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  1. #51

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    The following performance, IMO, is great on various levels -- including overall band tightness, Vinnie Colaiuta, comedic elements provided by both Belushi and Zappa:

    Frank Zappa - John Belushi - Video dailymotion

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52
    Vai says in interviews that that man was a musical genius, and I think he was a self taught guy, which is pretty incredible by listening to the instrumental stuff he wrote and performed. I think it is hard to tell when he is jacking around and when he is serious with the lyrics.....

  4. #53

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    Hmmm...have you got a few hours?

    He was definitely a musical genius. I think he will be remembered in future generations for his compositional skills. (No I don't think he's on a level with Arvo Part, but IDK John Adams or Philip Glass vs Zappa? I'd pick Zappa.) I personally like his more band-oriented work (Uncle Meat, The Grand Wazoo) than his pure orchestral stuff, but it's all top notch.

    As a bandleader he is unparalleled in rock, if not jazz, though even there he would be a strong contender. The Brecker Brothers, Ruth Underwood, George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Vinnie Colaiuta, etc. Not to mention non-jazz guitarists Steve Vai and Adrian Belew.

    I appreciate the depth of his songwriting. My favorites are the mid-late 70's fusion albums like Apsotrophe, Overnight Sensation, Live at the Roxy, etc. Brilliant, brilliant lyrical and musical composition.

    Now the humor and philosophy--this is what sticks in people's craws and makes it difficult to appreciate Zappa the artist. First of all he was a libertarian. Unlike Ayn Rand, he had a sense of humor. He was a political satirist who loved poking fun at those in power. He was a scatologist along the lines of Hieronymous Bosch and Rabelais.

    I found his later political stuff to be not very funny and dated by now. On the other hand, Joe's Garage has touches of brilliance, IMHO.

    The only way to appreciate him is the way you would appreciate a big, overstuffed but awesome hamburger. Just take a huge bite out of the middle, savor all the different flavors, and work your way from one end to the other.

    My advice would be to listen to Overnight Sensation about a gazillion times, work backwards to the beginning then go forward from there. In a couple of weeks you'll have a better appreciation of Frank Zappa.

  5. #54

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    Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar. That made me want to play my ass off even more ... and I'd already spent years trying to learn Satriani when I discovered those albums. Complex and melodic, and intensely moody.

    I don't like everything Frank did, but goddamnit, when he was on, he was on.

  6. #55

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    Grand Wazoo (entire album) but give this track in particular a listen:


  7. #56

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    zappa's oeuvre is so large & varied, it's difficult to just write him off completely...he was not a jazzer...tho he had some jazz players on his recordings and was part of that 60's free jazz scene.... but he was really old school doo-wop (east l.a.teen groups) and raw guitar blues (guitar slim) mixed with contemporary classical (edgard varese)..that's quite a large area!!!

    and he was a very dedicated and hard worker...lived music

    something in there for everyone...dig harder

    cheers

    ps- a short little piece

    Last edited by neatomic; 12-27-2018 at 11:29 PM. Reason: ps-

  8. #57

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    Lots of Frank fans here! Some of its just goofy, some is wonderful, but there's a lot of fun -- so enjoy!




  9. #58

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    His second hand impact is huge if you consider how much influence he had on Steve Vai and the subsequent impact Vai has had on every new guitar player since.

    I got into Frank as a teenager because it was funny and sexual and deviant and downright lewd. I stayed as an adult and dug deeper just for the sheer artistry and mastery of the craft that he displayed in all areas from musicianship to production. I also think he wrote some brilliant music and played a mean guitar.

    Who besides Frank could go on the cover of Guitar Player magazine wearing a Strat torched by Jimi Hendrix and not come off looking like a real twat?

  10. #59

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    More jazz-influenced stuff:


  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry
    His second hand impact is huge if you consider how much influence he had on Steve Vai and the subsequent impact Vai has had on every new guitar player since.
    The appeal of Vai is a mystery to me, which in turn has caused me to doubt Zappa's judgement. I think Zappa was too enamoured of virtuosity, to the detriment of musicality. I believe there are many guitar players who have rejected the way of Vai, or who have never heard him, for which we can be grateful.

    Zappa's other failing was to believe he could be a modern composer like Varese. Unfortunately, Pierre Boulez shared this belief.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    Zappa's other failing was to believe he could be a modern composer like Varese. Unfortunately, Pierre Boulez shared this belief.
    I respect the gumption it takes to hold and pursue that belief more than I respect the play-it-safe, stay-in-your-box approach.

  13. #62

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    I have listened to FZ alot over the years some of his Music is better than others he did, My favorite LP is weasels rip my flesh he had alot of well known players on that LP If you want to here a straight type of song try Directly from my hart to you, for a rock type song My guitar wants to kill your Mama, or a typical FZ style OH No. Weasels Rip My Flesh

  14. #63

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    My first album of Zappa was Sheik Yerbuti, and it's still my favourite. The lyrics aspect, now that I understand English much better, is also important when listening to Zappa. Tunes like Bobby Brown Goes Down, man, I can't stop laughing any time I hear it, it's just brilliant!

    OTOH, his more jamming tunes from the earlier albums maybe don't affect me as much. Even though love his guitar tone and some solos are genius!

  15. #64

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    Two words: Lumpy Gravy.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    The appeal of Vai is a mystery to me,
    To each his own. I liked his earlier instrumental work better than when he started singing, but I still think he has moments of brilliance mixed with moments of utter pretentiousness.


    which in turn has caused me to doubt Zappa's judgement.
    What judgment? Hiring a sideman who could play practically anything he could throw at him? If you're interested in writing complex music, it seems like good judgment to hire such a person. Look at Chick Corea hiring Bill Evans and then Al Di Meola. He wanted a guitar player who could rival John McLaughlin.

    If you don't like the music, that's ok.



    I think Zappa was too enamoured of virtuosity, to the detriment of musicality.

    Fair enough. I think Zappa was a complex figure with an equally complex ego. But I happen to like the most of the music he came up with.


    I believe there are many guitar players who have rejected the way of Vai, or who have never heard him, for which we can be grateful.

    There have always been musicians who eschew technical/musical prowess in favor of other approaches. That's a good thing. Vai already does what Vai does. We don't need a hundred guitar players trying to sound like Vai. Of course, you're saying we don't even need Vai trying to sound like Vai.



    Zappa's other failing was to believe he could be a modern composer like Varese.

    I think Zappa's failing in this regard is thinking he could force himself onto the establishment without having the appropriate pedigree. He made a similar mistake trying to get into politics.



    Unfortunately, Pierre Boulez shared this belief.

    Boulez mangled Zappa's material beyond recognition. So I actually agree with you on that. Thankfully, the Ensemble Modern took his work seriously and played the music very well.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Two words: Lumpy Gravy.
    that will fly right past most folk, Lumpy Gravy is the some of most insanely melodic music written,

    people think fast 8ths & 16 ths are just it, if Bird or Bud had been around they would have loved it,

    in fact the Jazz players on LG all loved it ( not at first sight) difficult too read, only one pianist did not like it, soon too be replaced by a HOT pianist who said this is it.

    Even the straightest of passages swings as Debussy does funny how it not Jazz................

    ps those extended chords, mind you G Wazoo, swung like goblin too..........................

    Peace

  18. #67

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    keepin' it going here...



    (Not sure what the point was in bringing Vai up (Part 2) since as far as I can tell he was playing the same exact part as Dweezil. Maybe just for the facial expressions.)

  19. #68

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    vai was zappas human guitar synclavier...that's all...vai had automaton electric guitar chops..zappa liked that!..he wanted his music precise..why he went back and removed and overdubbed tracks on many of his "original recordings"..much to the chagrin of music /vinyl historians! hah..the zappa discography is a complicated affair

    zappa liked the youthful electric energy of the younger guys, vs the semi jaded satisfaction of the typical studio session players of the time (great as they were)....plus they were cheaper $$$!!! (zappa was always having budget problems) ...but those "kids" wanted to burn..kennedy, vai, bozzio, etc...zappa used them like a classical composer used great precise soloists in their day...many classical composers have written specific pieces for specific musicians...tradition


    having said all that..he basically lost me before that... by the mid 70's...dental floss tycoon -montana-had cool extended guitar solo (his) blowin pretty free in that jagged bluesy style he always liked..his idols were that!..but you can also understand why he turned to vai type precision!!

    solo starts abt 1:50 if you wanna cut to the chase




    cheers

  20. #69

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    Frank refused to be censored, but what many of us know is that very much of his musical product was just a way to finance his serious music. A money making scheme to allow him to make uncompromisingly personal art. The Mothers were employed and paid to rehearse, even when they weren't gigging/touring. That takes some loot.

  21. #70

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    Zappa's other failing was to believe he could be a modern composer like Varese. Unfortunately, Pierre Boulez shared this belief.[/QUOTE]

    Perhaps I don’t understand your point, but I don’t to see how FZ and Boulez failed to be ‘modern composers like Varese’.

    How so?

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Frank refused to be censored, but what many of us know is that very much of his musical product was just a way to finance his serious music. A money making scheme to allow him to make uncompromisingly personal art. The Mothers were employed and paid to rehearse, even when they weren't gigging/touring. That takes some loot.
    Oh yeah!

    It’s rare to find the same skill set in one person. Zappa certainly did a better job of balancing these aspects of his life than Mozart, probably the first composer to go freelance...

  23. #72

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    Lumpy Gravy PT1 or Pt2 and Brown shoes dont make it

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by rictroll
    Zappa's other failing was to believe he could be a modern composer like Varese. Unfortunately, Pierre Boulez shared this belief.
    Perhaps I don’t understand your point, but I don’t to see how FZ and Boulez failed to be ‘modern composers like Varese’.

    How so?


    I believe he was trying to say that Zappa thought himself capable of composing music of the style and quality of Varese, but that Zappa was no good at it. He then condemns Boulez for thinking Zappa was qualified to attempt composing that music.

  25. #74

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    This was my intro to Zappa (& George Duke Jean Luc Ponty too)...still sounds good to me.


  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry
    I believe he was trying to say that Zappa thought himself capable of composing music of the style and quality of Varese, but that Zappa was no good at it. He then condemns Boulez for thinking Zappa was qualified to attempt composing that music.
    I believe it is common courtesy to allow people to address the questions asked of them, rather than presuming to know the answers.

  27. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I believe it is common courtesy to allow people to address the questions asked of them, rather than presuming to know the answers.

    why be a jerk about it?

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I believe it is common courtesy to allow people to address the questions asked of them, rather than presuming to know the answers.
    Or not address them, apparently, for that matter.

  29. #78

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    wow! just talkin' about zappa is polarizing!!!..c'mon guys, frank would be crackin' up at this...


    one of fz's greatest productions..for burt ward-robin fame - of the original batman tv series

    truly twisted



    peace out

    cheers

  30. #79

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    I always thought he was one of the world's great one-chord soloists, as his love of the extended one-chord vamp showed. I've always thought playing bass in his band would be deadly boring during one of his many such solos. I myself walked out of one of his live concerts because of this.

    That said, his playing in a one-chord vamp was unbelievable, unpredictable, and unique. There was nobody like him.

    He was known to not take anything seriously but himself and didn't respond well to criticism.

    Note that I'm only talking about his guitar playing, not his composing.

    Jon

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by manleyman123
    why be a jerk about it?
    I was contributing to the discussion you started. But instead of being given the time to answer a question (I am in New Zealand so I was probably asleep when it was asked), someone else decides to presume the answer. And now you call me a jerk. So I am out of this discussion and I won't bother discussing anything with you again, jerk.

  32. #81

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    A new book on all of Zappa's recordings just came out. It was written by Charles Ulrich and it's called "The Big Note".
    Ulrich is on one of the online Zappa forums, and I contributed a little bit of research for it, so maybe he mentioned my name in the acknowledgements section.
    It took him 15 years to write the book, and covers more than 100 recordings that Zappa had some role in. It's 800 pages, and costs $39. I tried to order it for my local library, but they said it was too expensive.
    The Big Note | Charles Ulrich | Non-Fiction | Books | New Star Books Publisher, Vancouver British Columbia Canada, Newstarbooks, catalogue

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I believe it is common courtesy to allow people to address the questions asked of them, rather than presuming to know the answers.

    Well you probably won't see this as you claimed to be leaving the discussion. I didn't mean to upset you. Did I misinterpret your intended meaning? You're certainly free to point out if I got it wrong or add you're own response.

  34. #83

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    I had heard Freak Out! in the late '60s (and was dutifully "freaked out!"), but I didn't really get into Zappa until I heard Hot Rats!, I really dug Willie the Pimp. I then proceeded to get Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Weasels Ripped my Flesh, Chunga's Revenge, and The Mothers! Live at the Fillmore '71. That was the extent to which I got into Zappa, until I recently found out that Frank played a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster on the first 3 Mothers albums; the aforementioned Freak Out!, Abasolutely Free, and We're Only in it for the Money.

    I had Freak Out! and We're Only In It for the Money on CD, so I had to get Absolutely Free to complete the collection (which I did).

    This is what Frank said about his ES-5 Switchmaster:

    Frank Zappa’s Gibson ES-5 SwitchmasterZappa acquired his first Gibson, an ES-5 Switchmaster, in the mid-’60s. A large-bodied jazz guitar may have seemed an unusual choice for Zappa, but his formative influences were more blues/jazz and R&B than was later evident. “I used to like Johnny Guitar Watson, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, Guitar Slim (a.k.a. Eddie Jones), Matt Murphy,” he told Guitar Player magazine in 1977. Zappa was a self-taught musician, but he did learn much of his harmony and compositional skills with the aid of the renowned 1950s book, Mickey Baker’s Complete Course in Jazz Guitar. Zappa’s Gibson Switchmaster was the mainstay of his early recordings – he earned the money to buy it from writing soundtracks for the low-budget movies The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962) and Run Home Slow (1965) – and “I used it for about five years. I recorded the first three [Mothers of Invention] albums with that guitar.”Despite Zappa’s fondness for his Switchmaster, he struggled with it when he wanted to play with increasing distortion. “I used to really like that guitar,” Zappa told Downbeat. “It had a nice neck on it, but there was a real problem with uncontrollable feedback whenever I needed more amplification for larger halls. That’s common for hollow-bodies. A lot of people said, ‘Well, just stuff it with styrofoam and it won’t feedback so much,’ but I didn’t feel like doing that.”Zappa tried modifying the Switchmaster to meet his demands: extra switches were installed to fully-utilize its 3-pickup potential, but he still wanted something different. The mods were a bit ramshackle anyhow: after his father’s death, Dweezil Zappa conceded that none of the switches even worked anymore.

    “The [ES-5] hollow-body had a nice feel and I liked the tone of it,” Frank told
    Guitar Player
    in the ’70s, “but you could never use a fuzztone with it, and there was no way to tweeze it up and make it work. Remember, in those days there were no graphic equalizers or any other scientific equipment.” To make fuzz easier, Zappa retired the Switchmaster and replaced it with a Les Paul Goldtop in 1967.

    I had to get those first three Mothers albums to see what kinds of sounds Frank could get out of that guitar. Like I said before, the first album I really got into was Hot Rats!, so the first three Mothers albums are still pretty much new to me, and it is a very interesting adventure. I always loved what Frank could do with a guitar.

    Pics





















  35. #84

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    Zappa was a self-taught musician, but he did learn much of his harmony and compositional skills with the aid of the renowned 1950s book, Mickey Baker’s Complete Course in Jazz Guitar.

    Not exactly. He studied harmony at a junior college while he was a senior in high school. Piston's Harmony was the text. No doubt he probably learned the basic jazz chords out of the Baker book, but he wasn't really a self-taught musician and he certainly didn't learn "much of his harmony and compositional skill" from Baker's book.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Mother of All Interviews
    Did you learn by reading out of books on counterpoint and –
    No, I never studied counterpoint. I could never understand it. I hated anything with rules, except for 12-tone, because it was so simple-minded. It was as simple-minded as the idea of getting a pen and some paper and some Higgins ink and just drawing some music. But all the rules of counterpoint and what constitutes good counterpoint, I just couldn't force myself to do that, and I could barely make it through the harmony book, because all the formulas that you learn there sound so banal. Every time one of the exercises was presented, you would hear how the chords were supposed to resolve. All I could hear was the infliction of normality on my imagination. And I kept wondering why should I pollute my mind with this shit, because if I ever got good at it, I'd be out of business.


    When Charles Ives was at Harvard studying harmony he was going crazy the way you're describing, and he wrote home to his father, saying, "This guy wants me to resolve my chords better," and his father wrote him back and said, "Tell your professor some chords just don't want to resolve."
    Well, you can tell it to a professor if you have that kind of a relationship with a professor. I mean, I really didn't have professors. The harmony training I got was because I was an unruly senior in high school, and they gave me permission to take some harmony classes at the adjoining junior college. They figured that the reason why I was such a delinquent was because my mind wasn't occupied. So they let me take this course at the junior college while I was senior. The guy who was teaching it was a guy named Mr. Russell, who was a jazz trumpet player, and I don't think that he enjoyed harmony very much either, but that's what he was teaching. I could have said to him, "Hey, some chords shouldn't resolve." And he would probably say, "Yeah, but you'll get a D if you don't resolve them."


    What book did he give you? Was it Walter Piston's Harmony?
    Yeah, it was Piston.

    Quote Originally Posted by interview
    The standard theory that I know is really quite limited because I always found it quite boring. I got a hold of the Walter Piston harmony book when I was in high school and I went through some of the exercises in there. And I was wondering why a person would really want to devote a lifetime to doing this, because after you complete it you'll sound like everybody else who used the same rules. So I learned enough of the basic stuff so I got the concept of what harmony was supposed to do, what voice leading was supposed to do, how melody was supposed to function in a harmonic climate, what rhythm was supposed to do. I learned all of that and then chucked the rest of it

    While he's playing down any influence he might have gotten from studying Piston, he at least admits that this is where his concepts of the basic building blocks of music came from.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry
    Not exactly. He studied harmony at a junior college while he was a senior in high school. Piston's Harmony was the text. No doubt he probably learned the basic jazz chords out of the Baker book, but he wasn't really a self-taught musician and he certainly didn't learn "much of his harmony and compositional skill" from Baker's book.








    While he's playing down any influence he might have gotten from studying Piston, he at least admits that this is where his concepts of the basic building blocks of music came from.
    Interesting.

  37. #86

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    I have been listening to Zappa for 40 years. Just when I think I’ve heard everything or am “over” Zappa, I listen to more stuff and get fascinated again.

    Listening to the Laether recordings today and yesterday Little Dots (live 1972 recording). Genius stuff. A lot of it fits comfortably into the jazz fusion category, and some of the arrangements are extremely complicated and well above the average Maynard Ferguson big band arrangement.

    Guitar-wise, at times he slips into fuzz tone pedantry, but at his best he is idiosyncratic and brilliant. I particularly like his more “acoustic” sounding stuff, I.e., less processed sounds.

    Anyway thanks to recordings and now streaming music days and days and days of his music are available with a simple click.

  38. #87

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    My first encounter with Zappa was when I was around 10 years old walking down the road on a snowy winters day.

    A car full of teenagers went by and yelled, "Don't eat yellow snow!"

    Not until years later did I make the connection.

  39. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Probably the first jazz thing I ever heard. Love at first listen
    Well who am I to quibble with the master, but Zappa mostly stays in the background here except for a succinct, dirty guitar solo.

    It's my observation that his bands are at their most creative when he gets out of the way. Moreover, his best guitar solos are the shortest ones.

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Well who am I to quibble with the master, but Zappa mostly stays in the background here except for a succinct, dirty guitar solo.

    It's my observation that his bands are at their most creative when he gets out of the way. Moreover, his best guitar solos are the shortest ones.


    So you're saying you prefer his 20 minute guitar solos over his 40 minute guitar solos?
    .

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry
    So you're saying you prefer his 20 minute guitar solos over his 40 minute guitar solos?
    Yes, and his 10 minute solos are even better.

    Zappa is kind of like Clapton. When he goes in and makes a statement, it can be flipping awesome. It's hard to keep saying something interesting though when you're playing for 10 minutes.

    Zappa had a unique approach to soloing with a unique sound. He was very much a gearhead, and knew how to use distortion and feedback better than most, if not all, his peers.

  42. #91

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    zappa was an early user of then cutting edge tech...barcus berry piezo pickups..but he didnt use it under the saddle of his acoustic...what acooustic??

    he stuck it up on the headstock of his electric guitar...probably an sg at the time...he said he liked that it picked up some of the sound of his fingers against the fretboard...


    percussive!..

    cheers

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    zappa was an early user of then cutting edge tech...barcus berry piezo pickups..but he didnt use it under the saddle of his acoustic...what acooustic??

    he stuck it up on the headstock of his electric guitar...probably an sg at the time...he said he liked that it picked up some of the sound of his fingers against the fretboard...


    percussive!..

    cheers
    I wonder if that's how he got that funky twang on some of his songs with the Mothers--sounds acoustic, but it's rare to see him with an acoustic guitar, so I'm guessing it was one of these pickups on an SG or the Switchmaster.