Guitar or Amp 1st? / Guitar Endorsements / Guitar Setups / Guitar Tuning / Guitar Strings
Guitars or Amp 1st?
What's more important?
... a good guitar or a good amp?
I know they both are but what would be your priority if you could only get one at a time?
The guitar first! There are ton's of great possibilities with amps. That can be much easier to sort out later.
I have some nice playing & sounding guitars that sound great through even my little couple hundred buck Fender Blues Jr amp. It's a lot harder to do that with a real cheesey guitar. Although, the hands have a "whole lot" to do with the total tone equation. You can sound great on cheap gear if you have your attack & style dialed in pretty well.
Dave...did Gibson ever approach you for an endorsment deal?
Yes - I did get approached by Gibson for an endorsement around 1984. I signed on with them for about 2 years & received a Les Paul 59 re-issue, a LP "light" & some other guitar. I didn't really care for any of them & ended up giving away the Les Paul to my manager & giving away the others. Gibson was never very good about their artist relations in the past & had a bad reputation for that for years. It was hard to get a great guitar out of them when you were an endorsee. Hopefully that has changed.
Ditto: I always thought that the companies kissed your ass and hot rodded the necks and bodies any way you wanted them. I always thought that big bands NEVER had to buy stuff in a music store. I imagined the Gibson Rep struggling to get an APPOINTMENT with you so he could find out what you wanted next!
This was good to know shattered a lot of my ignorance. Were there any companies that kissed your ass?
Yeah, if you are big enough & really want people to kiss your ass, and you are into that crap, then it certainly does happen with certain companies/artists. But for me, I just want a company to do right by their endorsed artists, rather than giving them seconds. I've had, or currently have, endorsements with Gibson, Yamaha, Fender, Kramer, Monster Cable, Ernie Ball & Mesa Boogie. Of all of the above, Gibson was the worst in artist care. Kramer was great because the guy involved in artist relations was a caring guy & a fan. Plus it helped that he knew a lot about guitars, so he made sure I received a Baretta with a great neck. He also hand made a blue guitar that I have never played out. That kind of attention to detail is imortant in an artist/manufacturer relationship. Especially when it comes to guitars. Strings & cords - not so critical. Some endoresments are free stuff, some are discounts, etc. I'm not an endoresement whore, so I didn't try to ask for too much, or just take free stuff, just to have it.
I paid for every piece of gear that you have seen me use, except some of the Fender strats. Yes, I even buy my own picks - imagine that, And while I'm at it - I also do the dishes, wash clothes, shop for myself & wipe my own ass! :^) To me, it's the product that matters, not the fact that you get free stuff. I've certainly known guys to take lots of free stuff, take advantage of companies, never use the stuff & sell it. That's bogus. Set me up with something I "want" to use & I'll use it, otherwise, forgettaboutit!
Hey Dave do you run "stock" pickups, pots bridge's etc.? How do you set your amp settings? Man you were really on last night. First time hearing the "Blue" stuff live and your strats/mesa combo very very nice. Also, on the "Contagious" tour you had a Gibson "strat-type" with a Explorer-type headstock and a whamy bar-what was that? Do you remember? Thanks again, see you soon.
I use strats with gold lace sensor pickups. A few of my strats have the Eric Clapton electronics in them (mid boost). I run through the Boogie Rectifier into the Vintage channel with full mids, half bass, 3/4 treble & half presence - with just enough gain to make the strats scream. I only use a Boss Super Chorus foot pedal, nothing else. I run that through either a 2x12 or 4x12 mesa cab with Celestion vintage 30's. Last night I used the 2x12 cab only.
The strat you saw on the Contagious tour is my white Kramer Baretta with a single Seymour Duncan Custom pickup. Still have the guitar & I used it a lot on the OTBS CD.
Glad you enjoyed the show.
Pick up a Boss TU-12 tuner - they're about $60. Buy one & never look back.
My recommendation for a tuner is based mostly on live show & recording considerations. I can't tell you how many times we had tuning problems on a record after we had laid down most of the tracks. It's just not worth doing it by ear if you're cutting a record or you need it done for a live show. It's gotta be done quick & done right. I used to love my old Conn strobe tuner. That was actually a better tuner overall than the newer digital tuners. But once you get used to using a Boss correctly (or any tuner) I find that you can generally trust it. In the studio we have a combination of a tuning fork & digital tuners, just in case there is a problem, but it's not necessary. If I'm just sitting around the house, I tune by ear. You can't always trust using harmonics either, because it's accuracy depends on if your guitar's intonation has been set up correctly. Most aren't, or can never be perfectly set up (because of problems with the neck) & not everyone knows how to do it right. It's OK if you don't play any chords way up on the neck, or are playing with another guitarist, but tuners come in real handy when you do. Now, I will tell you that sometimes tuners can only do so much & the rest has to be manually adjusted. I have had problems with certain chords on certain songs while recording records, where the tuner said it was right, but it sounded off harmonically with the other instruments. Then you tune by ear & leave it be. And for live shows - don't have your fans wait for you to tune by ear - get a tuner - or a roadie that knows how to use one correctly!
One tuner tip:
It's always better to have the tuner go off slightly flat, after the initial "in tune" attack, rather than sharp. It's a more natural sound to the ear & will blend better with other instruments.
I use .09 through .42 string sizes, with my own custom sizes (no packages with the sizes I use available at the moment). I continue to use Earnie Ball strings. I've prefer them over the few other brands I've tried....
I use 9, 11, 14, 22, 32, 42 Ernie Ball's....
I believe it makes less of a difference about using .009's if your hands and attack is right for the style you play and sound you are going for. We have all heard a ton of famous guitarists that use .009, and even lighter (Frank Marino used .007's when I met him in the 70's), that have captivated us with their style & tone.
Yes, you will likely need to adjust your attack & pick guage for a lighter feel if you use the lighter strings, but that's an easy adjustment for most.
Certainly try all guages if you are concerned that you're missing something. But in general, I say do what you feel comfortable with. No one musician can tell you what will be best for you, only you will know that. The rest of that crap is for speculators, not players....
Yeah, lighter strings & high frets can be a recipe for disaster. That's why I had such low action for a while. Later, I wanted more room to get under the strings & had my LP refretted. I love it like that, but I was already used to a lighter touch so it made no difference with my intonation.
Yeah, - .007's on Frank Marino's strat. I didn't know they actually made such a thing either (don't know if you could even find that now). His action was the highest I'd ever seen. It went from normal at the first 2 frets to almost an inch above the fretboard at the 21st fret. Completely outside the box & un-playable as far as I was concerned. But he could make that guitar sound amazingly like Hendrix & it felt good to him. Again, different strokes . . .