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Showing content with the highest reputation since 08/09/2019 in Articles

  1. 2 points
    A few months ago, I wrote a Dear Musician entitled Involuntary Musical Imagery. In that article I referenced “earworms” of music that can make their way into your head and stay there, seemingly, long enough to drive you crazy. Ironically, sometimes I experience music so good that this earworm becomes an insatiable need to binge listen (or, in this case, watch) the music over and over again. Thanks to technology, YouTube recommended a video to me; and, like a sucker, I was drawn in. However, in this case, I was overwhelmingly shocked by what I experienced. What played was a little band out of Georgia called (at the time) Foxes and Fossils. It’s a father and daughter and the band they formed. I was shocked. I watched it and have been repeatedly drawn back to listen to their unbelievable vocal harmonies as they perform great cover tunes with a direct-to-board feed. What strikes me the most about the group is that they are unknown by the masses — rather, a regional group. It is very obvious that they strive to make better music. What the videos below show is that they are raw and there are even normal “stage” mistakes; but, if you’re a musician, you’re forced to acknowledge the level of effort that went into the preparation of the performance. A little research of their channel shows that the performance was 6 years ago; both the female singers were in high school at the time! Perhaps you’ll disagree with my assessment, but, more than likely, you’ll watch them over and over—as have I. Both songs shown are songs that the normal “bar band” would probably not tackle, simply given the level of vocal skill necessary. It is evident that these guys simply go for it, and it works. What’s my point? I guess there are myriad points here, such as you never know where you’ll find a hot band or music. You never know where a turn may take you in the road of musical discovery. You never can tell when a mix of different voices will simply have the right mix of vocal chemistry, and for these guys…well, it works. The big take-away here is that as musicians our ultimate goal is to make better music and sometimes it can come from the unexpected! It’s my opinion that this band knows what it is to make better music. -HC- Videos: Judy Blue Eyes (Cover) (1) Suite- Judy Blue Eyes (Cover) - Crosby, Stills & Nash - Foxes and Fossils - YouTube.webloc Monday, Monday (Cover) (1) Monday Monday - YouTube.webloc We do not own the rights to these songs performed as cover songs. We imply no ownership by posting them here for educational/inspirational purposes. Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion and music industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
  2. 2 points
    I love this time of year! The days start to cool down, the leaves start to fall <SCRREEECH!!!> Who am I kidding? Here in Nashville, Tennessee, it’s been hovering in the upper 90’s since August and hasn’t let up—yet! This heat makes a man’s brain cook, and, in doing so, prompts a virtual stew of thoughts. As we do hope for cooler weather, and we are moving into full-blown fall, let me take a moment to say thank you for the fantastic response to the new platform at Harmony Central. People who haven't participated in years are returning to the forums. Having the forums simply work has been refreshing! As Harmony Central is a social forum, we've noticed that musicians like to say what they want to say. It’s akin to song writing in a lot of ways. Musicians can be very outspoken about so many issues. From everything social to economic and political to environmental, musicians are some of the first to pen a song, write a post, and sing out for causes about which they believe. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch the Ken Burns Series, Country Music on PBS for the past two weeks. This brilliantly produced series chronicles the evolution of country music and branches into the crossover influences of gospel, folk, and bluegrass. Musicians sang about things that they needed to say. For example, musicians like Johnny Cash initially did so to the potential detriment to their careers. Even so this path always eventually seemed to work to the artist’s favor. From the lyrical genius of Kris Kristofferson to the straight-laced turned renegade braided super star Willie Nelson, to the racial strife faced by Charley Pride, this series has covered the gamut. The HUGE take-away is that most of this music fell out of story-telling put to song through which people were allowed to say what they wanted to say. What they needed to say. What they wanted people to hear. Where they felt the need to speak out. Where they felt the need to be heard. For some, success came from being “at the right place at the right time.” For others, it was because the words they spoke in song were so profound, they couldn’t help becoming successful! In song, you can temper what you want to say in such a way that it's better received and understood. If you haven’t been able to catch the Country Music series, do yourself a favor. Even if you aren’t a country music fan, you’ll benefit from learning about how country influenced other genres and vice-versa. You’ll also be surprised at the number of artists from other genres are country fans and find influence in the music. The series is available online at the link provided above. So whether you are a musician posting your thoughts on Harmony Central or belting your thoughts in song from the stage, be true and say what you want to say! –HC- Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion and music industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
  3. 1 point
    Three years ago, I wrote about the many ways we can give the gift of music—from a concert ticket, to a fun piece of music-making software, to a musical instrument. And of course, those are all welcome gifts. But there’s also the gift of your music, because your music is indeed a gift. You’re giving of yourself—maybe your dreams, your frustrations, or how much you love somebody. You’re putting your emotions on the line, and giving people insights into who you are, the lessons you’ve learned, what you believe, and much more. You’re giving your listeners a piece of you. It may seem kind of self-centered to think of your music as a gift. And of course, not everyone is going to like your music, any more than they might like a particular tie you give them. But a gift is not always a “thing.” In some countries, the giving of gifts has evolved to the point where economists talk of a “gift economy,” where a gift can be anything that brings happiness—from giving up your place in line to someone else, to an unexpected act of forgiveness. There’s no denying that giving your music is giving of yourself to others. I have a friend who posts his music on YouTube, and every year around the holidays, he posts an album with remixes and alternate versions of the music he made that year as a gift to his subscribers. But you can take the gift of your music so much further. There’s something special about gathering friends, and walking around your neighborhood, singing holiday music. It’s a gift that puts a smile on the faces of everyone who hears you. And there are people in rehabilitation centers, children’s hospitals, hospices, and old age homes who would love to receive the gift of music. As long as you’re trying to give a gift people would like to receive, and as long as you’re putting some joy into the world, then you’re giving them a gift. There are lots of holiday parties this time of year, and many gifts are exchanged. But in addition to that Starbucks gift card you’re planning on giving, consider writing a special song about your friends or co-workers at the party, bring your guitar, and sing it. It’s a gift no one else can give them...because it’s the gift of your music. -HC-
  4. 1 point
    by Anne Erickson Christmas and heavy music make for strange bedfellows. That said, a handful of rock and metal personalities have managed to knock out holiday sets that are actually really good, both placing their muscular stamp on Christmas classics and crafting entirely new yuletide tunes. Read on for 10 hard rock and metal Christmas albums that might prove the perfect fit for background music at Christmas dinner. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but, nonetheless, these releases sure rock! 10. The Vandals, Christmas with the Vandals To say The Vandals’ Christmas with the Vandals is not your traditional Christmas album is an understatement. The California punk-rock outfit dish out cynical tracks such as “I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus” and “Thanx for Nothing,” in typical anti-establishment, punk rock tradition. This is a good bet for someone with a sense of humor and love for DIY punk. 9. We Wish You a Hairy Christmas featuring Warrant, L.A. Guns and more Who says hair metal fans can’t have a merry Christmas? We Wish You a Hairy Christmas features glam-rockers Warrant covering The Kinks’ “Father Christmas,” Faster Pussycat putting their spin on “Silent Night,” L.A. Guns doing “Run Run Rudolph” and more amusing arrivals. Have a fan of ’80s metal glory on your Christmas list? This set might do the trick. 8. Smash Mouth, The Gift of Rock Rock is really a wonderful gift, right? That’s the idea behind novelty rock band Smash Mouth’s The Gift of Christmas, which has the California group covering rock holiday classics (“Snoopy’s Christmas,” “Come on Christmas, Christmas Come On; “Zat You, Santa Claus?”) instead of strictly traditional yuletide tunes. Who you expect anything less from the quirky pop band? 7. Psychostick, The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride With a title like The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride, it’s no surprise that this Christmas album is packed with flat-out crazy holiday tunes. From the heavy metal to the sardonic, song titles like “Holiday Hate” and “Jingle Bell Metal” get the point across. 6. Twisted Sister, A Twisted Christmas On A Twisted Christmas, Dee Snider and his glam group riddle the cherished Christmas carol through a hair metal lens, putting their mark on traditional songs such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” While the songs no doubt carry Twisted Sister’s heavy metal edge and punk energy, Snider and company keep relatively close to the originals, and that makes this a surprisingly conventional score. 5. The Reverend Horton Heat, We Three Kings We Three Kings is a group of 12 classic Christmas songs, plus one new original, flogged into an edgy lather of twang-y guitar and steady percussion by Jim Heath and posse. Fans of rockabilly, punk and blues will likely find charm in this set, which offers such classics as “What Child is This,” “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman.” 4. Scott Weiland, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Scott Weiland – the same guy behind ’90s grunge bastion Stone Temple Pilots – is doing a Christmas album? Really? That was the reaction when the news hit that Weiland was prepping a set of straight-laced Christmas traditionals! The set, titled The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, arrived this fall, and what’s perhaps more surprising is how Weiland captures the Christmas spirit with ease. His lush tenor proves a perfect fit with jolly, festival tunes like “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “What Child is This?” We give Weiland props for stepping outside of the grunge rock mold! 3. Halford, Halford III: Winter Songs Heavy metal and Christmas make for unlikely buddies, but Judas Priest frontman Halford makes it work on Halford III: Winter Songs, approaching Christmas songs such as “Come All Ye Faithful” and “We Three Kings” with the same seriousness and conviction that he brings to Priest favorites. While the release still sounds very “metal” and may not be conventional enough for Christmas dinner, it’s a consistent and listenable release, and the metal genre should be happy to claim it under their roster. 2. Black Label Society, Glorious Christmas Songs That Will Make Your Black Label Heart Feel Good Brawny guitarist Zakk Wylde’s Southern-fried metal collective, Black Label Society, show that they have the kind of sensitivity to melody that comes with years of honing their skills with this three-song, instrumental, acoustic Christmas EP. The set – Glorious Christmas Songs That Will Make Your Black Label Heart Feel Good (available on iTunes) – features the yuletide favorites “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “It’s a Wonderful World.” This one you might actually be able to get by your significant other to play at Christmas dinner! 1. We Wish You A Metal Xmas & A Headbanging New Year featuring ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl and more On We Wish You A Metal Xmas & A Headbanging New Year, a collection of rock and metal greats put their talents together to pay tribute to the merriest time of year. Album highlights are plenty, including Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons rocking out together on “Run Run Rudolph” and Testament‘s Chuck Billy and Anthrax’s Scott Ian putting their spin on “Silent Night.” Further appearances include Alice Cooper, Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy and Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi. It’s safe to call this the definitive heavy music Christmas album! ________________________________________________________________ Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.A
  5. 1 point
    In Charlie Daniels’ 1979 Grammy-winning song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” the Devil went in search of a soul to steal and came upon a fiddler named Johnny. It turns out that Johnny was a prodigy on fiddle. Seems there are those to whom playing an instrument comes naturally (almost easily), but there are others who really have to work at it. I know you probably know someone like this. I do. I could play a drum set the first time I ever sat down behind the kit. I intuitively knew how to play and was pretty decent at holding a beat in time. I never was a great player … rather just a good, steady 2 and 4 drummer, who eventually learned that less is more. Perhaps that natural talent to play kept me from digging in and becoming a great player – who knows. But I have known people who were simply able to pick up an instrument and instantly astound a listener. It was like their soul was an “old soul” that had played the instrument in a past life! And, for many of them, they knew right out of the box the subtleties of tasteful playing. I’ve even met (dare I call them) children who played like old masters…sometimes to the point that they seem possessed! I contend that when this natural tendency is harnessed, the results can be fantastic. However, if the prodigy musician only stays “locked up in a room” with their instrument, it could create an unpleasant result. I once knew a player who performed as a clinician for a major instrument company. He was masterful! He was literally jaw dropping good! However, one night after a clinic, we went to a local venue and he was asked to play with the band. It was an unsettling experience, as, with a band, he couldn’t play his way out of a grocery sack. He had mastered the technical part of his instrument but had no real natural musicianship or experience. What were your musical roots? Did you have to work hard to master your instrument, or did it come naturally? Did you find you could play great with a band but weren’t great on your own, or the other way around? Or, were you a great player solo and with a group? I‘ve posted the lyrics to The Devil Went Down to Georgia below as the story of the young musician as the victor is one to remember. I mean, when you’re good enough to throw down Fire On The Mountain with the devil and emerge the winner, it reflects that some are simply “born with it”! -HC- The devil went down to Georgia He was lookin' for a soul to steal He was in a bind 'Cause he was way behind And he was willin' to make a deal When he came upon this young man Sawin' on a fiddle and playin' it hot And the devil jumped Up on a hickory stump And said, "boy, let me tell you what I guess you didn't know it But I'm a fiddle player too And if you'd care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you Now you play a pretty good fiddle, boy But give the devil his due I'll bet a fiddle of gold Against your soul 'Cause I think I'm better than you" The boy said, "my name's Johnny And it might be a sin But I'll take your bet And you're gonna regret 'Cause I'm the best there's ever been" Johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard 'Cause hell's broke loose in Georgia, and the devil deals the cards And if you win, you get this shiny fiddle made of gold But if you lose, the devil gets your soul The devil opened up his case And he said, "I'll start this show" And fire flew from his fingertips As he rosined up his bow Then he pulled the bow across the strings And it made an evil hiss And a band of demons joined in And it sounded something like this When the devil finished Johnny said, "well, you're pretty good, old son But sit down in that chair right there And let me show you how it's done" He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun Chicken in a bread pan pickin' out dough Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no The devil bowed his head Because he knew that he'd been beat And he laid that golden fiddle On the ground at Johnny's feet Johnny said, "Devil, just come on back If you ever want to try again I done told you once you son of a bitch I'm the best that's ever been" He played Fire on the Mountain run boys, run The devil's in the House of the Rising Sun Chicken in a bread pan pickin' out dough Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Charles Fred Hayward / Charlie Daniels / Fred Edwards / James W. Marshall / John Crain / William J. Digregorio The Devil Went to Georgia lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion and music industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
  6. 1 point
    by Anne Erickson From Alice Cooper to Rob Zombie, head-splittingly heavy music has a lengthy history of complimenting all things horrific, and what better time to recognize those menacing musicians than this week? Read on for our list of the Top 10 Halloween Songs of All Time, offering some killer tracks to get you in the mood for Halloween. What are your favorite scary tunes? Give us your picks in the comments area! 10. King Diamond, “Halloween” Who better to craft a Halloween hit than Kim Petersen, a ka King Diamond? “Halloween” is taken from the singer’s debut solo album, Fatal Portrait, and while the track’s music is heavy and dark, the lyrics are what really make the ditty fit on this list. 9. The Misfits, “Halloween” It’s only fitting that the Misfits would unleash a Halloween-themed song, and they did so on Oct. 31, 1981, with “Halloween.” Nobody does Halloween like these guys, and this terrifying track was the band’s fifth and final single to feature guitarist Bobby Steele, making it extra special. 8. The Ramones, “Pet Sematary” The Ramones got it right on this spine-chilling Halloween-appropriate track. Their title track for the Stephen King film is certainly one of the group’s darker sonic endeavors, and it’s a refreshing change from their more well-known sound. 7. Helloween, “Halloween” Our list wouldn’t be complete without adding German metallers Helloween to the mix; the guys who actually named themselves after the holiday. While all of Helloween’s songs would fit the bill, we’re going with the most apparent, “Halloween,” a creepy classic. 6. Iron Maiden, “Fear of the Dark” Man, the lyrics alone in Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” give us nightmares! The song is a great Halloween track, with its menacing nature and dark textures. 5. Tool, “Sober” Tool’s “Sober” is a classic. The track arrived on the band’s 1993 debut, Undertow, and it took the band from underground metal players to superstars in the mainstream rock contingent. “Sober’s” lingering, wandering beats and Maynard James Keenan’s tortured vocals make this a great fit for any Halloween shindig. 4. Rob Zombie, “Living Dead Girl” Halloween brings zombies and other post-mortem terrors out, and perhaps no rocker is more accustomed to the horror world — and the horror film industry — as Rob Zombie. While many Zombie tracks would fit on this list, we think “Living Dead Girl” is the quintessential Zombie Halloween song. 3. Slayer, “Raining Blood” Are you surprised to see Slayer on this list? We didn’t think so. Aside from its Halloween-appropriate moniker, “Raining Blood” carries one of the most wicked guitar metal riffs of all time. Add to that creepy lyrics and you’ve got a song purpose-made for the Halloween holiday. 2. Pantera, “Cemetery Gates” Metal went through a dark time in the ‘90s, and Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” is the culmination of all good things metal at the decade’s onset. It’s just the kind of track one would expect to hear on Halloween, with themes revolving around death, inspired by Phil Anselmo losing a loved one to suicide. 1. Alice Cooper, “Welcome to My Nightmare” Any Alice Cooper track could be deemed a Halloween song, but when it comes to the haunting holiday, we have to go with “Welcome to My Nightmare.” With lyrics like “Welcome to my nightmare / Welcome to my breakdown … We sweat and laugh and scream here / 'Cause life is just a dream here” coupled with allusions to Coop’s bloody battles, this classic will always be No. 1 in our book! -HC - ________________________________________________________________ Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.A
  7. 1 point
    Is one really better than the other? Recently I purchased a new acoustic guitar - a Taylor 150e 12 string (you can read the details about it in this thread, or check out Russ Loeffler's comprehensive review of the Taylor 150e right here on Harmony Central), and instead of a hardshell case, it came with a nice gig bag. While I do play live occasionally, I'm primarily a studio guy so my guitars don't do a lot of traveling. Still, since I live in a fairly arid area I wondered if the soft case would supply sufficient protection. I was particularly concerned about storing it and keeping it humidified inside the bag when not in use. That led to me researching the subject, and ultimately, this article. Whenever buying a guitar or bass, it's important to consider storage when not in use. While an instrument stand can be a good place to set it down for brief periods, it's not really an ideal long-term storage solution, and doesn't protect the instrument during transport. Specialized ATA-style flight cases (a form of extra-rugged hard shell case that meets airline industry recommendations) are great for touring musicians, but are overkill for someone who is just starting to play. Cheap chipboard cases have largely (and thankfully) become a thing of the past. That leaves two broad categories of instrument storage and protection solutions - gig bags and hard shell cases. Let's take a look at some of the characteristic features, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. A Taylor hard shell case (top) and gig bag Gig Bags and Soft Cases The quality and design of both cases and gig bags can vary considerably. Bags are especially variable. I've seen everything from thin nylon bags with questionably sewn handles and straps with scarcely any padding inside all the way up to "bags" that are very heavily reinforced and padded. These sorts of bags are often referred to as "soft cases," and while their exteriors may look similar to a regular gig bag, they usually have significantly more padding; some even offer cloth-covered rigid foam inserts and padding levels that rival hard shell cases. The better the padding, the more protection the bag will provide. As for the exteriors, the bags are usually made of a tough fabric material such as nylon, Cordura, or leather. While they won't protect your instrument from being crushed, they offer protection from scratches, minor bumps and dings, sunlight and dust, and to a degree, rain, snow and temperature extremes. Soft cases and gig bags have a couple advantages over hard shell cases. They tend to be lighter and easier to carry; in fact, many have built-in straps so you can wear the instrument like a backpack, which frees up your hands for other things - like getting phone numbers from groupies, or cashing the huge check from your gig. Many also have more built-in storage (in the form of zippered compartments) for accessories and cables than hard shell cases do. They also tend to be less expensive than hard cases, but remember, you get what you pay for; some of the nicer bags can cost as much as some hard cases do. Lower-cost models may be more appropriate for lower-cost instruments. Hard Shell Cases As with gig bags, the design of hard shell cases can vary too, from the materials used for the hard outer shell to the level of padding and protection they provide inside. Many are made of plywood and covered with vinyl, Tolex, or some other durable fabric. Others use an external shell made from fiberglass or polypropylene plastic. The heavier the shell material and structure of the case, the better protection your instrument will have from things that can break, bruise, ding or crush it, and increased protection from this kind of significant damage is the biggest advantage of a well-designed hard shell case. Of course, the downside is that the heavier it's built, the more it's likely to weigh. Many hard shell cases have interiors that are filled with fabric or felt-covered EPS foam, with form-fitting molded recesses shaped into it to fit the instrument the case was designed for. This holds the instrument more securely than many gig bags do, and does a better job at preventing the instrument from shifting around inside (and potentially being damaged) during travel. Hard shell cases tend to be heavier than gig bags and usually cost more, but they are generally your best choice (short of an ATA-rated flight case) for maximum protection, and are often included with the purchase of more upscale instruments. Which One Should You Choose? For many players, their decision is determined by what's included with the instrument when they buy it, but you may want to give it a bit more thought. Ask yourself these questions before shopping for a case or bag. Do you travel with the instrument a lot, or do you usually stay home and rarely ever travel with it? Do you need to travel light, or keep your hands free for other things? (Subway users, motorcycle riders, carrying other gear, etc.) Are you purchasing a case for an electric, or a more fragile acoustic instrument? Do you live in an area with freezing-cold winters or blazing hot summers, or other weather extremes? How clumsy or careful are you in general? Is the weight of the case a concern? How expensive is the instrument you want to protect? Are you on a tight budget? The answers to these questions will help you determine whether a case or bag is better suited to your needs. Bringing it back to my new 12-string, I was less concerned with the possibility of it suffering an impact or crushing blow, but since I live in a very warm and dry area, I was concerned about how well a soft case style gig bag would retain humidity from an in-case humidifier so I contacted Glen Wolff, the Customer Service Manager at Taylor Guitars and asked him about it. Here's what he had to say: "Humidity control is possible in gig bags as well as cases. The main thing is you’re stopping the direct airflow over the guitar either way. Here’s something to consider: Our hard cases are made from wood, about twice as much wood as we use to build a guitar. When you humidify your guitar in the hard case, you’re also humidifying the case. This means your humidifier is trying to humidify both the guitar and the case at the same time. This can work in your favor if you’re maintaining the humidity inside the case because the moisture the case is holding acts as a reserve for the guitar should you encounter drier than normal conditions or forget to check for a few weeks. When using a humidifier in a gig bag, you’re pretty much only humidifying the guitar. The bag isn’t going to absorb the amount of moisture the wood case does, but you don’t get that reserve. Same goes for the hard bag." So yes, it's possible to keep a guitar properly humidified, even in a bag, but you do have to be careful to check your case humidifier regularly. As with my new 12 string, a hardshell case or gig bag is sometimes included when you purchase a new instrument. Some manufacturers include them as part of the accessory package that is included with specific models, and in those instances they don't cost anything extra. The least expensive instruments on the market tend to come without either one. As you move up the price scale you'll start to see more instruments that include a gig bag. Hard shell cases tend to be offered only as an optional purchase on most beginner and many intermediate level instruments, and are typically included in the purchase price only on more upscale models. While buying a top of the line hard shell case makes little sense for a inexpensive starter guitar, if you live in an area with temperatures that are really hot or cold or where it rains a lot, a hard shell case may be a better investment than a bag for your intermediate-level or nicer quality instrument since they frequently provide better protection from the elements. If you throw your guitar into the band van, trailer, or your car trunk along with a lot of other gear on a regular basis, then a hard shell case would be a good investment since your instrument will be less likely to be damaged by other shifting gear than it would in a soft bag. Even beginners who travel to and from their guitar teacher's location a couple of times a week might need hard shell case protection - especially if they're hard on instruments, or generally clumsy. However, if you're like me, and travel less frequently, a gig bag or soft case may be all you really need. Both cases and gig bags are useful products, and neither one is really better in all situations, so take stock of where you live and what you need from a case, consider the value of the instrument you want to put inside it, and purchase accordingly. __________________________________________________ Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.

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