Bo Ramsey performing with Greg Brown. Photo by Sandra L. Dyas
[Author’s note: Since this interview was conducted, Bo has aquired an Xits X10 (1x12",
15W, powered by EL84s) a Matchless
Lightning (1x12", 15W, also powered by
EL84s) and a Carr Hammerhead (1x12",
28W and EL84 power tubes). The Xits is his
gig rig right now with Greg Brown, and the
Matchless and Carr are studio amps.]
Are your guitars and amps stock, or have you
done much modifying?
My main road guitar is a sunburst 1980s ’ 62
reissue Strat. I put DiMarzio Virtual Series pickups in because they’re quiet. They won’t buzz
and they sound great. When I was on tour
with Lucinda Williams I got hooked up with
DiMarzio and they’ve been fantastic. I talked
with them about the sound that I was looking
for and they sent me a set of pickups. I put
them in my Strat and they’re still in there.
What do you bring to a typical gig?
It depends. If I’m flying I’ll take two guitars.
I have a case that’ll hold two solidbody guitars and it fits in the overhead on the plane.
Recently, if I drive to a gig, I have a Strat for
standard tuning and I have a Reverend Flatroc
that I have for open tuning and a Jerry Jones
12-string … so I’ll take three of four guitars.
What does your pedalboard consist of?
It’s really pretty simple. I have the power supply, a Voodoo Lab, I have a Fulltone Fulldrive
overdrive for distortion and a Fulltone Supa-Trem tremolo pedal that I like a lot. Then I
also have a [Hermida] Zendrive; I have two
of those. That’s a great pedal. I was reading
an interview with Sonny Landreth and he was
talking about these Zendrives and how great
they were, so I tracked one down. And I have
a Maxon AD900 analog delay pedal and a
Boss TU2 tuner and that’s it.
So you rely on the reverb in the amp?
You know, lately I’ve been digging no reverb.
When I was out with Lucinda, I played a lot
without reverb. We’d show up and have backline and some of the amps I got didn’t have
reverb. And I’d think, “Oh man, no reverb.”
But then I just went with it and really kind
of dug it. Recently I did a show and I used
my Deluxe. I just left the reverb off. Lately
I’ve been using my delay in a way to kind of
put some air around a note, you know, how
reverb does, only I’m using the delay. I don’t
use it all the time, but if I’m wanting a little
air around the note, then I’ll put the delay on
rather than reverb.
How many guitars do you have? What’s in
your collection these days? Do you collect?
No, I don’t really collect. I try and keep things
moving, you know. There are certain pieces
that I have no intention of selling. I have like
20, somewhere around there. I have two
Strats, the 1980s ’ 62 reissue and a ’ 69. I have
a 1980s ’ 62 reissue Telecaster and a 1962
Gibson ES-335, which is a really great guitar
that I’ll probably hand down to my kids. I
have a late-’40s Gibson J- 45 that I’m very
attached to, and an early-’50s Gibson LG2.
I also have a Jerry Jones 12-string electric
guitar, and I have a Taylor 12-string acoustic
guitar that was given to me. That’s a great
guitar. I have three or four Silvertones—a
couple of them are really outstanding guitars,
probably my best slide guitars. I have a ’ 58
Silvertone with one pickup, and it’s probably
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