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sandy

sandy

Above is a photo sent to me by a friend who lives in my home state of Connecticut.

A few months ago, I had scheduled a flight to go visit New England, and I was supposed to arrive yesterday on October 29. The flight was canceled by the airline, and I opted to take a ticket refund and stay in Florida. It's a good thing I did, because it's nothing short of incredible that I just happened to pick an arrival date of one of the worst weather disasters in history, Hurricane Sandy.

Since yesterday I've been watching The Weather Channel's live stream, and just.. wow. Many weather records were easily broken. Highest water levels recorded in many parts, and an extremely rare instance of the National Weather Service posting a blizzard warning right after a hurricane (that basically never happens) for areas like West Virginia. To call this weather system "crazy" doesn't even begin to describe how crazy it really is.

I do find it amazing how fast life can change because of big weather systems, because when a big system is coming, there's no a damned thing you can do about it but prepare as best you can, sit and wait it out. And then once the whole thing passes, things are much different after that.

Recovery from any weather disaster is slow. Very slow. It takes months just to get started with the rebuliding process. And for certain areas you can't even think about rebuilding until certain preventative things are put in place. An example of this is that in Point Pleasant, NJ, a dune had been built in the early 1990s specifically to block ocean waters from getting on shore, and was built to what they thought would hold for the the long term. That dune is destroyed, so this time around they're going to have to build up that dune much, much larger before doing anything else.

I'm certain that several insurance companies are going to go out of business... again. When Katrina basically flushed New Orleans almost out of existence, the part that everyone forgets is that several insurance companies just couldn't pay the bill and many were left with no way to fiscally recover from lost properties. The result? Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits aplenty. And as far as I know they're still happening. Will the same happen from Sandy? Yes, I'm sure of it.

The northeast will be rebuilt. There will be a lot of legal nonsense along the way, but it will get rebuilt one way or another.

99% of guitar players dont need more than 22 frets

More often than not it's true your very first electric guitar probably had a neck with 22 frets on it, which allows for three octaves of the key of D (low D, D and high D).

Personally, I prefer Fender vintage-style 21-fret necks. It took me a few years before I realized that's what I prefer, but I do.

My first 24-fret neck guitar was a cheesy copy of B.C. Rich Warlock made by a guitar company called Phantom. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of that guitar, but it was your standard Warlock shape that had the infamous neck dive when you wore it standing up. Back when I owned the Phantom (this was years ago) I didn't know anything about guitars, but even then I knew I didn't really care for 24-fret necks that much.

The current 24-fret guitar I own is a 2003 Schecter C-1 Classic, but I barely play it because I don't get nearly the enjoyment out of that guitar as I do out of my Squier guitars.

In the way I play guitar, I literally get confused if the neck has more than 21 frets. For example, whenever I play a modern American Strat with its standard 22-fret neck, that extra 22nd fret always messes with my head whenever I play up high on the fingerboard. For you fans of vintage Fender Strats out there, this is yet another reason why I say to try a "cheap" Squier, because most Squier electrics have 21-fret necks on them, and that's a HUGE part of what true Fender vintage feel is supposed to be like.

Anyway..

If you absolutely have to have an electric with a 24-fret neck on it, fortunately you don't have to spend a ton of money to get one. In fact, a guitar with a 24-fret neck these days is quite cheap. The Ibanez GRG120BDX is a good example, as that is a cheap guitar that's literally in Squier-price range. I have absolutely no idea how it plays or how it sounds, but like I said, cheap.

Do you really need that high E?

The truth about playing anywhere above the 20th fret (never mind the 24th) is that 99% of the time you won't be playing anywhere near there.

There are very few chords you could hold above the 20th fret, and chords above the 20th fret sound awful, so generally speaking you're in "solo-only" territory when you play that high on the fingerboard.

Do you solo all the time? Of course not. Most of the time you're playing chords, be they full-handed barre chords, power chords or whatever other chords you want to play.

The allure of having an electric guitar that can play 3 octaves of E is very tempting. I remember that when I had my first 24-fret guitar, I said to myself, "Cool! Now I can finally play those super-high notes!" But then I realized quickly there's really not much you can do on the high-fret range.

Have you ever noticed on older 24-fret guitars that the high frets are always tarnished? That's because they're almost never played. The guy who bought the 24-fret guitar originally probably thought he'd be using them all the time, only to find out he hardly ever used them, and that's why years later they're all mucked up.

As to answer the question of whether you actually need those 24 frets, no, you don't.

"24 fret blur" happens when playing on 24-fret neck electric guitars

This is a phenomenon that happens regardless of how good or bad your eyesight is.

Okay, so you've got this 24-fret guitar with nice shiny frets. Above the 20th fret, all the frets are very close together. The fret spacing is too short to "play by feel" (meaning not enough tactile discrimination exists where you could "play blind"), so you're staring right at that board when playing those high notes.

When looking down at the frets, they're obviously all vertical lines, but above the 20th fret those lines are really close together. Stare at those lines long enough, and the frets appear to blur together.

Is there anything that can be done to combat this? Yes. You have to go by the fret markers on the top of the neck and not the ones on the fingerboard. At first, this will be a very weird way of playing because your eyes will focus on the top-dot markers while your fingers will be out-of-focus, but you'll get used to it.

If you want a 24-fret neck where you will never lose your place when playing, you want a neck with a maple fingerboard and black fret markers, like this:

newjackmaple24regstandard

The black is almost the direct opposite color of the maple, and it's very easy for your eyes to know exactly where you are on the high frets at any given time.

White/mother-of-pearl/etc. fret markets on a rosewood or ebony fingerboard don't work for vision improvement purposes, because the white/mother-of-pearl is too close of a color to the metal frets as far as your eyes are concerned. In other words, everything will still blur together if you stare at it for too long, and you'll have to go by the dot markers on top of the neck.

In fact, for you players out there with poor eyesight that frequently encounter eye-blurring even on the lower frets, an easy solution is to switch to an electric guitar with a maple fingerboard with black fret markers.

You will perform solos better on a 21 or 22-fret neck

There's this myth out there that one can solo better if he has more frets to play on. This is not true and never has been.

The best necks for soloing on are the kind that feel most comfortable to the fret hand, and that's obviously not the 24-fret neck. Your fret hand will "scrunch" when playing the upper notes on the 24-fret neck, it will not feel natural, and you may even enounter finger strain and wrist pain no matter what age you are.

If you're looking for faster soloing capability, you're probably looking for a short scale neck and not the extra frets. Read this other blog post where I explain everything about scale.

In other words, you'll probably find you can solo way faster on a Squier Jagmaster than you would on an Ibanez with a 24-fret neck. The Jagmaster only has 21 frets on it, but believe me, with its short scale neck you will race up and down it like nobody's business.

A 24-fret neck is more a novelty than anything else

Sure, a guitar with a 24-fret neck is nice to have. It looks cool and you have that third octave E for screeching-high solos.

24-fret necks aren't bad, and if you like them, that's fine and I don't have a problem with that. But at the end of the day, 21 and 22-fret necks feel better, it's much easier to know where you are on the board at any given time, and even if you're the super-soloist type, there's really not much in the way of songwriting that fits anywhere above the 20th fret.

How to record "washy" reverb with an electric guitar the right way

In the demo above, I play some guitar (on my Squier Strat) using some very "washy" reverb.

There's are right and wrong ways to record reverb. I'm not saying my way is the absolute method you should use to record an electric guitar with washy reverb, but chances are it will work for you.

Rule #1: Use a digital reverb

Analog reverb (like spring reverb on Fender amps) won't work too well because every so often you'll hear a spring "clang" happen. For lower amounts of reverb, spring works, but for high amounts like in the demo above, spring will create undesirable clang noises just due to the nature of how it works.

Any digital reverb will do, such as DigiTech DigiVerb, BOSS RV-5, Alesis Nanoverb 2, or whatever you have currently as long as it's digital.

Rule #2: Play with mild overdrive, no compression and guitar volume at half or lower

What guitar players typically do is turn the guitar up to 10 and use compression but with no overdrive, and the end result is a "tinny" sound. Most would describe it a a sound that "has no body to it".

Instead, kill the compression, use a light overdrive, and turn the guitar volume down to 5 or lower (you'll figure out what works best for your guitar). It doesn't matter what guitar is being used, although you may find single-coils much better suited for this type of stuff compared to humbuckers due to the fact singles have more treble response. But if a humbucker-equipped guitar is all you have, just work with it.

In the demo recording above I purposely bang a chord hard at the end where you can hear the overdrive ring out to prove I was actually using it.

Rule #3: Try the middle pickup position on the guitar first

More often than not the middle position on the guitar will work best, as it will give the most "even balance" between treble and bass response. It doesn't matter whether your pickup configuration is SSS, HSS, HH or HSH. Use the middle first before going anywhere else, because chances are you'll want to be there anyway to get the desired sound.

Remember, this is for studio (or home studio) recorded stuff and not the stage

On the stage, it's too easy to get "lost" when using high amounts of reverb, so I don't recommend using it there. Instead, use delay (DigiTech DigiDelay, BOSS DD-3 or DD-7, MXR Carbon Copy, VOX Time Machine or whatever you prefer) as a substitute because in a live situation it's a whole lot easier to get control over.

And yeah, I know, you're saying to yourself, "But delay is totally different from reverb!" You're right. But on stage, delay actually sounds more like reverb because the effect is being used much more "in the open", so to speak. And believe me when I say your sound guy (as in the guy running the PA mixer) will much appreciate the fact you're using delay and not reverb out there because it's a whole lot easier on his end to hear what's actually going on.

When in the studio however, go ahead and wash out the reverb all you want, because you've got the controlled environment and it works out just fine there.

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