Mercuriall Tube Amp Ultra 530 Review

Mercuriall Tube Amp Ultra 530 Review

I’ve reviewed a couple of Mercuriall products now so I thought it was time to take a look at the Tube Amp Ultra 530. This plugin is based on the ENGL E530 preamp. It’s an interesting choice so have Mercuriall captured the magic of the popular metal preamp? Continue reading →

Posted by Mark Smith in Gear
Joey Sturgis Tones Toneforge Misha Mansoor Review

Joey Sturgis Tones Toneforge Misha Mansoor Review

When Joey Sturgis Tones teamed up with Misha Mansoor, they created one of the hottest plugin releases of the year. Developed by JST and Misha to get his signature guitar sounds, it has proven to be a hugely successful plugin. Let’s take a look and see why it’s so popular. Continue reading →

Posted by Mark Smith in Gear
IK Multimedia Amplitube Slash Review

IK Multimedia Amplitube Slash Review

Very few guitarists are as iconic as Slash, so it’s only fitting for one of the biggest names in virtual amps, IK Multimedia, to create a signature collection based on the great man’s rig. The AmpliTube Slash Collection includes 2 amplifiers, 6 effects and 2 cabinets, all designed to give you the classic Slash tones in one easy to use package. Continue reading →

Posted by Mark Smith in Gear
The Simple Guide To Social Media For Musicians

The Simple Guide To Social Media For Musicians

Social media gives all musicians a great way to reach millions of new fans from all over the world. Unfortunately, many people don’t use it properly and completely fail to take advantage of it.

Meet Musician Bob

Bob is a musician. His band play some local clubs and have recorded an album. He posted about it on social media but there hasn’t been much interest in it. He knows the local bars are where the music lovers tend to hang out so he decides to visit one of them to generate some interest.

Bob walks into the bar and proudly holds up a photo of the album cover. He shouts out loudly, “Hey guys, our new album is available on Spotify” and walks out. A couple of people turn around and glance in Bob’s direction before returning to their conversations. Bob walks out, unsure of why people aren’t excited about the album.

He decides to call in again a few days later at a different time. “Hey, our new album is out. Download it today”. The reaction is the same. Bob can’t understand it. Why don’t people care?

The following week he decides to check the streaming stats. Nothing has changed. Maybe he should try again? Someone will take notice at some point, won’t they? It’s a really good album.

He sets off for the bar again. As he walks in he starts to take the photo out of his pocket before changing his mind. Nobody cares so why should he bother? He decides to have a drink while he is there. He pulls up a stool at the bar and orders a drink. He can’t help overhearing a conversation a couple of guitarists are having next to him about mic placement on speaker cabinets. They sound a little inexperienced so he decides to offer them some advice as it’s something he knows a lot about. The guitarists are grateful for the advice and ask how he knows so much about it. He tells them he’s in a band and spent a while trying to get the perfect guitar sound while he was recording his latest album. “Cool, I’d love to hear what it sounds like.” says one of the guitarists, so Bob tells them how to find it on Spotify, finishes his drink and goes home.

The next day, Bob is passing the bar so decides to call in for a drink. “Hey Bob!” he hears as he sits down. It was one of the musicians he was speaking to the previous day. “I checked out your album last night, it’s great. We tried out your suggestions for mic placement too and they really helped. You certainly know your stuff. I’m here with a bunch of friends if you want to come over and chat.”

Bob stayed for a couple of hours before heading home. He’d really enjoyed talking to some new people about music and a few of them had asked about his album. He’d promised to meet a couple of them at the weekend.

It was Saturday night and as Bob walked into the bar he was approached by a guy he didn’t know. “Hi”, you’re the music guy aren’t you?” asked the young man. “Erm, yes” said Bob, looking slightly confused. “I saw you in here a couple of days ago talking to some people about guitar tones. I’m a guitarist and I’m really struggling to get my new amp to sound right. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind giving me some advice?”. Bob sat down with him for ten minutes and helped him as much as he could before joining his new friends for a few drinks, a bit of music talk and a good night.

This carried on for the next month. Bob became a regular in the bar and would always end up talking to new people. It didn’t take long to gain a reputation as a really helpful guy with a lot of knowledge about music. If anyone had a guitar problem, Bob was the guy to go to. People looked forward to talking to him and people would ask where he was if he hadn’t called in on one of his regular days. Most of them had heard his album by now and some had recommended it to other people.

Bob had a gig coming up so the next time he was at the bar he handed out some leaflets and told his new friends he’d love to see them there. Some of them took extras so they could hand them out too.

Show night arrived and as Bob walked out onto the stage he couldn’t believe how packed the club was. This was the biggest show the band had played and they were greeted by a huge cheer. Bob looked out at the audience and everywhere he looked he could see faces he recognised. His new bar buddies were out in force. They all wanted to support their new friend, Bob.

It’s Called Social Media For A Reason!

You probably won’t be surprised by what happened to Bob. He was never going to get anywhere by shouting to a room full of strangers and holding up a photo. By joining in conversations, being helpful and becoming part of the community, Bob quickly found people who wanted to hear his music and support him with it. Social media is exactly the same!

Posting the odd photo and announcement won’t get you anywhere. If you want to gain a following you need to be sociable. Don’t just shout about what you are doing, start conversations. When people reply, talk to them. When you see other conversations taking place, join in. If someone needs advice with something you know about, help them out as much as you can. People start to take notice of you, and not just the ones you’re talking to directly. Others will keep seeing your name and see how you take the time to help people out.

All of the social media channels are huge but communities naturally form based on common interests. Establish yourself as part of one of these communities and you no longer need to shout for attention. People will want to know what you’re up to and because they feel like they know you they’ll actually take notice.

I’m always amazed by how many bands I see trying to promote themselves the way Bob did at first. After a while, they simply disappear because it doesn’t work. You wouldn’t do it like that in real life so don’t do it on social media. Simply think of it as a bar. Hang out and become part of the community. Talk to people who share your interests and have fun. You’ll be amazed at how many people start following you if you take this approach. They’ll be loyal followers you actually know too, not just numbers.

Try it out yourself and let me know how you get on after a month.

Posted by Mark Smith in Guitar Musings
Solar Guitars A1.6ET WHM Review

Solar Guitars A1.6ET WHM Review

Solar Guitars have been making a bit of a splash recently. The man behind them, Ola Englund, will be known to many of you as the guitarist from The Haunted, Feared and a YouTube sensation. Having split from Washburn in 2017 he created his own brand, Solar Guitars and put his years of experience into creating to the perfect guitars for modern metal.

Has he been successful? There’s only one way to find out… Continue reading →

Posted by Mark Smith in Gear
How Many Guitars Do I Need?

How Many Guitars Do I Need?

It’s an age-old question. Is there such a thing as too many guitars?

I’ll be honest, I find it a tough question to answer. Mainly because I always seem to want another. I’ll be feeling pretty happy with the guitars I have, then I’ll suddenly start visiting guitar websites and looking at different models.

Continue reading →

Posted by Mark Smith in Guitar Discussion
What Kind Of Guitar Tuner Should I Buy?

What Kind Of Guitar Tuner Should I Buy?

Whether you're just starting out, or have been gigging for 30 years, a guitar tuner is one of the most essential bits of kit you can own.

There are different kinds of tuners available and they all suit different setups and budgets so let's take a look at the main kinds.

korg tuner

The Standard Chromatic Tuner

There doesn't seem to be a name for this kind form of tuner other than a chromatic tuner. This is the basic kind of tuner many beginners buy as their first tuner.

Simply plug in, or use the microphone if you're tuning your acoustic guitar and tune.

The [amazon_textlink asin='B01NCIYQEV|B01NCIYQEV' text='Korg GA-2' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='32ab1ae3-707c-11e8-8451-e546b825b5e5'] is a great example of this kind of tuner. Simple and it gets the job done accuratley.

This kind of guitar tuner is great to use at home.

clip on guitar tuner

The Clip-On

Now I Must admit, I was sceptical about clip-on tuners for a long time. I thought they were a bit of a gimmick. Then someone gave me one as a gift and it totally changed my mind. They simply clip on to the guitar's headstock and have a small display to show everything you need to tune correctly. Some of the cheaper ones aren't so great but a decent version is still far from expensive and they work really well.

I actually have a few of these now and keep them in different rooms so I always have one around if I'm going to play unplugged. I also keep one in my guitar case as a backup for gigging.

[amazon_textlink asin='B004VVFZHW|B004VVFZHW' text='Korg clip-on guitar tuner' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='0c053c4c-707e-11e8-a6e0-e3416fcf1b65']



Pedal Tuners

If you are a gigging guitarist then there's a good chance a pedal tuner is the first part of your pedalboard. This is one pedal you really don't want to skimp on. Buy a good one and it will last for many years and you'll never have an excuse for being out of tune at a gig.

The [amazon_textlink asin='B004D8KX7K|B004D8KX7K' text='Boss pedal tuners' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='49b5aac0-707f-11e8-b686-5f93584f4b08'] have been the industry standard for years. They are robust and work well. More recently, pedals such as the [amazon_textlink asin='B0015RIN6U|B0015RIN6U' text='Korg Pitchblack' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='aa143b4c-707f-11e8-925a-e793491647e1'] and [amazon_textlink asin='B06Y4G7NQD|B06Y4G7NQD' text='TC Electronics Polytune' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='908717e1-707f-11e8-8daa-e7e5088c06f8'] have become well used alternatives. Check them all out and see which one fits your needs best.

rack mount tuner

Rack Mount Tuners

The other option for the gigging or studio guitarist is the rack mounted tuner. They have a bigger display so they can show how well in tune you are more accurately. Obviously, the main reason for choosing a rack mounted tuner is if you use a rack for other effects or your pre and power amp.

The [amazon_textlink asin='B00F0GPTRS|B00F0GPTRS' text='Korg Pitchblack Pro' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='3dca4c05-7081-11e8-9705-e9e5ae3f3485'] is a very good choice but if you have the budget you should look at [amazon_textlink asin='B000MSWT22|B000MSWT22' text='Peterson Strobe Tuners' template='ProductLink' store='uk125|us125' marketplace='UK|US' link_id='4d33c2c8-7081-11e8-bc6c-e31ec1c14217'] for the ultimate accuracy.

Posted by Mark Smith in Gear
5 Ways Your Social Life Will Improve By Learning To Play The Guitar

5 Ways Your Social Life Will Improve By Learning To Play The Guitar

Playing the guitar has huge social benefits.

Don't believe me? Read on

Jam Time

If your social life is lacking then turning up at a jam night is the perfect antidote. You'll find yourself in a room full of like-minded people who will become instant friends. Nothing brings people together like music so a room full of strangers instantly become buddies.

Form A Band

Forming a band takes things a step further. If you find the right people you

Read More

Posted by Mark Smith in Guitar Discussion