This is Why You Suck at Guitar 13: Your Muting/Dampening SUCKS!

•07/02/2016 • Leave a Comment

I deliver unto thee This is Why You Suck at Guitar 13: Your Muting/Dampening SUCKS! If you’ve ever wondered how to manage all the crazy noise your guitar produces and get your playing clean as a whistle (and ditch the damn hair band mute!), you’re about to learn ALL the tricks! Scope it out and share!!!


This is Why You Suck at Guitar: How to Change Tunings and String Gauges on a Floyd Rose Tremolo!

•03/23/2016 • Leave a Comment

True Believers and Floyd Rose Fanatics! The new episode of This is Why You Suck is just for you! Ever wanted to rip your hair out while trying to change tunings or string gauges on your tremolo-equipped guitar? Boy do i ever have a cool trick for you. Using my method, you’ll be able to change tunings completely in just a minute or two!! Watch the video (and share it!) and find out how!

This is Why You Suck at Guitar: Your Neck Finish Sucks! (oil and wax finish tutorial)

•09/07/2015 • Leave a Comment

Hey kids!!!
Uncle Ben here with a brand new episode of This is Why You Suck at Guitar. Typically on this series, i’ve been giving you the straight poop on how to improve your playing, but this time, i’m gonna give you the straight poop on how to improve what you’re playing on!
I’ve always loved those dry, satiny Ernie Ball Music Man/Ibanez Jem/Universe neck finishes. They just feel and look great! So years ago, i started trying to perfect my own oil and wax finish. I started off with tung oil, which is alright, but didn’t quite do the job… until i started using Birchwood Casey Tru Oil and wax!!! This is the secret. I’ve heard tell thats what EBMM uses themselves.
In this video, you’ll learn what supplies you need to buy, how to prep, how to sand, how to montage, how to thug life, how to apply the oil and wax finish your body craves, and how to maintain said finish for a lifetime of glory. I recommend this for bolt-on neck guitars of any kind!

Check it out!

My new guitar pick review series, This Pick is Sick!!! 

•09/02/2015 • Leave a Comment

Hey chums! One of the questions I get asked the most is where I buy my shampoo and conditioner. Beyond that, the second most asked question I get is “what kind of picks do Uncle Ben like??”! To answer that question, I decided to start a new pick review series where I share with you my love of some of the best picks I’ve found over the past 55 years of my playing. You’re gonna get some technical information on the picks I feature, as well as some juicy sound clips so you can hear the attack of the pick. I’ll wrap up and give every pick an overall score, too. 

Scope it out and let me know what picks you’d like to see on future episodes! 

This is Why You Suck at Guitar: Your Barres and Barre Chords Suck!

•08/03/2015 • Leave a Comment

Hey Suckamaniacs!!!
Uncle Ben returns, here with a brand new lesson for you all about beating the snot out of barres and barre chords.

You abysmal barres have been scaring chicks away from you since the day you first tried wrapping your mitts around an F. You’ve gotten a jihad put on you, your stepmom cut off your allowance, and your guidance counselor refuses to even speak with you, all on account of those busted barres you drag around. But don’t worry, Uncle Ben is here to help!

In this episode of TiWYSaG, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to master the ancient secrets of barring, from small 2 string barres all the way up to mammoth 6 string beasts, then wrap up with a handful of tips and tricks to help you score with whatever kind of barre it is you’re working with.

Grab thine sharpest axe, and sit down for a spell, and get ready to be blasting barres all over the face, neck, and chest of anyone within earshot.

New Whitechapel album (featuring solos by me!) Our Endless War now streaming!

•04/27/2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone! Those hunks in Whitechapel are now streaming their new album Our Endless War online. This is probably their best album to date, and they asked me to contribute a bunch of guest solos this time around! Very proud to be a part of this record.
I lay down some greasy licks on tracks 3 (The Saw is the Law), 8 (Psychopathy), 9 (Blacked Out), 10 (Diggs Road, both solos) and 11 (A Process So Familiar).

Gear-wise, i used my green swirled Ibanez RG7421 on all of them*, loaded with the Dimarzio D Sonic 7 in the bridge and Air Norton 7 in the neck. I played through a Kemper Profiler, using one of Mark Lewis’ awesome profiles of his personal Marshall JCM800. Added a little delay and reverb on the Kemper, and thats it.

Hope you all enjoy!

* i also used one of Ben Savage’s signature ESP BS7 guitars for a single dive bomb on Psychopathy! 

The Joy of Motion by Animals as Leaders. Review time!

•04/04/2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been a fan of Animals as Leaders ever since i first heard their debut album several years ago. Like everyone else, i probably heard of them first because Misha Mansoor of Periphery helped produce and write their early material. Since then, i’ve followed the band and studied their guitar work a fair bit, and had the pleasure of hanging out with the guys in the band (super nice dudes, by the way). Tosin and i even talked about getting a swirl going a while back, but that project has been on the back burner for a while!

Anyway, i enjoyed the first album, and i LOVED their softmore release Weightless, so i’ve been anxiously awaiting their 3rd release as a band. Whenever the first 2 singles were released (“Tooth and Claw” and “Lippincott”), i feared the band had ceased growth and was happy to stay within the tracks they had laid down already. I bought the album on iTunes last week and have been listening to it since then. Gotta say, i’m more than pleased with Joy… i think its their best album yet. This album is the clearest picture yet of what this band is going for with their sound, and shows an incredible amount of growth, especially for a band that is just a couple years old.

The guitar playing is killer throughout the album. Tosin’s early solos sometimes came across to me as a guy trying to prove his skills to the world rather than someone writing a solo that will enrich the song as a whole. This album features his most tasteful playing yet, with way more expressive bends and vibrato than what we are used to hearing from him, as well as some face melting licks too. He even busts out a few minor pentatonic/blues scale licks in there, and they sound great! I’m not exactly sure what all songs Javier Reyes plays leads on, but its my understanding that he has solos on a handful of the songs too. I kinda feel bad that guy doesn’t get the attention he deserves! He’s a fantastic player, clearly.

The guitar thump/slap technique that has become a trademark of the band is used very heavily on this album. From what it sounds like, both of the guys have gotten WAY more proficient at the technique since Weightless! Everything sounds extremely powerful and punchy now, and every note is very articulate, even in the fast passages. It also sounds like they’ve gotten so in tune with the technique that they no longer feel obligated to write super complex riffs utilizing it; songs like Physical Education feature riffs that are made up of just 2 or 3 different notes. Overall i would say it sounds a lot more organic than it used to, and it has become a natural extension of both guitarists’ playing and writing rather than a “trick”.

The guitar tone is fantastic. I wasn’t a fan of the tone on their self-titled release, and Weightless had a handful of moments that i wasn’t into tone-wise; a lot of the guitars were super dry-sounding, and sometimes got over-edited or clamped down too tightly with a noise gate. Joy’s tones are wonderful. Enough gain to make them sound aggressive, but not so much that it lacks clarity or needs an ultra tight gate to make it usable. And the clean tones are heavenly too. I’m thinking stocks in Fractal Audio gear, Ibanez, and Dimarzio pickups are going to see a notable increase soon.

The guitar tones also get a textural lift thanks to the nifty synth work throughout the songs. Sometimes the keyboard parts will be something very obvious, but on other tracks (like “Crescent”), it simply doubles the guitar part, adding some additional clarity, body, and color to the tone. I’ve heard a few people criticize the synth use and tones, but i’m personally a huge fan and hope they do more in the future. But i’m a sucker for synth.

The drum tones are also MUCH improved from the band’s first 2 albums. I flat out didn’t like the drum sound on self-titled… Weightless was better, but still not quite there (that kick drum will cut your face off!). Joy’s tones are a lot more natural-sounding, but still very tight and punchy. Honestly i would be happy if they were even more natural, especially with a beast like Matt beating on them! They sound great during the heavier moments on the album, but a little stiff on the softer jazzier tunes like “Another Year”. Minor complaint though, they still sound good and Garstka would make even the crappiest drum tones tolerable with his killer playing.

Will you like it? Are you okay with the band doing several songs that could barely be called metal? Are you okay with Tosin NOT shredding your face off every chance he gets? Are you okay with a touch of synth in the mix? Are you okay hearing the band pull even more jazz, fusion, funk, and world music influences into their sound? If so, you’ll probably dig it. If you were never a fan of the band to begin with, i doubt this one will turn you around. Its still VERY much Animals as Leaders! In fact, its the most Animals as Leaders album yet. Very happy to see how successful this band is doing, and i’m already looking forward to whatever they do next. Great job guys!