and went. Steve Winwood with Traffic—and
the list kind of goes on and on, but obviously I
can’t forget the Beatles or Stones.
Let’s talk gear. How do you get your sound?
I don’t like to over-effect, but I do use some
effects. What I’ve got now is an Engl E650
Ritchie Blackmore signature amp head
that I run with two or four Marshall cabs. I
also have a customized 100-watt Marshall
JCM900SL-X amp that is used as an occasional backup, or a slave for my stereo mix.
My pedalboard pretty much consists of
T-Rex pedals, a Dunlop Crybaby wah, a Boss
DD- 3 delay, a TC Electronic Stereo Chorus
Flanger, an Ibanez CS9 chorus, and a Robert
Keeley two-knob compressor.
What about during the ‘70s?
Back then, man, you couldn’t get stuff. We’re
talking about caveman, Neanderthal-type
stuff that was being made as one-offs in some
guy’s basement. Back then, two pedals rarely
sounded the same. I have to admit, though,
there was one pedal I relied on the most in
the seventies. That was the MXR flanger.
That seems to be a big one, especially the
original models, because a lot of guys from
all sorts of musical backgrounds swear by it.
Yeah, for sure, but now these days I don’t use it
too much, probably because I used it so much
back then. I just go in a different direction now.
It’s like when I came over to England with no
money, and all I could afford was fish and chips.
I can’t even look at fish and chips without getting sick… same thing with flangers now.
When did you switch from Marshall
heads to Engls?
I really do love the whole Marshall system. It’s
big and solid, with a consistently great sound;
the most road-worthy amp ever built. You
can’t really improve on a classic like that, but
it’s always good to switch things up. But that
wasn’t the reason for my switch to Engl–that
was more a do or die thing.
About two years ago on a UK tour I was using
a stand-in guitar tech who managed to run the
wrong voltage through both my Marshall amps
just before our Wembley Arena show, blowing
them all to hell. So with only a couple of hours
before I had to play in front of 15,000 fans, my
back was severely against the wall with nothing
to play through. Luckily, an Engl representative
was on tour with us and suggested that I try
one of their amps. At that point I had never
even heard of Engl and was very reluctant
to go down that road, but the circumstances
dictated otherwise so I had them throw one
up for me to try, and from the first chord I was
completely sold. Playing a new brand of amp in
front of 15,000 people in your home town was
quite an experience, but I loved the sound and
have been using them ever since.
Have you consciously focused your atten-
tion on using more vibrato styles, or was it
a natural evolution?
Well, it’s kind of something I’ve always had,
but you do have to dial in and pay attention
to those stylistic things as time goes on. A
simple addition of vibrato, sustain, or a pull
of the whammy bar can take an old song in a
whole new, refreshing direction. It’s just about
reinventing the song in new ways. There is
nothing worse than listening to a guitarist
playing a straight note, or that million-mile-an-hour vibrato—that goat kind of a vibrato.
I always equate it to a singer or a saxophone
player, and how they use their vibrato. You
Gorham synchronized with bassist/lead singer Phil Lynott and guitarist Gary Moore at a show in London, UK on April 28, 1979. Photo by Laurens Van Houten-Frank White Photo Agency