Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

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Right-Handed Lefties and Left-Handed Righties…My obsession with Hendrix and upside down Stratocasters

As many of you know, Jimi Hendrix was left-handed, but played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster – turned upside down! I’ve always been fascinated with not only the sound of Hendrix on that right-handed upside-down Strat, but with the way it looked as well. There’s something about the whammy bar on top and the tuners on the bottom.  I was really intrigued, so number of years ago I bought a righty Strat, turned it upside-down and restrung it. This was definitely the closest I’d ever come to sounding like Hendrix! I even had a friend “distress” it to make it look like it was 50+ years old, and went so far as to put cigarette burns on the headstock. (see me with my Strat below)

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Well, I never actually knew what made his distinctive sound so unique. Then I ran across this article in Popular Mechanics magazine about how flipping and restringing a standard right-handed Fender Stratocaster fundamentally changes the string tension and microphone location. That’s what produced Hendrix’s signature mix of bright highs and delicate lows.


Here are the highlights:


  • The rear pickup on the traditional Stratocaster is intentionally slanted – capturing the higher strings near their base – where they have a more piercing tone. On Hendrix’s guitar, it catches the higher strings farther up, so instead of shrieking, they sing.


  • Guitar pickups are mini-microphones, with a pole magnet aligned below each string. And the distance between the magnet and the string varies for each string. But by reversing the orientation of the traditional Stratocaster, Hendrix changed which strings were closest to their magnets, and consequently, most prominent in the mix. Pretty crazy stuff.


  • Conversely, Hendrix’s low strings were comparatively tighter, which made them sound less booming and twangy.


  • On a traditional Strat, the highest strings (E, B) are the longest. When turned upside-down, they become the shortest, so they don’t have to be pulled as tightly to be in tune. For Hendrix, that made them easier to bend, like on “All Along the Watchtower.”


  • Fender’s headstock design makes every string a different length, so restringing the guitar upside-down changed which strings were longest. This altered the subtle overtones produced by vibrations on the unplayed part of the string above the top of the neck, near the tuning keys.


What’s really amazing is that I doubt Hendrix ever thought about any of this. He just had a tough time finding a decent left-handed guitar, especially back in the day. So Instead, he snagged a cool Strat , flipped it over, restrung it, and ta-da! The rest is history.







What’s Printed Where – Free Sonic Branding LP

Free Vinyl LP

We here at SAM can’t resist having fun with music – in all its forms. Now we’re doing it again with the latest in our series of limited edition vinyl releases.

Behold our latest creation, “What’s Printed Where.”

What’s the deal?

Well, take a clear vinyl record that you can see through. Next, slip it into a transparent sleeve with a yellow image, then slide that sleeve into an album cover which is also clear, but with a blue image, and voila – it’s green!

You are now looking at a very cool LP fresh off the press from SAM – our 3rd generation sample reel – which isn’t really a reel but a vinyl record (hint: usually works best with a turntable.)

Thus our newest Stephen Arnold Music Vinyl is appropriately titled “What’s Printed Where,” since we never really knew what was going to be printed where.

The fun part is when you first receive your LP, you’ll notice the revamped image of our original sonically branded lady: a girl with a shaved head whom we have always internally referred to as “Mary.” Once again Mary is on our new vinyl, only now she’s green with red ear buds.

But once you pull the sleeve from the LP cover, it turns out our Mary is actually blue…but in fact on the sleeve she’s yellow. Confused? We are too! So let’s all roll with it – because if you reassemble the sleeve out of sequence, you may well see Mary in a totally different light (color, that is).

And as a special bonus, you’ll notice a credit card that we’ve slipped into the LP jacket and, depending on how rough the mail service was and where the card ends up inside the cover…. this card could be green, blue or yellow – until you pull it out and see it’s actually white.

And actually, it’s not a free credit card (sorry!) but a flash drive with all the music contained on the vinyl — for those of you that have retired your turntables. It’s music from our amazing partners we are privileged to work with like CNN, Golf Channel, CCTV China, ABC, ESPN, MSNBC, FOX Business, National Geographic Channel, Time Warner and over 300 local television stations.

Know what’s printed where now? If not, just listen: It’ll all make sense to your ears. And Kudos to Doug Rucker and his amazing team at Rucker and Co. in Dallas for creating something which is nothing short of creative genius.

To request your free LP just click on the email link below. It’s that easy!

Or give us a call at:

We look forward to hearing from you!

“Guitar Legends” Giveaway – TAB 2015

We’re excited to announce our guitar giveaway for Texas Association of Broadcasters 2015: A Road Worn Fender Stratocaster signed by Tom Petty!

Road Worn Fender Stratocaster

The Tom Petty six-string will be part of our “Guitar Legends” exhibit on display at the Stephen Arnold Music kiosk throughout TAB2015. Joining Petty’s axe will be a signed B.B. King “Lucille” Gibson, an exact replica of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Fender Stratocaster, and a historic 1927 Gibson L-1 that matches the model played by blues master Robert Johnson.

Guitar Legends
So make sure you stop by our guitar display kiosk and enter the giveaway! The drawing will take place on Thursday, August 6th, around 5:15 PM, at the Stephen Arnold Music kiosk.

Rules and Regulations:

  • Must be present to win.
  • To be eligible to win, you must be a professional in the Broadcast Industry.
  • Eligible Entries must be registered attendees of TAB. Not eligible are SAM employees, industry vendors, industry trade organizations or college students (unless employees of registered attendees).
  • Eligibility for entry will be verified by Stephen Arnold Music at the time of entry.

Good luck to all the Entrants!

Local TV News Growth – Exciting Trends

Clients keep telling me about the new newscasts they’re launching and so, anecdotally, I know local news is doing well. But last week, Stephen forwarded to me a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Their research concluded that local television’s average viewership grew in 2014. And those gains were predominately made in nontraditional timeslots – namely the very early, midday, and 7pm. Although these newscasts still account for a small percentage of total viewers, they are showing solid growth. The 7pm time slot has grown by 8% over the last five years. And last year, that same time slot saw an 11% increase from 2013.

Pew didn’t dive into who these viewers are or why they’re tuning into local news at these nontraditional hours, but the steady viewership gains is a good reason for stations to seriously consider these timeslots and how they’re approaching them – both their content and their creative. It’s important to connect with these viewers by making your presentation appropriate for the time of day, the mood they’re in, what they’re doing, and the news they are absorbing.

Music is a great way to connect with viewers and drive the pace of the show with daypart-appropriate tracks. All of our news music packages have a plethora of themes written to connect with the audience during every daypart. If, for example, you’re using the same one or two tracks for every open, you’re missing out on an inexpensive and easy-to-implement way to set the tone of your show. And if you’re too short on time to carefully comb through your music package to find the right tracks for all of your shows, well… I happen to know some great creative guys that would be happy to take that on for you.

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Give us a call and we’ll arrange for a complete review of your newscasts. The SAM creative team will make sure all of your newscasts are utilizing the perfect tracks for the audience and daypart to keep your ratings growth on track.

The Sound of The Story – Promax Station Summit 2015

Les Paul Station Summit 2015
The annual Station Summit is upon us, and Stephen Arnold Music (SAM) will be there with the best music in the local broadcast television industry!
SAM JAM 2015

After Hours Station Summit

If you are attending the conference at The Mirage in Las Vegas, then stop by our special Promax guitar display — you’ll see some amazing legendary guitars from Stephen’s personal collection that are featured in his book, A Story of Six Strings.

We’ll also be giving away a collectible Gibson Les Paul signed by the legendary Les Paul.

So make plans to stop by, have a chat, drop your card in the box and maybe walk away with a classic, signed guitar. The drawing is Thursday, June 25 around 4:15pm, immediately after “The Next News Industry” session lets out. Remember, you must be present to win.

Thursday night, don’t miss our 5th annual “After Hours SAM JAM,” featuring the sensational Byron Bordaux. This year we’ll be jammin’ at V Bar at The Venetian along with our many station friends from across the country from 9 until 11pm!

Good luck and hope to see you kickin’ it with us in Vegas … baby!

Click here for more info about Station Summit »


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