Science Explains: Why Girls Find A Guy With A Guitar So Hot...

Ever wonder why so many girls in the front row of a concert, gaze up mesmerized at the guitarist of some band as he undulates and jams out riffs to 'whatever song' about love/lust/all-of-the-above happens to be his hit at the moment? 

Why do so many girls feel the over-whelming urge to tear his clothes off — despite the fact that his teeth are all wonky, his chest is concave and he smells like Fritos, beer and sweat?

Don’t worry, ladies, it’s not all your fault — call up your mom and blame science when she rails at you for running away with the guitar dude in the band. It’s all your body’s doing. Yup, women are basically genetically wired to be into guitar guys, regardless of what they look like.

Neuroscientist Paul J. Zak breaks down what attracts women to men in bands into three points: Men in bands are; clever, they’re passionate and they’re dripping with testosterone. There’s a line for your Tinder profiles, guitar-slingers.

Let’s dig into #1 first. 
“It’s really hard to be successful — in music it’s particularly hard — so if some guy has figured out how to do that, he’s probably pretty clever,” Zak told MTV News. From an evolutionary perspective, Zak points out, women are constantly looking for a mate that can provide for potential children, so they gravitate toward dudes who seems to have it together.

Mind you, this is, as he said, an ingrained evolutionary thing and in no way rationally explains why girls will date a guitarist who didn’t pay his taxes, drove a clunker van and kept his life saving, (all $47 bucks of it) in a shoebox.

Moving on…
“Number two is, if they’re musicians they’re very likely quite passionate people and I think women in general think men are a little bit dry and not that passionate, so when you find a passionate guy I think that’s somehow attractive,”

Finally, as usual, it’s all about the hormones. “In any profession where you’re the center of attention — if you’re on stage and people are cheering for you, your brain thinks you are the alpha male above all alpha males,” Zak said. And, as a result of all the cheering and peacocking and dancing-in-public, a man’s testosterone levels go up. Which I guess is a good thing?

“We’ve done experiments where we give extra testosterone to men and they become more selfish, more entitled, more it’s-all-about-me — that can be very attractive to women,” Zak added. He also notes that women tend to like higher levels of testosterone when they’re ovulating, less so when they’re not. So, um, if you don’t want to run away with a rocker — or Kanye — maybe sync your show-going to your cycle?

But what about the looks thing? Sure, it makes sense that women like smart, confident guys — but why is it that a man a woman might pass without a look on the street becomes irresistible to her on a stage?

“For women, looks, generally, are a little further down the list — for men they’re usually at the top of the list, because looks correlate with health,” Zak told us.

“Your rock star coming to your town is an alpha male, he’s successful, and if he hasn’t killed himself with drugs or whatever, yeah, he might have some pretty good genes and seem much more attractive,” he added.

Swoon? I guess?

This Band Just Finished A 28 Day Tour And Made How Much?!

Pomplamoose finished a 28-day tour at the end of 2014. They played 24 shows in 23 cities around the United States. It was awesome: Nataly crowd surfed for the first time ever, they sold just under $100,000 in tickets, and got to rock out with people they love for a full month. They sold 1129 tickets in San Francisco at the Fillmore. "I’ll remember that night for the rest of my life."

One question that their fans repeatedly ask them is “what does it feel like to have ‘made it’ as a band?” Though it’s a fair question to ask of a band with a hundred million views on YouTube, the thought of Pomplamoose having “made it” is, to them, ridiculous.

"Before I say another sentence, it’s important to note that Nataly and I feel so fortunate to be making music for a living. Having the opportunity to play music as a career is a dream come true. But the phrase “made it” does not properly describe Pomplamoose." Pomplamoose is “making it.” And every day, we bust our asses to continue “making it,” but we most certainly have not “made it.”

Being in an indie band is running a never-ending, rewarding, scary, low-margin small business.

In order to plan and execute something like a Fall tour, they had to prepare for months, slowly gathering risk and debt before selling a single ticket. "We had to rent lights. And book hotel rooms. And rent a van. And assemble a crew. And buy road cases for our instruments. And rent a trailer. And…."

All of that required an upfront investment from the band members. "We don’t have a label lending us “tour support.” We put those expenses right on our credit cards. $17,000 on one credit card and $7,000 on the other, to be more specific. And then we planned (or hoped) to make that back in ticket sales."

"We also knew that once we hit the road, we would be paying our band and crew on a weekly basis. One week of salaries for four musicians and two crew members (front of house engineer and tour manager) cost us $8794. That came out to $43,974 for the tour."

"We built the tour budget ourselves and modeled projected revenue against expenses. Neither of us had experience with financial modeling, so we just did the best we could. With six figures of projected expenses, “the best we could” wasn’t super comforting. The tour ended up costing us $147,802 to produce and execute."

Where did all those expenses come from? I’m glad you asked:



Production expenses:
equipment rental, lights, lighting board, van rental, trailer rental, road cases, backline.


Hotels, and food. Two people per room, 4 rooms per night. Best Western level hotels, nothing fancy. 28 nights for the tour, plus a week of rehearsals.


Gas, airfare, parking tolls. Holy shit, parking a 42-foot van is expensive.


Insurance. In case we break someone’s face while crowdsurfing.


Salaries and per diems.
Per diems are twenty dollar payments to each band-mate and crew member each day for food while we’re out. Think mechanized petty cash.


Manufacturing merchandise, publicity (a radio ad in SF, Facebook ads, venue specific advertising), supplies, shipping.


Our awesome booking agency, High Road Touring, takes a commission for booking the tour. They deserve every penny and more: booking a four week tour is a huge job. Our business management takes a commission as well to do payroll, keep our finances in order, and produce the awesome report that lead to this analysis. Our lawyer, Kia Kamran, declined his commission because he knew how much the tour was costing us. Kia is the man.

Fortunately, Pomplamoose made some money to offset some of these expenses. Let’s look at our income from the tour:



Our cut of ticket sales. Dear fans, you are awesome. We love every ounce of your bodies. You’re the reason we can tour. Literally, 72% of our tour income came from the tickets you bought. THANK YOU.


Merch sales. Hats, t-shirts, CDs, posters. 22% of our tour income.


Sponsorship from Lenovo. Thank goodness for Lenovo! They gave us three laptops (to run our light show) and a nice chunk of cash. We thanked them on stage for saving our asses and supporting indie music. Some people think of brand deals as “selling out.” My guess is that most of those people are hobby musicians, not making a living from their music, or they’re rich and famous musicians who don’t need the income. If you’re making a living as an indie band, a tour sponsor is a shining beacon of financial light at the end of a dark tunnel of certain bankruptcy.

The Bottom Line

Add it up, and that’s $135,983 in total income for our tour. And we had $147,802 in expenses.

We lost: $11,819

But this isn’t a sob story. We knew it would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment. We could have played a duo show instead of hiring six people to tour with us. That would have saved us over $50,000, but it was important at this stage in Pomplamoose’s career to put on a wild and crazy rock show. We wanted to be invited back to every venue, and we wanted our fans to bring their friends next time. The loss was an investment in future tours.

At the end of the day, Pomplamoose is just fine: our patrons give us $6,326 per video through our Patreon page. We sell about $5,000 of music per month through iTunes and Loudr. After all of our expenses (yes, making music videos professionally is expensive), Nataly and I each draw a salary of about $2,500 per month from Pomplamoose. What’s left gets reinvested in the band or saved so that we don’t have to rack up $24,000 of credit card debt to book another tour.

In 2014 Nataly and I didn’t take weekends off. Releasing two, fully produced music videos per month is way more than a full time job. Because Pomplamoose doesn’t have a manager, Nataly coordinated the logistics of the tour, herself. On top of that, we recorded and released a full length album. Our music video shoots often started at 9 am and finished at 2 am. That was the norm, not the exception.

The point of publishing all the scary stats is not to dissuade people from being professional musicians. It’s simply an attempt to shine light on a new paradigm for professional artistry. We’re entering a new era in history: the space between “starving artist” and “rich and famous” is beginning to collapse.

YouTube has signed up over a million partners (people who agree to run ads over their videos to make money from their content). The “creative class” is no longer emerging: it’s here, now.

We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.

We are the mom and pop corner store version of “the dream.” If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.

We have not “made it.” We’re 'just' making it.

Micro Lesson 082: "Key of E" Classical Guitar Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 082"

This Micro Lesson works on a short Classical Guitar Fingerstyle melody in the Key of "E." 

The short riff is similar to Bach's Minuet in "D Minor," with a few twists and turns. One of the most important things to do is to keep the lines in this piece, (or in any Classical number), as distinct as possible. 

It is always good to allow for as much independent movement as needed. The line has some really nice counter-point, (as does most of Bach's work). The counter-point can be challenging, so be very careful regarding your fingering. 

Also, watch the chords as they can be somewhat of a reach, so work slowly and be logical with how you shift from one harmonic idea to the next. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 082: "Key of E" Classical Guitar Riff

Top 9 Reasons Why Bands Break Up...

1) Money
From baby bands to superstars, unfortunately, money is the main reason bands break up. The baby to mid size bands that legitimately cannot survive on the income their band is generating tend to get tired of living well below the poverty line. Each member, one by one, begins to peel off to ‘fall-back’ on their accounting degree and to ‘start a real life.’ Music is not for the faint of heart. For the superstars, it comes down to the perception of fairness. Coldplay famously splits every song equally four ways. Even the acoustic ballad that Chris Martin clearly wrote by himself, every member gets an equal songwriting credit. Some may call this not fair, but if the other band members start to see the lead songwriter sitting first class driving a Ferrari when they’re slumming it in coach, driving a Hyundai, it ain’t gonna end pretty. It’s less messy this way. Don’t try to argue that your guitar riff leading out of the bridge should earn a 15% songwriting royalty, just split every song equally and it’ll work out in the long run.

2) Clashing Personalities
Above money, this has killed most of the greats. Noel and Liam. Sting, Summers and Copeland. Henley and Frey. Axl Rose and Slash. And it happens at every level. These are the acts you’ve heard of, but there are thousands of bands who never broke out on a mainstream level because they just couldn’t get along. Typically, one member starts to take over control much to the others’ dismay. And the resentment settles in. Or one member takes over the leadership position to fill the void of a manager (in the early stages) and no matter how much success they see, it’s never enough and the others’ start questioning the de facto leader – never giving her the recognition, thanks or acknowledgement of the hard work she put in.

3) Allocation of Business Duties
This goes along with the above point. In this new modern age of the music industry, bands are able to grow much bigger without the aid of a manager, label or booking agent. However, if the band members don’t execute the assigned business duties, resentment within the group can become overwhelming. If each member isn’t organized and responsible enough to at least make it to rehearsal on time or cover simple business duties, the band isn’t going to function. A band in the modern industry needs to be run like a startup company. No longer can you be strung out, carried into the venue on a stretcher and thrust on stage. It doesn’t work like that. The modern rock stars (and mid level bands) who are making it work are smart, responsible, hard working and business savvy. And have their shit together.

4) Ego
Every successful musician has an ego. You have to. If they didn’t believe that their songs (and show) deserved an audience paying the ticket price, they’d never perform live. That takes confidence and a bit of ego. However, when one of the band member’s ego starts to make him believe that he is better than the others, is when the band’s days become numbered.

5) Conflicting Goals
The conversation every band needs to have from the get go is what are the goals of the group. Do we want to have a family life at home or do we want to live on the road? Do we want to take the major label risk, or go at it indie? Do we want to build it online first or live first? It’s surprising how many bands don’t have the goals discussion early on and 3 years into the project, when they finally get a big tour booked, the drummer explains that he doesn’t want to tour – seemingly out of nowhere! Make sure everyone in the band is on the same page before it’s too late. 

6) Musical Differences
This is the reason that the band’s publicist always gives out to the press. Most of the time it’s complete BS. However, legitimately, some musicians like to evolve and experiment and others like to do the same thing they’ve done since the beginning – which has “been working.” If the members can’t agree on the musical direction, it won’t work and shitty solo careers typically follow.

7) Fatigue
No matter how successful a band becomes, sometimes the grind of the road can become too much. If it’s a touring band and the members tire of touring, it’s going to be hard to transition to a licensing/merch/sales/digital-only act. For the digital-only YouTubers, creating weekly videos might get old and exhausting. Luckily, touring is the logical next step – however, it typically takes many YouTube stars a few tours to become profitable.

8) Significant Others
There I said it. Whether it’s Yoko Ono or the husband who wants to start a family with the musician wife, significant others will eventually tug the musician in a direction that is not conducive to the band’s best interests. That is unless the significant others are involved WITH the band. The most successful girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives take active roles in the success of the band. Be it the tour manager, manager, booking agent, accountant, promoter, publicist or social media manager, if the significant others are not directly involved in the band’s success, they will resent their love spending so much time away from them. And ‘music’ then becomes a dirty dirty word in the relationship. Almost as toxic as the ex’s name.

9) Drugs
The list of famous musicians who have ODed is endless. There’s no Nirvana without Kurt Cobain. Or The Doors without Jim Morrison. Trey Anastasio of Phish famously said to his bandmates “If I don’t get out of Phish now, I’ll die.” The band revealed that they had become enablers of each other and it was nearly impossible to get through a tour without serious drug and alcohol use. Only after they got sober could they reunite and healthily continue forward.

If performing live isn’t enough of a high for you, then you really should pick another profession.

Google’s Music Service Just Got Way More Useful...

Google Play Music users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free

Google is expanding the size of its celestial jukebox.

The company announced Wednesday that users will now be able to store up to 50,000 of their own songs for free using Google Play Music, up from the previous limit of 20,000 songs. The songs, which can be uploaded directly from a user’s iTunes collection or other local music folders, can be played on iOS devices, Android devices and the web.

This service shouldn’t be confused with Google Play Music All Access, Google’s Spotify competitor that lets users stream more than 30 million songs from the cloud for $10 per month. However, the two services can work in tandem, so a user can mix songs from the All Access library with tracks they’ve uploaded directly from their own files.

A Brief History of the Electric Guitar...

During the first three decades of the 20th century, guitar players wanted more volume, so guitar makers built larger-bodied instruments, using steel instead of gut strings, and metal instead of wood for the guitar body.

In the 1920s, innovations in microphones and speakers, radio broadcasting, and recording made better electronic amplification for guitars possible. The volume was suddenly able to go way up.

The first commercially advertised electric guitar guitar was offered in 1929 by the Stromberg-Voisinet company of Chicago, though it was not a smash hit. The first commercially successful electric, Rickenbacker’s “Frying Pan” guitar of 1931, had an electromagnetic pickup — a device that converts the strings’ vibrations into electrical signals that can be amplified. But the pickup was bulky and unattractive, and the instrument was designed to be played in a musician’s lap with a sliding steel bar. It wasn’t an immediate hit beyond some Hawaiian, country, and blues musicians.

Spanish-style electrics, which you could sling in front of you while standing and singing, proved much more versatile. Gibson’s 1936 ES-150 (E for Electric and S for Spanish) had a sleek bar-shaped electronic pickup that was mounted into the guitar’s hollow body for a more streamlined look. The pickup earned the nickname “the Charlie Christian” thanks to the jazz virtuoso who is generally credited with introducing the electric guitar solo when he stepped out in front of Benny Goodman’s band in 1939.

Former radio repairman Leo Fender was the first to mass-produce and sell a successful solid-body Spanish-style electric guitar: the 1950 Fender Broadcaster (renamed Telecaster as the result of a trademark dispute).

The 1954 Fender Stratocaster, (the guitar most associated with rock and roll), featured a distinctive double-cutaway design that allowed musicians to play higher notes by reaching higher on the fingerboard, three pickups (which allowed for a greater range of sounds since previous guitars had two pickups at most), and a patented tremolo system that allowed players to raise or lower the pitch of the strings. The Stratocaster and it's smooth ergonomic design, set a new standard for electric guitars.

Rock guitarists loved the versatility of the Stratocaster. They could manipulate the sound by playing close to the amplifier, grinding the strings against things, and using special effects accessories like the wah-wah pedal.

By the ’80s Van Halen was pushing his self-built “Frankenstein” (based on a Stratocaster but with a mish-mash of guitar parts) to the limit, experimenting with “dive-bombing,” which uses the tremolo arm to drive the guitar’s lowest note ever lower. Jimmy Hendrix had done this but forced the guitar out of tune as a result.

It’s ironic that Leo Fender, creator of the most influential instrument in rock music, wasn’t a fan of rock and roll; he preferred country and western. It didn’t matter. Once something new is out there, you can’t stop makers and players from reinventing it, adapting it for new purposes, taking it apart and putting it back together in new ways. The electric guitar is a prime example of unintended consequences.

Micro Lesson 081: "Key of B" Blues Guitar Lick

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 081"

This Micro Lesson takes a look at a fast paced Blues-based double-stop lick in the key of "B." 

This bluesy harmonized lick is best performed by using hybrid picking, or with finger-style. The lick applies a quick moving double-stop (two note chord) pattern from between the 5th through to the 1st strings. 

Be sure to prep for each attack by resting upon the two strings about to be used. It all has to happen quickly, so work at developing the technique smoothly for a good sound.

The bluesy feel is largely generated by the shuffle feel of the steady triplet meter. Pay special attention to the slides and to the flow of the triplet feel.  This effect will generate the best blues sound to really highlight the style.

The phrase moves very laterally across several positions, so work slowly at first and develop a solid sense of muscle memory for how the phrase needs to both feel and sound.

Have fun with this unique sound, and experiment with adding this phrase into your blues solos.

Micro Lesson 081: "Key of B" Blues Guitar Lick

AUDIO RELEASED: Jimi Hendrix's Final Interview Before His Death...

An audio clip of an interview with guitar icon Jimi Hendrix made the week before he died has been released as part of an animated web series titled "Blank on Blank" (via Classic Rock).

The conversation between the guitarist and UK journalist Keith Altham was recorded in September 1970 - just a few days before Hendrix died in London.

In the clip, he talks about money, his appearance, smashing up his equipment on stage and his thoughts on the way he'd like to have seen music and visuals combine in the future.

When questioned about being credited as giving birth to psychedelic music, he says: "The way I write is a clash between reality and fantasy. You have to use fantasy to show different sides of reality - that's how it can bend."

"I don't really round it off too good - it's almost naked. I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be just a guitar player, or a songwriter, or a tap dancer."

And he also gives his thoughts on the music scene at the time, calling it "too heavy."

He continues: "There's too many heavy songs out nowadays - music is getting too heavy, almost to the state of unbearable. I have this one little saying, 'When things get too heavy just call me helium - the lightest known gas to man.'

Hendrix's early work with Curtis Knight and The Squires will be showcased in a remaster release next month. "You Can't Use My Name: The RSVO/PPX Sessions" launches on March 24.

Micro Lesson 080: "E Mixolydian" Funk Guitar Groove

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 080"

This Micro Lesson is set into a funky sixteenth-note groove using chords closely surrounding the "E Dominant 7th" and it's extensions. 

The first section of the riff involves chord qualities related to the, "E Dominant 9th," chord. Strict sixteenth-note strumming and scratch feels give way to a small shift in the chords voicing on the second string. This shift introduces a suspended color. 

The color of the chord harmony shifts in measure two when two different positions of the "E9" are applied. Take care in the attack made on that low "E" open 6th string. Keep the dynamics (upon the 6th string) of your attack even with the attacks made to the upper register chords. The "E9" effect shifts over to the "E13" and returns to resolve the part. 

Memorize the groove and use a metronome or drum machine to keep good time. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 080: "E Mixolydian" Funk Guitar Groove

AMAZING: DigiTech Trio Band Creator Pedal...

The DigiTech TRIO pedal certainly made waves at NAMM 2015 winning the best in show award and you can see why it certainly is very clever, even if it has kind of taken some of the wind out of the sails of the recent Kickstarter success BeatBuddy. 

Where TRIO differs from BeatBuddy is that is more than just a drum machine, it includes bass lines as well with individual bass and drum volume controls. I can see that Buskers and guitarists who want to perform at open mic sessions etc. will love this pedal.

The new DigiTech TRIO utilizes breakthrough technology, cutting-edge polyphonic pitch-detection and advanced rhythm/beat detection to create bass and drum accompaniment on the fly! The TRIO listens to the way you play and automatically generates bass and drum parts that match your song. Just plug your guitar into the TRIO, press the footswitch to teach the TRIO your chords and rhythm, then press the footswitch again to start playing with your own personal band!

As always Andy from does an amazing job of demonstrating exactly what this pedal can do and I have to say it is very impressive especially when you consider that DigiTech pedals usually cost no more than $200. Check out the demo video below.

Micro Lesson 079: "C Major" I, VI, II, V, Jazz Melody

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 079"

This Micro Lesson breaks down a melodic line covering one of the most popular jazz progressions. 

The I, VI, II, V is one of the most common jazz chord movements used in the style. The melodies that surround these chord changes are unique in how they will target into chord tones and extensions. 

Another factor with the melody lines we find in this style is the use of chromaticism. In measures one and two use an outside tone of "C#" to approach the root from above, or approach the scale tone of "D" from below. This approach from above or below chromatic concept is very common in jazz and stands to really highlight the melodic ideas. In measure three we find more chromatic passing concepts into the tone of "Bb." 

Enjoy learning this melody!

Micro Lesson 079: "C Major" I, VI, II, V, Jazz Melody

GuitarBlog: Minor Key Seventh Chords

GuitarBlog: Minor Key Seventh Chords...

In this weeks GuitarBlog we study a few unique minor key chords including, "Dominant Seventh," "Diminished Seventh," and, "Minor /Major Seventh." 

These chords can be quite specialized. And, in order to get a better idea of how they function within each of their own harmonic situations, it is important to spend time studying each of the scale harmonies from which these chords originate. 

Once the chords are well known, (and you've had time to test them in several chord progressions), you'll be able to begin using them more, (as well as, noticing them more) within different pieces of music.

Enjoy this week's Guitar Blog, and be sure to check out the related videos listed below!

Minor Key Seventh Chords

Related Videos:

"Minor Key Seventh Chords":

Tips for Buying a Used Electric Guitar...

Most used electric guitars are going to need some repairs or a setup, and buying a guitar that needs a little work isn’t necessarily a bad deal, as long as you come out ahead when you add bench time and parts to the selling price.

It is common for guitarists who purchased a used electric, and then send it in for a setup, to discover that the axe has serious underlying problems that were not disclosed by the seller. Most guitars you find in a reputable music store have been checked out by the shop’s in-house repair team and are sold at a fair price. But in many cases, instruments acquired from; online auctions, pawnshops, the local buy and sell websites, or flea markets are not always the “killer deal” they appear to be.

To help you avoid buying a used electric guitar that would cost more to repair than it’s worth, let’s look at some critical things you need to check before making a purchase. These are common problems that can get overlooked when you’re smitten by a flashy paint job or a cool design.

Fit and finish:
The first thing most players notice on an electric guitar is the finish. Normal finish checking doesn’t detract from a used instrument’s value, but stains and discolorations do, so it’s important to inspect the paint or lacquer, which can get damaged by synthetic guitar straps or chemicals. Unfortunately, you can’t simply polish away such flaws if they’ve penetrated the finish.

Refinishing a guitar can be very expensive and actually lowers its value. Most electric guitars are actually worth more “stock and ugly” than “refinished and pretty.” A “refin” guitar is only worth about half of one with a stock finish — even if the original finish is scratched or worn.

Be on the lookout for cracks that go through the finish right down to the wood. A deep crack in the finish can be a sign of separating seams in the body, whether it’s a solid, semi-hollow, or hollow instrument. It’s very expensive to fix such structural damage.

Heads up:
Always thoroughly inspect the headstock! The area where the neck transitions into the headstock is vulnerable to damage, and if the guitar is dropped or takes a hit in this area, there may be big issues. Look for wrinkles or ridges on and around the headstock — telltale signs of a headstock repair. Even when perfectly repaired, a guitar with a broken headstock is only worth half of one that has never been broken. This can be a game-changer when deciding to buy a used electric.

Fretboard issues. Carefully inspect the frets. Dents or divots cause by string wear can be expensive to repair or replace. Most professional luthiers charge about $150 for a fret level. A full re-fret can easily cost $300 to $600, depending on the condition of the fretboard.

If the neck looks consistent from the first to last fret, and the truss rod allows for adjustment, that’s a good sign. But if you sight down the neck and see a roller-coaster track, that’s going to need a lot of work to correct. At minimum, excessive forward or backward bowing means the truss rod is out of adjustment, but it might also be a tip-off that the truss rod is stripped or broken. Replacing a broken truss rod is a major operation.

Another big issue is when there is a kick-up or “ramp” at the end of the neck—the last five to eight frets. This means the end of the fretboard is warped, and fixing this typically requires a partial or full re-fret.

Neck angle:
How the neck attaches to the body determines the playability of any guitar, and it’s one of the most overlooked issues when buying a used instrument. Here’s what you need to look for: If the bridge saddles are as low as they can go but the action is still too high, the guitar has an excessively low neck angle. Conversely, if the saddles are adjusted as high as they can go, yet the action is still too low, the neck angle is too high.

Either way, the guitar will need to have its neck angle reset to play well. For an electric guitar with a bolt-on neck, it’s not an expensive repair — perhaps only a little more than a typical setup. However, if the guitar has a set neck (i.e., the neck is glued into the body), changing the neck angle is very expensive. In the latter instance, unless the guitar is worth a lot of money, it’s not cost effective to reset the neck.

If you know what to look for, inspecting the hardware is easy. At first glance you can tell if the plating is in good condition. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to closely inspect the condition of the adjustment screws in the bridge, the nuts and washers that hold the knobs, any neck mounting hardware, the screws, washers, and nuts that secure the tuning keys, and so on. Look for stripped threads, rounded nuts, and missing screws.

Is there any rust?
A guitar with several rusted screws in the bridge can be a big headache. If they are completely seized up, you'll need to extract the screws by first soaking the saddles in oil, and then applying a lot of heat. (To prevent this from happening to your guitar, wipe off the hardware with a soft cloth after each playing session, and use Q-tips to remove sweat and dirt when it builds up in hard-to-reach areas.)

If the guitar has a Tune-o-matic-style bridge, check for what is often called, “smiling bridge syndrome.” This occurs when the bridge frame starts to sag or collapse between the bridge posts. If the 3rd and 4th strings are lower than the 1st and 6th, the bridge will need to be replaced.

With the guitar plugged in, rotate the volume and tone knobs while listening for scratchy pots. Then test the switches and gently jiggle the cable at the output jack. If the signal coming out of the guitar is noisy or intermittent, this will require further testing and repair. In some cases, you can fix a noisy pot or switch by spraying it with contact cleaner, followed by compressed air. But if there’s serious corrosion, scratchy pots and switches will need to be replaced. Though pots, switches, and jacks are relatively inexpensive, the labor can add up.

Electronics Tip:
A previous owner may have changed out the pickups but not wired them correctly so they’re in phase with each other. If the combination of any two pickups sounds thin, bright, and really annoying, then they’re probably out of phase. This can be fixed, but you’ll be paying for the time it takes to disassemble and rewire a guitar.

To summarize:
When buying a used electric guitar, always weigh the cost of repairs against the instrument’s market value. Most used electric guitars are going to need some repairs or a setup, and buying a guitar that needs a little work isn’t necessarily a bad deal, as long as you come out ahead when you add bench time and parts to the selling price. Before you buy an instrument, research its street value and try to get an estimate on repair costs from a qualified repair tech or luthier.

Micro Lesson 078: "A Major" I, IV, II, V Jazz Progression

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 078"

This Micro Lesson takes a look at how the chord movements operate for a common set of jazz changes. 

Jazz progressions operate around a set of common harmonic movements. Of these changes, one of the most popular are the II chord moving into the V chord of the key center. 

There are different types of chord movements that will precede this II-V. In this Micro Lesson example we are in the key of "A Major" working from the root chord to the fourth chord (Amaj7 to Dmaj7), prior to the II-V, (Bmi7 to E7).

To jazz up the II-V change a little, I've added extended chords of an 11th onto the "Bmi" as well as, a 9th onto the "E7" chord within that II-V. 

If these chord patterns are new for you, take your time memorizing the shapes.  It won't take long before they start to feel comfortable.

And, once you begin switching from one chord to the next, keep the rhythms simple. Most of all, have fun learning this set of popular jazz changes. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 078: "A Major" I, IV, II, V Jazz Progression

VIDEO: "Crazed Afro-man Guitarist" Punches Out a Woman During Guitar Solo...

There is a video starting to make the blog rounds this morning of Joseph Edgar Foreman, aka 'Rapper' Afro-man, laying down a devastating right-hook to a woman who got onstage during a free concert in Biloxi, Mississippi, and began dancing with him in the middle of his guitar solo.

Foreman was obviously arrested for assault but has since been released on a $330 bond.

He claimed he was unaware as to if it was a man or a woman, but that he instinctively reacted to someone invading his stage. You can see video of the incident above, but trigger Warning: It vividly depicts a woman being punched in the face. 

Afroman is best known for his early-millennium hit “Because I Got High,” probably being played inside a frat house near you right now.

So what do you think? Do musicians have the right to attack audience members who get onstage without permission, (it's happened to me many times over - see video below at 08:20) ...or, do you think Afro-man was taking this way over the line?

Micro Lesson 077: "Key of A" Blues Chromatic Lick

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 077"

This Micro Lesson adds a twist to the basic Blues sound and incorporates chromatic sections around the notes of the common Blues Scale. 

Set within the key of "A Blues," this lick begins with a short and detached sounding descending chromatic phrase moving along the 1st string. 

The second measure moves through far more of a  typical blues phrase approach with the "A Blues Scale." However, in the final measure, the chromatic ideas really shine by pushing through a busy group of ascending and descending chromatic ideas. 

Take the chromatic examples found in this lick and apply them into your own licks for creating some of your own interesting Blues Chromatic concepts. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 077: "Key of A" Blues Chromatic Lick

Would you pay $2 million for this guitar?

You've likely heard about the "$2 Million Dollar" black Les Paul Custom being described by Guernsey’s Auction House as the “Holy Grail” in the lead up to Thursday night’s sale in New York City.

Unfortunately, many are not impressed, echoing what’s been said by the world’s leading Gibson experts and Les Paul’s son, Russ. As for Guitar Player’s controversial February cover, which is calling the instrument “The Genesis of All Les Paul Guitars to Come!”

I already own the Holy Grail,” says Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen.

Nielsen is talking about a 1963 Guild Merle Travis guitar in his collection, only one of three ever made. But, when thoughts turn to all the hype on this Black Les Paul, Neilson said...

Deceiving,” No, he say's. “It’s just wrong.”

Blues guitar star Joe Bonamassa echos Neilson's concern - having been getting pelted with e-mailed articles about the auction by friends.

That black Les Paul has the best publicist in all of entertainment,” he laughs. “That’s all people are talking about.”

To play a little catch up: Les Paul, the late guitar and recording pioneer who also happened to be extremely frugal, gave the 1954 Les Paul Custom to his assistant, Tom Doyle, in 1976. At the time, it was not playable. Doyle fixed it up, partnered with guitar dealer Max Stavron and now is auctioning off this “Black Beauty.” The sales pitch from Doyle, Stavron, and Guernsey’s boss Arlan Ettinger – that it is one of the most important in the history of the instrument – has upset a lot of folks.

The statements have also made this version of “Black Beauty” the six-string everybody is talking about.

Last month, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson saw a black Les Paul Custom at the National Association of Music Merchants show in Los Angeles. He quickly called Nielson, knowing his bandmate has about 100 Les Pauls, including the 1955 “goldtop” he bought in 1965 for $55 from the A Book Store in Rockford, Ill..

They snickered at the hype. The overwhelming consensus is that the goldtop guitar – not the Custom – is the model that grew into the famous sunburst Standard adopted by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. The Custom, known as “Black Beauty,” is not. What’s more, the goldtop came out in 1952, two years before the Custom.

Nielsen, seen below playing with Les Paul in 2007, calls the guitar being auctioned a “Frankenstein.”

“It was pieced together from this, that and the other,” says Nielsen.

As for Bonamassa, he says he wouldn’t pay $10,000 for it. That’s after paying $410,000 for one of his Les Paul guitars. Those are all Standard sunbursts from 1958 to 1960.

“What it is is a carved up old Les Paul Custom that Les modified and gave to Tom,” says Bonamassa. “I think Tom has the best of intentions with the guitar but Tom, because of his closeness to Les, may have an unrealistic value in his mind.”

So how much will “Black Beauty” go for?

In a New York Times article, Guernsey’s Ettinger said he hoped for $2 million. Asked about that, Ettinger now says he was misquoted and declined to provide a figure. (Times reporter James Barron said this week he stands by his reporting of the $2 million figure.)

If somebody throws down $2 million, that would be more than twice what Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay paid for the guitar Bob Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 and Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger.”

Ettinger and Doyle have not backed down from their characterization of this guitar as the “prototype” for all that came later, despite the evidence to the contrary. In fact, in this filmed interview, Ettinger even expanded from that.

“It was the first Les Paul guitar made by Mr. Paul, Les Paul, that gave birth to the thousands and thousands of instruments that bare that name and that resemble this instrument,” he said.

Fact-check: Gibson began selling the Les Paul Model electric guitar to the public in 1952. The Les Paul Custom was built in late 1953 and given to Les Paul in 1954, according to Doyle.

In an interview, Ettinger was defiant. He defended Doyle and said that he believes the criticism is coming from “angry people” who have “clearly disregarded the lifelong efforts of a man devoted to Les Paul.”

Some of those “angry people” say they wrestled with going public out of deference to Doyle, appreciating that he was poorly compensated by Paul over the years. Former Guitar Player editor Tom Wheeler held out because he was uncomfortable attacking the magazine he loved so much publicly. In the end, they felt they had to say something, if only to correct what they felt was the rewriting of guitar history.

“I’m not disclaiming the guitar’s importance,” says Vic DaPra, the Pennsylvania collector, dealer and author of “Burst Believers.” “Les probably played it on his show but the guitar’s been bastardized so much over the years. It is definitely not the Holy Grail and it is definitely not the guitar all other Les Pauls are based on.”

Do the claims rise to the level of misrepresentation? Julie Menin, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, which is charged with overseeing the auction market, declined to comment on this specific auction. But she said it is rare for her office to investigate auctions. In two years, the department has received only 12 complaints. That led to five inspections, none of which led to litigation.

“This is always a very complicated legal question,” she said. “Basically, that goes to the heart of the issue of whether something is puffery, which is not actionable, or whether something is considered false advertising, which is actionable.”

Former New York State assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who worked for years to create tougher auction regulations, invoked the phrase “caveat emptor” – “let the buyers beware” in Latin.

“I think anybody who goes in there with anything other than eyes wide open is making a mistake,” he said.