Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Glissentar



 



In a nutshell, it's an eleven string, fretless, acoustic/electric instrument, strung with nylon strings and tuned to standard guitar tuning. More than ever before, musicians are mixing sounds and musical styles from all over the world. This often involves the mixing of Eastern and Western music, such as using a Sitar in a western musical setting or using western instruments to imitate the sounds in eastern music. The Glissentar was inspired by a similar desire to mix elements of East and West, but in this case, in the instrument itself. The Western part of the equation is easy to recognize as a variation on the guitar. All of the instruments basic dimensions, scale length, body size, depth, fingerboard radius, and string height, are fairly standard for acoustic/electric guitars. The Eastern influence in the Glissentar comes from the Oud, an ancestor of the Mandolin that dates back to the seventh century. The Oud is also an eleven-string fretless instrument and is still in use today primarily in Armenia and Egypt. Adapting to this new instrument is actually a great deal easier than it appears. The shape and scale of the neck and the easily visible side position markers help to give the Glissentar a very familiar feel. The Glissentar opens the door to microtonal playing as well as some incredible and unique new sounds for adventurous guitar players.






glissentar


Godin Glissentar

Godin A11 Glissentar
Review - JB
April 2006.
Cost: USA $1035, UK £866, including Gig Bag, 2 sets strings.


Description

The Glissentar is a fretless string instrument, the same scale and size as a conventional guitar.

In a similar vein to an Oud, it has eleven strings, comprising a single bass string and five courses of nylon strings tuned in unison.

String spacing, fingerboard curvature and bridge are similar to a normal guitar and of course everything can be tuned to regular guitar pitch.

The headstock is very striking, black facia with white nylon winding posts driven by Godin custom chrome winders. Nothing looks quite like it, and the rest of the instrument is no disappointment.

glissentar headstock
Glissentar Headstock & 11 winders


The fingerboard is ebony on a rock maple neck, which is very comfortable. The nut width is one and three quarter inches and the fingerboard radius is sixteen inches.

The soundboard is beautifully uncomplicated, in solid cedar with a semi gloss finish, a nice balance to match to the fretless neck.

Positioning of the controls is perfect for fast access during playing, The pick up being an LR Baggs Ribbon Transducer located in the bridge. The pre-amp is a custom built LR Baggs (c) 2000 featuring Volume, Mid, Treble and Bass controls.

Our testing was done using a Schertler "David" Acoustic Amplifier, the range of control over the sound given only three eq sliders is quite amazing. A lovely amount of cut on the treble though to a very vibrant prescence was available with this control wound fully up.

The middle and bass sliders allow very dynamic control of the sound projection without us having to touch the amplifier.

glissentar eq controls
EQ controls - perfectly accessible


Feel / Look

While you might imagine the nylon strung Glissentar would demand or even expect a more gentle playing style, when you hang this guitar around your neck the temptation is just to let rip. The balance and feel is just right. You could say classical sound with electric feel.

The body of the guitar is made of silver leaf maple, the construction is double chambered and therefore not as heavy as it looks.

One thing we really like is the thickness of the body itself, just a tad more than a standard solidbody guitar.

Action / Fingerboard

Straight out of the box the action is very good, with a slight toe-in. You do get an allen key supplied to adjust the action and we used this to bring the neck dead straight.

The fingerboard was very precisely engineered, no bumps or buzzes. We could drop the height of the strings in the nut if really pressed, but it isn't neccessary. By tensioning the neck further you can bring the action down to the point where you get that warm semi-buzz on the lower strings. We adjusted it to just above that point were the sound was clean. This left us with a very low fast action, perfect for fretless playing.

glissentar neckjoint
Neck Joint - work of art




glissentar bridge
The Bridge


Traditional Oud players are used to a wide string spacing at the bridge, to facilitate their style of string plucking. This string spread would be impractical to emulate on a guitar based instrument.

Take a closer look at the 5th and 4th string courses. Because of the vibrating width of the string, these have to be spaced a little wider than the top three courses.

This extra spacing allows for some very interesting playing technique. The strings can be held individually technically splitting the string course. So it is possible to let one half of the string course ring open, and stop the other half at a different note.



glissentar battery
The Battery Compartment


Just a quick thank you to Godin for incorporating a practical battery compartment, no screws, no battery clips, you just flick it out and push the new battery in. Simple.



Acid Test

Well there's nothing like a live performance to test an instrument out so its down to a local jam venue. This place hosts banjo, mandolin, guitar and the odd bouzouki player.

There's a fair bit of traditional playing so its an interesting test of the water.

Well the glissentar certainly does turn heads, and as the Oud isn't seen much around here it takes a little time to explain the principles.

Well it certainly opened up a new aspect of the instrument, it adapts particularly well to English folk music, the lute like sounds fit really nicely into a small ensemble. We tried some alternate tunings for Irish jigs DADEAE for one of the local experts and personally I preferred the sound of the Glissentar to his conventional steel strung 12 string. The Glissentar coped well with the altered tunings, once tuned it was nice and stable, and quick to return to standard tuning without needing any attention for the rest of the night.

Up until this point I had the Glissentar pigeon holed as either an avant garde instrument, or one specifically used in Turkish and Arabic music to access specific scales, makams and microtones. However, it does remarkably well in the role of Cittern, Bouzouki, Lute or any traditional double strung instrument. What's more, when you tap into this idea it becomes very addictive and very hard to stop playing in that particular style.


Conclusion

If you already play fretless guitar, the Glissentar is going to be a tempting addition to your collection.

Godin have created a very different instrument in the Glissentar, while it remains basically a guitar, you have this overlay of eleven strings that lifts it to a completely new level. There is nothing else like it, when the history of music in the 21st century is written, this will be a landmark.


Additional Info:

Artists playing the Glissentar:

Ratko Zjaca / Fareed Haque / Elliott Sharp / Michael Vick
Vince Millett / John Howarth / Wayne Wesley Johnson / Jahloon
Adrian Ouarar / Trey Gunn / Carljohan Grimmark

More on the Glissentar:

A technical look at string output and sustain
Michael Vick's comments on the Glissentar (recommended)
Adrian Ouarar comments on Glissentar Strings
Godin Guitars - Glissentar page
Where to buy Glissentar strings



Reviewer's subnote:

My style consists of lots of slides and slide vibratos, and slides on the round wound strings can be a bit screechy. I hit this problem using the Godin Multiac Nylon Classical and cured it using some flatwound nylon strings. I recently restrung the Glissentar with Thomastic Infeld KR116 Classic S series, rope core flat wound nylon strings and the improvement in playability is dramatic.

Review - JB

(updated Nov 2008)

 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Matthew Montfort



Guitarist Matthew Montfort of the world music group Ancient Future was inspired to create this modern raga based on the music of Jimi Hendrix after seeing a photo of Jimi Hendrix in the front row of an Indian music concert, in awe of the music. There is a version of it on Montfort's solo CD, 'Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar.' Matthew Montfort performed this version of "Purple Raga" live at Ancient Future's 30th Anniversary Concert on a Godin Glissentar, an 11 string fretless guitar endorsed by Montfort. This first recording of Montfort performing on the Glissentar is available to subscribers to the Archive of Future Ancient Recordings: http://www.ancient-future.com/afar.html. The video and a lesson on applying the rules of raga to the music of Jimi Hendrix are also available on GuitarPlayer.Com. Matthew Montfort teaches online via Skype and other services: http://www.ancient-future.com/skype.html.



'Yearning for the Wind' is Ancient Future's first audio/video release in the band's 35 year history. It is a poignant piece based on Rag Kalyan, an evening raga that corresponds to the Lydian mode. A duet between scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer Matthew Montfort and Indian tabla virtuoso Vishal Nagar, who is considered one of the most gifted tabla players of his generation, 'Yearning for the Wind' is set in matta tal, a nine beat rhythmic cycle.

Matthew Montfort is the leader of the world fusion music ensemble Ancient Future. An award-winning guitarist (Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, Colorado Outstanding Young Guitarist Award), he is a pioneer of the scalloped fretboard guitar (an instrument combining qualities of the South Indian vina and the steel string guitar). Montfort spent three months in intensive study with vina master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. In August 2012, he was added to the 100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists list at DigitalDreamDoor.com, joining luminaries such as Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, Chet Atkins, John Fahey, Adrian Legg, Merle Travis, John Renbourn, Tommy Emmanuel, Doc Watson, Pierre Bensusan, Toni Rice, Alex De Grassi, Stefan Grossman, Artie Traum, Joni Mitchell, and Peppino D'Agostino. He is also known for his work on Glissentar 11 string fretless guitar, electric guitar, flamenco guitar, bass guitar, sitar, charango, mandolin, and gamelan, and as Ancient Future's main composer.




Matthew Montfort holds a B.A. in World Music and Composition and an M.A. in Arts and Media Technology from Antioch University. He has studied with the master musicians of many world music traditions, including sarangi master Ram Narayan, sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, mridangam master Guruvayoor Dorai, and gamelan director K.R.T. Wasitodipuro. He has recorded with legendary world music figures ranging from Bolivian panpipe master Gonzalo Vargas to tabla maestros Swapan Chaudhuri and Zakir Hussain. He has performed world wide, including the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain near Barcelona, the Mumbai Festival at the Gateway of India in Bombay, and the Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival in San Francisco, from which a segment of his performance was broadcast on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC along with an interview about his work on fretless guitar.



Montfort wrote the book Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India, which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills. Matthew Montfort is on the faculty of the Blue Bear School of Music and the Zambaleta World Music and Dance School in San Francisco, where he teaches music theory, all styles of guitar as well as rhythm classes based on his book on the rhythmic traditions of Africa, Bali, and India. He also teaches at his studio in San Rafael, California.




Selected Discography


Solo:
Sympathetic Serenade (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2012)
Seven Serenades (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2008) >audio
Guitar Works (Narada Lotus ND-61032)
With Ancient Future:
Planet Passion (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2010) >audio
Asian Fusion (Narada Equinox ND-63023) >audio
World Without Walls (Sona Gaia 163) >audio
Dreamchaser (Sona Gaia 154) >audio
Quiet Fire (Narada 1012) >audio
Natural Rhythms (Philo 9006) >audio
Visions of a Peaceful Planet (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2004) >audio
Alma Del Sur (Narada Collection ND-63908)
Producer and Sideman:
Sangria An Indo Latin Jazz Musical Experience by Mariah Parker (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2008) >audio
Ecstasy by Pandit Habib Khan with Matthew Montfort, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Danny Gottlieb, George Brooks, Alan Kushan, Ira Stein (RPG 15917) >audio




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Christopher Willits by Peter Kirn

Guitars, Mysteries, and Magic: Inside “Tiger Flower Circle Sun” with Christopher Willits




How do you allow musical ideas to flower – technically, creatively, and when finding your musical voice? The floral images reflected in visuals and sound in Christopher Willits’ “Tiger Flower Circle Sun” are evocative imagery, but also an apt metaphor for Willits’ artistic process.
The composer and artist spins unique, organic ambient worlds with layers of sound and pattern, transforming the timbres of his guitar. He’s also known for making custom software to craft his results, a prolific patcher in Max/MSP with a regular series on Ableton Live, Max, Max for Live, guitar recording, touring, and other topics translated to friendly how-tos on XLR8R TV.
I got a chance to talk to Christopher about the technical and inspirational alike, reflecting on the new record.




PK: Let’s talk a bit about your approach to production as a guitarist. Part of what I love about your work, live and in the studio, is the way in which the instrument is interwoven with the music. In this album, what’s the relationship of the input to output? How much is live playing; how much is after-the-fact production work?

CW: When I’m developing new ideas, I’m always playing guitar and processing it, and recording it out … then I either let it be as-is, or develop it further. It’s like throwing out all of these seeds. Some grow into things and others decompose back into the soil and help the others along in a less direct way.
I have no expectation about where things will go when I’m in the experimenting / play phase of working. Sometimes I don’t even know that I’m in it. I’m just playing guitar and then something will stick and begin to resonate.
All of these pieces began through this method. None of the guitars that you hear have been processed after-the-fact; it’s all a live, in-the-moment process of recording the guitars through software. I want the life of those recordings shining through, [rather than it being] overworked.



As far as the guitar itself, any comments on tuning, timbre, and how you handle the instrument itself?

Pretty straight up, standard tuning, A 440. I used my strat mostly and baritone for some depth here and there.



Naturally, I’m interested in your software creations for this record, as you’ve been a vocal advocate of Max patching. What sorts of contraptions are involved here? New Max patches? Using Max standalone, Max for Live, or a combination?

Most of the processed guitars were created before I dug into Max for Live. So these processing patterns were developed through plug-ins I made with Max that I use with Ableton Live, as my mixer and sequencer / workstation.



Just to pull something out timbrally – “Heart Connects to Head” nicely represents some of the juxtoposition of organic and electronic sounds for me, in particular the synth arpeggio with percussion. Can you share some of your sound sources here, or in general how you view the ensemble?
That synth was Operator in Ableton Live, being played by my guitar with a MIDI pickup, an Arpeggiator MIDI effect on it, while the guitar output was running through some spectral smashing-ness.
So the bass synth, and chords are all recorded live in one flow, the guitar triggering the bass and the processed string vibrations together.



There’s a lot of microsampling going on, and percussive elements. Is this reflected in the software? How do you conceive the rhythmic activities of the record?

Some of it is from the Max plugs processing shards of guitar; others are recordings that I made — I EQ’d [them] and adjusted the envelopes into percussive ticks that occupied the right space for the music.
The percussive elements created spinning wheels, often in different directions from other melodic elements. These events for me create an opening into the patterns. Even the simplest triple click low in the mix can rotate and open up more surfaces to feel.




A couple of the tracks seem to burst into vocals; can you talk about what motivated these differently?

I was not attached to any sonic outcome with this record, and there was no plan to even use vocals, but at certain times i heard these big words, multiple people singing them. And it was really important to me that more than two people were singing these parts.




There’s a liquid sense of tonality to me, a sense of harmonic freedom. Can you talk about your harmonic influences, and how these evolve in these tracks compositionally?

The creative process is mysterious, but I know it does require devotion and love and time, and surrendering control. I feel like the music tells me what to do. I follow my intuition and the music either embraces it or challenges the adjustments / additions / subtractions. It’s an amazing process for me; nothing short of magic, really. With an intention and with some focus, love, and time. these things grow. The harmonic vibrations attract other vibrations and the flow keeps flowing.
Maybe my influences come out in this process, but that is never intentional. There is music I love — like Coltrane, Hendrix, Stereolab, Tortoise, Sun Ra, Steve Reich, Yoruba Andabo — that I can hear relationships to.


Obviously, you work a lot with visual imagery in your work and in your performance, and there are some evocative titles in the tracks and the album itself. Did specific visual images feed into your musical conceptions here?

Yes, definitely — images that were woven into imagining and intuiting what the music was opening up to. I’ve been shooting tons of video and composing video pieces for these sounds. Throughout the rest of the year, I’ll be releasing these videos.
The lastest is for “Flowers Into Stardust.”
nowness.com featured it recently and it’s on my YouTube channel.



What does your hardware rig look like in preparing for this album? What’s your software rig?

Adam at Guitar Geek did a pretty good job last year detailing my hardware setup. it has changed a little, but this is a good overview.
guitargeek | Christopher Willits
Software modules I’m designing, now in Max for Live, are mostly time domain-folding plugs. Sound is recorded in and I index to different locations using delays, jump-cutting buffers, and granular techniques. I also work on weird spectral morphs with convolution techniques, brittle odd and even-harmonic distortion, and different MIDI input from the guitar to alter filtration settings. These seem to be the processing machines that I’m always gravitating towards.
I used these plugs in about 12 audio tracks with input-only monitoring, with both dry guitar input and looped guitar, fed via return tracks. I then added extra tracks in Live for percussion recording and sequencing, vocal recording, baritone, synths, etc.


Guitar Geek examines Christopher’s rig. Image courtesy Christopher Willits; source/(C): Guitar Geek.


Chris’ Ableton Live setup combines live inputs and Max devices to produce his layered sound. Click for full-sized version.

How will you adapt the hardware/software setup for this material for live performance?

he system i use live is very similar to the recording setup, but without the extra tracks for supporting instruments.
The hardware setup will be scaled down for easier traveling.
For live shows right now I’m using:
MacBook Pro
MOTU UltraLite [audio interface]
iPad (for video control)
monome for improvised pattern sequencing
[M-Audio] Trigger Finger (for processing details)
Doepfer Pocket Fader (for controlling processing tracks)
Guitar + Line 6 Pocket Pod, or Korg Pandora (Still in a shoot out for small pre to take; I keep changing my mind)
Diamond compressor
Customized Big Muff (analog distortion)
[Behringer] FCB 1010 when I’m sitting in a chair or standing up while playing.
I’m experimenting a lot with sitting down and standing up in the last few years. Both feel good for different situations.
Some of the material I can play solo; other tracks need the stacked vocals and other elements, so I’ll wait until a band tour is dialed in for that. I’m really interested in playing with percussion lately. I either meet up with different percussionists, bring friends along, recruit audience members, or all of the above. In the last performance I had at twin space in san francisco, [I brought in] eleven audience members.


How do you see this album fitting in with your previous work?

I feel this album is a natural progression from everything I’ve been doing. That growth is not a linear. I’m more interested in creating a bunch of supporting branches of art flowing in a similar direction, rather than one main limb with only a few flowers.
TFCS brings together all of the sounds that I love into one statement, perhaps the most concise that I have made yet. And the really fun thing for me to think about is that I feel like I am just now beginning. After ten years of making records as a solo artist and in collaboration with some of my best friends, I’ve really honed my voice and focus and I can only imagine what the next 10 years is going to bring.


Monday, August 11, 2014

xy MIDI controllers

Crimson Guitars are the UK supplier for the xy MIDIpad, xy MIDIpad mini and the MIDI strip.  With one of these hi tech touch screen MIDI devices installed in your guitar you can control a mtriad of devices and computer programs in 2 axis direct from stage,  the Kaoss pad and DIgitech whammy are the most commonly used devices (see Matt Bellamy of Muse) and our touchpad controllers have been designed and built specifically with these in mind.  They ship within one working day from Crimson Guitars HQ in the UK or you can ship your guitar or bass guitar here and have us install the unit for you.

Amptone Lab xy MIDIpad mini kaoss pad controller for guitar

Amptone Lab xy MIDIpad mini kaoss pad controller for guitar

Product Code: Amptone Lab xy MIDIpad mini kaoss pad controller for guitar
Availability: In Stock
Price: £110.00

The xy pad mini is a fully functioning though slightly smaller version of the original XY MIDIpad touchpad controller.   We designed it slightly smaller so that it will fit on any guitar or bass guitar, the xy MIDIpad was a bit too big to be installed on stratocasters and some carved top Les Paul type guitars as long as you have 78mm or more behind the bridge of your guitar and the area is flat. The touch screen has a full 0-127 MIDI CC range, a hold button to freeze the current message, a rotary encoder to change the programs in the MIDI device you are controlling from your guitar.  This is the type of system (although slightly smaller) used by Matt Bellamy (guitar) and Christopher Wolstenholme (bass) of Muse on their instruments.
There are several shipping options available but due to the value of the touch screen kaoss pad controller we suggest you choose the fully insured option with your purchase.
A brief break down of what can be driven by your guitar when loaded with an xy MIDIpad, xy MIDIpad mini or the new MIDI strip.
- KORG Kaoss Pad 2 and 3
- DigiTech Whammy 4
- any MIDI instrument/synthesizer(notes are sent within the range of one octave)
- VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins that are effects generators or full digital instruments loaded on your computer in programs such as Audacity, Steinberg Cubase and any number of other programs or even dedicated hardware environments, ie Digital Audio Workstations. (Frankly this is the most exciting bit for me personally as the list of both commercial and open source options seems endless!)
- You can also control lighting rigs, keyboards, synthesisers and any other system that has a MIDI input
At Crimson Guitars  we can install your new MIDI controlling touch screen for you for just £155 (for most standard guitars) or £273.50 including the kit. Alternatively you can give it a go yourself by following our extensive video tutorial installation guide below.
Next day delivery in the UK on all orders before 2pm and within 5 working days for the rest of Europe!

check out our YouTube channel for more videos on how to get the most out of your Kaoss pad guitar as well as a myriad of guitar building tutorials and demo videos.


Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars

Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars
Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars
Product Code: Amptone Lab xy MIDI controller for kaoss pad guitars
Availability: In Stock
Price: £119.95
This is the original full size xy MIDIpad touchpad and it is a kit that you can mount on your guitar or bass guitar with which you can control a myriad of MIDI devices, most commonly the xy MIDIpad and xy MIDIpad mini are used to control these wonderful tools..
- KORG Kaoss Pad 2 and 3
- DigiTech Whammy 4
- any MIDI instrument/synthesizer(notes are sent within the range of one octave)
- VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins that are effects generators or full digital instruments loaded on your computer in programs such as Audacity, Steinberg Cubase and any number of other programs or even dedicated hardware environments, ie Digital Audio Workstations. (Frankly this is the most exciting bit for me personally as the list of both commercial and open source options seems endless!)
- You can also control lighting rigs, keyboards, synthesisers and any other system that has a MIDI input
For this touchpad you need a space of at least 110mm behind the bridge of your guitar, if that is where you lan on fitting the unit, and the area should be flat or built up to be flat.  If you have less space than this, ie a strat or similar, check out the xy MIDIpad mini.
This is the type of system used by Matt Bellamy (guitar) and Christopher Wolstenholme (bass) of Muse on their instruments.
There are several shipping options available but due to the value of the touchpad controller we suggest you choose the fully insured option with your purchase.
Next day delivery in the UK on all orders before 2pm and within 5 working days for the rest of Europe!
At Crimson Guitars  we can install your new MIDI controlling touchpad for you for just £155 (for most standard guitars) or £279.95 including the kit. Alternatively you can give it a go yourself by following our extensive video tutorial installation guide below.


Amptone Lab MIDI strip

Amptone Lab MIDI strip
Amptone Lab MIDI strip Amptone Lab MIDI strip Amptone Lab MIDI strip Amptone Lab MIDI strip Amptone Lab MIDI strip
Product Code: Amptone Lab MIDI strip
Availability: In Stock
Price: £110.00
The MIDI Strip is a MIDI controller based on a resistive strip that we designed to be installed into a guitar or bass guitar body. It is a tool which allows the user to control virtually any MIDI device, from the Korg Kaoss Pad, to synthesizers and DAW applications, such as FL Studio, GarageBand, Logic Pro or Cubase through the use of VST's. The resistive strip is very responsive, giving the user a chance to accurately adjust the parameter he wants to control.
At Crimson Guitars  we can install your new MIDI strip for you for just £155 (for most standard guitars) or £273.50 including the kit. Alternatively you can give it a go yourself by following our extensive video tutorial installation guide below.  There are several shipping options available but due to the value of the touchpad controller we suggest you choose the fully insured option with your purchase.
Amptone Lab xy MIDIpad and xyMIDIpad mini replacement screen


Amptone Lab xy MIDIpad and xyMIDIpad mini replacement screen

Product Code: MIDIpad replacement screen
Availability: In Stock
Price: £25.00

Glass is fragile and guitars are, rightly, thrown about a lot.  If you break the screen of your xy MIDIpad or xy MIDIpad mini a replacement can be just a few days away.  Select which option you need and we will have a new screen in your hands as soon as possible.