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  • Latin Percussion LP597 Fiberglass King Klaves
    And they re still called claves even though their original purpose in securing pieces of wood has long been made obsolete If you want to get a good sample of the sound of claves you can obviously pick up just about any Cubano Afro Cuban or traditional Latin music CD and find lots of examples but to the untrained ear it may be difficult to pick out among the many percussion instruments you re likely to hear Claves produce a sharp bright attack with a very quick decay and are often used in a One two three one two or similar rhythmic pattern I like to use a few examples to illustrate the sound of claves in popular music and culture The Dixie Cups used them in Iko Iko The Beatles in And I Love Her The Who in Magic Bus Santana in Black Magic Woman and they were also used in the musical pauses in the theme to the TV show Night Court The claves are pretty simple to play but the biggest mistake many players make is to simply grip both sticks and whack them together A much more pleasant tone can be had with just a little bit more attention to technique With your left hand in a hitch hiker s or thumbs up position turn your wrist so your palm faces up and your thumb points away from you Lay the first clave parallel to your thumb in the open channel between your thumb and your fingertips Now you can take the second clave and grip it in your right hand By striking the left clave with the right you can see that it doesn t take much impact at all to create a nice resonant click Try testing up and down the length of the

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/5/11_Latin_Percussion_LP597_fiberglass_king_klaves.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Gretsch G5120 Electromatic guitar
    guitar body captured the vibrations of the steel strings and converted them to an electric signal which was then amplified and sent to a speaker For the first time the rich tone and sustain of a guitar could be heard over the horn section a big improvement over the banjos and resonator guitars in use at the time The heyday for Gretsch electrics was in the 1950s and early 60s under the leadership of Fred s son Fred Gretsch Jr New models included their first cutaway body designs Jet and Duo Jet solidbody electric guitars Bigsby tremolo bridge systems Project a Sonic stereo outputs the beautiful and very expensive White Falcon and White Penguin guitars Gretsch led a revolution of color in guitar finishes including the bright orange that seems almost synonymous with the Gretsch name In 1955 Gretsch introduced the 6120 series designed with input from Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins Over the years dozens of Chet Atkins models were introduced including the Country Gentleman and the Tennessean models used prominently by George Harrison with the Beatles When Beatlemania hit the States in 1964 sales of Gretsch guitars went through the roof for a while By the late 60s Stratocasters Les Pauls and other more modern designs became more popular in rock and early heavy metal music Gretsch models started to look old and stodgy and sales began to decline Fred Gretsch Jr retired in 1967 but no heir was ready to take his place so the company was sold to Baldwin Piano Company Baldwin really had no idea what to do with the Gretsch brand They moved the manufacturing from Brooklyn where it had been located for nearly 90 years to Booneville Arkansas and lost many skilled designers and builders in the process Two fires in the Arkansas plant certainly didn t help matters at all In 1974 Chet Atkins dropped his endorsements with Gretsch citing quality control issues By 1980 the Gretsch name was a shadow of its former self and Baldwin ceased production of all Gretsch lines And again the story could have ended there In 1985 Fred Gretsch III Fred Jr s nephew purchased what was left of the Gretsch brand pretty much just the rights to the name at that point back from Baldwin Piano and began manufacturing Gretsch drums again Two years later former Beatle and then current Traveling Wilbury George Harrison collaborated with the revived company to build a collectable limited edition Traveling Wilburys guitar to introduce his new band Regular production of Gretsch guitars was restarted in 1989 and a Brian Setzer signature model 6120 was introduced in 1993 Demand for Gretsch guitars has continued to grow to the point that Fred III struck a deal with Fender Music Corporation in 2003 to handle the manufacturing and distribution of the Gretsch guitar lines The Gretsch family still retains ownership of the company and handles design and technical decisions My own Gretsch G5120 Electromatic was purchased at Solar Loan one of my regular

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/2/9_Gretsch_G5120_Electromatic_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Squier Affinity Telecaster
    1951 Those early Broadcasters and the unlabeled No casters bring astronomically high prices today An original Broadcaster in mint condition might bring 85K or more and a No caster could cost as much as 70K I ve owned my Telecaster Plus for 20 years now and love the versatility it offers with three Lace Sensor pickups And my custom Baritone Telecaster mod is a very unique instrument that I m quite proud of But I realized recently that as much as I love my Telecasters I didn t have one in the original classic configuration Obviously there s no way I can justify spending as much on a guitar as I spent on my house Fortunately a very good Telecaster can be had for a lot less In 1965 Leo Fender sold Fender Musical Instruments to CBS Corporation Shortly afterward the company acquired a string manufacturer called Squier founded by Victor Squier in the early 1900s so they could save money by manufacturing strings in house In the 1980s the Squier brand name was revived as a budget line brand of Fender guitars manufactured in Japan and Korea Once derided as cheap Fenders Squier s recent instruments are quality low cost versions of many of the Fender lines Squier currently even offers some unique models of its own In the mid 2000s Squier launched the Affinity Series a line of high quality low cost versions of the Telecaster Stratocaster Precision Bass Jazz Bass and other classic Fender models Intended to be first instruments for students they re also great backup instruments for more advanced players and quite honestly they re fine primary instruments as well Given the MSRPs ranging from 279 to 329 you could have several Affinity Series instruments in your collection for the price of just one similar

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/4/5_Squier_Affinity_Telecaster.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Dean Backwoods 2 acoustic-electric banjo
    the piece being played My first experience playing a banjo was during my freshman year at Iowa State University I was listening to music at a friend s dorm room and he had both a 12 string guitar and a 5 string banjo and he let me try each of them out I had recently ramped up my study of American folk music focusing on Pete Seeger the Weavers and Woody Guthrie and really enjoyed the sound of the banjo but I didn t really have money or space for another instrument at the time Later experiences with the banjo came during my time at Trifecta Studio as folk bluegrass and country musicians would bring them in for their recording projects I learned the basics of the instrument including tuning basic maintenance and mic placement But still investing in my own banjo was something that always seemed to get pushed to the back burner as some other piece of equipment usually needed to be repaired or replaced first As my family prepared to move back to Des Moines in 2007 I found a Rogue travel starter banjo on sale at Musician s Friend and figured it was time to try it out for myself It was an inexpensive instrument by design and it often gave me headaches trying to keep proper tension on the head and pitch on the strings But it did allow me to think about the features I d want in a more proper banjo as my budget allowed A model with a resonator back to project the sound forward was a must and an electric pickup to plug into an amp would be very helpful too But quality banjos can be quite expensive often 500 or more and electric banjos seem to be a rare breed indeed I had nearly given up on the idea when I stumbled into the Dean Backwoods 2 a well built 5 stringer with an electric humbucking pickup mounted below the head Dean Zelinsky founded Dean Guitars in 1976 at the age of 19 He quickly found an audience with hard rock and metal players After ten years Zelinsky sold the company but has been re hired by its current owners Armadillo Enterprises The current incarnation of Dean Guitars builds not only the V Z and Razorback guitars that made Dean famous but also some very nice inexpensive string instruments of all sorts My first exposure to Dean Guitars was my neighbor Mike Schneider s Dean ML which he uses for very crunchy solo guitar work including two solos on my CD A Function of Time Although I wasn t familiar with the brand at the time I admired the workmanship When I was searching for an electric 12 string guitar and found the Dean Boca I remembered Mike s Dean and picked up the Boca as soon as I could The same rang true when I found the Backwoods 2 banjo The Backwoods series also includes a 6 string hybrid

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/3/9_Dean_Backwoods_2_acoustic-electric_banjo.html (2016-02-16)
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