52 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2009 www.premierguitar.com
I’m in the midst of another touring season, and
once again I have the distinct pleasure of sharing the stage with two of Nashville’s best pickers, Brian Wooten and Mark Gillespie of Trace
Adkins. I talked to them about their gear, their
influences and how they got where they are,
and I’ll cover each of these amazing guitarists
in separate columns. This month, we’ll focus
on Mark Gillespie. I’ll share my chat with Brian
Wooten in next month’s column.
Mark, you and I have been friends for
almost 15 years, and we’ve played together with a respectable number of artists. But
this is the first time we’ve gotten to travel
together on a major tour. I’ve seen you play
several different axes over the years. What
guitars are you playing with Trace?
Right now, I have three electrics, one acoustic
and one mandolin out on the road with me.
For my main single-coil guitar, I’m using my
‘ 89 Strat with Lace Sensor Gold pickups—it
has that great Strat sound that I love. For the
songs that I need Humbuckers on, I’m using
my PRS Modern Eagle. That guitar is a beast!
I also have a Taylor electric model with three
single-coil pickups. My acoustic is a Taylor
GS7 with their Expression pickup system. It’s
the most natural-sounding pickup system I’ve
used. It is a great instrument. My Mandolin is
a Gibson F5-L that’s about 10 years old with a
Fishman pickup. I feel lucky to have a Charlie
What pedals do you use?
I’ve been using a lot of Jim Dunlop pedals
lately. I just added an MXR Carbon Copy delay,
which I just leave on a slap-back setting. I also
added a MXR Dyna Comp and overdrive. My
other pedals are a Boss Blues Driver, Crybaby
wah, Boss DD- 5 delay and an Ernie Ball volume
pedal. I tend to try different distortion pedals
often—I just always seem to be looking.
What amps are you running all that through?
The main amp I’ve been using for the past
How do you and Brian decide who will play
several years is a ‘ 65 Fender Pro Reverb. It
has been a great workhorse … very reliable. I
love those old amps with hand wiring and no
circuit boards. They’re easy to fix and just keep
on going. The Pro Reverb has two 12" Weber
speakers. I put those in about four years ago,
and they made a huge difference. Ted Weber
just passed away in August. He was a great guy
and a friend to a lot of us musicians, and I’ll
miss him for sure.
which part live?
That’s really easy to do; we just kind of split it
up between us. I usually play the main acoustic
parts, if there are any. Trace digs the two electric thing, which is really fun and a big sound.
You and I have always worked well togeth-
er when we play in the same band because
we approach the instrument so differently.
Who are your influences?
Well, I’ve been playing since I was about 13, so
I’ve had quite a few influences over the years. My
main ones would be Willie Nelson, James Burton,
Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford,
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tony Rice and Sam Bush.
What other bands have you played with?
Before I moved to Nashville, I lived in Destin,
That’s a lot of gig time! How long have you
FL, and I worked in some house bands where
I really learned a lot. I still have great friends
there. I moved to Nashville in 1995 and I’ve
worked with several steady bands, like Steve
Azar, Noel Haggard, Keith Urban, Claudia
Church, Paul Brandt, Chalee Tennison, whom I
married, and Kellie Coffey.
been playing with Trace?
I began working with Trace on Mar. 3, 2004. It’s
been a good gig with some good guys in the band.
What was the first song you can remember
learning on the guitar, and how old were
you when you first started playing?
“Wildwood Flower” on acoustic and “Johnny
B. Goode” on electric. I was in the eighth
grade, so I was 13 years old.
Do you play any other instruments?
I play the Mandolin, and a little bit of Dobro.
Do you own any rare or vintage guitars?
I have a mid-30s Dobro and a mid-70s
ES-335. Are ‘70s model guitars vintage yet? I
also have an early Fender Custom Shop Tele.
It’s the Buckaroo model.
Well Mark, it sounds like you’re keeping
busy. I’m so glad to have you out with us
on tour this year.
Next month, we’ll hear from Brian Wooten, the
stage-right side of this axe-slinging team.
Till then, keep jammin’.
Rich Eckhardt is one of the most sought-after guitarists in
Nashville. His ability to cover multiple styles has put him on
stage with singers ranging from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to
Shania Twain. Rich is currently playing lead guitar with Toby
Keith. His latest CD, Cottage City Firehouse is available online
at CDbaby.com or at richeckhardt.com
Sharing the Stage with Mark Gillespie
Trace Adkins and Mark Gillespie