I just got in from Neufchateau - another great year! I skipped it in 2002, going to mbira camp instead. I guess I got my tap guitar kicks by going to NAMM 2002, but still I missed Neufchateau.
This year was special in its own ways, let me summarize in an organized way...
The Players and their Gear:
Daniel Schell - our leader - organizer of the e-tap seminar fo rthe past umpteen years. These days he plays a Mobius Megatar, and he's never sounded better. With three "rail" type pickups, he gets a twangy telecaster sound that I never heard before on tap guitar (in his jazz playing ) and also a full bodied tone for the Indian ragas that he plays so well.
Andre Pelat - Great player of all styles of music, including some complex music of Chopin, Mozart, etc. A veteran of many Neufchateau summers. He gets a nice sound from the high register of his ironwood 80's vintage 10 string Stick(r) instrument.
Wolfgang Daiss - Awesome player of Jazz and classical music, uses many tunings and many axes. He has a remarkable Stick(r) brand instrument that he made some improvements to , including scalloped frets (! I bet this made quite a splash at the German Stick(r) seminar when Wolfgang atteneded recently!). He is famous for playing the "surfboard" 14 string Krempel, and he has a super surfboard 17 string instrument that Siggi made for him this year. In the jazz gig he played a Mobius Megatar with dark woods and Bartolini pickups, from which he coaxed a smooth jazz Gibson-like tone (very nice indeed). I know he also had a Warr or two on him during the week...
Joe Conti: From Hawaii, Joe is a full time working pro who plays both Warr Guitar and the Stick(r) brand instrument. He had the Stick(r) instrument with him this year. His Stick instrument produces a nice tone, thanks in part to the multi band parameteric eq that he had custom built and fused to the back of the neck. He also used midi and drum machines to get a full band sound (plus his singing) for the all nigh non stop party gigs that he does so well.
Kuno Wagner, a German master of the 8 string Warr, Krimso scholar extroardinare, master of complex virtual guitar FX.
and then there was humble little me with my 11 string Warr Guitar.
The popular pre-amp this year was the Korg Pandora, in both the guitar and bass versions. This little guy can serve as a headphone amp, or a modeling pre-amp that can give you great tone. Andre, Olivier, and daniel Schell all had them, and I used a pair of them for the tap night gig in Brussels.
Andre taught us how to make some of the two handed
melodies that grace his awesome CD "Beaute". We also explored playing
jazz standards in the highest registers of the instrument. Andre
gave a master class on how he arranges classical pieces.
Wolfgang, among other things, showed us a cool and easy way to convert regular guitar tab to our standard tuning of tap guitar, so if you want to shred that favorite Yngwe solo in Guitar magazine, it's in your grasp! He also showed us the old and hallowed augmented chord concept, similar to the chord wheels taught by Pat Martino and other Jazzmen.
Daniel drilled us like a seargent on sight reading, and taught the findamentals tothe beginners, as he has for over a decade.
Kuno taught the brand new King Krimson song "Fractured", as well as the crafty song "Asturias", for the beginners.
I taught the Shona song "Nyuchi" to all groups, as well as the basic rhythm training needed to play it. A select group of players performed the song in the final concert, in front of the whole school. I also taught the Scriabin prelude Op. 48, No. 2, to the advanced players. With the advanced players we did my arrangement of JJ Johnson's song "Judy" for 4 tap guitars.
Joe Conti showed us some of his techniques for keeping a room ful of tourists dancing for 6 hours straight. Most of thi instruction took place in the bar after midnight! (way to go Joe!!).
We spent about an hour listening to Steve Hayden's
"Black Loam part 2" in the classrom, with scores in hand, analyzing his
style of composition and playing technique.
Yuri Vasilievsky had some really nice tap guitars that he is making in Brussels. They have a body, about the size of a Megatar body, but I liked the look of Yuri's instruments better. Hopefully these wil be in the hands of many capable European players soon.
Siggi from Germany had a wide variety of exotic tap guitars including a large acoustic, and the 17 string he built for Wolfgang Daiss (all fourths, two sets of 8 strings from low E flat, with a low B flat string in the center).
I think that all makes of guitar were present at some point, including ADG, Belgrado, home made, etc. ect. etc....
The summer school at Neufchateau is an awesome place to spend a week. My only regret is that I did not avail myself of some of the other classes that were going on that week, particularly the Bulgarian music classes. The whole scene surrounding that school is amazing, and not anything like an American's tour bus view of Europe. On the last night, at our final concert/bar session, I was conversing in Russian with a master musician (Ivan Stefanov) from Bulgaria, in the remote hills of French Belgium, I really felt like a citizen of the world for the first time in a while.
New this year, our first player from Lithuania, Mikas, and Tobias from Switzerland (playing a wonderful first generation Warr that once belonged to Frank Jolliffe). Then there was John from New Jersey (soundgate) who worked on tapping basics, and also tirelessly helpedus as the "drummer on demand". He played tablas, djembe, you name it!
I also met, for the first time, Daniel and Francois
from France. Mark Butler from the UK made a return after a ten year
absence. it was Mark who conducted the great Trey Gunn interview
of 1993 that helped to get me started with touchstyle.
*"Stick" is a registered trademark of STICK ENTERPRISES
INCORPORATED, with whom I have absolutely no affiliation.