Take a break. Let’s rock!
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.
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.
This year my amp and affects setup has gone through a tremendous amount of change. Nothing forces you to fine-tune and re-evaluate like the trial-by-fire that is playing live consistently. Despite all of the tweaking, I've finally settled into a pretty good setup that should last for the foreseeable future.
When you think of guitar gear, the first things that come to mind are probably the sexy bits like shapely guitars, roaring amps or mind-blowing pedals. Maybe you even think about picks or strings, but I'm willing to bet that a humble tuner probably doesn't make it too high on your list. If that's true, consider moving the T.C. Electronics PolyTune Clip higher-up on your list of gear to check out.
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?
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.