Dusty Hill

Dusty Hill, the bass player from ZZ Top died. I cannot say that I was ever a ZZ Top fan, but I can say that I have been thinking about them a bit lately.

ZZ Top to me was the awful cartoonish characters from the ’80s. The beards, the terrible videos, the over produced synthed up crappy songs. I had no interest at all. The small number of earlier song that I knew were okay. Tush (which Lizardfish was playing when I joined), and Cheap Sunglasses were good songs. There were a couple of others that I liked too. They were really just a blues band, which might be why I was so put off in the 80s, but I think maybe they were a little too Texas and not enough Chicago for me. I never really thought of it that way before, but that might be exactly it.

Over the last few months I have been wondering to myself if I should go and give their first few records a try. The main reason being my recent obsession with cool guitar gear. That’s kind of embarrassing to say out loud, but there it is. ZZ Top’s guitar player, Billy Gibbons, is a Les Paul guy. He’s known for playing a 1959 Standard that he named Pearly Gates (apparently after the car he was driving when he went to pick it up? Is that true?). Seymour Duncan sells a set of pick ups called Pearly Gates that are supposed to be cloned from the PAFs in Gibbons’ Les Paul. Hearing other people talk about his guitar and the gear based on his guitar, and knowing that they weren’t absurd comic characters in the 70’s, and also knowing that the band existed for over 50 years without ever having a line up change (which is pretty amazing), has been making me think that their first 2-3 records might be worth a listen.

And then yesterday it was announced that Dusty Hill died. I gave Cheap Sunglasses a spin in the car on the way to work today in his memory. There was a quote from Billy Gibbons saying that Hill wanted the band to continue without him and they will honor that request. So I guess they will finally have that line up change after all. Maybe I’ll give Tres Hombres a spin today too. Maybe it’s worth it for this Chicago (albeit via London) blues fan to dip his toe into some Texas for a bit.

Rest in Peace, Dusty Hill. Someday when my band gets back together I’ll see if they want to play Cheap Sunglasses.

Bursts

This videos is a commercial and it’s getting on to two years old, but it’s also a nice little history lesson and the three guitars it’s selling are absolutely glorious.

Gibson Les Paul Standards made from 1958-60 are called Bursts and they are the holy grail.

Take a Holiday

Yesterday was the 4th of July. Independence Day in the USofA. Today is the 5th of July which, thanks to the 4th falling on a Sunday, is the day we celebrate the holiday and have a day off from work. Amen to that, brothers and sisters in the American workforce.

I haven’t really done anything. I unclogged a drain in the bathroom sink. I finished watching Black Summer. I put guitars onto a couple of new song ideas. I’m up to six songs now.

I haven’t spent much time with heavier “rawk!” sounds with the new guitar. That changed today. I had some crunchy goodness going on. The bridge pickup on the new guitar is kind of in love with the Bassbreaker 15. The neck pickup is jealous of that love and therefore kinda bitchy. They aren’t playing all that nicely together. I’ll work it out. If not there will be a new pickup. Something swanky and boutique. Probably not until the kids are done with college though. Money? What’s that?

How about a little love for leather guitar straps. I’ve never owned one before but when the new guitar came (I still can’t believe Jen bought me a Les Paul for my birthday. Best birthday gift ever) I needed a new strap and I found a reasonably priced one on amazon.

One thing I learned, the cloth straps I’ve been using since day one back in 1987 play nicely with clothing. Meaning that when I need to adjust the strap’s position relative to my shoulder, it will slide around easily and not try to bunch up my shirt. Not so with the leather strap. The leather strap grabs hold of my shirt and drags it along with it everywhere it goes. I never thought of that before. No one was more surprised than me.

Anyway, are you having a happy long weekend? I am having a happy long weekend.


On a sadder note, Mary Weinrib passed away at the age of 95. Who is Mary Weinrib? Well pop culturally speaking, she’s Geddy Lee’s mother. Now giving birth and raising the greatest bass player in history and the frontman for the greatest rock band in history is a legendary accomplishment. That’s great. It’s also not the most amazing thing she’d ever done. Mrs Weirib, as a young woman, survived the Holocaust. She survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, among others. Rest in peace Mary Weinrib. Your kid done good.

I should also mention that I did not mention when Neil Peart’s father passed away a couple of weeks ago. Sorry about that.

Play

I did it. I snuck in some guitar playing. Dinner is going to be late tonight so I went straight from work to the new Les Paul.

I worked on rhythm parts for two really terrible songs. Les Paul Standard 50s into a Rock Your Repaired Amp The Klone overdrive pedal into a Vox AC15. Life felt good for a few minutes there. Excellent.

Up next is some hamburgers cooked on the grill where life will continue to feel good for a few more minutes.

Baby steps, babie. Baby steps.

Guitar Commercial

This video is a commercial but given the subject matter I don’t mind sharing it.

Gibson guitars and Alex Lifeson from Rush once designed a Les Paul model together. It was called the Axcess Les Paul, or Les Paul Axcess, or whatever. Despite Alex being pretty much the guitar god to me, and Les Pauls being my favorite guitars by far, the Axcess didn’t really do it for me. The look was just a little off, and a Les Paul with a Floyd Rose bridge just bothers me on a fundamental level. I watched Alex play them more times than I can count and he always sounded amazing, but that one just wasn’t for me.

He’s working with Epiphone now to make an affordable Axcess model. I’m sure it’s great, but again it’s not for me. This video is a four minute intro to the new guitars where he basically tells his entire history with Gibson. It’s pretty cool. The music playing is pieces of the two new instrumentals on his new website. It’s been kind of a busy week for old Lerxst.

For the record, Gibson did once release a custom shop copy of his ES-355 in a very limited quantity for an absolutely stunning price. I’d kill to get my mitts on one of those, but I’d likely have to sell my body for medial experiments in order to afford it.

Les Paul Tips

I can’t sleep so I’ve been putzing around YouTube looking for cool ideas for things to do with your Les Paul.

First things first, this dude is playing a copy and that offends me. He has an SG and another Les Paul on the wall behind him. Are those cheap copies too?

Anyway, he lists five things and literally every video I’ve looked at tonight lists exactly the same things. The first two are things that I figured out on my own back in 1987 when my Peavy amp’s foot switch got smashed in my car. I thought they were common knowledge. No one taught me, I just figured it out after about 0.68 seconds worth of research.

The third and fifth tricks are things I use occasionally. I learned about “woman tone” (terrible name, Eric) from a Clapton biography back in ‘86 or ‘87. The kill switch thing… I forget where I learned that… it might have been that same Clapton biography or maybe a guitar magazine column. I’m thinking maybe Rik Emmett’s column? I learned a few things from him, but most of it was way above my skill level.

The forth tip is the one that’s interesting to me. I first learned of that from a That Pedal Show episode last year and I’ve been playing with it lately, but it’s not making that much of a difference. I’m guessing it will be a bigger effect at higher volumes. I want to try it at a Lizardfish practice, assuming there someday is another Lizardfish practice.

Okay, I might try to sleep now. Class dismissed,

Les Paul Lessons

This week’s That Pedal Show is all about Fender Strats. I tried to love my Strat but I just couldn’t connect with it. It’s a killer guitar and I got some great sounds out of it. It just doesn’t feel like home though. I watched the episode but it took a few sittings to get through it. As soon as it was done I went back to the Les Paul vs ES-335 episode from last December because I needed to feel at home again.

I took out my new Les Paul and noodled along. I am pretty sure I am going to have to start talking to a therapist soon. Until then, playing guitar will have to do.

Les Paul Standard 50’s into a Ryra The Klone into a Vox AC15. In case you were curious. Recorded with the iPhone mic, which means you likely won’t be curious.

My New Best Friend

I just sat in front of the TV, noodling without an amp. Just connecting with the new kid in town.

I love the nickel hardware and I love the trapezoid inlays.

I love the grain on the maple cap. It’s not really enough to call it a flame, I don’t think, but it is freakin’ groovy.

None of my other Gibsons have the little knob position pointer thingies. I can’t remember if my poor, stolen Les Paul Deluxe had them or not.

The back is a different color than my ‘78 Custom. I like the lighter shade this has.

I adore the 50’s style tuning pegs. I think my much missed Deluxe had those. My Custom didn’t (I changed the tuners on the Custom in 2006, I think, and I have no clue if the ones we took off were original or not.

I’m happy to see the poker chip. My SG came with one but it wasn’t installed. I haven’t put it on because it’s a royal pain in the ass to do.

You can’t see it in the picture (I tried and failed) but it’s definitely a two piece cap. My eyes could clearly see where they join.

Like I said, I have a new best friend. What a killer birthday present, right?

Eric’s Birthday

Eric Clapton celebrated his 76th birthday today and I’m guessing he didn’t wear a mask.

I can overlook a lot of shit from my musical heroes, I’m looking at you drunken racist immigration rants back in the… whenever that was, but the anti mask shit you pulled recently… just fuck you, bro.

I still want to hear him play live again. Just one more time. That’s despite the anti mask shit. I mean really… fuck you, bro.

So instead of birthday wishes here’s a pic from 1966 with the legendary Marshall combo amp behind him, and the even more legendary, dare I say almost mythical, 1960 Les Paul Standard in front of him.

Assuming the Instagram link works, of course…

(The guy next to him is John McVie who about two years later became the Mac in Fleetwood Mac)