Back in `81 Alvin Lee of the rock band Ten Years After released a studio solo album called RX5 featuring a gold robot playing an electric guitar in deep space. At the time album cover art was still hand painted and the notion of robots and guitars were simply an excerpt from the vivid imaginations of artists and science fiction afficionados. The hallowed album artist Roger Dean had created a trend of bio-cybernetics in his artwork fusing animal and machine in several of his pieces and perhaps this cover was an extension of this idea. If you want to hear some great Alvin Lee guitar playing it’s probably best to have a look at some of the Ten Years After material from the late 60`s.
Although a formidable live presence (see their legendary performance at Woodstock here) Ten Years After began as a jazz & blues, rock and roll fusion band that really made the most of Alvin Lee`s talented, energetic and idiosyncratic guitar style. I recommend the 1967 eponymous album Ten Years After, and Ssssh – if you can get the live at Steve Paul`s scene gig then even better.
What’s great about Alvin Lee is his swinging fusion of jazz and blues. I saw Lee live in London in the early 90`s and he was smoking. He played a scorching slide piece using a harmonica as a slide and he also used a drumstick in place of his right hand whilst burning through some ultra fast licks.
Anyway, the meeting of modern digital technology and the tradition of guitar manufacturing is continuing to blossom with plenty of new products that bring the two together and one of these is the inclusion of USB connectivity into guitars. IN SHORT what this means is that you can plug your guitar straight into your computer without the need for any interface. This allows you to jam directly alongside you Tube videos, or any other music source on your computer.
Hell, why would anyone wanna play through an ear bleedingly huge stack anyway?
OF course, this probably wont give you the ear splitting god like ultra-harmonics of Jeff Beck or Joe Satriani
but if you`re a composer on the move or you are a parent sick of listening to Johnny`s atonal guitar noodling then have a look at the JAM MATE UG1 because it`ll certainly take the headache out of the learning curve for everyone.
The Jam Mate has a discretely placed USB socket on the back, enabling a digital connection to the USB port of virtually any modern computer. The supplied software gives access to a huge range of presets so you can create huge sounds without resorting to a stadium sized guitar rig. HOwever, if you still like the idea ofan interface have alook at the Line 6 Guitar Port.
If you happen to be the sickly offspring of an oil millionaire there`s no need to worry either – that 1954 Stratocaster isn`t going to waste either – there are plenty of other USB adapters that you can beg for to plug into your shiny new platinum laptop or home studio. Have alook at the LEXICON OMEGA studio or the DIGIDESIGN Mbox2 mini. I use an mbox mini myself and its a great interface for cleanly capturing song ideas quickly and what your microphones and instruments really sound like.
Next year I`ll be looking at robot guitars that completely remove the need for any player at all. BRILLIANT!
No bad haircut required.