Some techniques

Appeared at Hawaï the last century the slide technique consists of playing not by fretting the strings but by moving on these ones an object in metal allowing to relize these so caracteristics slides before or after the notes.image

We have found this technique in blues with the use of the bottleneck.

It is possible to play in slide on his habitual guitar but some changes are necessary in order to avoid some "unpleasant" noises...

Firstky you have to increase the draught of your strings (light at the minimum), then you have to increase the action of the strings by going up the pontets of the bridge (for an electric guitar) or by using a booster, which is put betwwen the strings and the sillet (for acoustic).

Finally you have to choose a bottleneck or a slide bar (if you want to imitate Ben perfectly...)

The bottlenecks are :

image in steel, resonant but interferences.
image in copper, less sustain but a warmer sound.
image in glas, for a duller sound and fast parts (like in the solo of Burn to Shine).

There are too differences about the thickness and the lengh. Let me tell you for example that we use the shorts for a mixt play frets/slide.image

For the positionon of the bottleneck you have the choice (personal advice : take the finger with the one you feel at ease); either the little finger for a mixt play or the third finger.

The play in slide requires generally a tuning different than the standart tuning, the tunings, which are the most used by Ben are the followings :


image G : D G D G B D (forWhipping Boy, Gold to me...)
image E : E B E E B E (for Forgiven) image
image A : E A E A C# E
image D : D A D D A D (for Like A King...) image
image C : C G C C G C (for Ground on down) image
image F : C F C F C F
image D-dropped : D A D G B E image

One tone lower : D G D F A D image

At the right of each tuning, you can upload the sound in mp3.

ampli equalisations :




Microphones, an interview of Ben Harper about Seymour Duncan microphones he uses :

Groundwire: How were you introduced to Duncan pickups?
Ben Harper : I never stop trying to better my tone. When you’re in constant pursuit of a tone that is perfect for you, you end up going through a lot of different guitar makers and pickup manufacturers. The way I came across Duncan was through a friend, Keith Nelson from Buckcherry. He met a guitar builder from New Jersey named Rob Mondell of Justin Sain Guitars who had made him some guitars. Keith called me up when he got his first one and he was floored. He said, “Man, you need to get in touch with this guy!” But it just never happened. Then one day, Keith shows up at my house with two custom lap steels guitars that Rob had made for me. In the past, Rob only made standard roundneck guitars and these were his first lap steels. Rob’s main guitar designs are made with metal and wood in the tradition of the Zemaitis guitars, but they’re very much his own. At the time I hooked up with Keith, I was right in the midst of a tour and was going to be away for the next eight months. Because the guitars didn’t have flight cases and I hadn’t heard them yet, I left them at home. I wasn’t going to take out something that hadn’t been sound tested, and I already thought that I had the best-sounding lap steel.

After the tour ended, I went into the studio to record Diamonds On The Inside, which is coming out in March. When I go into the studio, I bring every single guitar I have because you never know what tones are going to fit each of the songs best. There’s a song on it called “Temporary Remedy” that’s bass, drum, guitar—three-piece in the true Cream/Hendrix tradition. I was plugging in all of my 20 main lap steels, trying to find the right sound, but it just wasn’t happening yet. Then I plugged in one of Rob’s guitars and it just blew up. Everyone in the control room started jumping up and down in that sheer instinctual way that only good tone and good music can bring out, and they were just freaking. That’s the guitar! It was a new sonic step forward.

The pickups in Rob’s guitars are Duncan ’59s that are wired for standard humbucker and split coils. For me, what’s amazing about these pickups is that you can split them to single-coil. Splitting the neck pickup is key because you get into very reverberant rooms where low end takes off and neck pickups naturally have a lot of low end resonance. The ability to split them to single-coil cuts down the low resonant frequency without you having to go to your bridge pickup. It allows you to still use both and get a rich sound without clashing with the bass. So it’s like having four or five guitars in one, being able to split each pickup in different patterns. These pickups are really kickin’ for all my electric stuff. They’re just putting out like none other. The better the guitar sounds, the better you’re going to be playing it, period.

What I love the most about the ’59s is how they’ve transformed my electric lap steel. As humbuckers, they give it a true Les Paul sound and when I split the coils to single-coil, they give me what I consider to be more of a true Strat tone. It’s not sort of like a Paul or sort of like a Strat, it’s nailing them. There’s no compromise. It’s finally brought me to the tone that I’ve heard in my head, as far as my electric slide playing goes and I can control them like no others.

GW: Where do you find that single-coil and humbucking sounds work best?
Ben Harper : A single-coil sound is sweeter. If there’s a verse that I want to be sweet, then most likely, I’ll pull the neck pickup up in single-coil. It gives a gentleness that works really well to complement my vocals. Then for a chorus, when I really want to crush or go into overdrive, I can just drop it down into double-coil and it’s just perfect for choruses and solos. So it’s a complement to my verse/chorus style of singing. A single-coil just has got a delicate nature that adds to a ballad, to the softer side of a song. In my music, it’s super important because the dynamics are jumping within the song, as well as from song to song. So I’ve got to be able to have different tones.

GW: You recently tested the Mag Mic on one of your acoustics. How did it rate?
Ben Harper : The Mag Mic is great. It’s got a very balanced frequency response from the low wound strings to the plain steel strings. The mic feature is highly functional and it’s positioned in the best place — right up out of the soundhole where there’s the most air movement and it’s in proximity to your fingers. It has a blend for natural acoustic resonance, as well as magnetic pickup. You can blend in more or less mic, which is great for playing live and in the studio because you can dial the sound in depending on how reverberant a room is. It’s very responsive and it’s a very workable microphone sound. You don’t want a mic that’s going to pick up a lot of the slap back from the room and just cause phasing problems. You’ll be getting more of the room sound than the true sound of the guitar itself, which is what you don’t want. What’s great about where this mic is placed on the pickup is that it’s shielded from anything other than the acoustic sound of the guitar. Having a 12-string option also ups the value, as do the adjustable pole pieces. Having as many options to get the sound that you want to get, whether it’s the blending of the mic or the adjustment of the pole position, it’s ideal, really. It’s well put together and I’m a fan.

GW: Describe your backline rig.
Ben Harper : I have a couple of different amps. I use a Demeter 100 watt head and what’s great about it is that it’s got very true clean and dirty channels. The dirty channel gets up and kicks ass, and the clean channel is very sweet like a tweed Fender Bassman, which I love. And I also use a ’50s tweed Bassman for some of the clean tones. I plug all of my guitars through that rig, but I can also A/B them to go between the amps. So I can use the dirty or clean channel from the Demeter and I can run a dirty or clean channel through the Bassman. For effects, I have an old Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, a Vox wah, an old Ibanez Analog Delay, and an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Phaser.

GW: Tell us about the new record and your plans for the coming year.
Ben Harper : The songs range in sound and style from ballads to straight-up rock and reggae style music, blues, soul, and funk. It’s just got the mix of music that I love and feel. The record comes out on March 11th and then I’ll be touring. I usually tour in two-year cycles, so I’ll be out from this March on. The tour will take us through America, Canada, Australia, England, Japan, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. That’ll keep us busy until the next recording session! punches, you will naturally become the best.