Play That Riff...Literally

Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch has a website devoted to music lessons. Now, that in itself isn't newsworthy, but I did a little snooping and realized he's really onto something.


Anyone who ever took a lesson knows how boring they are. A 14-year-old wants to learn Metallica riffs (at least I did), not pentatonic, major and minor scales. Balch seems to know this and has set up videos by musicians from bands such as Fu Manchu (duh), the Dwarves, Helmet, TSOL, Torche, Monster Magnet, the Dickies, 3 Inches of Blood, Exodus, Pelican and more. There are even videos with Mike Watt laying down the low end, which is worth checking out even if you don't play any instrument.


The site, which is called, offers a few free videos, but guests need to register for full access. Yes, there's money involved, but from what I can see from the freebies, this might be the best instruction site on the net.


One of the biggest pet peeves I had when I took those two lessons way back when was how my teacher was completely out of touch with the music I liked. All he wanted to do was jam Beatles tunes all day (I dug -- and continue to dig -- the Beatles, but I didn't want to play their music). In fact, he was so weird that whenever he'd write down transcriptions for me, he'd alter the names of the songs just slightly because he was afraid of getting sued. So instead of being taught "Something," I was being shown how to play "Sum Ting" by "the Beat-less."


And you wonder why I get paid to write about music instead of getting paid to play it.


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