The Sound magazine
JAN 2011 ● Volume 1

Cover photo, 13-page feature

IC: Since it is officially almost 2011, do you have any this years Resolutions?

BBF: 2010 was quite a year – toured all over the world with Guns, and busted butt in-between legs of the tour gettin' things done – guest solos, producing, collaborating, put a song on Rock Band Network, releasing a TAB book, and prepped new songs to be released in 2011. Goals and resolutions for 2011? Every year the goal is to get done whatever I can, and stay healthy while I'm doin' it. In particular, I'm looking forward to releasing a few songs - not a full album, just one-off's, releasing them as I get 'em done.

IC: You've had an involvement in the instrumental guitar community ever since your very first release on the now-classic underground guitar compilation, "Ominous Guitarists From the Unknown." Bringing things full-circle, in recent years, you produced a fantastic virtuoso guitar compilation entitled, "Guitars That Ate My Brain." Could you talk a little bit about your involvement on that project?

BBF: It was 2 years ago, Pete at Magna Carta had half the tracks and asked if I would finish the other half of the album. I hired Jeremy Krull to write songs in the vibe of different metal artists, I co-wrote some, Dennis Leeflang laid drums at my studio with Jeremy engineering. For Shane Gibson's song Dennis laid drum tracks at his studio. Then the performers were matched up with songs, they laid their guitar solos and sent tracks to me, (I did my solos at my place), then mixing began - I mixed drums, Jeremy re-amped guitars and mixed music stems at his place and sent tracks to me, and mixes were completed. I got the rest of the tracks from Pete and did the mastering. It's a pretty cool guitar cd, great players.

IC: You've done frequent lessons for guitar magazines over the years, and even worked as a transcriber much earlier in your career. Do you have plans to ever release an instructional DVD, tab book, or anything of the sort?

BBF: Man, every year I say "This year I'm finally gonna do instructional videos..." Been saying that for 8 years, but there's never enough time with touring and studio work. I have a bunch of instructional ideas ready to go, just need time, never enough time... would like to do TAB books for all my albums, but it's the same obstacle, time time time! Always racing against the clock. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IC: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring musicians who look up to you as a guitar player?

BBF: A quick 10 off the top of my head: 1 - take care of your teeth and gums. 2 - take care of your feet. 3 - wait for no one, get things done yourself, now. 4 - it's an endless battle up a muddy hill while the world throws stones at you. Don't think about it, just keep pushing yourself forward. 5 - you don't get a 2nd brain, body and spirit. Treat yours well. Treat others' well. 6 - don't just play guitar parts on your guitar - play music, songs, include multiple melodies. 7 - experience all you can in life, have greater stories to tell in your music. 8 - unexpected things aren't necessarily bad things. Give up control and learn to roll with it. 9 - bad things are the push to make touching songs, use them. 10 - forgive your own mistakes and become a better person. Do good things.

IC: For years, your debut solo album, "The Adventures of Bumblefoot," has been out-of-print, with original copies sometimes seen on eBay, selling for hundreds of dollars. However, it would appear that it is finally available again, only this time with some bonus material?

BBF: Yes, Shrapnel re-released the album after 15 years, and we added a few extra tracks from a video game I did music for around the time the album was first released. I spent 6 months transcribing the album, as detailed as possible. 200 pages of notation, TAB, fingers, picking, everything the hands do on every guitar track for every song (the 12 songs, not the bonus tracks) It's been available since August at my official store at along with the re-release of the CD, where every CD copy is signed and $5 is donated to Multiple Sclerosis research.

IC: In the past, you've played swiss cheese, hands, the infamous "Flying Foot" guitar, as well as your fretless endeavors. But more recently, Vigier Guitars released the Limited Edition Bumblefoot model. Could you tell us a bit about the unique features built into that signature model, and where you first got the idea to use a thimble in your playing?

BBF: The thimble (metal cap that goes over the finger) started in the late 80s, I was looking for a way to get the notes on the string that continued past the fretboard. I keep a thimble on my picking hand little finger and tap on the string with it to get those extra notes. A good way to find those notes is with simple math. The higher octave of any note can be found at the half-way point between the note and the bridge. The fifth above any note can be found at one-third, its octave at the 2nd third (which is the half-way point of the 1st third, hence its octave) Make sense? And of course, use your ears!

About the guitar - starting with the neck, it has 24 frets, it has a 'zero fret', and there's no truss rod - instead there's a strip of graphite rock going through the neck, and these necks *never* need adjusting. I've beaten them up on tour, changes in temperature and humidity, and the things have *never* warped or needed any adjusting. The body - two pickups, a DiMarzio Tone Zone at the bridge and a Chopper at the neck, with a 5-way toggle switch - bridge, bridge split-coil, bridge & neck, bridge & neck out-of-phase for that quacky piercing tone, and neck position. There's a Floyd Rose with custom pole pieces that make it smoother, the bridge is hard against the body so it only bend down, not up (this way the guitar stays in tune if you break a string). There's a magnetized hole on the body that houses the thimble. More
technical info here. Last year we made a special 2009 edition, with a gritty black textured finish and a kill-switch.

IC: Your last solo album, "Abnormal," was released back in '08, and is even available as an instrumental mix through iTunes. What's next for you as far as solo releases go?

BBF: I honestly don't know. When I'm touring, the writing goes dry. And there's plenty of touring planned for the near future. I'm not gonna force it, just gonna see where things go. Would love to do "How To Play [Album]" DVDs and TAB books for every album, breaking down the how-and-why of everything for each album. Maybe I can use those stems I'm making of the old recordings for Rock Band versions of the songs, or my own "Make Your Own Mix Of [Song]" where you can set your own levels and make your own versions of the songs. Hmmmm...

IC: You've done various clinic tours and master-classes all over the world, including appearances at IA's Freak Guitar Camp, your Live at The RMA DVD, and so on. Now that you're working with GN'R, do you still have time to perform as a solo artist?

BBF: Because of the touring, life has gotten really backed up, I have a ToDo list that has about 4 years of work waiting to get done on it. And I love the studio so much more, when I have time I'd rather spend it in the studio creating. I got this old house that I've been slowly turning into a studio over the last few years. A place where you go to record, but it's like home - a place where you can live without distractions when you go there to record your album. Maybe after I get some things off the To-Do list I can think about doing solo gigs again.

IC: The "Abnormal" album featured a song of yours called "Simple Days" (also heard on "Barefoot"), which has one of the most memorable solos I've ever heard. Do you have any particular process for writing guitar solos?

BBF: Thank you! Usually solos are played spontaneously in the rough tracks, and I use them as is or tweak them for the final tracks. That solo was a spontaneous one. It's funny, I think a lot of the melodic stuff on the album goes unnoticed sometimes, cool ya pointed that one out.. :)

IC: Final question… You do a lot of fundraising, through various benefit concerts, the "9.11" album, and even a portion of your
signature guitar cable sales going to charity. What foundations are you most closely associated with, and what could your fans do to help out?

BBF: Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation, started by my good friend Ralph Rosa. He was a guitar player and friend that was diagnosed with MS in 1997. He started a non-profit organization, with the support of friends and family. We would hold dinner/comedy events, concerts, and 100% of the proceeds went to researchers and labs working towards a cure. We did our homework and found the researchers we believed in, visited the labs, would get updates on progress. Ralph's physical condition reached a point where we had to cut back on events and just accept donations. I donate money from my autographed cds and merch. What can fans do to help? Just be good to each other, be strong honorable people - if y'all do that, the world will be a little better. That's what you can do to help.

Dec 29, 2010


The Adventures Of Bumblefoot

ew by Levi Clay

It's been many years in the making, in fact I
remember meeting Ron just after the release of "Chinese Democracy" and a big topic of conversation was his truly fantastic album "The Adventures Of Bumblefoot". I wasn't on the scene when the album was originally released in 1995 so didn't get my hands on it, only hearing tracks friends would show me years later, but I knew this was an album I had to have. I was hooked by the quirky nature of Ron's playing, still 15 years later no one has managed to absorb Ron's playing into their sound from the utterly ridiculous harmonies, unorthodox tapping techniques and extensive use of the thimble to extend the range of the guitar to canine pitches.

You need only look at the collection of guitars on his website that he's used over the years to know that the fine line between genius and lunatic is being towed and the jury is out on which side Mr. Foot falls....  but I love it.

So back in 2008 when Ron said he was trying to get the album re-released and that there was a transcription book that he wrote at the time containing every single chord, note, squeak, squeal and clang he made on the record I thought Christmas had come early. Unfortunately due to an insanely busy schedule as the new Slash this project has been on the backburner until early August this year when a friend on the BumbleForum told me "it's here...."  Needless to say, I pre-ordered the package there and then. Add to this that a share of the profits is being donated to Multiple Sclerosis research and I really feel good about my purchase.

When the book arrived I decided to lock myself away and get to grips with exactly what was going on, and this is what I found.

The book itself is 206 pages of spiral bound joy. There is a 4 page introduction telling the story of the album and the book, and then we have the transcriptions of the 12 songs on the original record. I wasn't prepared for just how much was going to be in the book; we don't just have guitar, instead we have - lead guitars, harmonies, rhythm guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, horns and vocal parts.

Scanning through the book I quickly find one "problem" (as a classically trained player) for some reason the bass is above the guitar in the score, but I don't see that as a BIG issue, just something that I would have fixed before publication to conform to the standard.

So on with the content.

It becomes quickly apparent that this book is definitely one for the collection rather than one I'll be learning note for note. There is so much information contained, picking directions, hybrid picking instructions and the other more comical instructions like "slide thimble (4th finger/right hand) inward from bridge", "while sliding 9-volt down neck, side of right hand accidentally touches string at (36)" and my favorite "slide up neck (tape was later spliced into small pieces, thrown up in the air, and re-assembled, giving random sequence of notes)"

There is the underlying feeling that Ron was worried that an alien race may need to recreate the record if the masters were ever lost. Let's be realistic; how can you copy a line where the lowest number in the TAB is 27?!?!! (use of the thimble)

One of my favorite tunes is "Malignant Carbuncle" just because when I first heard the tune I had NO idea what he was doing (as many of you know I'm a prolific transcriber) so to have this peculiar tapping, pulling off to a harmonic then percussively slapping the strings technique put on paper in front of me is priceless.

I'm not suggesting you buy this book, I am insisting, so what are you waiting for?