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Archive for the ‘jam track’ Category

Jam Center

Wow! Amazing what taking a few days off can do! I spent last weekend in Las Vegas deflating from the rigors of everyday life, and when I came back, made a conscious effort to play as little guitar or writing as possible. Sometimes you just need to take a break. But I’m back now, refreshed, restored, and fully recovered.

So yesterday, not feeling like writing any music – actually not feeling very creative at all – I just picked up my guitar and started noodling. Within a few minutes, I wanted to play to something, so I did a search on “jam tracks” and the first search result was a link to a place called Jam Center. Intrigued, I clicked the link and was taken to the site.

There really wasn’t much there; just a navigation bar on the left that listed “Jam Machine Keys.” I clicked the Key of A, the page reloaded and the following “machine” appeared on the page:

jamcenter_player

Cool, I thought, this looks really promising. I clicked on “COOL” and was rewarded with a nicely produced jam track. I slung my guitar and started playing… Two hours later, I still hadn’t gone through all the keys and all the jam tracks, I was enjoying myself so much!

Yeah, there are lots of different sites offering jam tracks out there, but what I like about this particular site is that instead of just playing MP3s in another tab or window that eventually end, the jam tracks are arranged in a loop, and not only that, many of the jam tracks have two different “feels” to them. Usually, the first part of a track will have a mellower feel, then jumping into the second half of the track, the feel gets more intense. Having this type of variation makes you play differently. So not only can you practice your technique, you can practice changing your tones and attack. What I found very useful with having two different feels to a track was it allowed me to practice switching pedals and pickup selections. How cool is that!

One thing I forgot to mention was that when you click on a style on the machine, text appears on the machine suggesting the type of scale to play like “A Harmonic Minor” or “E Blues.” It’s a small thing yes, but it’s cool to have a starting place. For instance, in one of the tracks, the suggestion came up with “A Mixolydian.” I’ve never been that much into modes and such, even though I’ve studied them, but as an interesting and added value, the site has some great graphic examples of the different modes.

I looked up “A Mixolydian” and was greeted with the pattern, and started playing the pattern over the jam track. That was really cool; a way to immediately use a mode over a piece of music, as opposed to having to intellectualize. What that sparked was using different modes starting with different tonics or root notes over the different keys. Some didn’t work at all, but it sure helped me understand how modes can open up a whole different world when jamming.

Anyway, check this site out. It’s a great tool!

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JamVOX Front View

JamVOX Front View

JamVOX User Interface

JamVOX User Interface

Even though I have some patterns and scales that I practice, I usually end up jamming to jam tracks that I either write myself or download. But I also like to jam to music from popular bands. The only problem with this is that the guitar parts are already printed, and it’s tough to jam over recorded stuff.

But VOX has just come out with the JamVOX, a jam and practice tool consisting of softare and a mini practice amp to play along with any MP3. The software apparently extracts the guitar part from any MP3, and you can rip away! I don’t think this is the first of its kind, but compared to the solutions I’ve seen in the past, this looks like it is the most well-integrated software/hardware solution to date. I’m definitely going to check it out as soon as I can! Here are the features from the VOX site!

  • Revolutionary new GXT (Guitar XTracktion) function lets you cancel or extract the guitar part of an existing song.
  • 19 famous guitar amps and 54 effect units ranging from vintage to modern are provided as software.
  • Easy-to-use “drag and drop” interface enables guitarists to create their “dream guitar rig” without any advanced knowledge of amps or effects. Sound famous fast!
  • A music player feature with convenient functions for jam sessions or practice.
  • Import music files to jam along with from your favorite CDs, music library or MP3 player.
  • A dedicated USB monitor speaker is included, and there’s no need for complex wiring or specialized knowledge of computer music.
  • Two guitar play-along CDs containing 28 famous rock classics.

Check out a few videos:

After watching the videos, I’m REALLY stoked about JamVOX!!! And at $249.00, it’s a great deal!!! Can’t wait to give it a whirl!

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When my son Bennie was tested and diagnosed with a form of Attention Deficit Disorder – the attention kind, not the hyperactivity kind – I realized that I had grown up with the same problem. Parents and teachers used to just call it “getting easily distracted.” I’d be doing something then someone or something would distract me, and I’d point my attention on the new thing. It was difficult, but I was able to compensate for it, and my attention deficit hasn’t really affected me too much. In fact, it has probably helped because my over-active mind switches gears – a lot – probably a huge reason I keep this blog up to date with new stuff at least five or six times a week. I’ll be doing some coding, then I’ll take a break to sniff around the web for new gear, and voila! A new article appears on the site! 🙂

Such was the case with this new Jam Track. I got the inspiration for a new song this morning, and laid down the main riff to a metronome. While experimenting with different rhythm parts, I ran across a really funky bassline, and it turned out to be perfect. Then I added some funky drums, layered on a walking double-stop run, pulled out the Goldtop and started to JAM!!! So here it is. You have about 6 and a half minutes to play! As with all my Jam Tracks, it’s best to loop the song so you can play ad infinitum.

Gear Used

Aracom 22 Watt Prototype  with 6V6’s – freakin’ awesome amp! (Sorry, can’t say any more at this time.)

Strat for both rhythm parts.

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I just dig it when I find a great guitar and amp combo! Featured in this Jam Track are the Saint Guitar Company Messenger Baritone and the Aracom Amps Custom 45R, both of which I’ve reviewed previously. (Messenger Review | Custom 45R Review). The Custom 45 has a really beefy low-end and a slight scooped tone, and the Messenger, while a baritone, has this incredibly bright-sounding voice. The two complement each other particularly well! Here’s the Jam Track:

You have just over 6 minutes to play around with this one. For the rhythm part, I used a fairly basic rock beat, but I also added some Latin drums underneath to take the edge off the heavy downbeat. And by the way, there’s no bass in this track at all. All of that is provided by the Messenger!

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I got so inspired by the Greg Howe video I posted here the other day, that I recorded a Jam Track to Sunny that I could jam to… I had A LOT of fun with this one… Check it out!

http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=96867

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http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=94586

Had another song idea, but thought I’d share the main riff as a Jam Track. It’s a slow ballad in A. I actually had a lot of fun with this, working between an A major scale and a F#m pentatonic then adding some diatonic runs as well. With this tempo (mm=84), you can play your solo fast or slow. It’s about 5 1/2 minutes long. Have fun!

Equipment: PRS SE Soapbar II, plugged into Fender Champ 600 amp. I used a Nady RSM-200 ribbon mic set about 8 inches away from the center of the speaker. It’s amazing how big the sound is! 🙂

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Just finished the complete song structure for what’s tentatively known as “Mr. Chunky” for the chunky twang rhythm part in the song. I’m looking for drums and bass for the song as I kind of “faked” it with audio loops for the drums and input the bass with MIDI. I posted a Jam Track earlier that was based on this song. If anything else, if you just want to jam, jam to this:

Anyway, here’s the completed song:

Guitars: PRS SE Soapbar II and Fender Stratocaster
Amp: Roland Cube 60 set to Tweed, gain about halfway up to provide some chunk without going over the top.

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