Richard Daniel's Ezine -- Issue #2

Dear Ezine subscriber,

Welcome to the second issue of the
Ezine.  In this issue we explore the early days
of the Beatles.  We explore the formation of the
classic rock group, hero worship, life playing
in the bars of Hamburg, the expansion of the
blues/rock guitar form and the road to Beatlemania.

Our tuition column takes a closer look at the five
way pickup selector switch which came as stock on my
old 70's era tri-bolt Stratocaster, and we explore
the possibilities that switch presents to you.

A number of questions have been sent in by subscribers
from our inaugural issue.  Please send in your
most burning questions... and we will address in the
next issue.

Finally, we expect to commence with Issue #3 a html
version of the Ezine, complete with
TAB and fretboard diagrams, designed to expand your
universe of understanding of the guitar.  Thank you
to those who sent in TAB requests.  TAB will appear
commencing with Issue #3.

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So, let's get this show on the road...

The Beatles' Early Days

Richard Daniels speaks about the formation of
the classic rock group, hero worship, life playing in
the bars of Hamburg, the expansion of the blues/rock
guitar form and the road to Beatlemania.

First of all, I want you to know that in front of me
on my desk at this very moment is a picture of The
Beatles: Paul, John and George (left to right minus
Ringo). This is how they looked before they became the
Fab Four, before they took the world over, before they
became the quintessential rock group, before they
became the most famous rock group in history. This is
a picture taken from the period when they were just
coming into their own, grinding through a digestion
process of playing songs gleaned directly from the ten
years of rock and roll that preceded them.

They look like they are standing on a flat tar roof
top, sort of by the edge, outfitted in leather
jackets, black shirts and denim pants. You see
absolutely nothing glamorous about this famous Beatles
sighting. The utility is what strikes you, the gritty
feel that they exude. Their outfits have that sort of
"slept in" look. But there they are: short cropped
hair an inch above the collar. A wind blown bunch
taking on whatever comes, doing what they do on group
auto-pilot. This was the real magical mystery tour.
This one was not as idle as the one to come. They had
that gleam in their eye. They were bent on using the
guitar as a wedge out of the restrictions of their
personal class struggle, and while they were at it
create some high renaissance art. So young, so fresh,
so potentially dangerous, you get the sense that these
guys spent a lot more time burning the torch than they
did trying to deeply analyze their lot. That job was
postponed for the voyeurs of the years to come,
carried out by people like us, that still marvel at
the expenditure of such great talent in a rush of
creation. We knew the end of the story before we dug
out the beginning in rare black and white pictures.
Still, there is the shot.

Behind them it looks like a few stories down to the
street in a busy city. London, Liverpool, Hamburg...
doesn't really matter, the picture doesn't scream out
for clarification. With a quick glance, you see what
there is to see. They all have on these wild cowboy
boots with flames on them. The boots say a lot about
the owners. Question: Where do you go when you are
wearing flaming boots. Answer: Onto stage in the
nightclub. As a group they seem together distracted at
something they are sort of laughing at, going on at
some point past the camera. They seem like a band.
They look like a band. They hold no instruments, but
you can tell. We all know the legend: The Beatles went
to Hamburg after ascending to club status in

In Hamburg they were forced to play as a band on a
very strict, extended time clock. This is, of course,
the real birth of the Beatles, or certainly one of
them along the way. The story of the Beatles in
Hamburg is the subject of many a book and movie. The
very idea of these guys playing on stage in the corner
of some place, just ruining the same songs again and
again... day in and day out, well, it sort of brings a
tear to your eye. This is where they played the songs
one after another hard. This is their second level.
Their second birth. They played for sure in England,
but across the sea on the continent they were thrown
into the Las Vegas of northern Europe: The clubs of

Rock historians take this period very seriously, like
the Fall of Rome to others in their department. The
names, places, dates and events have all been eaten up
like crumbs of cheese by starved mice , all of this by
authors and readers hungry for a transposition back in
time (even if only from the page of a book) to catch a
glimpse of the origin of the species. It was at night
in the club where the backbone of the Beatles was
forged. They had to prove themselves like never
before, and arguably never again. If they blew it, the
dream may have ended right there. It was the raw fact
that the performance just went on and on to
consumption that fueled every part of their continuing

Everything about their lives at this time was driven
by wheels larger than the band. They were out of their
common element, yet found the replacement to be very
attractive. This integral environment of overwork,
intense focus and new found powers was created by the
universe of the clubs. The club offered a specific
free zone for everybody to firmly play out their
instincts: The crowd, the band, the youth nation. The
house would pay the band to provide a tribal element
to the surroundings. If it was not directly stated,
then it was an implied common fact that the real job
of the band was to support the active world of the
club, to keep it hopping, to fuel the feeling of the
party. Keep it rolling at all costs, that was their

The owners and operators wanted a sustained
hypnotic rant of sound in order to submerge the
sensibilities crowd, so paying at the bar seemed like
a natural thing to do. The band had to play each song
out fully. They had to play them one after another,
while the people danced and drank beer in front of
them, until all hours of the night, every night, night
after night. Before they knew it they were perfected.
They knew their instruments like never before. The
entire process became second nature. This was before
the public chewed them into icons, before they knew
what hit them. This was the part of the legend where
they played for money, played for time, and played to
answer the call of the wild: will to become that which
you cover.

Talk about a Hard Days Night. The all nighters, and
the lifestyle that goes with it in the red light
district, quickly turned where they "lived" into a
sort of nightmare of dirty cloths off of a hallway
somewhere around the club they were playing. Taking
the stage, of course, was the light that outshone all
others, and transcended any and all related
activities. They lived through it one night at a time.
They talked about what songs worked and which didn't,
or about their sound. They talked endlessly to each
other, and somehow or another it all seemed to melt
away when they took the stage and people started
yelling and cheering. John would plug in and start
singing, Paul would plug in and fall behind as George
ran the barre chords through the wheel.

Of course the Beatles themselves were not immune from
the dark side of the city. On the contrary, they were
the last ones in at night. Saying hi to the milkman on
the way to the flat was not uncommon. Anything would
go once showtime rolled along. It must have been a
great night when, legend has it, John comes out onto
the stage with a toilet seat around his neck. Could
this have something to do with the fact that they
owned the show? After they tasted the success of
pulling it off, they just got better faster. They saw
other musical acts and hung out with the other
musicians when moving between points of the stage-to-
bed cycle. The weight was to play. To be there on time
and go on. The central focus was the gig. That is all
they remembered later. The hours were so long that
playing the guitar sort of melted into a full time
affair. This is where the group learned the language
of the blues/rock form and ran it into the ground in a
tribal trial by fire. They were at the center of the
ritual, the shaman that brought the forbidden other
world of inhibition right there into the club.

On stage the group forged the classic rock format. Two
guitars can do a lot more than one guitar. The bass
acted as a guitar anchor line. And with three guys
singing, and the drums slamming, you have a lot going
on to control. They would play the same guitars,
through the same amps, with the same set up, with a
sort of wind up and pitch attitude. The idea was to
put the place in a trance with the beat. Like drinking
a bottle of wine, the music develops a total effect.
The songs roll by as one. The next thing you know the
band is hot, and the club is crowded and there is
money being made. The club encourages the band to go
on and on, the people get more wound up, and The
Beatles get sharper and sharper with each gig. After a
while, the show develops itself. They knew that they
could keep it going for the long run of a club night.
They had the confidence to address the job of playing
the song with a little extra over the top. They could
switch songs with no problem. They would kick it off
and the very next thing everybody there was "into the

Looking at the essence of nightclub band performance,
it is safe to say that if there are low points during
the night (say wrong notes, somebody playing out of
key, or a song that doesn't work), that the high
points of real communion- the primal connection-
outweigh and rise above everything else that happens.
As long as the bridge is crossed, by both artist and
listener, even if just for a minute, an hour, or the
entire night then the event is a success. The circle
is complete, unbroken and rolling..

It was always the best rock songs that nailed the
night. The crowd knew it. The management knew it. The
Beatles knew it. The Beatles management knew it. And
it didn't matter who knew it after that, because the
whole world was going to know about it soon enough.

Of course much has been said and written about "The
Hamburg days" but I want to add, that the extended
process that honed the skills of John and Paul, the
process of overplaying the guitar as a vehicle to get
familiar with it, also served as a window into the
forces and forms of music itself to the young boys.
Yes, the guitar was definitely the instrument that
they were expected to use. We see this in all of the
pictures. Guitars everywhere. But the enthusiasm with
which the Beatles approached the guitar, combined with
their unique exploring vision served as a medium that
afforded the group an eventual transcendence of
established musical form.

If you digest the form of American rock and roll
completely, and then play it endlessly to the point
where you are basically living the life, then you have
the circumstance that allowed The Beatles to come to
life. One thing brought on the other. Aside from the
nightlife that the boys enjoyed, they were riding
their instruments with a new found hold on the
subject. As time went buy, and the song list got
pounded into the ground any number of times, they
emerged from their cocoon: A beautiful butterfly, born
in the barrooms in Hamburg. Of course the "Return to
the clubs of England" is the next part of the early
timeline. The skinny is that the Beatles were hot. The
word on the street and in the papers was that the
Beatles were smooth, and could play all night. They
were back from Europe looking good. They blew through
their set now. There is a rawness that comes with the
actual experience, the human being as hero reforming
himself in the distant fire, and returning to the
homeland. Stuff of myth, really.

Everything quickly evolved past the early days of the
clubs. The story goes that the Beatles recorded there
first album in 17 hours, and it serves as a perfect
record of what their live stage act had cemented
together. Wind them up, and they go, go, go. They were
bigger than themselves even then. Those guys played
together for so many hours that the entire thing
turned into a sort of platform of extended drama: A
story that played itself out fully in the years ahead.

The inherited form which they digested was evident in
the very songs that they chose to play early on. The
US blues tradition was imported to England through the
mail. The image of Chicago blues, Elvis, rhythm and
blues, the whole ball of wax, that is the world the
young British guitar players entered into when they
sat alone next to their record player spinning the
same imported record over and over again playing along
on a cheap guitar without a clue how to really do it.
That is the classic image of the "British blues man"
that turned out the entire revolution of British
invasion guitar players. You know, Eric Clapton as a
purist, insisting on staying the way with the early
blues forms. Shunning off further development. Locking
the focus on the form out of respect for it. That was
the environment that brought fruit to bear. The Brits
got the bug. Period. Can't blame them really.
Reverence for an irreverent form. The Stones, Cream,

The truth is that there wasn't much going on in other
parts of the world that compared directly to American
rock and roll around the time the Beatles first peeked
over the fence. American pop. The fact that the
Atlantic Ocean was between Chicago and London meant
nothing. Original blues was just a huge magnet, an
attractive force that pulled everybody to the center
where rock was eventually cast. One form was built
on the other.

It is important to address the progression of the
blues form from the delta fathers in the 20's and
30's, through the Muddy 40's in Chicago, through to
Chuck Berry and Elvis in the 50's. The long,
historical evolution of musical forms demonstrates a
repeated pattern of new musical forms growing from
those which are already established. We can see from
our present vantage point in time that the rock and
roll era that influenced The Beatles served as a
stepping stone, just as the wheel turned once again
over and beyond the vision and experiments of the

Fact: The Beatles were born on American rock & roll.
Below you will see a partial list of the songs that
the Beatles performed live on the BBC during the very
early 60's:

Too Much Monkey Business 	(Berry)
A Shot of Rhythm & Blues 	(Thompson)
That's All Right Mama  		(Crudup)
Carol 				(Berry)
You Really Got a Hold On Me  (Robinson)
To Know Her Is To Love Her  (Spector)
Long Tall Sally 	      (Johnson-Penniman-
Lucille  		      (Johnson-Penniman-
Johnny B Goode 			(Berry)
Memphis, Tennessee 		(Berry)

Where do I start? Taken together as a whole, the above
list could serve as a study guide for the blues form
to any guitar student. This 1, 4, 5 form was first
used by the delta fathers, the Chicago kings and the
Rock Around the Clockers to cement the deal for Elvis,
Little Richard and everybody that John copied. By the
time the Beatles got the song list taped to the
Hamburg stage, they had the form all over the place.
The Beatles played the form upside down. All the
usable keys, with all the moves converted to the
various chord forms: The whole thing down pat. The
lead guitar employed the flatted 3rd and flatted 7th,
and there were tricks to know for each key. All of
this was fine and well, and became a common language,
a standard fare for the guitarists in the band.

Unknowingly, John and Paul were setting themselves up
to transcend the blues form. The external world masked
the musical wonder that was taking place. A Chuck
Berry song is a skeleton. A buzzed, up tempo
application of the Chicago blues form. Still, if you
look at the inside of the Berry application you will
see 1. A rhythm guitar pumping the rotating root chord
rhythm figure wherever applicable. 2. A single voice
story about cars and girls. 3. Choppy lead hooks off
the E form on the thin strings. That's it. Well by the
time the Beatles picked up the torch, they did
themselves the favor of branding the blues form into
their band so hot and deep that it was never going
away. The Beatles digested the form completely through
determined, required playing marathons. The writing
duo of John and Paul blossomed a bit later in much the
same way.

The history of classical application is a well
documented growth of the elements of form. Centuries
of time brought the major scale to practical use in
Europe, but once it was completely assimilated, then
the next logical building steps followed one after
another: triads were built on each major degree, pedal
point figures replaced single notes in a melody. Scale
climbing, from Mozart to Paganinni, reached dizzying
heights of complexity that left the linear
applications of the previous period in the dust. To a
great degree, The Beatles did the same thing to the
music of their forefathers.

Once the blues form, with its top ten moves applied to
basic keys, was known and played cold, the next
logical step for The Beatles was to take it further
through ease and expansion of familiar application.
First the base form gets nailed down, then comes
invention through subdivision and relative
substitution. The Beatles filled in the blanks of the
Chuck Berry application. Chording got more complex
with the building of melodic degrees into the chord's
usual triad as the song rolled. The fluid harmonic
singing over and through the chord, taking the notes
of the chord into the melody, forcing the chord around
the melody. The chug-a-lug rhythms backed by the
harmony chord vocals: all of this finally led to a
loaded situation. They reached a sort of blues form
finish line. There was nowhere else for the boys to go
except into more complex invention. And that is where
they went.

It should be noted that all new and significant
musical stylistic forms, although initially bound to
the roots from which they first grew, eventually pass
by a breakaway point and become a unified, unmarked
force of individual character and free standing
expression. In the case of our flame booted hopefuls,
the grainy days of screaming Beatlemania gave way to
original songwriting, insulated in a dark soundproof
studio. By that time the blues form had been
shattered, and the multi-headed Buddha had taken over.
The era of Rubber Soul and Revolver took the place of
"Roll Over Beethoven." Eventually John and Paul
drifted over the horizon in their Yellow Submarine,
leaving the fractured, overworn, exhausted first form
on the beach with the rest of the shells. The real
mystery is that when you hear it, the change over to
the new form seems effortless somehow: a gravity is
involved, a pull to the new form. The sweat of the
incubation period is crushed in the run.

The sweet, free melodies is what will go down in
musical history, along with the fact that the guitar
was convertible enough in its scope of application to
take on the genius of The Beatles in their full
impact.  Now it can be seen that the unchanging guitar
played the dramatic roll of whatever the individual
needed it to be. Chuck Berry sees fit to cop licks
from the Elmore James school: Sure the guitar can
allow for that. John and Paul play Chuck Berry with an
afterburner Rhythm and Blues injection: Sure, the
guitar can provide accommodations for that dream.
After decades of form refinement, the cash crop
finally comes in: The Beatles melt the blues in the
oven of overuse and out comes free form association,
the song as a simple melody, the guitar as the
constant vehicle.

A melt down of the form is the end result of
pushing it. Doors open, with more doors behind them.
No matter what room the doors open into, the guitar is
already inside waiting for the next episode of human
insight and expression. Each episode is but a part of
an endless continuum: a tapping of the universal
source, hiding steadfast behind all of the various
faces of music.

Richard Daniels



Touring Richard's Strat: The five way switch

Today we are going to take a closer look at the five
way pickup selector switch which came stock on my old
70's era tri-bolt Stratocaster. First know this fact:
When the very first Stratocaster rolled off Leo
Fender's assembly line, the Strat was outfitted with
three single coil pickups and was hard wired with a
three way switch that allowed only one of the guitar's
pickups to be active at any given time. The Strat was
designed to be a single coil pickup guitar.

This is the way that the Strat stayed through all of
its vintage years, and it wasn't until the 70's that
the stock selector switch allowed for more than one
pickup to be on at a time. The old legend is that rock
stars like Jimi Hendrix would sort of rig the switch
by placing it between the contact points, thus
allowing for more combinations.

When the five way switch is thrown down all the way
towards the floor, just the treble or bridge pickup is
activated. This provides the most cutting, shrill
treble setting that the guitar has to offer. The
second position (the next upward position) allows for
both the bridge pickup and the middle pickup to be on
simultaneously. This combo sounds a more dynamic,
slightly "out of phase" sensation which can result in
a hard to describe "hollow" sort of sound. This is
because two pickups are registering various, and
different, upper overtone signals from two different
points along the singing string. Also, depending on
pickup placement, two active pickups can report the
very same upper partial of vibration from two
different place, but one mode will be going "up" while
the other is going "down." Same frequency, different
phase reading. All of this gives the "double pickup"
setting a special feel when compared to a single
pickup setting.

When the switch is straight up from the pickplate,
just the middle pickup is activated. This setting is
noticeably less sharp that the bridge pickup alone.
The fourth position, now leaning towards the strings,
is the second "double pickup" setting involving the
middle and the neck pickup. This setting is really
special for its depth, and requires a careful listen
to grasp the true subtlety of tone involved. The final
fifth position provides the guitar's bass centered
tone, and should be used when a fuller sound is

The five way switch is best studied in a very
controlled situation, for instance with earphones when
the guitar is set without distortion or effect. Here
is how I end up using the switch in daily practice.
When I need a variety of effect for recording
purposes, or when a project requires the guitar to
provide different colors of sounds, I go to the
different switch positions and experiment with the
sounds that I have at my disposal.

But when the drummer starts to play, and I am up
against the rest of the band and the PA system in a
live situation, I resort to playing with just the
treble/bridge pickup on exclusively 95% percent of the
time. Nothing cuts through like the treble pickup when
the chips are down.



QUESTION: What gives each particular guitar its own
special, unique sound?

Well, first of all understand that any string, from
any guitar tuned to a common frequency (220hz, 440hz)
will sound the same pitched note. The term tone, which
I have seen misused any number of times, refers not to
the pitch of a note, but to its tonal characteristics:
how it actually sounds as a sensation to the ear.

A quick round up of the usual suspects will provide a
short list of variables. The size of the body of the
guitar, the length over which the string is stretched,
the type of string, the type of body style (archtop,
flat top etc.) all of these things give a specific
instrument its personal color. A more subtle character
is determined by the strength or weakness of the
pronouncement of the upper overtones. Each family of
musical instrument has its own class of timber, or
tone color, and the same holds true of individual
instruments in each family. Upper overtones may be
practically impossible to see, or measure with common
means, but they subtlety influence the ultimate sound
the instrument produces.

Finally, the materials used for the construction of
the instrument itself can make a considerable
difference in its characteristic sound.
has a good rundown on the various woods that are
commonly used to construct the neck, fretboard and
body of the guitar, and what you can expect from the
use of each common wood.

QUESTION: What is the major pentatonic scale, and
how is it used?

The major pentatonic scale is a five note scale that
has several different primary roles in pop/rock/blues
styling. Understand the mighty major scale is the
cornerstone of all Western music, and the
underpinnings of this primary scale is the 1st and the

The major pentatonic is a simple subset of the major
scale. If you take the major scale and remove the 4th
and the 7th, you will have the bare bones of the major
penta: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6. The interval pattern between the
degrees of this scale is whole step, whole step, minor
third, whole step, minor third. The two major degrees
not in this scale are the very two degrees that
provide the half steps in the major scale. This means
that the pentatonic major is a "gapped" scale that has
two "three fret" intervals.

The major penta is a very melodic vehicle which can be
used in all kinds of music, but is often used to play
out the melody line, especially in country music. In
the world of lead guitar, the major penta is used as a
foil against the famous blues scale (the minor
pentatonic), which is also based on the 1st and 5th of
the major scale. When you add the other three notes
(2, 3, and 6) to the blues scale, you have a hybrid
scale that is used by practically all lead guitarists
to ply their trade.

Another interesting point is that the actual outline
of the major pentatonic on the fretboard is identical
to that of the blues scale, but is shifted three frets
up from the position of the blues scale. Same cookie
cutter pattern, different position. The degrees of the
major pentatonic could also be considered the major
triad (1, 3, 5) with the addition of the 2nd and 6th.


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Dear reader, that wraps up this month's issue of Ezine.  Please send your questions, and
your TAB requests.  We'll see you next issue.

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wish to subscribe so that you get these issues directly,
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Cordially, Richard Daniels, Heavy Guitar Company /
Richard Daniels Productions. Voice: (610) 869-5885
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