June 29, 2015

Manalili | End of the World


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About this Video
Another vintage tune that has kept the test of time, thanks to Cesar Manalili.

Originally written by Arthur Kent and most notably recorded by Brenda Lee, Cesar Manalili took it on and produced a nice instrumental version for guitar. Flowing, dramatic, great guitar sounds.

I would say the instrumental backing to Manalili's guitar is pretty classy and adds to the dramatic musical effect.

I'm playing this musical work in the Key B and to the original Manalili arrangement and tempo with some added phrases and improvisations.

...oops pay attention to these points
There is a lot of points here to consider to do this tune any justice. Manalili has earned his nick name guitar master for a reason. This tune has many tough bars to work on - for an amateur. Concentrated finger work, heavy vibrato and reverb on some bars - making for very dramatic effects. Applying nice but difficult lead breaks which I'm still learning to finesse. Do lots of finger exercises.

I would highly recommend you review and learn guitar bends and slides from the guitar gurus on Youtube. It will provide lots of heads up in getting this tune start to sound good.

You will have to work on finding a working reverb setting and maybe use an expression pedal to get the variations used throughout the tune. It's deep and sustaining. Tremolo is also a subtle but influencing factor in getting the tune to sound good in my view. String bends with vibrato combos. This tune has got it all. Give yourself lots of time to learn this tune. Learn it in pieces. This is where software tools like RIFF station will be of huge benefit - looping, segmenting, tempo control etc.

Additionally, I have produced a simple practice backtrack using Chordpulse. The backtrack is free to download - (see Tabs n Tracks menu item on the top of this page), but you will need the Chordpulse software product to play it - Just $22 USD bucks A great deal.

I think all this stuff I just mentioned is best pointed out in a 'How to' video. A video will best describe what has to be done to make this tune work. Even coming from an amateur like me may be very helpful in the end. Compromise here is very thin. This has been and continues to be a challenging tune to learn. It is by far the toughest tune I have undertaken so far.

I keep mentioning getting 'that sound' in my past meanderings. Well here is an example. In a few bars at the start of the tune, you will have to play the guitar strings very close to the bridge for that twangy sharp attack (bright) sound. Country guitar players use this technique a lot. Don't get too close to the bridge - you will loose volume and it will sound too sharp. You will have to find a place on the string that works for you. The key thing is to have consistency in the sound of the strings, too flat, too bright. You must find that spot on the strings you plan to play and stay there for the duration of the music phrase. Use a hard pick to help add to the sound attack.

Just a note and I'll say it gain, that some of the effects you are hearing could very well be studio magic (done in post production) and may be quite difficult to emulate if you want to perform it live. So don't loose any sleep over it. Just experiment with your pedals until you are happy. You may very well find that a single effects setting will work quite well throughout the tune. Then again Manalili makes it look easy.

Bottom line, choose an effects setting you like. Fighting for that studio sound can be a real uphill battle.

This where my desire to get an expression pedal to fool around with comes in (there is one that works with the Flint). I gotta save my pennies for that, so I'll make do with what I have.

Equipment Used and Settings
  • Fender Jazzmaster guitar; pickup switch in treble position, all controls mid range
  • Strymon Flint Reverb, (long and sustaining) reverb effect heavily used. I use a mild but obviously present tremolo setting on the Flint. It will mix well with the vibrato to give a nice dynamic ebb and flow to the overall sound.
  • Use the vibrato bar in some key spots. See the video for where and what I mean.

Artists and Versions
Listen for the Manalili, Brenda Lee versions on my video Playlist above this text for more context. See Playlist location in upper left hand corner of the video frame - Playlist.

Audio and Video Production Tools
Audio recording is done using REAPER DAW, ART DI boxes and an ART USB based audio interface to get guitar sound to DAW.

Video production work is done in Adobe Premiere CS5. Original and final Video resolution is 1280x720p. Compression is about 7-10mb/s MP4. Youtube will transcode to their transmission specs anyway.

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