Benefits of being a musician

How frustration can kill your dreams as being a musician and how to look at the positive side of the story.   

I personally think that nowadays there’s even too much negativity when you try to talk about becoming a professional (or even a semi-professional) musician.

I guess every musician has already lived in his/her life two kinds of frustrating situations:

Situation number one: you tell your parents you want to become a professional musician, and they will answer you: “Nope, keep music as a hobby, go to (a not related to music) University and become a damn Lawyer, Engineer, Economist, a random Corporate average employee or whatever other kinds of socially accepted profession. Don’t worry, you will be able to make music from 17,00PM to 21,00PM”

    Result: You end up working in corporate, you get married, you make a bunch of kids and from 17,00PM to 20,00PM you will be so tired that you even won’t take your instrument in your hands for one single minute. Plus, your partner and kids will grab all your attention and life will sadly suck you up. In other words, your dreams go to the toilet flush.


    Situation number two: You tell your friends you are going to become a musician.

    Here’s a sequence of random answers you will obtain (based on my personal experience… Man, I could write a damn book about this topic:

    • “Cool, we will see you at a talent show in TV”.
    • “Cool, when is your next concert so we come?”(they will most likely try to grab you free drinks, not always, but it happens).
    • “Ah OK, and as music teacher do you have lots of students? Are they adults or kids?” Fact: In the common imaginary if you teach to adults you’re good, if you teach to kids you’re a loser. Reality: instructing sensitive and prepared kids is THE MOST DAMN IMPORTANT JOB IN SOCIETY.
    • “Cool, which instrument do you play?”…And if you’re not a singer “Cool, do you sing also or JUST play an instrument?”. DAMN… Yep, in common imaginary a musician is someone who sings cover songs all day trying to make it at some random talent show while trying to grab chick’s attention at the same time. 

    Well, this is indeed a very difficult career, and frustration is behind the corner in everything you will try to do, especially when you have to deal with all these kinds of crappy people out there.

    Trust me tho: It’s not however so different from any other profession. You’ve to deal with problem solving and different kinds of human personalities every day. So, why bother? 

    It’s all about this crap?

    The real answer is NO. Hell NO. I repeat: HELL NO.

    There are many layers of being a musician, and today’s technology is giving us new resources to change the paradigm and diversify our ways to live thanks to our passion.

    I’m not talking about becoming a millionaire rock star, I’m talking about making a nice living by making music, or at least by having music in your life.

    Although becoming economically endowed is difficult in any field, the are a lot of benefits in being a musician.

    Even if you won’t become some sort of famous cat, you will have many opportunities out there waiting for you.

    In this article I want to analyze the 5 most important benefits of being a musician.

    Disclaimer: this article won’t give you false hopes. This is a difficult career, not for everyone. Only a small percentage of people make money entirely from music and you’ve to be able to manage a lot of frustration along the path, plus you’ve to rely on multiple skills as music market changes rapidly.

    On the other hand, there are anyway a lot of benefits. Let’s see together which ones:

    Benefit#1: You will connect with other people at a deeper level.

    Music is a universal language. In my experience, I’ve been in social circles in which there were too many diversities: cultures, languages, different social backgrounds, different lifestyles.

    My guitar or my voice always created a connection. People see the moments spent with you as something unique, something magic, something valuable if you can trigger their deepest emotions.

    While music is being played, all the differences vanish and people consider themselves for what they really are. Even for few seconds.

    This can also happen in music business. Although it works like any other business (in few words: there’s competition), sometimes real human rapports are built on solid bases. We all also know that competition might drive people to eat each other’s but let’s not forget that positive competition can have a beneficial effect on their personal growth.

    Benefit#2: You will create value for society, you can positively change other people’s lives.

    This benefit is strictly connected to the #1. Through music, you can seriously make the difference for a lot of people. For example: a good song made out the topic of suicide, can save a lot of people from suicide itself. And so on…

    Music makes people more sensitive, caring, more understanding and open towards other people’s needs. Music can carry important messages, you will have the opportunity to have a big part in this profound human changing if you put all your heart in what you do.

    Benefit #3: starting a career in music business is tricky, but it makes you strong and ready.

    As I said already, Music is not a career for everyone: you’ve to be prepared, you’ve to be prone to do lots of sacrifices, I mean A LOT. You’ve to be able to invest in your formation and to get your name/brand out there. You’ve to have an understanding family when you’re young and you’re moving your first steps into creating the right connections while growing your skills at the same time.

    You’ve to work your ass off. This will profoundly discipline you. You will be able to understand what does it mean be consistent, persistent. You will understand what does it mean being passion-driven. You have to understand what does it mean to keep on going when you’re frustrated and you’d love to give up.

    This lesson will be precious not only for being a musician, but for being a Human that doesn’t quit in front of the adversities and deeply trust him/herself. There’s maybe something more important than this? I don’t think so.

    Benefit#4: Music will help you find mind-liked people

    This benefit can be silly or very deep depending on your point of view.

    Indeed, Music personally helped me in finding long-lasting friendships. In my experience, all my best mates are longtime friends known during my childhood, mostly through music: we used to play together in school bands, or we used to hang out together at concerts or we just used to listen to the same bands.

    Last but not least: Music will increase drastically your sexual/love life if you are communicative, talented, passionate and caring… I think you understood already what I mean πŸ˜‰ . Pay me 5 cents only for this advice please πŸ˜€

    Benefit #5: Music will ALWAYS be your best mate.

    I will be short: whenever life is a bitch (and most of the times it can be), Music can give you strength, focus, and courage.

    I think there’s nothing else to say πŸ™‚


    Conclusion

    I hope you enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to leave a comment and subscribe to the newsletter to stay in touch with me.

    Thanks for reading and see you soon!

    Ignazio

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    Suhr Riot Review

    Name: Suhr Riot distortion pedal

    Website: https://www.suhr.com/electronics/pedals/distortion/suhr-riot/

    Average Price: 240€

    Overall Rank: 95 out of 100







    Suhr, Product Overview

    • Distortion
    • Versatile high-gain distortion with the sonic characteristics and touch sensitivity of a high-quality 100 watt tube amplifier
    • Controls: Distortion, Level, Tone
    • Voicing switch
    • Foot Switch: Effect Bypass
    • Input 6.3 mm jack
    • Mono / stereo output 6.3 mm jack
    • 9 V DC power supply connection (coaxial connector 5.5 x 2.1 mm – minus pole inside)
    • Power consumption: 8 mA
    • Power via 9 V battery or 9 V DC power supply (not included, suitable power supply available under Art.409939)
    • True Bypass
    • Dimensions (W x D x H): 64 x 114 x 32 mm
    • Made in USA

    The Good & the Bad

    The Good:

    PRO #1 Incredible and high quality powerful sound

    PRO #2 You will have the sound of a high gain head into an easy to carry pedal box

    PRO #3 Versatile, infinite gain. It can be used as Overdrive or as Booster too

    The Bad:

    CON #1 Maybe too much oriented to Rock, but the tone and voicing switch helps a lot

    CON #2 A bit noisy if you don’t use it with good cables

    CON #3 Not very cheap


    Why I love this pedal and I chose it

    I’ve been trying many distortion pedals out there. I’ve owned many on my pedalboard and I always struggled to find something that sounds not like a pedal but like a true amp, so I can use it when I go around for gigs and clinics with the amp I find at the place.

    The Suhr Riot fulfilled this need. It can be easily linked to my pedalboard as the only source of distortion (I have other overdrives and fuzzes too by the way), and I can regulate its distortion through the volume pot on my guitar.

    Another requirement is that it has to sound not too much high-ended, always respecting the correct amount of middle frequencies so I can stay in the mix without being covered from the sounds of the cymbals if I’m on stage with a loud drummer.

    It has to sound aggressive if I want to play rough guitar rhythms but it has to be also “creamy” enough when it comes to play the solos, without becoming too fuzzy.

    The good thing of the Suhr Riot is that It sounds absolutely fantastic in every situation and with almost any (good) amp I’ve tried it with.

    You can be sure to have with you a great sound in any situation, and you won’t need to have a dedicated amp to achieve that high quality tube sound you aim for.

    This is absolute gold for me.

    Inside the Suhr Riot

    It’s a very simple to use pedal, with only three controls: Distortion, Level and Tone.

    The distortion pot regulates the amount of drive you will need to add to your sound. Disclaimer: the drive is practically infinite. When it’s turned down at 1-2 with the level at 8-9 it can easily be used as a booster too.

    At 5-6 the sound starts already to be more rough and it becomes a nice sounding overdrive. With this sound, you can move from crunchy rhythms to bluesy solos and back.

    Pushing more on the Dist pot, you will achieve incredible high gain sounds for your rock and metal solos. You won’t need that Rectified Head anymore, you will have the sound of a great 100 watt head in a little case.

    The sound goes from a screamy JCM800 to a squeezed Mesa Rectifier, it’s absolutely stunning for the rhythms and very powerful for your solos. The very good thing is that this pedal never goes too much on the high frequencies. This is a very important point when it comes to high gain distortion pedals: they mostly become too fuzzy and high-ended when you have a lot of gain. It happens to me a lot that I’ve to use an equalizer to cut out those horrible high frequencies that avoid my solos to be heard properly from the crowd despite I’m playing on stage with other instruments.

    With the Riot, you will always have the correct amount of frequencies in your solos, without your sound becoming too fuzzy or confused. You will always have the correct amount of frequencies while being on stage, and the sound is always defined.

    The level pot controls the amount of volume required. It’s important to mix it with your amp, in order to avoid volume peaks while going from the clean to the drive sound.

    The amount of volume is incredible. You can boost a lot your sound if you regulate the pot at 7-8 already. The volume control will give more volume and definition, so you most probably won’t need for a booster anymore.

    Trust me it can be stupidly high, like very high volume!

    Another good side of the volume pot is that it is transparent, it only adds the volume you prefer to the drive settings you’ve already decided. The more you go further with the volume, the more the sound becomes huge but its color remains the same.

    The tone nob reacts well by cutting or adding high frequencies to the sound.

    The voicing switch

    This switch is something to look at too. It can provide some cool changes to your sound depending on the kind of nuances you will need.

    On the left it produces a natural tone that responds dynamically to your guitars volume control. The sound is smooth and balanced, perfect for both solos and rhythms.

    The middle position is the one I prefer. It adds some mid range to your sound, it is perfect for my solos.

    The right position adds a high gain color while being a bit “vintage” at the same time. The sound become a bit more aggressive and it will help you to have more punch.

    Other features

    Report from the Suhr Page:

    The True Bypass: Riot is true bypass pedal. This function allows for the remote switching, and the battery monitor feature. The relay produces less popping when switching the pedal on and off.

    FX Link: The FX Link connector allows the pedal’s switching function to be controlled from an external switch, pedal board, loop switcher, or any other custom interface. FX Link also provides the ability to power up in the On/Off state.

    Low Battery Monitor: Riot incorporates a unique battery monitor that alerts the user to low battery conditions. In addition, the battery monitor will automatically switch the pedal to True Bypass if the battery voltage is too low for the circuitry to correctly operate.

    Conclusion

    The Suhr Riot is a fantastic pedal, I gave him a very high score due to the quality of the materials and its sound.

    It’s not very cheap, and considering the amount of distortion it is also quite silent, but be careful to use good cables and connectors too on your pedalboard otherwise it can become a bit noisy if used with high levels of gain. This is however a normal feature for distortion pedals, it is normal to have a bit of noise with high levels of distortion and the Riot is not that much noisy anyway. This is a great advantage that makes it stand up from competition.

    I personally use this pedal in every live I do and I’ve never ever had one only issue.

    Links to buy the Riot:

    Amazon : https://amzn.to/2KRuwJW

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    How to learn to play guitar

    Guitar is still (2019) a very popular instrument. It’s easy to carry and very versatile. Still, there are lots of people interested in starting to learn guitar effectively every day. Learning guitar can be somewhat tricky at different levels: For example if you’re a beginner you will most probably have pain in your fingers trying to learn the first chords. Your hands will need to stretch properly before having consistent results. If you’re an advanced player you will most probably fight with yourself to find your personal voice and your original approach while playing a super-popular instrument.

    Wherever level you have as guitar player, you will have to face with a learning curve.

    In this article I will give you 5 tips to learn guitar in the best possible way, avoiding wasting your precious time and keeping up the most effective mind approach through the learning process.


    Tip#1 Choose wisely the guitar you start with


    If you’re a beginner guitar player, I strongly suggest you to set-up your instrument first.

    Among guitar players, there’s a myth equal to “no pain-no gain” for bodybuilders: if you want to build muscles in your hands you’ve to struggle with a super-hard-to-play instrument in order to become strong enough. This conviction is not only wrong but also very dangerous for your articulations.

    The keys for playing any instrument are basically two: comfort and relax

    The guitars you start to play with and that you buy in a shop are mostly not set up. This means that the action (the distance between the strings and the neck) will be terribly high and as result you could start to develop have articulations problems. Trust me, A LOT of people give up learning because they are not aware of this simple fact and they will mostly turn it on their lack of talent.

    Please be wise and bring your instrument to a good luthier (or ask your music shop) in order to set up your instrument properly. This means basically: the action has to be as low as possible, the octaves have to be in tune.

    Tip#2 Choose a cheap but already good quality instrument

    I don’t advise you at all to go for a super cheap instrument made in the-land-of-far-away, or the one you found at your grandma’s attic. Be careful, so you won’t have to spend double the cost once you start to really like playing.

    It doesn’t really matter which kind of guitar you will choose. It can be electric or acoustic, it has to have already some inner quality in order to avoid both pain for your hands and your wallet if you will decide to get serious. In the worst scenario, you can always re-sell it as used if you don’t want to keep it with you.

    Here’s some examples of good guitars you can start with:

    Acoustics

    Ibanez AW54OPN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

    Ibanez 6 String Acoustic Guitar Pack, Right, Natural (IJVC50)

      Electrics

      Ibanez S Series S670QM – Sapphire Blue

      Ibanez JEMJRWH Steve Vai Signature 6-String Electric Guitar – White



        Tip#3 If you can, go and take music lessons

        A lot f people learn by internet and this is a very good thing. The downside of internet is that it would be very overwhelming.

        There’s so much information that you will most probably lose yourself through the learning process.

        Also, another risk is that you could start having an overall incorrect posture. In that case, it would be very difficult to come back from bad habits. I strongly suggest you to find a graduated and qualified music teacher.

        Everyone teaches guitar nowadays but you will most probably get scammed by some musicians that just teach to increase their salary while they are not dedicated to their core activities, which are mainly concerts and studio. These people most probably have some good practical experience but they don’t have any clue about what really music didactic is and how to communicate the concepts to their students. As it is for playing, teaching is an art and there are skills and abilities to develop that are not only related to music itself that comprehend the understanding of how dealing with people and being good in communicate with them.

        Trust me, it’s plenty of supposed to be good musicians that are terribly bad at teaching. The myth that you can teach easily as long than you’re “talented” is BS.

        Do a favor to yourself: search for a good teacher that is graduated with a specific music teaching degree, or if you can’t find it, beware of the musicians that just brag about how cool their are but then they treat you not like a person but just like a way to make their wallets bigger. Trust me: it’s plenty and stay away from them.



        Tip#4: Use the internet with a strategy

        Internet is full with good and bad guitar courses.

        I absolutely suggest you to go for it, you can find plenty of very good tips here and there on YouTube or googling around. The best way you can use the internet is: search for good articles and videos, search for a well-made beginner course and use them in parallel with your music lessons.

        The best way to learn is processing your information while being critical. You will have multiple points of view and for sure you will have much inputs to get along with your music teacher. For example, you will have much ideas for songs to start with or you will be carried by some music style in particular. Whatever the input is, you will be pushed to grow up and learn much.

        Tip#5 Be constant and consistent

        As like anything in life, making serious progresses in playing an instrument it’s a matter of time, patience and a serious strategy.

        Guitar can be a very tricky instrument at the beginning: you will have to face some little discouraging and frustrating moments before succeeding. There’s no magic pill but working hard and having the right strategy, being organized.

        You’ve to dedicate a precise amount of time every day. Even if few times, you’ve to work every day. This is the best possible approach and you will see results for sure.

        A strong passion for music will lead you, so don’t worry about any struggle. Playing guitar is fun, it’s beautiful and it will make you happy whatever is the level you reach, so relax and think about it much in therm of a funny moment.

        Also, don’t forget to play with other people as much than you can. Try to search for a band, go to open mics, go to jam sessions. It doesn’t matter your level, what’s matter is sharing your passion for music with other people. This will lead you far away and it will compensate every possible frustrating moment you could face during your path.

        Relax and enjoy the trip!

        Conclusion

        I hope this article gave you some useful tip about starting to play guitar and remember: it’s all about passion and dedication, nothing else!

        If you’ve any questions you can always write me to: ignaziodisalvo@gmail.com

        Cheers!

        Ignazio

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        How to get inspiration for writing songs

        It happens very often that students ask me how to write songs and more generally how to have the right tools to compose and write music. Most of them are driven by writing guitar-related music, most of them (like me nowadays) would love to start to compose songs.

        I’ve already talked about this topic in my first article How to learn to write songs and I only scratched the surface of it.

        The way you can write songs are so many, and honestly I don’t like that much talking only in therm of “songwriting”.

        Composition and songwriting are nowadays the skills that more than everything make the difference in any musician’s career. It divides the people that are passionate about the instrument and spend their time learning covers to put them in YouTube, from the people that make a true effort to be creative artists more than just musicians, trying to write a story.

        I’ve nothing against YouTube covers, I’ve few covers on YouTube too and learning covers might be a very good exercise to monitor our progresses. But let’s just face the truth: YouTube is PACKED with EVERYONE putting his/her cover stuff in the platform… Do we really need it? Does Music really need it?

        The REAL problem about making music for many people is not the lack of skills. Skill can be “easily” acquired with some effort. On the other hand, the lack of inspiration is something very hard to overcome for any artist and specifically for any songwriter out there.

        It has been said already so many times that the possibilities of pop songs are becoming quite limited.

        People who listen to radio are becoming the more and more intrigued by a classic 4 chords songs, or at least this is what major propose. It can be discouraging for many serious aspiring songwriters in any style, but everything depends on how you use and interpret the few chords.

        Most of the times it is not the skills or the style itself, it’s just about feeling really inspired and having that idea that makes you have goosebumps.

        So how to find this Grail? In this article I’ll try to give you my suggestions based on what I do to overcome the lack of creativity and avoid getting stuck in the white paper syndrome.


        Tip #1: Don’t push your creativity, let it flow naturally

        This has a lot to do with our ability to understand our boundaries.

        I would overall say that a true composer and songwriter has to have the right skills to stay creative even when the mood is down or when the focus is lacking

        If you’re professional and serious in what you do, you will have to work towards the direction of being able to create regularly, no matter how or if you’re inspired or not. It’s about taking actions, it’s about sitting down and do the hard work without thinking too much. This is the best starting point to achieve consistent results.

        On the other hand you’ve to accept the fact that as human being you’ve limits. You can go with automatism for a while, but you know already inside of you that it will end.

        Listen to yourself and your body. Try to understand when too much work is just too much and you’re not productive whatever is the action you decide to do. In that case, the best is just to disconnect for a while and let the flow coming naturally to you. I would say that a good work balance for me is 50 minutes production, 10 minutes rest.

        Careful: rest is rest. Taking a pause is not staying into the same subject. For example, you’re writing a song and in your pause you keep on listening to other songwriters or other music related stuff. Your brain has to stay disconnected for a bit, so take a walk, talk with your friends/partner etc, take some distraction.

        Then you’ll see how easy can be to come back to get focused again.

        Tip#2: Use the free moments at your advantage: take note and record.

        As human being, you’ve to take care of the many aspects of your life in order to stay healthy and balanced.

        You can’t dedicate all your time to work: there are your friends, there’s eventually your partner, there’s your family, there’s your health. The very good side of all of this is that you can use this time at your advantage.

        Music is the expression of the artist him/herself as person. If you don’t take care of the person, your music will lack of deepness. If you don’t observe, listen, try to learn from other situations and people, you will have nothing to say through your songs.

        Real life is most of the time your best inspiration. It’s you, you’re unique, as unique can be the way you tell a story if you really listen to yourself.

        During your daily activity, take note of what happens to you, force yourself to write down your emotions. Try to capture every single melody or idea that comes to your mind during your day.

        The best and most spontaneous ideas come where we are unfocused. Our brain is not conditioned by the expectations we have from ourselves nor from our audience. When we compose songs we are subconsciously trying to fill in our expectations.

        This doesn’t happen when you’re out with friends or with your family or partner(s). Write it down or record it, you’ll be grateful to yourself afterwards.

        Tip#3: Study Music Theory and Harmony

        This is pretty obvious: if you don’t know how to compose a good chord progression or a good melody for your songs, maybe it’s because your harmony and theory skills are lacking.

        The fact that most of the most famous songs are built out of 4 chords is an excuse. You need to know the weight of every chord you use, and its function related to the contest you’re writing. You also need how the relationship between the melody and the chord works.

        So no excuses, study music theory and if you need for Skype lessons about this topic I’m available at this email address.

        Tip#4: Analyze the songwriters and composers you love the most

        Music analysis is a strong weapon to grow up your vocabulary. Listening and understand the composition method behind the songs you love will lead you to a more consistent knowledge of what your limits and strong points are.

        It’s not about putting yourself in competitions with the others: you will never ever have the same songwriting ability of Stevie Wonder, nor the same fantasy of Burt Bacharach. This is because you’re unique, your life experience is unique, the music you love is the result of your personal tastes.

        If you analyze the most important songwriters, you will absorb not only their songs but also the way they approach the art of composition.

        The more you know about what’s behind you, the more you will be lead to be yourself and sit in the Giant’s shoulders.

        Tip#5: Read and watch movies, be culturally interested

        Creativity is not something that comes out of nothing but it’s mostly a re-elaboration of past information.

        The more your brain is stimulated by different forms of creativity, the more you’ll find your inner voice.

        Read to have stories to talk about, watch at movies, go to expositions. In few words be culturally interested. This will lead you to have more deepness in your way to express yourself, you will be able to tell your own story in your own way.

        Conclusion

        I hope these five tips can be helpful for you. If you liked the article please leave a comment and share it.

        Also, if you’re interested in growing your songwriting skills in function of a career, you can take a look here.

        Ignazio

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        Victory V40 Review


         

        Name: Victory V40

        Website: https://www.victoryamps.com/v40-the-duchess

        Price: 999Β£ incl VAT

        Owners: https://www.victoryamps.com

        Overall Rank: 4,5 out of 5

        Victory V40 is a single channel head. It’s a portable and lightweight amplifier with an incredible huge and warm clean sound. It is responsive to touch and full of dynamics.

        Features and Specifications

        1. Format: Single channel head
        2. Power: 42 Watts,
        3. Low Power: 7 Watts,
        4. High Power Single-Ended: 1.5 Watts,
        5. Low Power Single-Ended: 0.5 Watts
        6. Valves: 3 x 12AX7, 2 x EL34 as standardSize (mm): 342(w) x 185(h) x 185(d) including handle, feet & controls
        7. Weight: 8.2kg / 18.1lbs
        8. Extra features: Two-position Voice switch
        • Mid Kick switch
        • Footswitchable digital reverb with hard bypass option
        • Series effects loop with hard bypass
        • Power valves switchable to 6L6Single-ended mode
        • Skeletonised metal case with rubber handle
        • Padded carry bag included
        • Single-button foot switch for reverb on/off included

        The good and the bad

         

        The Good:

        PRO #1: Lightweight, easy to carry, simple to use.

        PRO #2 : Incredible clean sounds, it works very well with the pedal, incredible headroom and natural compression. It sounds very transparent and it will naturally exalt the tone of your guitar and your pedals while adding rich character to your sound.

        PRO #3: Possibility to switch the power, digital reverb included.

        The Bad:

        CON #1 It doesn’t forgive sloppy playing.

        CON #2 You have no overdrive, nor distortion. Just beautiful clean tone.

        Small beast, huge sound

         

        I started to use this amp in 2018. I must admit it before starting this review: I’m in love with it.

        I’ll try to be as sharp as possible, also because I officially endorse Victory Amps ( and I couldn’t be happier about it), but being very honest, you’ve to make a huge effort to find something bad in this little amp. It just sounds great.

        As you can see in the specifics, it’s a single channel amp with volume and master, treble, middle and bass controls.

        You also have two interesting footswitch I’ll talk about in a while.

        As told already, the sound is huge and full of headroom, considering the dimensions of this small beast.

        Easy to use

        The thing I really love about this amp is its spartan approach: everything is made in function of the low weight and the portability while having an incredible and rich tone at the same time.

        In fact, I’ve tried many small/portable amps back in the days. Despite the big advantage given by the fact that carrying around a small amp is very practical ( and healthy for your back), the tone was all the time sacrificed in function of the lightweight.

        The good thing about this amp is that you’ve the advantage of the lightweight but you don’t sacrifice your tone at all. On the contrary, you’ve a perfect working machine that will always respond very well to your playing nuances and the character of your guitars and pedals.

        As extra features, you’ve a two-position voice switch, which changes the V40’s character and tone.

        Voice 1 is centered more on the early 60s ‘blackface’ tone; Voice 2 is more aggressive, evoking the warm sounds of the 1950s.

        A small switch called ‘mid kick’ adds extra gain in the mid range, to give more punch and tone to your solos.

        There’s also a digital reverb with a front-panel level control and on/off switch.

        This is what you have on the back panel: a series effects loop, switchable bias to take EL34 and 6L6 valves, a single-ended mode with a switch to even out the wear on both valves, and a couple of defeat switches that remove the reverb and the effects loop if needed. You also have the speaker outputs to plug to your favorite cabs.

        You can play anything from Blues roots to Rock’n’Roll, passing by Jazz, Funk/Soul/R’N’B and more!

        Plus: it is very transparent with all pedals

        The range of tones you can cover isΒ  wide. You can go from bluesy, rich warm clean tones ’till some nice over driven R’N’R vibe if you turn on the volume.

        About this last point I however have some reserve: it is rare to have possibility to squeeze and amp like that nowadays, so you’ll be most probably forced to have good pedals to obtain your overdrives and distortions… But, who cares? It honestly sounds very good, this amp is a true pedal swallowing machine and practically EVERY guitar player still uses pedals, so you can sleep tight. The good news is that this amp will accept and exalt the tone of any (good) pedal out there and this is not something you can always take for granted.

        I tried this amp in many situations already: Jazz gigs, with a Blues trio, even with my Metal band.

        The sound is all the time incredibly huge and rich.

        A very good idea I’ll try during the next months is using Victory preamp pedals into the V40to expand my tonal range. By that moment, it’s like you have many amps and tone combinations in an all-in-one solution and I’ve to admit that this possibility intrigues me a lot.

        Who is this amp made for ?

         

        I would advise this amp to touring and gigging musicians who want a reasonable priced, solid and portable working machine.

        Rarely this amp will leave you upset during live gigs, and despite there are many other little portable heads out there, its competitors are quite behind, due the fact that rarely you will have that huge sound concentrated in such a small amp.

        It’s also true that the versatility of the amp itself it’s quite limited. It is not your amp if you’re searching for a machine with different sounds in it. The V40 is an amp made to have zero compromises. Just a great warm basic tone that you can enrich with your favorite pedals. Usually, when you’ve the overdrive section in these kinds of little heads, you’re forced to sacrifice the clean sound a bit in favor of the distortion. You can’t have everything, but you can find the right strategies to sort it out. It’s however true that in most cases, even if you have an amp with an overdrive channel, you most probably will use pedals anyway, so why bother?

        If I still didn’t repeat that much already, the very good thing about the V40 is its incredible tone. I strongly invite you to give it a try: you won’t be upset.

         

        Conclusion

         

        As you can see I can’t be neutral when I talk about this amp; the reason is that it just sounds great.

        So if you’re a maniac of the old warm pure clean 50′ and 60′ fenderish tones, this amp will do its dirty job in the best possible way.

        Just to resume:

        • The V40 is the amp for you if you’re searching for a high quality small amp at a very reasonable price and you’ve good pedals to work with.
        • It’s not your amp if you’re searching for an amp with multiple sounds directly incorporated in a single head.

        That’s all for now folks!!

        Don’t forget to leave a comment to this article if you liked it and subscribe to our newsletter to know more about it!

        Ignazio

        Link to buy the V40

        Link to take a look to its bigger brothers:

         

         

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        Top 5 Overdrive Pedals

        I’ve i’ve loved Overdrive Pedals since I started to play electric guitar back in 1998. I’ve had lots of different tube amps so far, and I always felt the need to have some overdrive pedal in front of the input of my amp to make it more saturated.

        In this article I introduce you to my top 5 Overdrive pedals, the ones I’ve tried and enjoyed the most. I will explain you in short why I love them and how a good sounding overdrive can heavily affect your sound.

        What is an Overdrive?

        An overdrive is an effect used to saturate the input of a tube amp (or even an amp emulator nowadays, for example). It helps you to have much sustain, much distortion and a fatter sound that can bring you to play with more relax and dynamics in your solos. It makes your sound more “liquid” and it gives you punch to come out in the mix.

        Overdrives were born officially to saturate tube amps at a decent volume. When you want to saturate properly a tube amp you’ve to increase a lot the volume of the master amp control in order to increase as much as possible the distortion of the power amp itself. This was a technique used a lot by Edward Van Halen for example and you can hear the results of his “brown sound” in his masterpiece “Eruption” even if he was also using a power amp attenuator.

        Of course, you can’t always use a loud amplifier everywhere. Especially in small clubs or in your house: you can’t destroy people’s ear all the time. (even if it’s very Rock’N’Roll πŸ™‚ ). Since you probably don’t want to go to jail, the solution to this problem is an overdrive, who will help you to reach this purpose.

        Overdrives are used in pretty much every style in which an electric guitar is involved. From Hendrix to John Scofield passing by Mike Stern and lots of Metal and Djent dudes, overdrives are a very important component of every guitar player’s pedal board and it contributes a lot to the trademark’s sound of every guitarist.

        I personally took my first idea of sound from Scott Henderson: he was (and I believe still is), using a Xotic Booster to increase the gain of a TS9 or a Maxon Overdrive .

        So here we are. Here’s a list of my favorite overdrives, the ones I’ve had and tried in studio and live so far:

        Overdrives: my top 5 best list

        Ibanez Ts9

         

        This one is the big classic. It has been used by a lot of guitar players, and personally I love it a lot.

        The great thing about this simple pedal is that it gives you more natural distortion while being very transparent. It can also be boosted by a preamp like the MXR Micro amp and it becomes a very nice vocal sounding pedal for your solos, while being at the same time very creamy and huge.

        I like it a lot, and it’s definitely my all time favorite because It adds sustain to my solos and it’s awesome for my rhythms. It’s also relatively cheap and you can find now the mini version to fit your full pedal board without occupying too much space.

        What else to say? It’s just my overall favorite, It’s always sweet sounding and never ever too much high-ended or undefined. when you want to have creamy and punchy solos and always present and compact rhythms, this is the pedal for you. The pedal is equipped with a drive knob, a tone knob, and a level knob. The drive knob adjusts gain, the tone knob adjusts treble and the level knob adjusts the output volume of the pedal

        You can find the TS9 here:

        TS9 Original

        TS9 Mini

        Ibanez TS 808

        It’s not a secret I’m a big fan of the almighty Steve Ray Vaughan. According to the legend, he used two Ibanez TS808 together to achieve his incredible huge and aggressive blues sound.

        The sound of the TS808 is definitely richer, warmer, much transparent and creamy.

        The main difference with the TS9 is the chip JRC 4558D, that made a big change back in the days when the overdrives were made only with transistors. This is the reason why the sound of this pedal is so rich and profound.

        The TS808 is a true legend and a must in a pedal board of any Blues ( but not only ) guitarist.

        Here’s the link to buy the TS808

        Here’s the link to the 40th anniversary version

        when want the sound of a true boutique pedal you might also check out the hand wired version with much punch and drive.

        Maxon OD808

        This pedal has got exactly the same sound of the TS808, but it’s true bypass.

        It’s a very good alternative to the TS808

        Here’s the link to buy the OD808

        T-REX Diva Drive

        This is the overdrive I can’t do without on my pedal board. Not only it sounds great but also you have one switch to the right side that lets you choose the different frequencies you want to exalt in your tone.

        It also has got the control “mix” with which you can control and mix the sound of the pedal with the one from the amp and vice-versa. This control lets you choose the correct amount of sound you want from the pedal itself.

        Despite less creamy and much punchy than the TS808 for example, this pedal is totally killer for the guitar rhythms in Hendrix Style and it’s also perfect for the solos. The sound is maybe less transparent than the Ibanez overdrives, but if you like the color of its tone, you’re on a perfect path.

        Here’s the link to buy the T-Rex Diva Drive

        Xotic BB Preamp

        This is another great sounding pedal.

        It can be used both as a Preamp-Booster for other pedal or as an overdrive to increase the gain of your amp.

        In any case it will sound phenomenal. The EQ controls will allow you to sculpt your sound with more accuracy.

        Again, for me this is less creamy and way more punchy than the classic TS9 for example, but the color it adds to your sound is very nice to hear. You will always have your proper spot in the mix with its tone, and it’s perfect for the solos as I find it much naturally mid-frequenced than the other pedals I talked about above. In any case, this is just a very good pedal according to my opinion, maybe less bluesy and much rock, but still amazing for everything. I think that this pedal can be used for boosting your solos, but it goes very well also with the rhythms.

        Here’s the link to buy the Xotic BB Preamp

        Here’s the link to the much elaborated version of the same pedal, the Xotic BB Plus Preamp and Boost Pedal

        . It puts together the overdrive section and a booster in a two channel stomp box:

        It gives you also much EQ controls to properly sculpt your sound.

        Conclusion

        This is my personal list of course, according to my experience and personal tastes.

        I hope this article has been useful for you!

        Don’t forget to leave a comment!

        Ignazio

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        How to learn to write songs

        If you’re already a musician or a music passionate person, you most probably started with an instrument in you youth, you saw the passion growing along the years and now you are wondering how to learn to write beautiful songs and express yourself at the maximum of the level. If you are a teenager who is most probably starting his/her path in music right now, this article could most probably open you eyes towards something that can be life changing for any musician out there: how to write good songs and how to learn the correct process in order to take out the best from you music ideas and squeeze you creativity at the maximum of the level.

        How can I write beautiful songs that stick in people’s head being soulful and meaningful at the same time?

        Let me tell you something: if you google “how to learn to write songs” you’ll find plenty of results. Most of the time the advises are correct, but it can also be very confusing. It’s plenty of different and contradictory information out there and it’s very difficult to understand which is the most correct process to adopt in order to achieve the best results.

        I’m not going to brag here. I started my career in music as virtuoso guitar player. I am and I was the guy playing eight finger tapping all along, playing fast alternate picking and legato and all I was craving was to have people loving me for that.

        I’ve had my own music school in Milan with hundreds of students interested in guitar techniques and how to become a virtuoso. I loved that, but I wanted more. Recently I decided to make a big change on my career and I took some extra time to expand my knowledge in production and songwriting.

        Virtuoso guitar playing can be cool, but for me nothing is more cool than reaching anyone’s heart by telling a story, carrying a message, touching the deep feelings of the people and unleash a change in them. Nothing is more satisfying for me in life.

        So I decided to improve my formation, I started to take singing lessons recently and I’m growing up well vocally nowadays. I also started a band called Silent Utopia, and this gave me the opportunity to write the songs I wanted.

        I’m a rock/metal songwriter now, but the advises I’m gonna give you can be applied in any style, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pop/new soul artist or a flashy rapper, a jazz songwriter, a country artist or a rock head like me.

        It’s all about collecting the best ideas, creating hooks, creating lyrics that are not wordy and go straight to the point. To use the correct repetitions and the right chord progressions: not over complicated but also not predictable: this is the real challenge.

        I started to learn my skills by writing music for guitar. My first album is definitely not the classic shred guitar hyper virtuoso album. My idea has always been to write songs that can be adapted and played with a lead guitar. So, no long and boring 7 minutes prog-metal virtuoso songs (I would have been able to do it of course) but more attention to simplicity and soulful melodies.

        You can listen to my most successful here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSxTlpxaTpU

        Concerning the songwriting still I’m and I’ll always be in “learning mode”. There’s always something new to learn and room to improve. Of course, you would need for some courses that would help you, and I hope that this article will be a good tip for you in order to improve you songwriting skills, it doesn’t matter if you’re a navigated musician or you’re starting you path right now. I’m bringing you through the process I’m following nowadays and you’re gonna be part of it.

         

        Songwriting: how to start efficiently

        Going back to what I wrote above, songwriting is an art. The more I learn it, the more I see that it’s infinite.

        If you google around, you can be VERY confused. It’s plenty of “10 steps to follow” article around, and it’s a true mess.

        Everyone says the truth and its contrary. It’s overwhelming.

        No.

        The truth is that there’s no truth at all. You can start writing songs by lyrics, by a melody, by a rhythm idea… By anything really. It’s plenty of rules but the truth is there are no rules at all. What really matters is the result. What really matters is how you transform you ideas into something useful, that carries a precise message.

        My step-by-step process to write songs

         

        As I told you, there are many processes. If you’re a professional songwriter, you’ll find something you know already here, so just in case leave a comment at the bottom of the article to help the users.

        Let’s assume you’re an entry level songwriter, and you’re approaching this science for the first time. Let’s assume you’ve a very low/poor music theory/harmony knowledge but you want to get through this fantastic creative world.

        My advises:

        Creativity is a process that is more efficient when comes naturally. Despite any professional composer has got the right technique and focus to compose even when not super inspired, definitely the most interesting ideas come when not expected/predicted. At least, this is how it works for me.

        My technique is to note ANY idea I could have during my daily activity by just recording myself singing or tapping the tempo or any other way that could help me to fix the idea that came suddenly in my mind

        Just sing along you nana-nana or tap the tempo, or whistle it. It doesn’t matter.

        To do this I use some gadget that helps me to fix my idea and archive it, or I just use one app on my mobile and I send everything to my archive via email.

        This is very cool and useful. If you’re in one of those days in which you’re lazy and unfocused, struggling to find a good idea to work on, you only have to go to you personal archive and choose the best input to work on.

        It’s a real wonder when you come back and suddenly you jump into an idea you forgot to develop in the past, but it’s still there.

        If you want to be a serious composer and songwriter, please build you ideas archive. Don’t let life itself bringing away your best moments. When an idea (a melody, a rhythm…everything) comes out spontaneously, when developed you listeners will feel the same feelings in their bones.

        So, choose one idea that you would like and develop: a chord progression, a melody, a rhythm pattern.

        We will talk about the concept of HOOK in another article πŸ˜‰

        • Please be a good nerd and study at least the fundamentals of music theory

        Well, you can tell me that it’s plenty of successful musicians and songwriters out there that don’t know a thing about music theory and still can write good song.

        Maybe it can be true for some, for many others it’s an urban legend. A lot of famous singers have songwriting teams behind their shoulders. These guys are professional in music, they most of the time received a formal music instruction.

        A part of that, to write good songs you don’t have to be able to analyze The Rite of Spring, you’ve to be able to understand mostly the movements of the degrees in major and minor scales. You’ve to understand which is the main connection among the different chords and which are the most important chords progressions in famous songs.

        This will be really helpful for you.

         

         

        • Understand the song structure

        You can choose to be a prog artist and just screw this passage, but even the most tricky Dream Theather’s songs, has got a Verse, a Pre-chorus, a Chorus, a Bridge.

        The standard construction for a song is:

        Intro

        Verse

        Chorus

        Verse2

        Chorus2

        Bridge

        Chorus3

        Finale

        There are all the possible variations to this basic structure: the best thing you can do is to analyze the most famous songs.

        Start easy with Let it be by Beatles, or U2’s songs. Start from something very simple, with at least 4 chords. You’ll see easily that the most famous Pop songs nowadays are based pretty much on the same chords constructions. Your task is to understand what does work and what doesn’t. Don’t be scared about analyzing songs from top 10 Pop Billboard. Sometimes in the mainstream circuit there are masterpieces, sometimes as you may know, there’s crap.

        Here is not about the aesthetic judgments, it’s about understanding what works and what doesn’t.

        By then, create you song structure. Please mind you’ve to fix a BPM for the song you wanna make.

        If you work with a DAW like Logic Pro, Cubase, Protools etc, you can easily see the length of you song, and fix the general setup, included the structure. Working directly with a DAW is top for me, it really makes the difference in the quality of my work.

        If you’re old style, just grab a piece of paper and note a general structure. Make the effort to visualize the song from the beginning to the end in you mind. The more is detailed, the more it will be easy for you to go through the next steps.

        • Pick up a chord progression and sing along over it, trying to apply the first idea you found before.

        You don’t have to be a pro singer, even if taking some good singing course can help a lot. You only have to nana-nana or mmmm-ing on you music. It’s easy: just find a link between the chords you choose and you voice.

        You’ve to be able to find a good melodic/harmonic/rhythmic idea that merges efficiently with the chords you choose.

        Concerning this topic, I’ll dedicate some more deepening on my Patreon page

        This step is VERY important

        Here’s where you understand if you idea is working or not. So be sure you’re having goosebumps while playing and singing at the same time.

        Choose ONE good idea for each part of the song, not more. You’ve to be direct and concise, you don’t want to waste precious time. Go straight to the point in any section and don’t overwhelm the listeners with thousands of ideas.

        The process could work more in this way:

        One main hook idea for the entire song (mostly it goes to the chorus)

        One single good idea for the verses and the other part of the songs.

        Operate synthesis: you want that the length of each part of the song is reasonable. The chorus has to be the catchiest part, so keep in mind that the other sections have to prepare/embellish the chorus, and guide the listeners to it slowly and progressively

        • Sing the entire song structure from beginning to the end on the tempo

        I mostly use a single metronome, this helps me to understand what works and what doesn’t.

        • Lyrics

        Lyrics is of course a big huge thing in songwriting and I’ll talk about it in another article. Writing good and catchy lyrics is an art. A good book I can advise you to read is this one. In Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling you will find a step-by-step guide to write your best possible lyrics.

        I’ll dedicate more time to this topic in another article.

        Keep in mind this is only the beginning of the trip. The topic is huge and I’m only scratching the surface.

        If you’re serious in songwriting, do a favour to yourself:

        follow a course to improve your skills

        If you’re serious in songwriting, this course can be very helpful for you.

        Superior Songwriting is a very well-structured course. You will find anything about songwriting: Lyrics, melodies and harmonies, song structures, hooks.

        If you want a good helpful tool to improve you skills, this course can be the right thing to do.

        Not only you will find the way to write you songs, but also how to sell them and how to become professional in you activity.

        Conclusion

        If you liked this article and you found it useful, please leave a comment and subscribe to my patreon page to have more information!

        Ignazio

         

         

         

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        The best music transcription software: how much important transcriptions are to become a better musician?

        How really important is doing music transcriptions to become a better musician?

        Transcribing music is the best way to improve your skills when it comes to enrich your vocabulary. In order to do this, you’ll need some solid work method and the best music transcription software that could help you to reach this purpose. You most probably spend a bunch of time every day by practicing scales, arpeggios, chords and exercises but you wonder why you still don’t sound as your favourite musicians, or even better, why you still don’t have your personal sound. This blog is mainly focused on guitar but the golden rules I’m giving you right now are valid for all kind of musicians out there, it doesn’t really matter the style played and the level you have.

        Learning Music is like learning any other new language

        I’m personally passionate about languages. I studied French litterature in high school and I loved the big classics: Hugo, Montaigne, Gide, Flaubert and poets like Baudelaire (my overall favourite), Verlaine and Rimbaud. I’m writing you in English now and as you may know, English is not my native language. I’m an Italian native speaker so I had to study carefully the English grammar, the vocabulary and the literature to be fluent and confident enough. Still I everytime find room for improvements but that’s the way to enjoy the trip folks!

        There are many “layers” concerning the learning process of languages and the more I advanced in my studies, the more I understood how much music was helping me a lot in assimilating the languages I needed to learn.

        Music and languages are more or less the same for me. You can express an idea with words, you can express it with the sounds: still you’re communicating with the world out there and your brain is synthesizing information into a format that is going to be processed and externalised in the most fluent and achievable way.

        From my humble point of view, you can make these assumptions:

        Syntax = Scales, arpeggios and melodic materials in general.

        Grammar = Harmony, Rhythm, Counterpoint.

        Literature = Transcriptions and History of Music.

        Listening = Music Listening, Going to concerts, buying records (sob πŸ™ ), watch at music videos.

        Speaking = Playing with other musicians or solo act if you’re a solo musician.

        Vocabulary = Transcriptions.

        As you may see, the dynamics involved are pretty much similar, and everything is about learning a group of differentiated skills in order to improve in different areas.

        Assuming you’ve already some base on the other areas, if you don’t have a vocabulary your communication skills will be not consistent and you’ll fail in expressing your ideas. You need for something that can be helpful for you to achieve this purpose. You need to improve your vocabulary to be able to face any new life situation in which the knowledge of the language will be in demand.

        Imagine you’re in a new city and you’re forced to look at or listen to the translator every time to ask for information. It will take a lot of time and your communication won’t be that efficient. You’ll have to rely on people’s patience and sometimes this can be tricky…

        It’s the same with music: the more you’ll master the language, the more your speaking will be fluent and your ideas will be transformed into something achievable for your listeners, something beautiful and clear to listen to.

        How to organise music transcriptions in a nutshell?

        There are several ways of course and I would overall resume two main different strategies:

        The reading method, pro and cons.

        Well, while I was a jazz student I spent quite a lot of time by reading from the beginning to the end the Charlie Parker Omnibook and it has been very beneficial for me and my playing.

        Not only your music reading abilities will improve a lot ( and if you’re a guitar player, you know how tricky reading could be) but you’ll enter easily inside all those brain mechanisms that will help you to encompass what you just read in your playing automatically. It worked really well for me to help me to master the bebop language. I just read a lot of jazz saxophone players and my abilities grow up automatically without even thinking about it too much…or maybe just a bit..

        Again, music is just like any other language, the more you read the more you’ll build up links.

        The method can be applied with any author in any style of music. If you’re an orchestra composer, just go and study your favourite author transcriptions (my favourite ever: Ravel Piano Concerto). If you’re a rock guitar player, just learn your favourite solos and riffs. The sky is the limit really.

        Transcribing by using softwares

        If you want to grow in your listening abilities, grow your music ear and your ability to translate what you ear in gestures and shapes on your instrument, you just need to listen to the music with your instrument in your hand.

        The method is just simple: try and replicate as more as possible what you hear. Try and search for the right spot to play the phrase, the correct nuance, the correct timing.

        An overall method I would suggest, assuming you’re transcribing a solo for example:

        1. Analyse the song/composition : Which key? Which speed? Which time signature?
        2. Focus on a little sequence at time: If you want to learn the language, most probably you don’t need to memorise an entire solo as first. You need to understand the mechanisms behind the solo construction. This is a very important concept. If you just aim to learn by heart a sequence, unless you’ll practice it every day for the rest of your life, you’ll most probably forget about some part of it. You need to relate the sequence to the music itself, understanding the melodic and harmonic process behind the notes you’re hearing.
        3. Use a software to slow down the speed and then repeat the sequence on a loop, raising the speed step-by-step. Don’t forget about focusing on the timing: if your timing is sloppy while you’re playing slow, it will be even sloppier while playing at normal speed. Just relax and focus on not more than few notes at time.
        4. Repeat the process with the next sequence and then glue everything together when you’re comfortable enough.

        The software I use to transcribe, learning songs, memorise my compositions and compose new stuff

         

        Riff master pro is a very good one. It works both for Mac and Windows. You can import songs, slow down and put some section in loop. You can also make the volume of the voice lower, control and equalise different frequencies and change the key. It’s a very cool and useful tool.

        If you’ve some question I’m always here to answer, so don’t exitate to contact me and subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch with me

        If you want to get deeper and to know more about the topic of each article of this blog just subscribe to my Patreon page to have access to more material!

        Cheers,

        Ignazio

        www.ignaziodisalvo.com

         

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