I sat 10 feet away from him with my jaw in my lap the entire time, freaking unbelievable !

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"One measure of growl-scream vocals, though, and I'm out."

Now THAT is something we can totally agree on!

I've never been a prog fan, however I listen to so many genres (it would be easier to list those I do NOT listen to), that in recent years I have dipped my toe in that water a bit... Simon Phillips Protocol comes to mind.

As for 8-string guitar, I'll never get done learning with 6, so not interested in 8 at all. I doubt my smallish hands would be able to do it anyway. No- 6 strings is plenty for me!

Tosin Abasi is one of the current 8-string champs, apparently....

This was pretty cool...

As for the djent/chug/growlscream thing.... it's like an audio inkblot, of rage. I really try to stay away from rage at this point in my life LOL.

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Two Words: Chapman Stick.

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the first guy reminds me of Soft Machine.


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