Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feed Your Head Stock

I'm in rehearsals this week with the Keith Urban band, getting ready for a show in Phoenix and the ACM Awards in Las Vegas. I'm taking care of Brian Nutter's gear this year, and we're putting the Planet Waves Headstock tuner to good use.

Brian plays electric, acoustic, 6 and 12-string, resophonic, ganjo (6-sting banjo) and mandolin in the show. We're running all these acoustic instruments into a pair of Midas XL 42 dual mic pres, then into a line mixer blend these four inputs into a single output to send the monitor and front of house engineer a single fader to control.

This means that any on-the-spot tuning that Brian might need is done on stage without a mute switch or volume pedal. I send every acoustic instrument out with a Headstock Tuner clamped on.

I use them to first tune the instruments in my world, since the stage volume is usually too loud to use an audio-based tuner. By sensing the vibrations through the headstock, the Headstock Tuner doesn't really care how loud the band is, how close you are to a raging half-stack, how loud the crowd is cheering. They work great on electric guitars, too. I also send one out on the 12-string headstock of the white Gibson EDS-1275 doubleneck that's capoed with an NS capo at the 3rd fret...just in case!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The $.25 EQ

Picks. Everybody has lots of picks, everybody has lost a lot of picks. Once you find a gauge and texture you like, most people stick with it and don't give it another thought. But picks are the least expensive way to change your tone, explore new sounds, and create a wider palette of tones in the studio.

Planet Waves makes a variety of picks for just about every occasion.

Our Duralin picks are the most popular. Made from Acetyl or Delrin™, Duralin picks have a perfect blend of stiffness and spring. They're extremely durable and last a long time. In fact you'll probably lose it before you use it. Duralin picks accentuate the attack of a note, giving clarity and power to every pick stroke.

Duralin Picks

Classic Celluloid. No, it's not a Charlie Chaplin film festival, it's the Planet Waves version of the perennial favorite guitar pick. A softer, less aggressive tone than the Duralin, Celluloid picks were the favored substitute for actual tortoiseshell, and it fact Fender's #351 medium gauge tortoiseshell pick might be the most famous pick of all time. Planet Waves offers celluloid picks in a variety of colors and gauges. Great for strumming acoustic guitars and for when you want a little warmer sound. A thin celluloid playing a high-capo part is a great trick to use when doubling a track in the studio.

Classic Celluloid

Delflex. The blending of nylon and acetyl, these injection molded picks and long-lasting and bright. Injection molding gives the pick familiar flexibility in all directions, as opposed to stamped sheet picks, which can break and tear if bent in the "wrong" direction. Quick on the attack with a bit of give, striking a nice balance between the Duralin and the Classic Celluloid. Great for bass guitars that need some snap on the attack, but without the click.


The SurePick is a Planet Waves innovation. An injection molded rubber grip (in the shape of the Planet Waves logo) makes this pick a great choice for slippery fingers and bass guitarists. You can really dig in to the strings without fear of losing your grip. (Hold one up to the light and check out what the logo on each side of the pick turns into...!)


Black Ice
picks are Planet Waves' latest offering. Duralin picks formed into the popular Jazz shape and tumbled like fine jewels for a soft texture with a stiff attack. Perfect for ripping, articulate leads and heavy rhythm.

Black Ice

All of these picks will make you guitar respond and react differently. Next time you're at the music store, grab a handful of picks of several different gauges and materials. Try playing the same piece of music, song or favorite lick and vary the pick you use. Listen to what it does to the attack of the string. Bright and immediate? Soft and warm? Quick and aggressive? Listen to how the different picks accentuate the sound of your electric guitar. Turn them around and use the rounded edge instead of the point. This is a common trick used by Bluegrass pickers.

Spend some time exploring the Planet of Picks... and make your own Planet Waves.