Gig Bag: The latest must-have gear
The newest cases, bags, pedals and books
Benedetto Gig Bag
The Benedetto Gig Bag by Levy’s may be light and simple in its construction but don’t let that fool you: This is a bag worthy of the luthier’s legendary handcrafted archtops. The no-nonsense polyester bag features one-inch, multi-layered, triple-density foam padding with end-pin suspension, nylon lining plus polyester bridge and string protection, leather handles, backpack-style shoulder straps, an adjustable neck cushion and an accessories pouch embroidered with the Benedetto logo. Grab one for your Bambino or Benny model guitars.
We’ve all heard the horror stories: A vintage Les Paul slips out of its ancient case, smacking the cement and shattering its mortgage-paying resale value. An airline treats a priceless Tele like a Samsonite full of underwear, breaking the guitar’s neck just below the headstock. Kaces’ newly redesigned hardshell wood cases for electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitars are built to combat damage. Featuring five-ply wood construction, plenty of storage, a durable PVC outside covering, a padded interior and a wide neck cradle, they ensure superior protection and prevent horror stories.
New From Mel Bay
Though it’s one of the oldest companies making and licensing jazz-education resources—dare we say it’s an institution—Mel Bay continues to release guides that address the needs of today’s post-genre improvisers. One of those is the book/DVD set On the Outside Looking Out: 5-String Banjo Beyond Bluegrass by Leon Hunt, an Englishman inspired to take his picking to alternative genres after hearing Béla Fleck’s Crossing the Tracks. In straightforward, good-humored prose and clean tablature, Hunt covers general concepts (how to practice smart, advice on groove and dynamics) and homes in as well (improvising on banjo on Django’s “Nuages,” choosing proper amplification).
Speaking of Django, another recent Mel Bay publication delves into the style of Reinhardt’s right-hand man, violinist Stéphane Grappelli. In Grappelli Licks: The Vocabulary of Gypsy Jazz Violin, Tim Kliphuis aims to give capable fiddlers an arsenal of Grappelli-style licks with which they can capture that inimitable gypsy-jazz sound. Transposable “Universal” licks are deconstructed, as are key-specific licks, useful breaks and endings, and more. An included CD features demonstrations as well as play-along solos and backing tracks for tunes like “Shine” and “Honeysuckle Rose.”
When Ben Monder and John Stowell have blurbs on the back of a theory book, you know it’s serious business. The latest edition of Julio Herrlein’s Combinatorial Harmony: Concepts and Techniques for Composing and Improvising, first published in 2011, contains information that is useful for all instruments, but as a resource for modern guitarists it’s unparalleled. Think of this 311-page tome (with CD) as a Mel Bay’s Modern Guitar Method for the Kurt Rosenwinkel set. It essentially explains and maps out more interval cycles and chord voicings than you’ll likely ever need, along with advanced pentatonic exercises, instruction on building chord progressions and information on experts-only concepts like “combinatorial” voice leading. This is not a guide for weekend-warrior players; but if you’ve ever transcribed Allan Holdsworth, go for it.
DigiTech Whammy (5TH GEN)
When the most influential living jazz guitarist, Jim Hall, uses an effects pedal, you take note. We certainly did at the Blue Note in 2007, when Hall smacked his DigiTech Whammy pedal into action with his hand, turning his single-note lines into quirky, creative, orchestral statements. The Whammy has been a sonic fixture in rock, jazz and avant-garde settings for two decades now—just ask John Scofield or Nels Cline—and it’s easy to hear why: The pedal’s versatile stable of digital pitch-shifting effects offer sounds that are functional, funny or just plain wild—and without the tuning problems attached to guitar-based tremolo systems. Its latest and greatest incarnation, the “5th Gen,” includes a number of worthwhile revisions, among them a polyphonic mode for cleaner, more precise shifting of chords.