Les Paul Junior and an Explorer that sounds
amazing. The Explorer is a great guitar
– there’s something about that massive piece
of wood. Those are the guitars I use these
days for recording and playing live.
I’ve also got a lot of cool archtop guitars.
I’ve got a cool ES-350 from 1952, a 1946
Epiphone Emporer, a 1939 Epiphone
Broadway, a 1944 Epiphone Blackstone and
a 1938 Gibson L7. Epiphone and Gibson, to
me, have always been the two top guitar
makers, especially of archtops and flattops.
I love flattop and hollowbody guitars in general. I use my Sheraton all the time, along
with a modern Broadway.
Epiphone’s Elitist Byrdland is also an incredible guitar; they are kind of like Gibson
Custom Shop guitars. The Elitists are made
in Japan, with beautiful high-end woods
and incredible craftsmanship. These days,
Epiphones are kind of like budget Gibsons
in a sense, but they’re really quality instruments. Sometimes people ask me if I ever
change the pickups in new Epiphones, but
I’ve never run into one in which the pickups
don’t sound great. I think they’re made
really well right from the beginning.
The main effect I use is a Seymour Duncan
Pickup Booster, which is a great little pre-amp and gives you a clean boost. I like
to run my amp low and use the Pickup
Booster for a fatter tone. I also go back and
forth between a Bad Monkey Distortion
pedal, a Tube Screamer, a Boss Blues Driver
and Boss Super Overdrive, but the Tonebone
Radical Trimode is one that I really love. It’s
an actual tube pedal, and recording with it
is amazing. It has two 12AX7s in it, and you
can switch between two different settings
to get different amounts of overdrive. You
get phenomenal harmonic distortion with it.
I use D’Addario strings – depending on the
guitar, I usually use the nickel wound variety. I use .10s on Les Pauls and Fender-style
guitars, and .11s or .12s on archtops. I also
use flatwounds on a lot of my older guitars,
to get different sounds – usually the ones
with floating pickups like D’Armond pickups.
Have you reached your goal as a guitarist, or is that a never-ending road?
Hopefully it’s a never-ending road. I’ve pondered that question myself, in the sense
that I’m getting older. I have pretty bad
arthritis in my left shoulder which affects
my playing to some extent – I’m not quite
as fast as I used to be. But I think I’m
continuing to get better, from all the music
I’ve ingested and all the music I’ve played. I
suppose this is something that most people
experience, since it’s rare to not have something slow you down as you age.
Now I’m getting noticed more than ever;
I’m getting all of these awards, but at the
same time it’s getting harder to sing, and I’m
slower than I used to be. Still, when I listen
to my recent recordings, I think I’m better
on them than when I had more facility and
my voice was in better shape. But that’s like
with anybody; I think Louis Armstrong always
sounded great, right up to the end. He
couldn’t quite hit the same high notes that he
did when he was young, but I see him as a
good role model for what I want to achieve
in my life, which is lasting musical maturity. I
just want to continue to mature and use what
I have left of my talent until the end.