Steel Guitar News January 3. 2013

Vic Lawson here. We’ve got something coming up in January that you might be interested in. We’re having a meet the builder workshop at the store on January 13th and hopefully, many of you will be able to attend.

Many of you haven’t heard of the Little Walter amp, but it’s a boutique amplifier that’s very popular in the professional arena. These amps are built by hand, per order. They’re one of the best sounding amps I’ve heard.

This workshop will answer any questions you may have and we expect everyone will learn a lot about tube amps in general and Little Walter amps in particular. Some great players should be here to demonstrate.

We are very pleased to be able to present this workshop as we have worked on making it happen for many, many months and are doing our best to make this a don’t miss event. There will be refreshments. It’s a free event, just show up and bring your own folding chair unless you feel like standing for three hours.

I’ve actually played through a Little Walter three times. Twice live and once here in the store and it has sounded consistently great in each place. If any of you guys play in bands, tell your lead guitar players so they can come down and check them out as well.

Here is the announcement from Little Walter.

Phil Bradbury, builder of the Little Walter Tube Amps will be at Steel Guitar Nashville for a “Meet the Builder” event on Sunday, January 13th from 1pm to 4pm.

The little Walter Tube Amps are a departure from the usual tube amp architecture used in music today. Phil decided to go back to the method of building that was used in the original days of tube amps. Using cloth wrapped wire and no Circuit, Tag, or Turret boards these amps are true Point-to-Point construction. Phil only uses octal (8 pin) preamp tubes that ceased to be used by major amp builders in the 1950’s. The octal preamp tubes have a dynamic response that the 9 pin tubes used today lack. Players like Paul Franklin, Tommy White, Bruce Bouton, Tommy Wayne, Dan Galysh, Kyle Everson, Abe Stoklasa, and Alyn Love have discovered the tone they were looking for. Paul Franklin says it best “ this is not just an amp this is an instrument”. Vince Gill tours with Little Walter Tube Amps and he describes the amps as “truly transparent, you only hear your instrument”. Vince introduced Phil to Paul at a show one night and they instantly formed a bond. Phil listened to Paul’s requests and in a short time had created the “PF 50/50”. This is actually two separate 50 watt amps in a single cabinet. Since Paul uses a Franklin Steel with two outputs this allowed a 50 watt amp and a single 12” speaker for each output. Phil also builds the standard 50 watt that uses a pair of 6L6 power tubes as well as the VG-50 that uses a pair of 6550 power tubes.

Phil will have a PF-50/50, the Standard 50, and a VG-50 on display at the Meet the Builder event for anyone to test drive. Phil will also make a presentation on “Understanding the Tube Amp”. This presentation will try in a non-technical way to explain the mystery of the vacuum tube and what he refers to as his Phil-osophy’s or “Rules of Tone”.

Bob Hempker taking over from here. In response to learning to play songs and licks in every key, I wanted to make a couple of points. Often I work out a lick and then I proceed to learn it in every key. I’ll go through the sharp keys first or I’ll go through the flat keys first whichever I choose to do. It really doesn’t matter.

For instance, I’ll play it first in C, then I’ll play it in G, then D, then A, and so forth. I’m traveling in perfect fifths that way. I might start in C, then go to F, then to Bb, Eb, Ab and so forth. Going down a fifth from C takes me to F, then I keep going down a fifth until I end up back in C. By then you’ve played it in every key.

I also set a metronome in order to maintain a steady pace. You’ll notice that in some positions when you learn something in all the keys, you’ll have some open strings to work with. This will add a little different flavor or color to it. This is a good technique to use to learn a song with also or to learn a solo part you’re going to play in a song.

For you guys that play double necks, figure it out in every key on both necks. It’s there. You may have to hunt for it. It may require a little work, but it’s there.

I recommend learning the chords by name, not just using the number system. It’s good to know both systems so you can be comfortable no matter what situation you find yourself in.

I learned a trick from some horn players several years ago when communicating onstage to tell people what key a song is in before you play it. It’s hard to differentiate a C from a G if it’s spoken especially in a loud club. If something is in the key of C, you just hold your fist up which means no sharps or flats.

If you’re going to play in the key of E, you hold up four fingers for four sharps. Say you’re going to play something in F. You point down with one finger. It means 1 flat. Three fingers down is Eb. Three fingers up is A.

If you’re hollering to a guy across the stage in a noisy club, you might say C and he might understand G. It’s so much easier to yell “Hey!” and then hold 1 finger up. He knows that means 1 sharp which denotes the key of G. That way there isn’t much chance for miscommunication.

I can’t stress how important it is to learn things in different keys. It helps our ear. It helps our mind. We think differently if we can play in all of the keys. It helps every aspect of our musical ability.

If you’ll notice, many of the old big band standards and songs from Broadway musicals are not written in A or G or C. Many of those songs are written in Bb and Eb. I personally always like to learn any song the way it was originally composed. Then after I’ve done that, if I want to learn a newer version, different arrangement of it or create an arrangement of my own, I can do that with a feeling that I haven’t compromised the song.

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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