Roch Voisine’s custom-made electric guitar

Voisine enters the hotel suite preceded by a dazzling grin and a guitar case (both his own). Although evenly tanned and garbed in the most immaculate denim, he seems a bit tired. This is not surprising. In the past eight months the New Brunswick-born singer/songwriter has won a Juno music award for best male vocalist of the year, completed a sold-out cross-Canada tour, recorded his first English-language album, I’ll Always Be There, and watched it soar into the sales stratosphere (quadruple platinum) and did his first outdoor gig at Ontario Place Forum in July.

Draping himself a bit wearily in an upholstered chair, he gives a nod to his assistant and his guitar emerges from its heavy case. His assistant holds it upright, by the neck, and its black glossy surface flashes in the light. Voisine regards it dispassionately. The connection between him and the instrument becomes evident only when he begins to talk about it.

“I had it made four years ago by Pierre La Porte in Montreal,” he says. “This was the very first one he made.”

La Porte, Voisine says, repaired guitars for a living and had always wanted to make one. “One day while I was there me he told me he wanted to make a guitar but couldn’t find anyone who would risk spending the money.” The guitar cost $3,800 (a good guitar can be had for about $1,000). “I was a bit skeptical about it, but I said ‘sure,’ anyway, and right then we sat down, opened books and picked the model.”

Voisine’s guitar is scaled like a 1940 Gibson J200, except that it is – 3/4-inch thinner than the original. “So it is comfortable in my hands and against my body. And it’s heavier than most other guitars, and it’s strong so I can tour with it and it won’t crack,” he explains. “Everything I liked about other guitars was put into this one.”

In the 1960s, Voisine says, Gibson made a special guitar for the Everly Brothers. “The design is very famous and you can get copies of it in guitar stores.” The black colour and the various-sized glittering white stars inlaid in the fret board and neck of Voisine’s guitar are the most noticeable Everly-detail. “It’s real ’60s stuff.”

The sides and back are made of German curly maple; the top is Engelman spruce from Oregon; the neck is bird’s-eye maple, the fret board is Jabon ebony, the bridge is rosewood; and the braces inside the instrument are made of Alaskan spruce, also called Sitka spruce, from British Columbia.

That’s not all.

The wide binding is plastic. The wood – all six kinds – has been stained with alcohol and then finished with seven coats of cellulose lacquer (which La Porte says is “standard stuff”), all hand applied and hand buffed. The stars are made of mother-of-pearl.

Fortunately, considering the detail involved, Voisine was very pleased with the outcome. He uses it on stage and it has appeared with him on album covers.

Since making it, La Porte has been flooded with guitar commissions. He is also now working on a second, back-up instrument for Voisine.

This guitar was meant to be played with amplifiers – the two little knobs where it plugs in are visible beside the neck – so Voisine doesn’t use it for composing. “It’s a concert guitar and it has a great sound when it’s plugged in,” he says. Since he got it four years ago the sound has changed dramatically. “A new guitar sounds very bright. With age it gets deeper and more mellow.”

He picks the instrument up for the first time and sits it in his lap. “It’s like a part of my body,” he says. “I’ve tried a lot of other guitars but this is perfect for me. It’s my trademark now.”

Money can buy you John Lennon’s guitar

Money can’t buy you love, and love can’t buy you a Beatles’ guitar. So bring money.

Otherwise, forget about fetching any of the several hundred Fab Four artifacts to be auctioned in Atlanta Nov. 14-15.

An acoustic guitar used by John Lennon in the group’s pre-Beatlemania Liverpool days is expected to be the most expensive item. The auction house – undaunted by the recent auction of an early Elvis Presley guitar that sold for half of the anticipated top bid – expects the guitar to bring up to $300,000 (U.S.).

“We thought it (Lennon’s) could bring in seven figures, but with the market being what it is today and the depressed economy, I think it will bring in the $200,000 to $300,000 range,” said Ted Tzavaras, president of Great Gatsby’s auction house.

Tzavaras said the market’s better now for Beatles’ memorabilia than for the king’s. “I think the Beatles created a phenomenon in rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “Elvis, of course, was the American father of rock ‘n’ roll, but the Beatles created the phenomenon.

“This guy (Lennon) didn’t die of an overdose. He’s a martyr, a rock ‘n’ roll martyr. The name’s still magic.”

The items associated with Lennon, who was murdered in New York in 1980, are expected to draw the most attention. Besides the guitar, there’s a harmonica Lennon used in recording the Beatles’ first album, a cigarette lighter, personal letters, autographed photographs and gold records.

Also available: sculptures, rare concert programs and a record-store display promoting the Beatles’ 1965 Rubber Soul album (“Great for giving! Or just groovy listening!”).

Macabre as it sounds, dead rock stars are plainly worth more than living ones in the auction market, Tzavaras said. Though fans still love Paul, George and Ringo, their items should sell for much less than Lennon’s.

“They’re still alive, still producing, still writing songs, so they’re less valuable,” he said.

The investment value of such rock ‘n’ roll mementos may shut out fans who simply want a keepsake of the 1960s pop icons.

“It’s really big bucks,” said Bill King, publisher of the magazine, Beatlefan.

Even Tzavaras, who like millions of Americans were introduced to the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan TV show in the sixties, admits to a twinge of nostalgia as he sees big-money investors snatching up the memories.

“But if the guy has the wherewithal to own it, I say sell to the highest bidder,” Tzavaras said. “Emotionally, probably it ought to be part of the family, Yoko and Sean. But it came from them – they sold it in the early ’80s.”

The Elvis guitar, which he used in his seminal Sun Records sessions, was sold by another Atlanta auctioneer in early October for $180,000, about half what had been anticipated.

Tzavaras acknowledged the low price was a disappointment but said recent auctions overseas saw a Jimi Hendrix guitar go for $248,000 and a Buddy Holly guitar sell for $300,000.

“Rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia has been a very hot segment of the collectible business, and prices are still going up,’ he said.

Tzavaras said most of the Beatles’ items in his auction came from a private collection, the owner of which he would not identify. The auction house would not disclose the value of the collection, though Great Gatsby’s executive vice-president, Allan Baitcher, said it has been insured for $10-million.

Segovia revived the tradition of the classical guitar

Andres Segovia‘s longevity on the concert stage had probably convinced some of his fans that he would never altogether disappear. Recordings guarantee that he will not, and yet the man himself has gone. He died Tuesday at the age of 94.

The loss is great for the guitar world, though Segovia’s real significance lay in the extent to which he was able to claim a broad public for his instrument. This he did against the usual grain of popularity.

His concerts were legendary for their subtlety and proficiency, as well as for the reverential hush with which they were attended. Disdaining microphones in even the largest halls, Segovia remained true to the intimate virtues of the guitar, and to his own pure standards of repertoire.

With several generations of his disciples now on the concert circuit, it seems hard to believe that before Segovia, the classical guitar scarcely existed. “Without him, (Julian) Bream wouldn’t have been a guitarist, nor would (John) Williams,” says Eli Kassner, a Toronto guitarist and teacher who studied with Segovia in the late fifties. “The guitar movement wouldn’t have been anything like what it is, without him.”

Always popular as a folk instrument, the guitar had fallen out of favor with serious composers after the seventeenth century. Its earlier repertoire was forgotten, and the instrument disdained.

It was while a student in Granada that Segovia decided to devote himself to the resuscitation of the classical guitar tradition. Essentially, he followed the lead of Francisco Tarrega, the nineteenth- century guitarist who tried to fill the repertoire gap with, among other things, transcriptions of Chopin and Beethoven.

Segovia took a similar route with transcriptions of Bach, Scarlatti and others, and revived the great Spanish repertoire of the sixteenth century. He early began a pattern of incessant touring, spreading the classical gospel as far as possible.

Along the way, he made recordings and largely invented much of what is now considered standard technique. “He told me he was his own teacher and his own student,” Kassner says, “and that the teacher and student always saw eye to eye.”

He did not always see eye to eye with those who deviated from what he considered the true path of the classical guitar. He disapproved of most popular uses of the instrument, including rock, pop, jazz and flamenco.

“He said it took him 50 years to drag the guitar out of the gutter, and now they were trying to put it back there,” Kassner says. Segovia’s determination to keep the instrument where he felt it should be was doubtless a factor in his pursuit of annual world tours, long past the age at which most performers begin to slow down.

A composer himself, Segovia had numerous works dedicated to him by de Falla, Rodrigo and Turina. As well as expanding the repertoire through transciptions and commissions, he also immeasurably extended its reach through a vast discography.

In spite of his sometimes inflexible adherence to principle, he could bend to practicality when necessary. When asked why he had recorded a certain piece at an unusually fast tempo, he replied that there had not been room on the disk (a 78) for him to play it more slowly.

He was also a generous teacher, giving classes and lessons to innumerable students. Like Pablo Casals, he became in later years the grandfather of his instrument.

“He was a wonderful human being, very jovial,” says Walter Homburger, managing director of the Toronto Symphony and an early promoter of Segovia concerts, “and of course, a great musician.”

The fading sound of Hawaii

There was a time, not so long ago, when the music of Hawaii was one of the greatest attractions of the islands. Lately there have been many complaints, particularly from older tourists, that it is next to impossible to find Hawaiian music in Hawaii any more.

Of course, what the tourists are looking for is the romantic, haunting sound of the Hawaiian steelguitar – the sound that introduced Hawaiian music to the world. But it is a sound that visitors can usually find only on records.

The hotels, the large restaurants, the airport and most department stores play background tapes of sweet steel guitar instrumentals, mostly made by Jules Ah See of the Hawaiian Village Serenaders back in the 1950s. Radio KCCN, the all- Hawaiian music station, still plays occasional steel guitar instrumentals and you can sometimes find steel guitar in a backup role at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, at the Kahala Hilton’s Danny Kaleikini show, at the Polynesian Cultural Centre at Laie and at some luaus. Jerry Byrd, the Ohio boy who became one of the world’s best steel guitarists, can usually be heard sometime during the week at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. But the emphasis is on Polynesian spectaculars featuring fire dancers, Tahitian rhythms and lavish costumes, not on live guitar music.

The Honolulu newspapers and the numerous free tourist papers in Waikiki never offer a clue as to where steel guitar can be heard. They may list places for Hawaiian music, but this often turns out to be a couple of singers with ukuleles.

Joseph Kekuku first demonstrated the steel guitar in 1896 and his playing was a sensational success. Instead of pressing down the guitar strings with the fingers of the left hand, as with the classical or Spanish guitar, the steel guitar player presses the strings with a small metal bar, about the size of a pocket comb, giving the instrument a distinctive, slurring sound.

The established musicians were jealous. You can imagine how a band trumpeter would feel when a young lad playing Hilo March on a steel guitar received more applause than the whole Royal Hawaiian Band.

Pale K. Lua, a violinist with the Glee Club Orchestra, joined the trend, soon surpassed Kekuku, went to the United States, became one of the first recording artists and started an exodus that saw hundreds of steel guitarists leave Hawaii. They spread around the world and formed their own groups to entertain, to record, to teach and generally to do well.

Hawaiian steel guitar recordings were so popular that every phonograph company wanted some. If they had no contracts with Hawaiian artists, they borrowed them from other companies or persuaded top stars to record for them under false names. In the early 1920s, Frank Ferera, the most prolific Hawaiian recording artist, had as many record catalogue entries as Enrico Caruso or Fritz Kreisler. When the wind-up, table-model phonograph with 10 free records came out in 1920, three or four of the records were always Hawaiian.

The hungry 1930s reduced the number of recordings. Later, electric amplification gave the steelguitar sufficient volume to be heard in bands, it was discovered to be a fine backup instrument for vocalists. The singers became the focus of attention. Still later, pedal-operated steel guitars were invented and were adopted wholeheartedly by country and western artists, but not by the Hawaiians.

The Second World War years saw an increase in the popularity of Hawaiian music, because of Hawaiian movies. In California, Sol Hoopii, one of the all-time greats, Sam Koki, Andy Iona and Dick McIntyre (who backed up most of Bing Crosby’s Hawaiian hits) played steel guitar in the films. They also recorded, but the output could not be compared to the 1920- 1930 production.

With more hotels being built in Hawaii and more playing jobs available to steel guitarists, a surge of renewed interest in the style might be expected in the islands. But guitars have changed in the rock and roll era and what once seemed simple and attractive now presents a profusion of different types of instruments that have earned the reputation of being not only difficult to master but also very expensive.

The dozen or so really good steel players left in Hawaii were very busy in the fifties and sixties, backing up singers on records and playing for several outstanding Hawaiian groups. Starting with David Kelii, perhaps the best of them all, the Hawaii Calls radio program (1935-1975) always had steel guitar music, but on the printed programs and even on the covers of Hawaii Calls albums, the name of the steel guitarist was seldom mentioned. The steel player was considered an essential sideman but there was no honor, no special pay, no special credit.

When the stars grew old, there were no replacements. As they died off, the trend toward Polynesian spectaculars, vocal groups and rock and roll increased and suddenly in the 1970s, Hawaiians realized their music was disappearing.

Two organizations were formed. The Association for Hawaiian Music, striving for hit songs like Blue Hawaii and Sweet Leilani, ran songwriting contests which produced some numbers that became popular in Hawaii but were ignored on the U.S. mainland. The Hawaiian Music Foundation held a conference in November, 1971, but it did little to revive the art.

There are still plenty of Hawaiian style steel guitarists today in Holland, Britain, Japan, Indonesia and even on little Tonga. The International Hawaiian Steel Guitar Club with headquarters in Winchester, Indiana, has more than 200 active playing members. Regardless of what they do in Hawaii, the sweet, romantic sound of the steel guitar plays on.

India’s original guitar wizard

The mohan veena is an exotic beast that looks like the offspring of a love affair between a sitar and an electro-acoustic slide guitar. But this handsome veena — “stringed instrument” in Sanskrit — is in fact the brainchild of a remarkable Indian musician who has been seamlessly uniting Western and Eastern traditions for more than three decades: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

“There are eight strings on the top: three main ones for the melody, four strings used as drones and a top string called the chikari that’s tuned to the tonic and is struck for rhythmic effect, like on a banjo,” Bhatt explains. “And under the main bridge there are 12 sympathetic strings which provide the resonance of a sitar.” Adding to the hybrid’s curious appearance, there’s a large gourd called a tumba screwed into the back of its neck to bring out the bass notes.

The mohan veena rests in the lap and is played with a slide, Hawaiian-style. Its sound is rich and sensuous; in the hands of a master such as Bhatt, the instrument has the sensitivity and range of the human voice.

A star of world music, Bhatt plays ragas from north India, but he’s best known for his innovative fusion work with artists from other traditions. A Meeting by the River, made with guitarist Ry Cooder earned Bhatt a Grammy in 1994. He has also recorded brilliant albums with dobro ace Jerry Douglas, avant-garde banjo player Bela Fleck and Chinese erhu (two-stringed fiddle) player Jie Bing Chen.

Bhatt is a ninth-generation musician, born and raised in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, where he still lives. At an early age, he learned sitar and vocal techniques from his father, a renowned artist and teacher.

When one of his father’s European students left behind a classical guitar, the teenage Bhatt began dreaming of an instrument that would bridge the East-West divide. Then he started experimenting.

“I raised the strings of the guitar and started playing them with a rod in my left hand. Next, I replaced them with those of a sitar. It went on from there, adding the drones, then the sympathetic strings. Eventually, I went to a sitar maker and said ‘This is what I want.’ I was three years developing the instrument and practising before I gave my first concert, in Bombay in 1970, at the age of 18.”

On his current North American tour, Bhatt performs north Indian classical music as well as lighter compositions from his many collaborative projects, accompanied by his eldest son, Salil, and tabla player Ramkumar Mishra.

It seems the apple hasn’t fallen far from the deeply rooted Bhatt tree: Salil is a superb musician who has inherited the urge to create his own instrument.

“He calls it the satvik veena and it’s similar to what I have but is made out of one solid piece of wood, so there are no joints at the neck,” Bhatt explains.

“Also, the tuning pegs are like those of a sitar and not a guitar. He’s been playing it for five years now and it works beautifully with the mohan veena, complementing the sound.

“I am proud to say that the two instruments themselves are like father and son.”

Two jazz-guitar gods open a fresh suburb of heaven

Of course, today it’s possible that he is suffering by comparison to the musician next to him. Pat Metheny is not only a guitarist who likes to prove his chops by fluttering all over the musical map, but one who never met a loud amp he didn’t like. In person, the two men are a study in contrast: Hall an elder statesman at 68 years of age, Metheny still a respectful youngster at 44.

To the collective delight of jazz fans around the world, the pair have released a long-awaited CD of duets this month, and it proves them remarkable aural complements. Titled simply Jim Hall and Pat Metheny, the disc features Hall’s characteristically quiet, buttery pickwork set against Metheny’s surprisingly deferential strumming.

When you record a guitarists’ duet album, Hall says, “A little red light goes off. . . . It can sound like ‘two guitars,’ in quotes. It depends on the individuals, but it often sounds like, ‘This guy plays great but the other guy plays slow.’ But with Pat and me it became music.”

Early reviews agree. One Australian critic noted of the album, which mixes live and in-studio sessions, “When it is live, Hall is on the left channel and Metheny on the right . . . but the way these two spin lines that move in and out of each other seems to make that point academic.” A critic for The Buffalo News, in Hall’s hometown (though he grew up in Cleveland), raves that the album is “a guitar match made in a suburb of heaven.”

The new album contains 17 tracks of largely familiar material (the originals written mainly by Hall), but to call any of the pieces standards would be to diminish what the two players do with them. In George Gershwin’s Summertime, Metheny musters a vigorous, almost frenzied chorded backdrop, over which Hall seems not merely to play but to exorcise an ethereal rendition of the melody from his Gibson. Five brief improv numbers dot the album — distinct, challenging palate cleansers that were recorded without any premeditation by the two players.

Hall traces the disc’s roots to four concerts he and Metheny did in France in 1991. “We had almost no time to rehearse and Pat said, ‘Why don’t we just go out and play and see what happens,’ ” he recalls. “I noticed we were able to play particularly easily together and just trusted one another.”

The two first met in 1970, when the 15-year-old Metheny was already making waves as a musical prodigy. He wasn’t even out of his teens before he was teaching at the University of Miami and Berklee College of Music. With his Pat Metheny Group, he hopscotched onto all the charts that would have him, penning soundtracks for films like The Falcon and the Snowman (most recently, he’s scored the coming A Map of the World starring Sigourney Weaver), happily playing Brazilian samba, free jazz and even country music.

Through it all, Metheny frequently pointed to Hall as an influence, even while quickly outstripping his hero in record sales. In recent years Metheny has made it a point to pay homage to his idols by recording with many of them, including Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman and, most recently, Charlie Haden. Hall is in good company. “It’s a real honour to share this record,” says Metheny. “It’s not an overstatement to say Jim is a father of modern jazz guitar.

“Jim made such a fantastic contribution to the way the instrument could be conceived and played. He quietly opened a door in the late fifties and early sixties with his amazing innovations that have allowed players of my generation like myself, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, to go through.”

Hall knows he’s a critic’s favourite — “Sorry to hear that,” he jokes. He’s unassuming in person, a cordial gentleman who still practises for hours a day. At an age when many musicians contemplate retirement, Hall is stepping up his creative output. He signed on with Telarc in 1994, and has since produced six albums for the label, including 1997’s Textures, which won a prize from the Danish JazzPar Project. The same year, the New York Jazz Critics Circle awarded him best composer and arranger honours. He is so busy with recording and playing, in fact, that he has had to take a break from the New School in Greenwich Village, where he’d been teaching for many years.

Hall began his career with the Chico Hamilton Quintet, moving on to Jimmy Giuffre’s Three in the late 1950s, which led to his recording debut as a band leader in 1957. Sessions with Ben Webster, Bill Evans and Ella Fitzgerald followed, and then others with Paul Desmond, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins and Art Farmer.

The mid-1970s found Hall in the company of Canadians Terry Clarke and Don Thompson, a performing and recording arrangement that continued for a number of years under the name the Jim Hall Trio. The guitarist’s ties to Canada have always been strong, and in the late 1980s he even considered moving north from his long-time home in New York City, in disgust over the election of George Bush.

Hall is still disturbed by the U.S. government’s gutting of funding for high-school music education, a move made during the Reagan years. “I think the arts should be supported. I picture in a few thousand years archeologists are going to find these factories and tanks and guns and no culture. If you don’t have A-R-T in a society, what’s it about? You have nothing.”

And the American jazz scene is undergoing rapid change. Even 10 years ago, Metheny notes, it would have been possible for him to put together a 200-date tour in the U.S., but now he considers that impossible, though he could easily do two months of gigs in Italy, and Japan always provides enormous support for American musicians. (Metheny is touring with his Pat Metheny Trio this summer, including six dates from Victoria to Winnipeg in the last week of June. No concert plans for the Hall-Metheny duo have been announced.)

“We lost a lot of our public when jazz stopped being dance music. We played for dancers, then rock sort of took the dancers away, and it became an art form,” reflects Hall. “That’s too bad, but I’m very lucky because I’m still able to make a living.” He couldn’t talk much longer, though, because a one-month British tour was fast approaching. He had to get home and practise.

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Guitar Tuner Buyer’s Guide

Of all the gadgets that we tend to put between our guitars and amps, the electronic tuner is one of the most essential. Whether you just need to keep guitars in tune around the house or you perform in situations where playing in tune is critical there’s really no substitute to having some visual backup to what your ears are telling you about your instrument’s tuning. Most tuners these days are reliably accurate, but differences do exist in how precisely a tuner interprets string pitch. If you are especially picky and/ or planning to use your tuner to make intonation adjustments on your guitar’s bridge, check the manufacturer’s accuracy specs. Chromatic tuners–ones that can display all 12 notes of the scale–are pretty much the norm now, and many offer things like adjustable reference pitch (typically several settings above and below 440 Hz), as well as presets that allow you to drop tune or change to open tunings without having to even think about the notes involved.

Electronic tuner

Some tuners have what are called “sweetened” tunings that aim to provide more consistent intonation in all reaches of the fretboard, and a number of them also support the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, which offsets string pitches in a prescribed manner to accomplish the same goal of making a guitar sound more “musically” in tune. You can also program some models with your own custom tunings. Tuners might also incorporate built-in metronomes, and some-mostly app types–can offer chord charts and other learning functions. And beck, who doesn’t want to be able to check their email and texts after tuning up?

As to the type of tuner that best suits your needs, “clip-on”-style models that attach to the guitar’s headstock score highly for convenience. Some have both mic and piezo sensors, and the ones with rotatable LCD screens (or automatic screen orientation) make it possible to place them wherever space allows and still be able to easily see the readout.

Piezoelectric pickup

If a pedal-style or rack-style tuner is in the offing, you may want to consider a true-bypass type that keeps the tuner’s electronics from messing with your guitar signal Most pedals automatically mute the output when switched on, and some also have a secondary “thru” or “bypass” out that passes signal whether the tuner is on or off. Some rack tuners have dual inputs and outputs, which further enhances their flexibility, and there are also wireless systems that feature pedalboard receivers with built-in tuners. If you go wireless, these types can simplify your setup and free up space that would otherwise be dedicated to a separate tuner pedal.

The type of display is an important consideration, too. Some people read a moving “needle” or an LED segment more easily than a strobe readout (which is typically more precise), and advanced tuners may have several display options that you can choose from, depending on your preference. The ability to adjust the brightness of the display to suit ambient lighting conditions Is another hip feature offered in some tuners (some of which even do this automatically). LEDs can be intensely bright, and while that may be a boon when playing in full sun, being able to tame those things in a dark environment can prevent unwelcome retina freakouts.

The 29 of best tuner pedals we’ve called out in this report represent a goodly chunk of what is out there in the market, and with many more to choose from at all price points, it’s a sure thing there’s one out there that will fit your needs and budget. And remember, simplicity is often a benefit when it come to tuners, so don’t feel bad if just a basic box with a trio of LEDs does the job for you.


  1. Model: Freedom One WT1. Manufacturer: Intellitouch. Special Features: Wireless system with integrated receiver/tuner. 30-foot range.
  2. Model: GLX-D system with GLXD6 Wirelass Guitar Pedal. Manufacturer: Shure. Special Features: GLXD6 receiver/tuner mounts On pedalboard.


  1. Model: Pitchblack Chromatic Pedal Tuner Manufacturer: Korg. Special Features: True bypass. Strobe, half strobe, meter, and mirror display modes.
  2. Model: SN-10. Manufacturer: Snark. Special Features: True bypass, Pitch calibration, Metal housing.
  3. Model: PW-MT-02. Manufacturer: Planet Waves. Special Features: Chromatic tuner and full-featured metronome, Pitch pipe function, Built-in mic.
  4. Model: Model Polytune 2. Manufacturer: TC Electronic. Special Features: Simply strum strings to tune. Chromatic or strobe single-string tuning modes, Automatically adjusts display for ambient lighting conditions..
  5. Model: TU-3. Manufacturer: Boss. Special Features: LED meter with brightness control, Flat mode for dropped tunings, Out and Bypass jacks..
  6. Model: VSS-C. Manufacturer: Peterson. Special Features: Large, high-contrast display, Active DI out, USB jack for programming via PC or Mac..
  7. Model: Boutique Series Unity. Manufacturer: Rocktron. Special Features: Display adjusts automatically for ambient lighting condition. Selectable strobe mode. Can be calibrated to match pitch of any instrument or audio source.


  1. Model: Pitchblack Pro. Manufacturer: Korg. Special Features: Strobe, half-strobe, and meter display modes. Built-in cable tester.
  2. Model: VSR-StroboRack. Manufacturer: Peterson. Special Features: Accurate to 0.1 cent. Built-in mic. 24 “sweetened” tunings. 25 user presets.
  3. Model: VersaTune. Manufacturer: Rocktron. Special Features: Standard, Precision, and Strobe modes. True bypass. Dual inputs and outputs. Built-in library with hundreds of tunings.


  1. Model: FT-1. Manufacturer: Fishman. Special Features: Mic and vibration sensor. Entire display turns green to easily see when you’re tuned.
  2. Model: PU30 Manufacturer: Ibanez. Special Features: Chromatic and standard tuning modes. Accurately tunes 7- and 8-string guitars. Self-orienting display.
  3. Model: Ukulele Electronic Tuner. Manufacturer: Lanikai. Special Features: Supports all ukulele tunings and works with other stringed instruments.
  4. Model: CT-20 Manufacturer: Samson. Special Features: Display rotates 360 degrees, Built-in mic and piezo sensor.
  5. Model: TU-10. Manufacturer: Boss. Special Features: True Color LCD. Accu Pitch function. Flat tuning up to five semitones.
  6. Model: FCT-012 Manufacturer: Fender. Special Features: Chromatic type with modes for guitar, bass, ukulele, and violin.
  7. Model: CT1 Capo Tuner Manufacturer: Intellitouch. Special Features: Chromatic tuner and capo. Arrow display with multicolor backlight.
  8. Model: NS Micro Headstock Tuner Manufacturer: Planet Waves. Special Features: Ultra-compact, Multi-color display, Visual metronome.
  9. Model: SN-8 Manufacturer: Snark. Special Features: Display rotates 360 degrees. Tap-tempo metronome.


  1. Model: Chromatic Tuner Manufacturer: Bitcount. Special Features: Tuner and pitch pipe. Unique “note wheel” interface. Uses iPhone’s built-in mic or an external mic with iPad.
  2. Model: Tuna Pitch Manufacturer: Felt Tip. Special Features: Tuner and pitch pipe. Utilizes iPhone’s onboard mic. Select from five different notation systems.
  3. Model: UltraTuner Manufacturer: IK Multimedia. Special Features: Accurate to below one-hundredth of a cent. Stage and Studio modes; the latter lets you monitor pitch over time.
  4. Model: iStroboSoft HD Manufacturer: Peterson. Special Features: For iPad only. Large note display. Manual note select. VGA output for projecting display in teaching environments.
  5. Model: Gibson App Manufacturer: Gibson. Special Features: Tuner and metronome. 30 chord charts. Lessons and more.
  6. Model: Fender Guitar Tuner Manufacturer: Fender. Special Features: Online tuner with real-time pitch reference for standard and alternate tunings. Loop mode.Price Free.
  7. Model: Perfect Tune Manufacturer: Mosquito Digital. Special Features: Retro-style display..
  8. Model: TuneUp Manufacturer: Planet Waves. Special Features: Chromatic, standard, and common alternate tunings. Four display options. Dedicated modes for guitar, bass, and many other stringed instruments.

Why pedals? Which pedals? When pedals?

I got my first guitar pedal for Christmas in 1973-an original orange MAR Phase 90. (Would that I had kept it, a vintage pedal like that could finance quite the range of projects at this point!) I bought my first best digital reverb pedal-the Yamaha R1000-in 1983 (four, count ’em, four reverb settings, going all the way to 1.9 seconds…), and in the 90s, I flew around the world with a rack full of preamps and processors that weighed exactly 69.9 lbs. (Overweight charges on airlines started at 70 lbs. in those days). Guitar pedals, or, to be more precise, high-impedance, unbalanced 1/4″ input analog and digital sound processing equipment, has been a significant part of what I do both as a guitarist and as a composer for several decades.

There are thousands of pedals out there; so how do you decide what you want or need? Here’s a quick guide to the questions you need to ask yourself before you slap down your hard-earned cash.

Why Pedals?

So, why do you want or need this pedal? Some possible answers:

  • I want to sound like guitarist X, and he/she uses this pedal.
  • I have certain sound in my head; this pedal gets me that sound.
  • I want to explore some new sounds and I am willing to take a chance and see what happens.

If you really want to sound like a specific player, research what they use and buy it. This can be tricky, as well-known players often use a complex array of commercial and custom-built guitars and gear, but it can be done.

Which Pedals?

If you are looking for your own sound, a big question is: do I want the guitar to always be recognizable as a “guitar,” or am I interested in pushing into sound design, ambient sounds, textures, and the like. The electric guitar is a very flexible instrument.

If maintaining the “guitar” sound is what you want, you are looking for a range of traditional pedals like overdrive, best delay pedal, hanger, wah-wah, reverb, etc. If you’re interested in pushing beyond the mainstream boundaries, then things like multi-voiced harmonisers, reverse delays and reverbs, ring modulators, and extreme filters are what you are looking for. And don’t forget loopers, so you can create many layers of guitar sounds using live multi-tracking. It is possible, and interesting, to combine the two approaches.

Digital Or Analog? Discrete Pedals Or Multi-Effects?

Life is full of difficult decisions, but this is not one of them. Use your ears. Does the pedal have a clear, transparent sound (good)? Is there a lot of background noise (bad)? Is the sound too metallic or harsh (bad)? Is it well constructed (good-we do play these things with our feet)? Try to listen though a good amp (or headphones) when testing. If the amp is noisy or dull-sounding, you won’t hear exactly what’s there, and what the effect really sounds like.

Digital effects tend to affect the sound of the guitar with more “artifacts” (undesirable changes in basic tone) than analog effects, but contemporary digital processors are getting very good. Again, listen to the dry signal then compare it with the affected sound.

Having one pedal for each effect is the more traditional approach. This gives you complete control over each element, both in terms of sounds and in performance, but it means carrying around 5-10 pedals, which gets both cumbersome and expensive.

The other option is the multi-effect. These are very convenient and have very flexible programming so you can usually get an amazing range of sounds from one box, but there is a compromise. Almost all multi-effects (except very high-end products) do affect the guitar tone, at least a little bit. It may also take more time to manipulate and master these units.

I use a mixed approach. Currently, I use four discrete pedals (a programmable analog distortion, a ring modulator/harmonizer, a delay line/harmonizer, and a delay line/looper). In the middle of all of this, I use a small multi-effects unit, which gives me a huge range of other sounds that I can add to my core pedal sounds. There is a small compromise in terms of sound, but it is fairly minimal, especially for a live gig. In studio, I am at times a bit fussier.

When Pedals?

The simple answer? Only use pedals when you really need them.

In the studio, if I am recording a straight guitar sound, I unplug all pedals. If I am using delay, I just plug in delay. The idea is to always get the most raw guitar signal into the computer (I was going to say “on tape,” like it was Christmas 1973 and I am opening my MXR Phase 90). Pedals always affect your sound, so be aware of that. If you take a bit of time and think about why you are using a pedal, which pedal will achieve your musical goal, and when you should use it (remember, pedals can be turned off), then they can be an invaluable resource to developing your musical ideas as a guitarist.

Tim Brady is a composer and electric guitarist who’s been active in the new/experimental/contemporary music scene since 1980. He’s released 19 CDs and has toured extensively in Canada, the US, Europe, and Australia. Recent performances include the X-Avant Festival in Toronto and performances with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Toronto Symphony, and the Orchestre symphonique de Laval. For upcoming CD and touring info, visit

Why Is Waist Cincher So Popular?

With the mass media giving more and more importance to being ‘body beautiful’ and a billion dollar cosmetic industry expanding each and every day with promise of greater beauty and a more attractive body shape, there is hardly any woman today who would not like to have the classic hourglass figure that is the stuff of dreams. But the busy lifestyle of today, with little time for proper diet and exercises, has led to a ballooning middle region. This is exactly the reason why the humble waist cincher, a Victorian era-favorite, has resurfaced and is being used by everyone from celebrities to average women. Read on to know why cinchers are so popular.

It narrows down waist size

Waist trainer review proved that good cinchers can slim down your waist and allow you to reduce a few inches in due time. With constant usage over a period of few months, you will be able to compress the skin, fat and fluids in your waist area and make it appear narrower. Your figure gets narrower and a slimmer waist area makes your bust line and hips broader in appearance, lending you the classic hourglass shape.

It makes the body shape appear thinner

Within a few seconds after wearing a good waist cincher, you will be able to trim your waist and entire body – at least in appearance. It can hold back the extra fat in your waist and the fact that it is generally made of skin color makes it unnoticeable from outside, when you wear it under your clothes. In most cases, you can find cinchers lined with plastic or metal strips known as boning. This kind of lining offers greater amount of support. While it is shut, the boning reinforces the shape of the dress that you wear. It compresses your body and offers you the body shape that you desire.

It boosts the confidence level

It can also work wonders for your confidence level by taking a few inches off your waist and making you less self conscious. Cinchers also lower your back pain problems and help lift the breasts, thus adding to your confidence.

It helps make the body look taller

If you have a short stature, these outfits can make you look taller by having slimming appearance for your waist. With an hourglass shape, you seem to look taller to the eye. Cinchers that are of the right size for you can make your body look more elegant. With those that fit right, you can avoid problems like aches, irritation and chafing – particularly after you have delivered a child.

It helps improve the posture

With proper cinchers, you will be able to maintain a great posture overall. These limit your range of motion to some extent and can make it difficult for you to slouch. However, with an upright posture, you look very elegant and if you suffer from postural defects, back problems and other similar issues, you can get a lot of support from these types of outfits. It is not surprising then that cinchers happen to be so popular.