Posts Tagged ‘guitar scale magnets’

Wow… That’s usually first – and only – thing I can say when having a visceral reaction to an experience. And a visceral experience was exactly what happened when I finally got my guitar set up for last night’s gig. After I played the first song, I had to pause for several seconds soaking in the tones that the combination of my Simon & Patrick PRO guitar and the Duncan MagMic produced. I already had a good idea of the dynamics of the pickup and how well it worked with my guitar, having had a few days before my gig to record with it. But until I actually gigged with it, I really didn’t know how it would perform in a live situation; especially in a room with a 25-30-foot vaulted ceiling.

It was not without its challenges. The sound system at the restaurant I work with is total shit. The board is going on the fritz and I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to play last night! But the gig gods were smiling upon me and just when I was about to pack it in and go home, I tweaked something on the board and it started working. Whew!

When I got my nerves settled with a few deep breaths and a long drink of water, I started my first song: “You’ve Got a Friend.” I felt that it would be a good song to start with because with any JT song (I know, it was written by Carole King), the fingerpicking patterns are sophisticated as JT plays a bass line in addition to a hybrid claw-hammer technique. I’m not nearly as adept at it as he is, but I tend to do the same. So with that song, I knew that I’d get the full presentation what the guitar/pickup combination had on offer.

Having moved to a dreadnought from an OM, I was concerned that the bass would be a bit boomy. It was not. It was certainly deep as I expected from a big-body guitar, but not at all over-powering. Another thing I was concerned about was not losing the shimmery highs my guitar naturally produces. But here’s where the MagMic really performs. The condenser mic is tuned to focus on mid-highs to highs. In fact, I had to roll off the condenser level a bit to subdue the highs. The sweet spot that I discovered leading up to the gig was setting the condenser level about 90%. This setting translated incredibly well to a live situation.

Another thing that had me wondering about the MagMic was the lack of an EQ. I’ve had the luxury of an onboard EQ in all my acoustic-electric guitars up to this point. But I found that with the higher-end, third-party pickups that none of them have that feature, as they’re designed to pick up the natural tone of your guitar; which kind of says you better have a good-sounding guitar in the first place before you install one of these babies… But as I mentioned above about the condenser mic’s focus on the high-mids and highs, adjusting its level is much like adjusting a treble knob. But it’s no problem in any case, as instead of setting EQ on my guitar, I can just set it on the amp.

With respect to the guitar itself, besides the larger size, I’ve had to contend with the absence of a cutaway, which makes playing notes above the 12th fret a little challenging. But it’s not undoable. I just make adjustments and play on a different part of the neck. The neck width is also much wider than my Yamaha, but this is also not a bad thing as it forces me to put my left hand and arm in the proper playing position. I certainly can’t be lazy with my posture with this guitar. 🙂

The other thing about the guitar is that it is naturally loud. It was built to project volume from the soundboard. So I definitely had to find the right balance between volume level and attack. Plus, the MagMic picks up pretty much everything with the guitar. In contrast, my Yamaha APX900 and its electronics are very mid-range focused. But with my S&P PRO, the audio content is so much more complex and robust. Combined with the MagMic’s sensitivity, it forced me to be very aware of how I was playing to the point where I felt some of the songs I played were a bit mechanical, or I was concentrating so much on the guitar that I’d mess up some words. 🙂 I’m confident that once I get everything dialed in I’ll be able to relax a lot more.

I do have to say that I love playing a dreadnought. My very first “real” acoustic guitar was an old Yamaha FG-335 dreadnought. When I moved to smaller body guitars, I missed the full sound. And now that I back to a big body guitar, I’m loving it! But the S&P PRO takes the sound to a completely new level. To think that it sat in a shed for 15 years prior to me getting it – and to sound this good still – is incredible to me.

I did a minor setup on the guitar when I got it to straighten out a slight bow in the neck. But after last night’s gig, I’m probably going to have the action lowered a couple of millimeters. It’s not that it’s super high, but it’s higher than I like and playing a 4-hour gig, it takes a toll on the fingers. I suppose I could go with lighter gauge strings (I’m playing 12-54), but I’m not sure I want to sacrifice the resonance I get with the thicker strings just to make it easier to play. Oh well, there’s always a tradeoff somewhere. 🙂

Okay… so very first gig complete, and it was a total success! I absolutely LOVE the MagMic.

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Click on the picture to see the magnets.

Guitar Scale Magnets – Major Scale Strips
Summary: Great “cheat sheet” for learning where the various major scale modes start on the fretboard. Very convenient, and very easy to install!

Pros: Magnetic base strip attaches easily to the side of your fretboard. The strips provide a superb way to visualize the starting point of the major scale boxes.

Cons: Just a nit, but only available for 25.5″ scale guitars. Not a really big deal as that’s pretty much a standard. Of course, I have different scale lengths, but they fit my Tele perfectly!


  • Base strip has a very weak adhesive that sticks to the side of the neck, but will not peel varnish.
  • Magnetic strips are made of the same material as those “refrigerator stickers.” They’re pliable and very easy to use.
  • Major scale strips include all keys from C to B.
  • Includes scale charts for all modes. Very handy.
  • Comes with a convenient storage tube for storing the strips when you’re not using them.
  • Great way to visualize the modal starting points in any key.

Price: ~$19.99 plus $5.00 S&H

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I’m a very visual learner, and having visual cues helps me learn much more effectively.

I’m not much of a guitar theoretician, not because of not wanting to be, but simply because with my busy lifestyle, having the time for academic pursuits is limited. So for my learning, I rely on tools and videos that will help me learn concepts quickly as opposed to traditional step-by-step methods that dissect the concepts into chunks. It may not be the best method of learning, but it’s all I have. But besides that, I’m also a very visual learner, and definitely a learn-by-doing type of guy. So if I can get my hands on something that will give me visual cues, my learning experience is much more valuable to me.

Enter Guitar Scale Magnets. One of the things I’ve been wanting to learn for awhile is modal theory. It has always interested me, but I’ve never seemed to have the time to really sit down to learn it – nor did I have the funds to take lessons (I spend it all on gear). So when I found out about Guitar Scale Magnets, I was immediately intrigued, and asked Jason Ellestad, the inventor of the guitar scale magnets to send me a set of major scale magnets to review.

In a word, these things are awesome! Made of the same magnetic material as those flexible “fridge” magnets – but not at thick – the magnets provide a very convenient way to learn the major scale modes by giving you visual cues of the starting points. Of course, you still have to learn the patterns, but you get the patterns on a couple of 8.5 X 11 sheets that you can tape to your wall for reference. Not bad for $19.99.

To attach magnets to the side of your fretboard, Jason provides step-by-step instructions. But you don’t even need the instructions. The base strip, of course, has no markings on it, so it’s easy figure out that it’s the base. It also has a weak adhesive that’s tacky enough to stick to your fretboard, and stay in place as you play, but not strong enough that it’ll peel your varnish. Once you have it in place, it’s just a simple matter of finding the key you want to practice, and laying it on top of the base strip. Each key is color-coded to show you the starting points for each mode. Click on the picture above to see an enlarged version of what they look like.

I won’t belabor how useful I’ve found these to be. I’m just going to recommend that you try them out. Jason has three types of strips available: Major Scale, Pentatonic Scale, and Learn the Fretboard/Tab strips. So if you need some visual cues for learning your scales, Magnetic Scale Strips are a great tool! For you teachers out there, I think these would be invaluable to give to your students to help them learn and practice in conjunction with your curricula.

For more information, go to the Guitar Scale Magnets site!

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Wow! Two days in a row, and yet another e-mail received from a reader, and yet another pretty cool idea. This time, it’s from Guitar Scale Magnets located in Houston, TX. These help players learn scales by attaching a magnetic strip to the bass side of the fretboard. The premise is that learning guitar is a visual as well as tactile and aural experience, and having a visual cue as to where you should place your fingers in relationship to a particular scale will help you learn faster. Interesting indeed. Here’s a picture of the pentatonic scale strips:

There are 12 strips representing each note in an octave, so you can learn the five pentatonic box shapes in any key! Cool! Each strip is attached to the guitar via a “base” strip of magnetically receptive material (not metal) tape. The tape has a weak adhesive, to stick enough to stay in place, but not damage your finish. In any case,  very ingenious idea!

At this point, only 25 1/2″ scale length strips are available, but according to the manufacturer, slight variations won’t throw the strip off much.

Personally, I wish I had these strips for when I was learning guitar. I just memorized the box shapes, then learned how to connect them through osmosis. But if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve invested in stuff like this to help get me started! For you teachers out there, you might consider getting a few sets of these – you can pass the cost of them to your students. But then again, that might shorten the time it takes to teach your students to play the guitar. 🙂 Seriously though, if my teacher provided me with stuff like this, it would make learning a helluva lot easier!

For more information, go to the Guitar Scale Magnets web site!

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