Friday, January 1, 2010

Don Mock's Double Neck Synth

In 1979, West Coast jazz-fusion pioneer Don Mock commissioned luthier Lane Moller to build a one-of a kind double-neck guitar synthesizer. Mock designed the custom guitar to have a special upper neck/fingerboard using the electronics from Ampeg’s experimental Patch 2000 Guitar Synthesizer from 1977. The lower neck is a standard double-pickup electric guitar equipped with a Roland guitar-synth pickup system. Mock developed an amazing “left-hand” hammering technique for the electronically-wired fret/string upper neck. With his right hand, he manipulated the pitch-bend lever located near the lower cut-away. Because the strings just have to make contact with the frets to trigger the synth, this may be the fastest tracking guitar-synth ever built. The analog technology at the time, however, only allowed for single notes, restricting dynamics and chords from being played on the upper neck.

The guitar weighs nearly 13 lbs and has a maple, mahogany and curly walnut body with mahogany necks with maple accents. It has intricate inlay on the headstocks and the ebony fingerboards. The Grover tuning gears, bridge and fine-tuning tailpiece are gold plated. A three-way switch, volume and tones and a master stealth volume dial under the pickguard control the two DiMarzio pickups on the lower neck. Both necks have 1 3/4” wide nuts and measure 2 1/16” at the 12th fret. The scale length on the lower neck is 24 3/4”. The upper neck does not use a standard scale length. Mock designed a special fingerboard/fret spacing that best accommodated his ‘hammering technique.” Since the strings and frets are electrically wired, string gauge, tuning and fret spacing are irrelevant. The frets are spaced a bit closer together near the nut but are slightly farther apart in the upper range then standard spacing. The strings are brought up to a tension that feels and responds best for the playing technique. In fact, the strings are deadened with strips of felt at the nut and bridge for quicker and cleaner tracking.

The guitar has several output plugs. A standard 1/4” for the lower neck pickups, a seven-pin plug for the upper-neck synth, a stereo 1/4” plug for the pitch-bend lever control and a Roland GR plug for the lower neck synth pickup. (The Roland pickup system was added to the guitar’s lower neck in the late 1980’s.)

Mock’s complex synth system includes a control panel case which houses the “Patch 2000” petal electronics and two Oberheim Expander Modules. The Sho-Bud petal controls the “resonance” of the right side module which gives Mock his “Jan Hammer” like phase/sweep tone he uses a lot of the time. To handle the weight of the guitar Mock uses a special “both shoulder” custom made leather strap.

The control panel box houses the controls from the Patch 2000 and Oberheim modules. These include a 5th interval switch, a glide control, VCO, Gate, Trigger and S. Trigger 1/4” jacks. Each module has a mini-plug line-out for some great stereo combinations.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Modal Mojo Info:

Just wanted to clarify for everyone the details about the Modal Mojo books and play-along tracks. There are two Modal Mojo products.
One is called “Modal Mojo Play-along Tracks” and consists of a free 10 page PDF booklet which describes the 28 tracks.
The audio tracks themselves are available on-line at locations such as I-Tune and Amazon MP3. The 28 tracks are divided into three groups, major, minor and dominant modal grooves. You can purchase each group, like you would an entire album, or you can just buy single tracks.

“Don Mock’s Modal Mojo” is a full-size 84 page book and audio lesson for guitarists distributed by Alfred Publishing. The book basically takes you through each of the 28 play-along modal grooves detailing ways to improvise over the particular groove and includes etude/demo solos for each modal type. I also spent a good deal of time on modal rhythm playing. The book comes with the same 28 modal grooves but also includes over 4 ½ hours of audio instruction. The audio comes on two disks as high-end MP3 files, one of the first instructional books by Alfred to use this format. The tracks sound great and let me just say…… I did a LOT of talking and playing on the audio CD. So if you don’t mind a few long-winded explanations and demonstrations about everything modes, I think you’ll find this to be one of the best books on the subject.

“Jazz Rhythm Chops” DVD Booklet PDF

For those of you who purchased my video “Jazz Rhythm Chops,” I’ve posted an improved PDF booklet of the examples in music notation and tablature. Just click on link below to download.

The original tab sheets, that were included with the DVD and original VHS tape, are not very good and I would prefer that you have the new version. When we produced the video, I sent Warner Bros. my original charts, but there was not enough space for all the material to fit in the small booklet that’s placed inside the video packaging. So they decided to make a reduced tab-only version. I was very disappointed when I saw the small sheets they printed. I expected them to at least add the rhythms to the tab notation but they didn’t. We planned to add the complete booklet as a PDF on the DVD when the time came to re-duplicate new copies, but were not able to connect in time with the folks at Alfred (who had taken over the product line from Warner a few years ago). Fortunately, thanks to the internet, I’m now able to get you the booklet.
-Don Mock

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"An Evening with Joe Pass" by Don Mock

During the first half of the '90's, my partner Roger E. Hutchinson (REH) and I directed and produced dozens of instructional videos featuring some of the greatest guitar and bass players in the world. All of these shows which were produced under the Warner Bros. banner which is now Alfred. We're very proud of the accomplishments and treasure the friendships that came out of the unique experience. In many cases, the videos were shot in Seattle, Washington where Roger and I both live. We had some great times flying in the artists, picking them up at the airport, hanging out with them, eating dinner and even having a few stay at our homes. We also shot several in Los Angeles, where I commuted at the time to Musicians Institute where I taught. Many of the artists were reluctant performing in an instructional video not having a lot of teaching experience. It was my job to help them prepare and take them through the process. Besides being the director, I found myself doing all kinds of things from mixing the audio, running a camera or playing some rhythm guitar.

Shoot days were often very long, but we were always able to capture more than enough information and demonstrations to put together good programs. As you can imagine, we have a lot of great stories to tell. We had lots of fun, as the shoots were filled with great playing, screw-ups, re-takes and some fabulous spontaneous performances. Some day we just have to put out an "out take/bloopers" video of some of the hilarious episodes!

The video I want to tell you about is one of my favorite and proudest productions. I was lucky to have been friends with Joe Pass spending time with him at MI when he dropped by to do some clinics or a concert. He was a wonderful and down to earth person and it was easy for me to forget, when having some dinner and wine with him at a restaurant, that he was simply one of the greatest jazz guitar players who ever lived. In the early 1990's we brought Joe to Seattle to film his first REH video "Jazz Lines." When we first approached Joe about doing a video, we wanted to talk him into playing over some single static chords, II-V-I and turnaround progressions. Knowing Joe, we expected him to swear at us in Italian, refuse, and tell us that students should only learn tunes, not scales or licks. But to our surprise, Joe thought it was a great idea. "Jazz Lines" turned out to be an absolute goldmine of classic "Joe" as he played brilliantly over simple static chords through altered turnarounds. This still continues to be one of my most recommended jazz guitar videos.

A few years later Joe agreed to shoot a 2nd video that would be more of a "live" concert and clinic called "An Evening with Joe Pass." The plan was to shoot the show at Musicians Institute in LA in front of a packed house. I thought it would also be cool to film Joe's entire visit to the school so our camera man and I met Joe in the parking lot when he arrived and just kept rolling as he came in the building and got ready to play. He didn't even bring an amp and told me to just take the guitar direct into the PA. We actually got a pretty good recorded sound on his guitar which sounded amazing live in the audience.

Joe was showing signs of his illness during the shooting of but you would never know it by the way he performed. If you never had the chance to see Joe live, this video is probably the next best thing. You'll see him rehearse with the trio and talk with me about his influences among other things. Joe was full of life as he joked around with us, and talked with some of the other teachers and students. He played great during the concert and kept everyone mesmerized during the clinic portion. The very end of the video is very special to me as I walked Joe to his car. As he lit up his famous cigar, he simply said "I'll see you guys," and drove off. I never saw him again. -Don Mock

Here's more info about the video:

"An Evening with Joe Pass" is a very special 90 minute instructional and performance video by this legendary jazz guitarist. REH's camera crew spent the day with Joe as he visited Musicians Institute for a concert and clinic.
Joe Pass on stage at Musicians Institute with Joe Porcaro and Bob Magnusson during the filming of "An Evening with Joe Pass." You'll sit in on the sound check and watch Joe run through some standards in the pre-concert rehearsal with bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Joe Porcaro. Later, host and fellow guitarist Don Mock talks with Joe about his incredible 50 year career. At concert time, Joe walks on stage to an enthusiastic and packed house. The trio performs many jazz classics including "Satin Doll," "All the Things You Are," and "You Don't Know What Love Is." Joe also plays his solo arrangements of "Stella by Starlight" and his own "Solo Piece." In the clinic portion of the evening Joe discusses and demonstrates his renown style. Answering questions from the audience, Joe talks about chord-melody and "playing what you hear." The booklet includes transcriptions form the concert and examples in music notation and tablature. Don't miss the chance to spend an evening and get to know this jazz guitar giant and very special man. In his incredible 50 year career, Joe Pass was one of the most influential and respected jazz guitarist in the world. He was known equally for his incredible single line improvising as well as brilliant chordal playing. The Grammy winning guitarist recorded numerous solo albums and performed with many legendary artists including Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. REH and Warner Bros. are very proud to have had the opportunity to produce two inspiring and informative videos documenting for all time Joe's approach to the instrument he loved.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don Mock's Stevens LJ Guitar

I am the very lucky recipient of the original Michael Stevens LJ model guitar, Serial Number 1. That’s right ONE! Can’t say if it’s the best one he ever built, cause I have not played any others. But if they are anywhere close to as good as this instrument is, the owners are also very lucky.

Here’s a quick story of how I landed the guitar and how it’s been my faithful main instrument for nearly 20 years. Although I played a lot of big acoustic jazz guitars over the years, I was basically a Les Paul guy. I bought one new in 1968 and have had one ever since. Was never much into Fender’s but did have a Strat type guitar built in the early eighties bowing to the pressure to have the “cool L.A. sound” of the time. I never really played it much live, only on recordings. In 1977 I moved from Seattle to L.A. at the invitation of Howard Roberts to help him start a music school in Hollywood. My many years at GIT, which became Musicians Institute in the mid eighties, gave me the opportunity to meet, teach and play with some of the world’s greatest players. One of them was Robben Ford. We became good friends playing at the school and doing promotional seminars around the country. I also produced his instructional videos and formed an acoustic guitar trio with Jamie Findlay, Robben and myself. We played a bit on the West Coast when ever we could hook up.

By the mid 1980’s I was spending half my time back in Seattle commuting to the school in L.A. every other week. It was at the 1989 N.A.M.M. show that I met and played my future favorite guitar. Robben was there promoting his Robben Ford Artist model for Fender. He was suppose to play several little concerts at the Fender booth. When I ran into him the first morning he grabbed me and said, “Don, can you play some tunes with me at the Fender booth?” He had not prepared anything and did not have anyone to play with. I told him I was happy to do it but did not bring a guitar with me. He said that there would be all kinds of guitars to choose from. That was not very reassuring to me cause I can hardly play a stock Strat cause the knobs are too close to the strings and I whack my hand on them. And I had never had any luck trying to play a Telecaster.

When we reached the Fender booth, there was a little stage set up with lots of amps and several guitar lined up on stands. I began to panic a bit as all I saw was Strats and Teles and feared I would fall on my face trying to play one and maybe even embarrass Robben too. Then I noticed an odd guitar sitting in the corner that looked kind of like a Les Paul with crooked pickups. So in my panic, as a crowd was forming to see us play, I grabbed this guitar and asked what the heck it was. Dan Smith, the Fender Vice President of Marketing, told me it was a prototype for a new Fender line. I strummed one chord on it and quickly told Robben in a relieved tone “This will work, let’s play.” After a tune or two to get our bearings, I kept thinking to myself, “what is the deal with this guitar?” I never like strange guitars when I first play them. Every one I have ever owned I have reworked and changed just about everything to make it play and sound the way I wanted. But here I was playing this strange guitar and loving it exactly the way it was. It had a wider than usual fingerboard which I like, and sounded great and it’s balance and feel were perfect. And because of it I played pretty damn good that day with Robben too! In fact we played several more performances over the weekend at the booth with Robben playing great as usual on his Artist guitar and I continued to play on the “odd guitar with the crooked pickups.” People kept coming up to me when walking around the show asking what that guitar was I was playing. I told them the very little I had been told about it, but it is the best thing I’ve ever just picked up and played.

Finally after one of our last concerts at the booth, Dan Smith introduced me to Michael Stevens. He told me Michael was a guitar designer/builder who was heading up Fender’s Custom Shop. They began to tell me the whole story of the guitar and that is was indeed a prototype for a new Fender line to be built in Japan. The guitar was build by Michael to be the first prototype. A few more were built by the Japanese to further serve as prototypes to test the new design. This particular guitar did not have the Fender logo on the head stock. Michael had put his own logo/name and two letters “LJ” which I did not know until recently what LJ stood for. (check out the story of LJ on the Stevens web site.) Then came the big shock. Dan Smith said, “So Don, how would you like to have this guitar?” I was pretty surprised and thrilled and of course said “Yes”!! They were looking for players to help promote the guitar and said if I would play it, I could have it. Michael and taken note of my style and technique while playing with Robben. He could tell I was a jazz player who picked pretty hard. He offered to take the guitar back to the Custom Shop and do a bit of work on it for me. He said to come and get it at the shop in a few weeks.

I went back to Seattle for a couple of weeks but couldn’t wait to get the guitar. When I returned to L.A. I headed straight to Corona to the Fender Custom Shop. When I arrived, Michael had the guitar all ready to go in a nice custom case. But to my surprise, the guitar looked a bit different. Michael, had given it a makeover with additional inlay on the fingerboard, different knobs and pickguard, giving it more of a jazz guitar look. It looked great! He had also done some work on the electronics adding a coil tap to the bridge pickup. I could not have thanked Michael, Dan and the folks and Fender enough for this amazing instrument. I told them I would do anything I could to help promote the new guitar line. They told me I would be hearing from them as they would need photos and might even send me out to do clinics to spread the word.

The following is a recent excerpt from an email from Michael Stevens regarding the guitar and this story:

“I was so rushed to get this guitar done for the NAMM show, that in order to have an unusual fingerboard I had put only the diagonal line of purfling on the board leaving the fret spaces where normally a marker would be blank. I was trying to have markers on the fancy model different than dots and I did some experiments. The Japanese curly LJ's had a combination dot and round end block . You said no problem I don’t look at the fingerboard much anyway. You had the guitar for some time ?? And called me to say you guessed you did look at the fingerboard more than you thought and kept hitting the wrong fret, could I fix it, just stick on some dots. Just putting a row of dots down the middle looked to me like a band-aid fix of a goof (which it was) but I did not want to admit it that way. Knowing this was going to a Jazz oriented player allowed me to think a bit fancier and move it into a design concept instead of an opps fix. I always called it the Lawrence Welk (Champaign bubbles) Also that is when I decided to make a pick guard more like an old L5. How is the stain holding up ? I had figured after a while you would pick through the lacquer and create a white spot. Also at your request I changed the neck pickup to a Seymour Duncan Jazz/ with a tap. You liked the clarity of the D'Marzzio but said you were used to that old alnico tone, but you raved about the bridge D'Marzzio as a distortion pickup because it did not color the effects you used.” -Michael Stevens 10/04

After I left the shop, I headed to MI for my two-week teaching stint. I walked into my Fusion Guitar Class with the new guitar to lots of whispers and inquisitive looks from the fifty or more students. By the end of the day everyone including the other teachers wanted to check out this beautiful guitar and hear the story about it.

Within a few weeks it was obvious that the LJ was becoming my main guitar. With a little tweaking of the action and experiments with string gauges I got it playing and sounding amazing. And once back home in Seattle, I was able to do some head to head comparisons with my other guitars, mainly my old trusty Les Paul. The LJ simply did everything better. Because of the slightly larger body, the LJ sustains and has a fatter tone than the Paul, especially the jazz tone on the neck pickup which I need much of the time. But I also needed the guitar to rock too and was really surprised at how well it sounded when cranked with distortion on the bridge pickup. And then I hit the push-pull pot to switch to the single coil sound and Wow! A huge fat yet Strat-like bright and smooth tone. And this setting also sounds very cool clean too.

It wasn’t long before the LJ got it’s first shot at recording and it was better than I expected. In fact every instructional book and video I’ve done from then on has featured the LJ. And most of the time, I recorded the guitar straight into my digital recorder direct. One guitar and one cable, that’s it. I recently wrote a book on octaves (Guitar Axis Masterclass Series - Octaves) demonstrating a lot of things in the style of Wes Montgomery. Strumming the octaves with my thumb ala Wes, I got a great sound with the LJ. Wes of course used his famous Gibson L-5 to get his warm and fat tone, but I came pretty close, pretty surprising for a solid-body guitar.

And at about the same time I was recording little “Quick Tip” Blues lessons for the Experience Music Project web site. The LJ came through great getting a gritty blues tone for the demonstrations. I simply plugged straight into my Deluxe, stuck a mic on it and cranked it. Killer tone. Wes one day and Clapton the next. Pretty damn versatile guitar.

I’m not completely sure of the reason why Fender decided not to follow through with the LJ guitar line. After about a year after I received the guitar, I did not hear from Fender again. Here I was with this beautiful guitar and no way to show my appreciation for it by doing PR. My guess is that the Japanese could not replicate the LJ prototype well enough for the costs Fender was hoping for. And Fender was not known for selling high-end expensive instruments. So the project was scrapped. A year later or so, Michael Stevens left Fender to continue his own custom guitar ambitions. I actually lost contact with Michael over the years, not realizing that he was continuing to build not only LJ models but basses and other guitar models back in his Texas shop. All at the highest level. And for years unfortunately, I have told hundreds of people asking about the guitar that I had one of the only ones and did not think they were available. Sorry Michael. A lot of players who checked out my guitar might have ordered one.

Guitar purists will probably think I committed “blasphemy” by adding a synth pickup to the LJ. But here is another aspect of the LJ that excels. I’ve always played a lot guitar synthesizer in my career. I use it live for chords and for doubling lines and melodies. I have had many different guitar synths over the years including a custom-built double neck with wired frets. But I found myself returning to the Roland system because of it’s simplicity and decent tracking. I’ve stuck Roland pickups on just about every guitar I have owned including acoustics but the LJ is by far the best guitar for a controller. Because of it’s solid and larger body, the LJ sustains forever which is a must for synth playing. The strings also respond very even which makes Roland’s tracking better than on any other guitar I’ve played. Almost every day I use the LJ midi’d up to my computer to write music notation and tablature for my books and for recording midi tracks.

And when I play live, I use the LJ through a a couple of Roland’s synths. The synths are sent to a mixer and to my powered P.A. speakers. I plug the guitar direct into a Fender Deluxe which the signal is then sent from the pre-amp out to the mixer. I can add stereo effects at the mixer. I can also bypass the amp to get a huge clean sound from the P.A., or combine the two. For guitar strings I have been using basically the same set for 30 years. 11-14-18-28-38-49 (D’Addario XL). I sometime put on a 11.5 if I’m playing or recording straight-ahead jazz to get a stronger high E string. Other than the synth pickup, I have not done a thing to the LJ. It still even has the original frets, which is surprising since I’ve played it day in and day out for 15 years. It is finally showing signs of fret wear, so I will probably ship the guitar back to Michael for a re-fret job.

Well, that’s the story. Thanks again to Michael for the beautiful guitar. If you are looking for a high quality instrument that is very versatile, check out an LJ. You won’t get serial number 1, but it will be your number one favorite guitar.

-Don Mock

"Mock One" album by Don Mock

(Available on I-Tunes and AmazonMP3)

1. You Choose One (Don Mock) BMI
Don Mock - electric guitar
Ken Cole - Rhodes piano and Oberheim Synthesizer
Paul Farnen - electric bass
Dave Coleman - drums
Tim Celeski - congas and percussion

2. Song to a Seagull (Joni Mitchell) BMI
Arrangement - Don Mock
Denny Goodhew - saxello and tenor saxophone
Don Mock - acoustic guitar
Ken Cole - Rhodes piano
Ron Soderstrom - trumpet
Luis Peralta - samba whistle and cuica
Tim Celeski - congas
Dave Coleman-drums and percussion

3. Stellar Stomp/ Waltz of the Stratus Dancers (Don Mock) BMI
Don Mock - electric guitar
Ken Cole - Rhodes piano and guitar synthesizer
Paul Farnen - electric bass
Dave Coleman - drums and percussion
Tim Rock - siren
Jim Bredouw - cabasa
Stacy Solberg – viola

4. Stephanie's Peace (Don Mock) BMI
Don Mock - guitar and 360 systems/Oberheim Guitar Synthesizer, percussion
Tim Celeski - percussion

5. Theme to Dream (Don Mock) BMI
Ron Soderstromfluegal horn
Don Mock - guitar
Ken Cole - Rhodes piano
Paul Farnen - electric bass
Dave Coleman - drums and percussion
Tim Celesti - percussion
Stacy Solberg -viola

6. Entrance of Heather & Transition of Heather (Ken Cole) BMI
Ken Cole - acoustic piano, Rhodes piano, Oberheim synthesizer
Don Mock - electric guitar, 360 systems/Oberheim guitar synthesizer
Paul Farnen - electric bass
Dave Coleman - drums and percussion
Tim Celesti – congas

Produced by Don Mock
Associate producer - Jim Bredouw
Engineer production assistant - Tim Rock
Mixed by - Jim Bredouw
Assisted by Don Mock, Tim Rock, Ken Cole
Recorded at: The Music Farm - Seattle, Washington
February - April 1977
Art direction and cover design - Kathy Adolphsen
Cover photo - Bill Johnson
Photography by Mead Powers, Paul Farnen, Mary Jane Cody

Special thanks to: Roger Hutchinson and REH publications, Howard Roberts, Jim Wolf, Judy Strawn
My many supportive students and friends and of course the musicians that played on this project.

1978 Wolf Records – 2007 Mock One Productions

Mock One was recorded in early 1977 right during the time I had moved to Los Angeles to help start The Guitar Institute of Technology with Howard Roberts. I flew back to Seattle a few times to complete the recording. The band was made up of great Seattle players and was called “Marbles.” We performed regularly in the area either as a quartet or with the added horn players and percussionist. The music was deep rooted in Jazz and Fusion popular at the time. I wrote most of the compositions and the arrangement of the Joni Mitchell tune “Song to a Seagull.” Ken Cole, our fine keyboard player, contributed his suite “Entrance/Transition of Heather.”
On a few cuts, I played one of the very first guitar synthesizer’s; 360 Systems had developed a pitch-to-voltage converter which I ran through an Oberheim synthesizer module. The tracking was pretty rough with lots of glitches but the system was the forerunner of current systems such as the Roland GR series. I played my trusty 1971 Les Paul and my ‘60’s L-5 for the rest of album except for a borrowed Martin acoustic for the Joni Mitchell tune.

During the 1970’s, mainly thanks to John McLaughlin, writing compositions in odd-time signatures was all the rage. Drummer Dave Coleman and bassist Paul Farnen, who I had been playing with since high school, spent hours working on every weird odd-time feel we could. The result was three pieces for this album. The opening cut, “You Choose One” is in 6/8. “Stellar Stomp” is a funky groove in 7/4 that transitions into the 14/8 “Dance of the Stratus Dancers.”
There is some great playing at times by all the talented musicians that still holds up today.
Denny Goodhew’s sax solo on “Song to a Seagull” is a high point as is Ron Soderstrum’s “out” fluegal horn solo on “Theme to Dream.” The core quartet also turned in fine performances. Although I’d love a chance to go back in time and have another shot at some of the guitar solos.

But, there’s a few moments of decent ’70’s fusion guitar playing. Ken Cole, the burning keyboard player, and I used to have lots of fun with the ripping solo trading sections. And I still love the energy and colors our two percussionist Luis Peralta and Tim Celeski brought to the music.

Dave Coleman, who I still perform and record with, showed why he is one of Seattle’s top drummers. In fact, Dave and bassist Paul Farnen joined me in LA later on in 1977. We rented a house together in North Hollywood and continued the band performing at most of the top Jazz clubs in the area.
The “Mock One” album brings back lots of great memories of my early career and I hope you discover tunes or performances that you enjoy. So, thanks for re-visiting the amazing late ‘70’s with me. It was quite an exciting and musical time!
-Don Mock

"Speed of Light" album by Don Mock

(Available on I-Tunes and AmazonMP3)

1. St. Clair - 5:31
2. Robben’s Bebop Blues - 4:03
3. Hip Hop Cowboy - 7:06
4. Ballad of Triangles - 2:05
5. Kasamba - 3:28
6. Field of Six - 5:19
7. Etude of Two Hearts - 1:55
8. User Friendly - 5:06
9. Flight of the U-10 - 7:53
10. Hip Hop Cowboy -Part 2 - 4:52
11. Apache Nightmare - 3:37
12. Silent Castle - 7:15

All compositions by Don Mock except:
Apache Nightmare by Howard Roberts and Jac Murphy
Robben’s Bebop Blues by Robben Ford
The theme from Flight of the U-10 - unknown
Speed of Light is a collection of compositions and computer tracks recorded at Mock One Productions, Seattle Washington. With the exception of St. Clair, Silent Castle and User Friendly (which are studio demos), all tunes were computer sequenced and/or recorded on a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. All drums, bass and keyboard type parts recorded into the computer using a Roland Guitar Synthesizer with the exception of:
St. Clair and Silent Castle
Drums: Dave Coleman, Bass: Chuck Deardorf, Piano: Marc Seales
User Friendly
Drums: Mike Bueno,Bass: Dan Dean,Piano: Marc Seales
Robben’s Bebop Blues
Piano: Marc Seales
Produced by Don Mock
Dedicated to the Memory of Howard Roberts who was a great friend and inspiration to my guitar playing and my teaching. -Don Mock
Special Thanks to Kathy Adolphsen, Mark Morgan, Mike Stevens Guitars, Marc Seales, Dave Raynor, Harry Gatjens, Roger E. Hutchinson, Dave Coleman, Chuck Deardorf, Dan Dean, Mike Bueno and Jim Greeninger of Digital Domain Disks.

I had originally named this collection of tunes “The Basement Tapes.” I produced a few hundred cassette copies mainly for my GIT students so they could hear me play some of my compositions we were working on. Most of the tunes were basically rough demos which I recorded on my home studio (in my basement) 4-track cassette. I never considered the tracks to used on a “real” product. But soon after the tapes were duplicated, Jim Greeninger of DDD Records called me and wanted to release the album on CD. Playing off the title of my first album “Mock One,” he renamed it “Speed of Light.”

The CD was mainly sold in a few stores on the West Coast and later a few internet outlets. But eventually, we ran out of the first run of CD’s and the recording was out of circulation for several years. But thanks to the web, we’re now able to re-release the CD in digital downloadable form. This album will certainly not win any awards for it’s recording quality and some of the performances are rough but I’m proud of how well some of the tunes came out.

Being originally conceived as a demo, I wanted to demonstrate my playing and writing in various ways using several different guitars and sounds. Most of the electric guitar is my Mike Stevens prototype “LJ” with a Roland synth pickup. All of the midi recording of drums, bass and keyboard parts were input with the Stevens guitar. I also grabbed my Strat for a few things as well as my nylon and steel-string Ovation acoustics.

And that’s my custom Moller double-neck synth guitar playing the “Jan Hammer-ish” solos on tunes like St. Clair and Field of Six. The top neck has wires attached to each fret under the fingerboard. The strings are also wired so just the contact of the string touching the fret triggered the Oberheim synth modules I used. It’s the fasted tracking synth ever build but has lots of short-comings including mono-phonic (no chords) and mono-dynamic (no loud and soft). And it required a whole new left-hand “hammer” technique to play it. I did love using the pitch-bend lever which allowed me to do very un-guitar type bends and vibrato. The bottom neck is a regular electric guitar with a Roland system built in. A very experimental, exciting and heavy guitar.

"Speed of Light” does feature some very fine “real” players including drummer Dave Coleman, Chuck Deardorf on bass, Marc Seales on keyboards, Dan Dean on bass and Mike Bueno on drums.
A few of my favorite cuts are “St. Clair” and “Flight of the U-10.” Named after the street I lived on when I first moved to LA to start GIT, “St Clair” became a standard as far as fusion tunes go ending up in a few “fake" books. It’s a fun tune to play and the recording has some decent solos including a few seconds of “no idea how I pulled that off” guitar and synth licks. The “Flight of the U-10” is based on some sequenced background music I heard played on a sports broadcast showing, in slo-motion, a spectacular hydroplane crash which seriously injured the driver, who I knew. The music sequence was haunting and I “borrowed" the basic theme and built a groove from it. I added acoustic guitar and a few synth solos and like how it turned out.

And of course, “Apache Nightmare” is a tune I used to play a lot with the great Howard Roberts who wrote it. We always played it as a high-energy fusion tune, but for this recording I decided to change the key and play it on my nylon-string acoustic. And of all the tunes on “Speed of Light” I still play “Apache” to this day. Ironically, it’s usually with a guitar duo I play in with Jay Roberts, Howards son.
-Don Mock