Standard Interpretations
(Tuneful Tunes)


He may have been raised on rock as a big fan of giants like Allman, Betts and Page, but on his 2008 CD Bob Semanchik displays a keen grasp of musical concepts that will impress guitar fans of all persuasions. Too guitar-centric to be simply filed under the mainstream / smooth jazz banner, the 15 track Standard Interpretations features Semanchik in the studio backed up by Don Wallace (bass) and Sal Ranniello (drums). A guitar lovers dream that blends jazz, pop and even Les Paul style hot jazz, the mostly instrumental set also features Semanchik’s skillful, subdued vocals which at times recalls a laid back Eric Clapton style of singing. Several Semanchik originals rub shoulders with his tasty covers of classic standard instrumentals like “Black Orpheus,” “Take Five,” “Corcovado,” “Here, There, Everywhere” and the set closing “Over The Rainbow.” Whether backed up by his rhythm section or taking center stage with his keen chord melody solos, Semanchik’s easy going guitar style makes for a relaxing way to spend an hour. With a wide repertoire of musical tricks up his sleeve, he can rock out when he wants to—check out his acoustic / electric wah-wah flecked spin on “Take Five” and his Santana flavored “Hot Rain”—but on Standard Interpretations the sun shines on Semanchik’s refined, jazzy guitar style.

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Musical Background

I started out at about 11 years old with a local guitar instructor and Mel bay Book 1. Since that was 1966, I’ve been playing guitar for over 40 years. After less than a year I thought I could teach myself and learned to play by ear listening to my favorite rock guitarists. At age 16 I began lessons with Paul Gabriel who was a big help in showing me some basic theory and blues techniques, not to mention giving me my first exposure to vintage guitar acquisition syndrome. I had a year of lessons with jazz great Joe Puma at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport Ct. and also 2 years of classical study with Alexander Bellow at Western CT. State University where I earned a Bachelors Degree in Music Education. Even though I no longer play classical guitar music, the technique and sound of nylon guitar is something I eventually came back to and is very important to the creation of my Standard Interpretations CD. I’m happy to say that the only jobs I have had since college have all been music related. I have been teaching guitar, bass and piano from my home studio in Ct. for over 25 years and have been the guitar and bass teacher at the University of New Haven for over 15 years. Through the 70’s and 80’s I played rock music exclusively and from 1980 to 1983 I played with a top New Haven Ct. cover and original band called The Crayons. The 90’s led me to my first experience with a wedding band and the great musicianship of this band and exposure to jazz and standards really planted the seed for much of the music on my CD. In fact, I saw an opportunity for work playing pre- wedding cocktail parties and started listening to Wes Montgomery, Django, Kenny Burrell and others, carefully studying their chord melody style and applying it to my own playing style. This is what led me to the idea of my Standard Interpretations CD.

New CD

My new CD is called Standard Interpretations. It’s mostly my take on jazz and pop standards with three originals. The bass, drums and guide guitar parts were recorded at Horizon and Red Barn studios in Ct. Roger Arnold engineered, mixed and mastered everything. Ninety five percent of the guitars and all the vocals were recorded at my home studio. I feel this album is a good representation of the many different styles of music I like to play. Even though rock guitar is the backbone of who I am as a musician, this CD shows that I have grown in the 40 years as a player and am happy and capable to play a variety of styles. I originally intended this CD to be a very simple recording of just one guitar, bass and drums. But decided that some of the tracks would benefit from additional overdubs to round out the sound and make it a more interesting listening experience. We used Pro Tools for basic tracking and mixing but all my home overdubs were done on Digital Performer. The acoustic guitars were recorded with a matched pair of Neumann KM 184s with a Presonus ADL 600 mic pre and for the vocals I used a Neumann 103 with a UA LA 610. The electric guitars were recorded with Shure SM57, Neumann 103 and Royer 121 microphones.

Favorite Guitars

My Lowden S32J and S32c acoustic guitars were big inspirations for the sounds that originally fueled the desire to begin work on this project. Most of the guide tracks were recorded with one of those guitars leading the way. I also made good use of a 1975 Del Pilar classical guitar and a mid 70’s Martin D28. As far as electric, I used a variety of Fender and Gibson models. A masterbuilt 1996 Jay Black Strat saw a lot of action as well as a 1964 Sonic Blue Strat, featured on the CD cover. I also used my main gigging guitar, a 1993 custom shop 54 Strat. Gibson’s included an ES 335, ES 175, 59 reissue L.P. and ES 330, You also can hear some Telecaster on “Blue Lobster” and last but not least an Eastman John Pisano is featured on “Here There, Everywhere.” I used a Fender ‘61 Princeton, ‘66 Pro Reverb and a Dr.Z. Maz Jr. for amps. There is also some Line 6 Pod mixed in for overdubs. As far as effects, I tracked many parts with an early ‘60s green box Echoplex or a ‘70s black box model. I’m a big fan of Fulltone effects and made ample use of a Fulldrive 2 and a Clyde wah pedal. Halfway through the project I switched over to Klotz La Grange and Sommer guitar cables and noticed an improvement in sound quality. A far as strings, I prefer D’Addarrio EXL110’s for electric and Elixer Nanowebs for acoustic. My ES 175 set up with medium wound 3rd flatwounds.

Musical Influences

The Beatles would have to be my biggest influence since they were the first. After learning the basics I really learned to play by ear. Duane Allman and Dickie Betts were a huge influence. I wore out the Fillmore East album learning every song. Leslie West was very important as well. I’m also a big fan of Peter Frampton and of course Eric Clapton has to in there too. Lately I have been listening to Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Les Paul and Django. Classic albums that have had a big influence on me include: all the Allman Bros. recordings, all the Beatle albums and also recordings of Frank Zappa, Yes, Johnny Winter, Led Zeppelin and John Lennon. I have been also listening to John Mayer’s Continuum and Paul McCartney’s last few studio CD’s.

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