Guitar Geek

Sky Arts Guitar Star

Sky Arts is running their own guitar talent competition. If guitar stardom sounds like your cup of tea, you might want to check it out.

We’re on the hunt for amazing undiscovered guitarists to take part in a huge new talent search, and the winner will get to play on the main stage at Latitude festival this summer in front of 40,000 people. The competition is open to any age group and any genre (be it rock, jazz, classical, blues or anything else) and closed auditions will be filmed in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Dublin in April.

You can find out more at the Sky Arts' Guitar Star page and at the application video on YouTube.

Throughout the process, they’ll meet and be mentored by some of the biggest guitar stars in the world. The semi-finalists will hone their act in a recording studio, where they will work with a global guitar legend to perfect their sound.
— Sky Arts Guitar Star

If you're a less rubbish guitarist than me (and I'm under no delusions, you definitely are), maybe you'll want to look into this. It sounds like it's going to be a show format that we're already familiar with—just with guitars—and some of the stages and prizes sound interesting. 

The initial 'qualifiers' seem to be based on posting a video so I'm hopeful that means we'll avoid the schadenfreude that plagues the early stages of some TV talent competitions. It looks like contestants will have to work in genres other than their 'usual' each week so I think there's potential to hear some good players stretch themselves if this is handled well. 

Bassists need not apply, though. Bummer.




Fancy a guitar that Joe Satriani's scribbled on? Well, if you happen to have a massive wad of cash, this could be your lucky day.  

These are quite cool. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the JS model, Ibanez have asked Satch to do some custom artwork on fifty guitar bodies. They'll clear-coat over the illustrations to protect them, before hammering necks and pickups and stuff on to make them actual guitars that you can play (albeit very limited editions ones).  

Nice idea.  

These are the JS25ART range. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on one, don't just leave it in a glass case, ok? 

First spotted over at Guitar Noize - cheers. 

For some reason, the YouTube video is unlisted. I've seen this around the net, however, and over 18,000 people have viewed it at this point so I think the genie's out of the bottle and I feel ok sharing it.  

Joe Bonamassa With A Haze Guitar - Holy Crap!

You see that smug looking guy beside Joe Bonamassa? That's me, that is. Why would I be so smug looking? Well, because I've just presented Joe with a guitar that I've made here in Haze Guitars. A custom guitar, hammered together by my own tired and calloused hands. That's him holding it.

Joe was here in Dublin for a gig and I got to meet him before the show to let him have his very own Haze Guitar. It was nerve-wracking to say the least but it all went rather well and I believe Joe was happy with his new instrument.

As you can see (and click the photos to embiggen), I've gone back to basics with this guitar. My thinking is that Joe isn't exactly short of guitars and those that he plays most often are pretty lavish and sumptuous. I figured, therefore, that taking the opposite tack might be a good way to go.

With that in mind, I've gone workmanlike on this one. I love the stripped back, bread and butter, vibe of the single-pickup, Les Paul Juniors and Esquires and I've tried to capture a little bit of that here. In my brain at least, I've tried to meld those two guitars and I've come up with this.  The body size is smaller than a Telecaster/Esquire and the lines are altered - it's got a narrower waist, an altered upper-bout and the horn is shorter.

The body is ash (and a good solid example of it). A black-white-black pickguard holds the volume and tone controls - chicken head knobs for each, in keeping with the no-frills approach. It's fitted with a wraparound Tun-O-Matic style bridge which gives great coupling and sound transfer and helps get some of that LP-Junior vibe. This does require that the neck, which is a bolt-on in the usual fashion, be installed at a bit of an back-angle which always seems a tiny bit odd on a bolt-on.

This guitar's neck is maple and the fingerboard rosewood with only side position markers. The board's installed with 21 wide/high frets and a bone nut. The neck itself is quite chunky - Joe likes a handful - although it's carved slightly asymmetrically with more of a curve along the treble side. This makes it feel a little less of a handful than it actually is. Action is left slightly on the high side, again to suit Joe - he told me he likes a guitar to fight him - and it's strung with 11-52 gauge strings.

A single Duesenberg Domino pickup takes care of the power. This takes things in a slightly divergent direction. The Domino is Duesenberg's attempt to shoehorn a P-90 pickup into a humbucker-sized housing. It looks fantastic; all chrome and black and it sounds really fantastic. It's not quite a P-90 (it gets a lot of the way there) and it has an amazing tone all of its own. It's raw and powerful without being shrill or messy. I love the wonderful noise it makes and Joe (thankfully) seemed to be quite taken with it too.

There's much more sustain in this than you'd normally expect from a T-type guitar and even acoustically, this guitar rings quite nicely and cleanly. Powered up, the Domino fills out the sound but still keeps an edge in the highs. The tone is powerful and full but there's plenty of definition. Personally, I love it and may well have to build one for myself too.

Joe's got a great ear by the way and is very knowledgable about guitars. He spotted little things right off the bat and we were able to chat about the impact they had on the ultimate sound of the guitar. Joe played for quite a while before his manager reminded him he needed to get some dinner before the show. I'd have happily sat and listened to him for hours.

All in all, I'm very, very happy with how my presenting Joe with his Haze Guitar went. Joe genuinely seemed to like the guitar and said a lot of nice things. He was also really generous about letting me snap gushing, fanboy, photos as he played. Custom guitars aside, it was great to just hang out with Joe and have a chat about music, guitars, touring, fish and chips, etc.

Yeah, we really did talk about fish and chips. Random, eh?

It’s amazing to know that this guitar, made by me, has joined Joe Bonamassa’s stable. I realise that’s a big stable but even thinking that he might pick it up every now and then, just for a noodle about, is a great feeling. Anything more than that would be a crazy bonus but just thinking that’s enough. More than enough.

Thanks Joe.

Joe Bonamassa In My Virtual Shop-Window

I'm off to see Joe Bonamassa play in Dublin's Vicar Street next week (Thursday, 7th if you're interested). This is a very good thing. I like Joe Bonamassa - for some musicians, the guitar is a tool only; a means to an end. Best I can tell though, Joe Bonamassa is a guitar geek. And, as a guitar geek myself, I like it when I see it in others.

So, when I had a call asking if I'd mind popping some flyers up in my workshop to help promote the gig, I was happy to help. And I figured that, since this site is my virtual shop-window, I'd pop up a flyer here too.

As well as being a guitar geek, Bonamassa's not half bad at playing the thing either and it seems that, if you haven't already got a ticket, you might still be in with a chance to do so.

Now, if I could just get him to play one of my guitars on stage…  ;-)