Take a break. Let’s rock!


Stuck In The Middle With Me

Fresh on the heels of returning from the transformative experience that was Vai Academy, I had the opportunity to record an episode of the Vibrato.fm podcast. These two seemingly disconnected events got me thinking about what it means to be a "good" guitarist and our insatiable desire to compare ourselves to others.

Playing "Naked"

I'm not talking about clothing-optional playing, I'm talking about stripping your signal-path down to its barest essentials. As a player striving to replicate a wide variety of sounds, my rig is pretty complex. So what happens when, perhaps just for a moment, I decide to put all of that aside? I'll tell you what happens…magic.

The Top of the Stack

The act of playing a single note starts with displacing the string. In rock, we typically use a pick to strike the string. How much can a pick affect your tone? Probably a lot more than you ever realized…

The Kemper Profiling Amp

Since they were first announced at NAMM a few years ago, I've always cast a curious (yet cautious eye) towards the Kemper Profiling Amp.  While digital modeling of tube amps has improved a lot, it's still always felt like a bit of a compromise. Still, I've always been hopeful that at some point somebody would finally capture the magic. Did Kemper finally pull it off?

The Game-Changing Boss ES-8

As your pedalboard grows you'll soon realize that you have more options available than you have feet to manage them. This can result in some pretty tricky pedal-dancing moves as you try to toggle two or more pedals when moving into a new song section. Wouldn't it be great if you could totally reconfigure your signal path with a single stomp? Thanks to the new Boss ES-8, you can and it won't break the bank.

Gain Stacking

For years I staunchly held firm the belief that a beautiful tone should come solely from your amp. In my limited world-view stompbox overdrive or distortion was, at best, a hack. Over the past few years this outlook has changed and now I'm a big proponent of "gain-stacking".

Reflections on Vai Academy 2015

This summer I've had the tremendous fortune of attending the 2015 incarnation of the Vai Academy in Vail CO. When I saw the names Steve Vai and Eric Johnson as headliners, I knew that I couldn't pass up an opportunity to get close-up to two of my all-time favorites. As it turned out, meeting a couple of my "heroes" wasn't all that I got in my time in Vail.

A Fly on the Wall at 5150

Eddie Van Halen fans got a real treat recently when the man himself mounted several GoPros and gave us a tantalizing close-up look of his playing and setup while demonstrating the new EVH 5150 IIIs amp head.

Class Dismissed! Is Here

It’s been a long toil this summer, but the final touches have been put on Class Dismissed! and it’s now available for sale! If you’re a Van Halen fan looking for ways to grok more of Eddie’s playing, this is the lesson for you!