The phase shifter really accentuates the
boom-chuck palm muting you’re doing on
the bass strings.
Yeah, yeah, yeah—I know what you mean.
It’s a cool sound, like that hollow sound they
used to get out of Dano tic-tac basses. It’s a
real quacky tone.
When you hit the two solos in “Man in the
Bottom of the Well,” you conjure a little of
that modal, Summer-of-Love guitar sound.
There is some of that, I know. What came
over me? It’s almost like I had my foot up on
the monitor and was whipping my hair back
and forth. Actually, in ’ 67 it was more about
standing there glaze-eyed and slack-jawed.
It was fun to play those solos.
There’s even a hint of Mike Bloomfield.
’ 59 sunburst Fender Telecaster (serial number 2222), Big Tex Guitars
replica Tele, Rick Kelly replica Tele, Fender Baja Sexto with Dan
Erlewine body, Danelectro baritone, Martin 00-18
Talos 1x12 combo, ’ 68 silverface Fender Deluxe modded by
Pete Cage, TV-front tweed Fender Deluxe
Boss DM- 2 analog delay, Talos Ass Bite Overdrive,
Danelectro Tuna Melt tremolo
Strings and Picks
Curt Mangan strings (.010–.046 and .0105–.048 for electrics,
.013–.056 for acoustics), Mangan Curtex . 73 mm picks
Shure SM57, AKG 414, and Octava mics
Oh, I would hope so. I used to see him back
at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco.
Mike and my wife were friends, and he used
to come by to hear the Airmen when we first
moved to town.
Toward the end of the second solo, it
sounds like you’re using your Tele’s tone
pot to get a wah sound.
Yeah, that’s exactly what I did, tone-pot wah. My
little finger was honkin’ away on the tone knob—
a little something extra for the people. I’ve got
the control plate reversed on my Tele, with the
tone pot located in the middle of the plate.
For tone-pot wah, do you get fussy about
capacitors in your Teles?
No, I don’t. If the tone-pot wah isn’t working
or if my volume swells don’t work on one
guitar, my tendency is to grab another guitar
[laughs]. I’m utterly clueless about that. I
know both the capacitor and the pot’s taper
play a role, but now you’re hearing a guy
talk well beyond his knowledge.
Your main Tele has a Vintique neck-attachment system with threaded metal
inserts and machine screws that, in the
past, enabled you to easily remove the
neck when you flew to a gig. Do you still
When I first started going to England years
ago, I carried my guitar in a Land’s End briefcase. I would unscrew the neck, put the body
in the briefcase—it fit perfectly—and stick
the neck through the umbrella loop on the
canvas bag. Maybe if I wanted to be formal,
I’d stick a sock over the peghead. I quit doing
that after 9-11, because I worried that airport
security might not let me take a guitar neck on
the plane. They might consider it a weapon.
So I haven’t had the neck off in a long time.
Nowadays, I fly Southwest in the US, and
they always let me carry on a guitar. Flying to
Europe, I haven’t had a problem bringing a
guitar on the plane in quite a while.
Do you have favorite mic’ing techniques?
In the studio, I leave that to the engineer. But
when I’m recording at home, generally I’ll position a Shure SM57 in front of the speaker cone,
at a slight angle and a little off center. I’ll also
put an AKG 414 a little further back to pick up
some room sound. When recording acoustics
at home, I’ll use a 414 and a couple of Russian
Octava condensers—inexpensive but really nice
small-diaphragm mics I got 12 or 13 years ago.
Tell us about your strings and picks.
I use Curt Mangan strings exclusively. I string
my Teles with either the stock .010 set or a
custom gauge that’s .0105, .013, .017, .026,
.038, and .048. On that set, the B, G, and D
are the same as a normal set of .010s, but
the bottom two are a bit heavier and the top
E is slightly bigger. The .0105 set is what I
used on most of the record. On my Martin
00-18, I use Mangan acoustic mediums. Also,
I use yellow . 73 mm Mangan Curtex picks.
The material is a dry plastic with an almost
powdery finish, and they come in a standard
shape. That gauge is between a medium and
a heavy pick.
What do you like about Mangan strings?
The whole thing about the Telecaster is the
continuum from fat to bright. Where I hear the
difference is in the wound strings. To me, they
have a nice cross between a bright twangy
sound and a full round tone. You know how
some strings are so twangy they almost sound
like they’re out of phase? That doesn’t happen
with Mangans. Also, I don’t get those quality-control problems with his strings—I don’t put
on a set and then have one string that’s horribly wrong for some reason. I’ve been playing
Mangan strings for at least four years now.
You’ve been working professionally for
more than 40 years. What advice do you
have for guitarists coming up?
My advice to anybody is to grab that guitar,
get up on that stage, and just try not to
suck. That’s exactly what I do. I say, “I hope I
don’t suck right now,” and then I dig in.