Posted in Manny's Music Column, The Publications

P 90’s; why I love them, and why you ought to try them.

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A P 90 pick up is an electro magnetic pickup that was designed for installation in Gibson’s 1948 ES-300*. They are characterized by several traits, having a single coil cut combined with traditional humbucker warmth, hum in both the neck and bridge positions(hum cancelling in the middle), and having the kind of output to really push a tube amp into a proper overdriven (not distorted) tone.

My introduction to P 90’s happened when I went to the Berklee summer guitar program a while back, my roommate had a 1956 Gibson Gold top Reissue that I had the pleasure of trying out for a short while, while not a fan of Gibson scale length this guitar was pretty well set up and played beautifully. Hearing how my friends pickups responded when plugged in, and the warmth and presence that this guitars electronics had simply blew me away!

Fast forward to 2012 (ish), around a week or so after I had acquired one of my favourite T style guitars, and in the same shop where I acquired that T style guitar I see a white Fender TC-90, an oddity among their usual sort of guitars. It was wired with a set of Seymour Duncan P 90’s and I was immediately hooked! I had to sadly let this one go, but I found another TC-90 in vintage white years later. When I got around to using it for my live shows, as well as for recording, I found that the pickups had a special way of pushing an amplifier into a overdriven gain stage, and getting some very delicious tones out of my rig.

* By 1940, Gibson introduced the first in a series of new and improved electric guitar pickups, culminating in 1946 with the P-90, a powerful single-coil design with two Alnico III magnets (aluminum, nickel and cobalt) and individually adjustable polepieces. In 1948 Gibson put two pickups on the ES-300 model, giving guitarists a broad new palette of tones to choose from. http://www.gibson.com/en-uk/Divisions/Gibson%20Gear/Pickups/History/

Posted in Manny's Music Column, The Publications

The blues: why does feeling low feel so good?

In honor of the passing of the great late B.B. King I thought it fitting to start my contribution to this wonderful page with a reflection on a visceral topic; why the blues feel so good! My exposure to blues music occurred at a pivotal time of my life, the angst ridden era of adolescence. There may be no better soundtrack to the flux of hormones one experiences at this phase of their lives. The blues being historically born from suffering, and being the result of having a musical outlet for such suffering makes for great synergy with the experiences of the average teen.

There is a magic in the blues; turning deep-rooted sadness into a beautiful piece of music and poetry. This is why when I listen to the blues there is a sense of absolute joy in the experience, a visceral release of whatever sadness would be affecting me at that point in my life. Entering the realm of performing this music, adds another layer to the experience, not only could I partake in the experience of the writer of whichever standard I would be playing, but the improvisational nature of this music made it possible for me to actually be creative within that context. It became very much like finding my inner voice, a way to communicate without the need for words, even leading me to my own voice as a singer. Furthermore, the experience of jamming with a group of strangers (and well I might add) with whom you share a love for blues/jazz/rock, but  all share different experiences from life, and how long they have experienced life; for that matter.

Blues music at its core is the pinnacle of catharsis, taking every sadness one has experienced and translating it into music and lyrics that embody ones pain and sorrow, yet manifest itself into an expression that is akin to joy and freedom, a release from ones burdens; even if it it’s for only a bittersweet moment.