Blog Archives

Interview with Lisa S. Johnson, the woman behind 108 Rock Star Guitars

Lisa S. Johnson, author of 108 Rock Star Guitars, was interviewed online on Guitar Girl Magazine, where she talked about her book and the amazing pictures featured in it. Read what she had to say in the excerpt below!

00127925V: We’re here with Lisa S. Johnson, who has just released the book, 108 Guitars

L: 108 Rock Star Guitars!

V: Yes, rock star guitars– nothing that isn’t in that realm! So, what made you interested in just shooting guitars rather than guitars, drums, etc.? Do you play?

L: I grew up in a musical family; my father plays multiple instruments, and my mother is a singer, a country western singer, I grew up on country western, and then my brothers and sisters who are all older, they were into classic rock.  And so I listened to that with all my friends. I had a country background and a classic rock upbringing, with some blues and jazz as well. Then I ended up going to school for photography, and I ended up working for Eastman Kodak. I wanted to be a photographer; I ended up working for Kodak. All us reps at Kodak, we were all aspiring photographers; we all wanted to be photographers, and we all had access to as much film as we wanted.  So we were always shooting films and testing films to make sure we understood our products, and we could sell them to our photographer clients, and I was in and working for Kodak in Memphis Tennessee, and I started dating the guitar player at church.  My father told me growing up I was not allowed to date musicians, so I called my dad up and said “Dad, I’m calling to confess, I’m dating a musician, however, he is the guitar player at church and he owns a vintage guitar store, that’s his business”. So Dad said, “Oh, well, that’s different, he’s not a touring musician; he owns a vintage guitar store, huh? If he ever gets in a Gibson mandolin, I’ve always wanted one; let me know.” So two weeks later, he gets in a 1917, mint condition, Gibson mandolin. And I said to him, “I want that for my dad, how much?” He said, “You can’t afford it, but if you photograph some guitars for me, that I have to sell that I don’t want to sell, I’ll trade you for the mandolin.”  Now at that time I was shooting objects; I was studying the films, and I was shooting objects, and I was hand coloring them. At the time Kodak had a new film out called Kodak TNXP3200 that had grain, beautiful grain, and we had a new paper that had come out that was specific for hand tinting images, so I was practicing, experimenting with that, and so that’s what he was talking about, ‘I want you to photograph some guitars for me, like you do these objects, and hand color them and I’ll trade you for the mandolin’. So that’s how I fell in love with photographing guitars, at that point. Then I would go into his store, and I’d bring home any guitar I wanted, these beautiful, vintage guitars. One of the first ones I shot was a Fender paisley telecaster, and not long after that Kodak transferred me to New York City, and I thought, you know, every photographer needs to have a niche, something that they have a strength on, and so I thought, well, my signature imagery is going to be guitars.  And I may as well photograph famous ones, if I’m gonna do it, so Les Paul performed every Monday night at the Iridium Room in New York, and I went down there; I used to go by myself, and they had a bar in the back, in the old-school Iridium Room, the original one, and I’d go back and I’d sit there, and I got to know his bass player, his fiddle bass, stand-up bass player, and I said, “Do you think Les would let me photograph his guitar?” and I showed him images that I’d been doing in Memphis, and he said “Let me ask him.” And Les came back and said yes, and twelve years later, he wrote the foreword for my book, 108 Rock Star Guitars.

V: Proof of ‘who knows, when you ask…?’

L: That’s right; you gotta ask.

V: Now, has your filming changed over the years; have you gone to digital or do you still use the hardcore film techniques..?

L: I transitioned to digital; having worked for Kodak, of course I’m a film person- I love film.  It’s just that the digital process is so much more efficient and easier, and faster…! What’s cool about this book is that not only is it historic in that it captured all these historic guitars, it’s also historical in that this was project that took 17 years to complete. And 15 years of it was shooting, then assembling and creating the book. So for 15 years, I began with film, I transitioned to the new digital, I got screwed on a couple of photo shoots because the digital technology wasn’t really there, or so good in low light situations, and I was always shooting in low light situations backstage, so I learned, though, about digital, and then, now- I always was Nikon and went to Canon for a few years- and then I’ve just recently switched back to Nikon DE 810, it’s phenomenal, and I still use my same lens I’ve been using for years.

V: It’s a signature for you now?

L: Yeah, I love that lens; it’s a 35 to 72 8 f-stop lens, and it’s got a macro setting on it,  so I can move in on the subject, and that’s what I do; I photograph the wear and tear details of the guitars that personify the artists without them being in the picture.  How their pick hits the pick guard, how Keith Richards’ skull ring etches out in the pick guard, you know you can’t see that unless you get up close and personal with the guitars, so that’s what I do. I look at life that way, as close-ups; I like to look close at things and so, I do photograph the whole guitar; I also hone in on the details.

Read the rest of the interview over at Guitar Girl Magazine

Bobby Borg talks Business Basics for Musicians

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, has complied another interview series where he talks about some of the tips you will find in his book. In this episode he talks about pursuing a career in the new music business. Watch the video below to see what he had to say!

To see more of this interview series visit the books page HERE. Let us know your thoughts on the videos in the comment section below!

Bobby Borg Interview Series!

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, has an interview series where he talks about his tips for the DIY musician. In this episode he talks about one of the key points: Vision. Watch the video below to see what he had to say!

To watch more episodes click here!

Josh Bess shows us “How Drum Grooves Control the Genre of Music”

Percussionist and electronic performing artist Josh Bess is the author of Electronic Dance Music Grooves: Techno, Trance, Hip-Hop, Dubstep, and More! , just published by Hal Leonard Books. In the video, Bess takes us behind the scenes as he creates drum grooves!

00128989Electronic Dance Music Grooves provides creative insights to help you understand how to build exciting, powerful, and compelling EDM grooves. Whether you’re into techno, trance, dub-step, drum ‘n’ bass, garage, trap, or hip-hop, author, Ableton Live Certified Trainer, and noted EDM performer Josh Bess helps you take your skills to the next level with an extremely efficient and intelligent groove-making system. And, as an added bonus–providing a valuable basis for your own creations–this book describes the history behind the development of multiple electronic music styles.

A MIDI map, designed to make it simple to use the included grooves and samples with virtually any modern DAW, accompanies each styles. Whether your preferred DAW is Ableton Live, Reason, Pro Tools, Logic, or almost any of the other popular music production and performance software applications, you’ll quickly be equipped to incorporate these grooves and samples into your own creative workflow.

Electronic Dance Music Grooves includes over 300 professional-quality drum and FX samples, more than 300 drum grooves and MIDI files, 17 Ableton Live Drum Racks, and much more, all provided to support your creativity and electronic dance music production. Samples and sessions are delivered online to ensure access to all content, whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Explore Electronic Dance Music Grooves with Josh Bess!

Hal Leonard Books has published Electronic Dance Music Grooves: House, Techno, Hip-Hip, Dubstep, and More!, Josh Bess’s guide to building exciting, powerful, and compelling EDM grooves.  Josh introduces his book below, and provides audio content examples at his website,  Check it out!!


00128989Electronic Dance Music Grooves is a book designed to help anybody and everybody learn to program a wide variety of electronic dance music drum grooves with the use of MIDI programming. It will help somebody starting out from the most basic levels all the way to advanced producers, musicians, and programmers.

Electronic Dance Music Grooves teaches you more than mapping out beats and grooves; it will hopefully become a stepping-stone to a new way of thinking and creating. The main purpose behind Electronic Dance Music Grooves is to introduce new styles of music and grooves that you have possibly never played, programmed, or even heard of before, along with tips and tricks to create something new for yourself.

Throughout the book, you will easily see how powerful and important a drum groove is to music styleidentity. Understanding what creates a specific genre’s groove, from the rhythm and dynamics to the choices of individual sounds, plays a huge role in identifying a tune’s style and genre. As there are currently thousands of electronic music subgenres, rather than covering each and every style there is, we’ll cover the main foundational styles of Electronic Dance Music, which have stemmed to create new styles, subgenres, and categories. With the grooves learned throughout this book, you will gain the necessary understanding, techniques, and knowledge to create the rhythmic structure and patterns for any of your favorite electronic music styles.

Four Smart Ways To Use Your Press Materials Better

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciandescribes ways to improve usage of press materials in his latest article from Hypebot!

Most musicians know that songs, biographies, one-sheets, photographs, videos, press releases and interviews can all be used to help get gigs, blog reviews, radio play, endorsements, and so much more. But in what formats should these materials be submitted? Let’s review 4 possible options together with feedback from a few industry pros.

1. Physical Press Kit

This involves gathering your bio, press release, cover letter, business card, and CDs into an attractive two-pocket folder (such as one you customize using services like Vista Print), stuffing these items into a padded mailing envelope, and shipping them off via services like FedEX or The United States Postal Service.

Says Jeff Weber (Music Producer, Label Owner, and Author), “While I don’t care to receive anything other than the CD and a contact number, physical materials are the preferred method of delivery for me. A high quality CD allows me to evaluate the artist’s songs and performances in their purest form.”

Says Fred Croshal, former general Manager at Maverick Records and current Vice President and founder of Croshal Entertainment Group, “When I’m considering a band for management, I much more prefer to review and listen to materials that I can hold in my hands. It’s a more personal experience. “

2. Personal Website Link

This involves creating a customized destination on the web that includes music, videos, pictures, and bios, and then emailing a link (or links to different pages on your site) to your professional contacts.

Says Christian Stankee (Artist Relations for Sabian Cymbals), “I prefer an external link to the artist’s personal website. I want to see what the public sees. An artist’s site is a true tell of an artist’s ability to market their brand and to potentially market ours.”

Says Attorney Sindee (who helps license copyrights), “I also like an email with an external link to the band’s personal website. There’s no clutter on my desk or floor, it’s simple and easy to view, and I get a sense of what the fans and general public see of the band.”

Click here to read the rest!


Michael Beinhorn Featured at

Record producer Michael Beinhorn, author of the new book from Hal Leonard, Unlocking Creativity: A Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art, is the subject of a three-part interview at  Here’s Part One 1!

00122314Shell Rock, IA – JUNE 2015 … It’s been just over three decades since a young keyboard player in Bill Laswell’s group, Material, made the jump to production as co-producer for Herbie Hancock’s Grammy® award-winning album, Future Shock. Many of the tracks on Future Shock including the hit “Rockit” were co-composed by Michael Beinhorn.

Future Shock was hailed as groundbreaking, and it’s only fitting that Michael Beinhorn’s production aesthetic and career have continued on an exciting arc of energetic, boundary-pushing records.

Michael’s artistic journey has seen him play many roles: producer, engineer, composer, arranger, performer, technical innovator, and shepherd to some incredibly rocking recordings of the modern era. A review of Beinhron’s discography is eye-popping, including, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul Asylum, Sound Garden, Aerosmith, Hole, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, and a host of other artists. With Michael’s place in music production lore firmly in place, he can now add Author to his resume with the release of his book Unlocking Creativity: A Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art.

Beinhorn’s seasoned audio palate, and strong desire to bring to fruition the sounds only he hears, has led him to not only stretch the limits of pro-audio gear, but literally create a new audio format along the way.

Michael has been a longtime Chandler Limited user, and we were fortunate to catch up with the ever-busy producer when we provided additional gear for his Courtney Love session (Wedding Day EP) at Tommy Lee’s studio, The Atrium, in early 2014.

In this three-part interview, we’ll cover Michael’s thoughts on today’s music industry, his production methods and gear, and a dissection of the Courtney Love ‘Wedding Day EP’ sessions, which used a lot of Chandler Limited gear.

CL: Okay, we’re convinced you’re not only a music producer, but a time traveler too. When we were coordinating with you seemingly across multiple time zones and airports for the Courtney Love session, you were in the middle of another production in Europe, and jetting back and forth. So many records in now, what keeps the creative flame burning for you?

MB: I’ve always believed it was an unquenchable lake of fire located near the Islets of Langerhans. Seriously, the one thing that gets me going is this crazy idea that a recording project can still be an exposition of creative ideas. That all of us together, the artist, engineers, producers, etc can become a team of artists working toward a unified common goal which is potentially so much greater than what would be accomplished by just one artist alone. That fusion, when it’s present, is the most addictive substance and the most potent source of energy I have ever encountered. I suspect it also might be the fountain of youth.

CL: You were stationed in Europe for a lengthy session, and relocated most of your gear there too, including your Chandler Limited Mini Rack Mixer. Can you tell us more about that project?

MB: I was working in Copenhagen with Mew, who I also worked with in 2004. We cut tracks in a recording studio (STC), but all the overdubbing was done at the band’s rehearsal space (which had been an auto repair shop in a previous incarnation) and the singer’s apartment. It was a real undertaking just to get these places acoustically sound for recording and playback. The band’s rehearsal space had plaster walls, a front and back room and, having been a car repair shop, there were two holes cut in the wall which separated the rooms, presumably to accommodate cars being fixed. The band were initially skeptical about improving separation between the two rooms until the guitarist set up an amplifier in one room, ran a cable to the other and began playing, whereupon, he realized that the amplified guitar was nearly as loud in the room he was in as it was in the room where the amplifier sat. Needless to say, a lot of similar adventures took place. Since I knew the singer’s apartment and the band’s rehearsal space were immutable parts of the recording equation, I brought along some gear I knew we’d need. All I can say is, thank goodness for the Chandler Mini Rack Mixer.

Read the rest of Part 1 here!



Hal Leonard Books Presents Unlocking Creativity

Unlocking Creativity: A Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art is now available! Below, Michael Beinhorn provides an introduction to what his new book contains!

00122314I am utterly and thoroughly chuffed, thrilled and delighted to officially announce the release of my book “Unlocking Creativity” this month by the very lovely people at Hal Leonard.

Since it is subtitled “A Record Producer’s Guide to Making Music and Art” (and was written by someone who has been known to produce records—me), you might well suspect this is a book about record production (and, in many respects, you’d be right). However, instead of framing record production in the context of recording equipment and recording technique (as other books have done), this book attempts to define it relative to the principles, consciousness and intent behind the process.

It also addresses interpersonal interactions in creative situations, some of the psychology and methodology associated with those interactions and a bit of philosophy regarding the creative process in general.

One goal of this book is to conceptually reframe record production as a vehicle for creative expression and not merely as a technical function or as an occupational choice. Viewed in this context, record production (and music creation or any art form) can be seen as mere exterior shells- vessels that the creative process manifests itself through (and mediums that a creative person can- and must- use to the fullest).
My greatest aspiration is that someone who reads this book will be inspired- not merely to make record production (or any artistic endeavor) their job, but to make it their life- to embrace it, excel at it and to find the absolute joy in it. in that case, the book will have done its job and the title will then be self-explanatory. 

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciangives advice for recent music college graduates in his latest article from SonicBids!

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Probably the scariest thing about going to music school to become a more competent musician is graduating and having to find a paying gig. The pressure is on to start repaying those student loans and prove to your friends and family that you haven’t wasted the last four years of your life. While there are no surefire tips to take you from being a student to a celebrity, these seven invaluable tips will help set you and keep you on course for many years to come. Pay attention.

1. Locate yourself in the most opportune city to succeed

New technologies have made it more possible than ever for you to get discovered from virtually any part of the world. However, big cities are where the action is 24/7, and living in or near one is more likely to lead to networking opportunities and big auditions unavailable in small towns.

Research the city that makes the most sense to you given your goals, and then plan out a short visit. Utilize your school’s resources (such as the alumni outreach department) to get a few numbers of people who may be willing to meet up with you and provide some advice. Attend jam sessions. Visit the local musicians’ unions. Thoroughly check out the scene. Just don’t rush your decision. Once you move to a new city for your career, you should prepare to stay there and put in the work for several years.

[Top 10 Cities in North America Whose Music Scenes are Exploding Right Now]

2. Prepare for the long haul by becoming financially sound

Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, or somewhere else, there are countless stories about people who move to the big city and give themselves six months to “make it” while living on their friends’ couches. Needless to say, that’s a completely unrealistic plan.

Be prepared — both financially and mentally — to spend several years pursuing your goals. Look for work immediately to help cover your basic expenses and settle in by joining a local songwriters’ organization or networking group that will bring you a sense of belonging. Just remember that success won’t happen overnight, so be prepared for the long haul.

3. Bridge long-term goals with short-term goals

While finding work to meet expenses is crucial, stay as close to the music business as you can. Look for music-related opportunities such as private instruction, music transcription for educational books, equipment sales, equipment repair, or even stage production.

Who would have ever thought that one of my buddies would end up with a huge touring gig by setting up and moving equipment for SIR studios in Los Angeles? A band was holding auditions there one night and his boss and the music director were cool with him giving it a shot. He nailed the audition and his career took off from there. Moving gear wasn’t fun, but it paid off.

4. Don’t lose touch with your college friends

Remember that the majority of the work you do will be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The genuine relationships you form today can lead to the gigs of tomorrow.

After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I got hired to play weddings by my former teachers with whom I kept in touch. Within one year, I got hired onto my first pro session in New York City by two college buddies that I contacted all the time — this gig led to joining a band on Atlantic Records. Bingo! I was in!

Today, I run into friends from school all the time who are playing with some of the biggest rock groups and working on the biggest films. We still all help each other out in small ways. Remember that connections are one of the biggest reasons why people invest in school.

To read the rest of the article, click here!


Creative Music Product Pricing – Eight Strategies that Paid Off

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, provides examples of creative music pricing strategies that paid off in this post on the Discmakers blog!

These eight examples of creative music product pricing might just change the way you think about pricing your merchandise and services.

For many young and developing artists, music product pricing is usually the process of arbitrarily coming up with a number, slapping it on your product or service, and forgetting about it. However, as illustrated below, pricing is something that can be far more strategic. While you won’t be able to pull off all of the following strategies, these eight examples will get you thinking about price like never before.

1. Kid Rock rocks

As concerts are costing anywhere from $65 to $150, and as much as $300 to $1,250 on the secondary market, Kid Rock charged a low $20 for his “$20 Best Night Ever” tour. By taking the exact opposite approach of what other artists were doing, Rock created quite a buzz among fans and the media. In fact, the strategy apparently worked so well, rock is repeating this idea on his US city tour to support his album, First Kiss.

2. Wu-Tang Clan got a plan

Upon release of its double album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan announced that it would release only one album (i.e. one single unit) that fans can pay to hear in art galleries, museums, and festivals. Since people, in general, love exclusivity, the group received bids for the album for as high as $5 million. The concept was that music should be treated as a valuable and respected piece of art, not something people download at no cost. Clever!

3. Nipsey Hussle does an impressive hustle

Unsigned rapper Nipsey Hussle pressed 1,000 units of his album Crenshaw and sold them at a price of $100 each. Under a campaign he entitled Proud2Pay, customers were also rewarded with concerts, priority access to new material, and one-of-a-kind gifts, such as an old rap notebook or signed photo. Nipsey’s intention was not necessarily to sell out the units to his target audience, but to attract the attention of a few big wigs in the music business. And it worked! Jay-Z swooped up 100 copies of the rappers music.

4. Prince creates a triple win strategy 

On his Planet Earth album, Prince cut a deal with British tabloid The Mall on Sunday, distributing three million copies of his record in its Sunday edition for free (all it cost was the $3 price of the newspaper). Prince was paid a flat fee by The MailThe Mail made money from all the advertisers that wanted the extra exposure, and fans got a free CD. Everybody won.

To read the rest of the article, click here!



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