fingerpicking—so when I was
16 or 17, I started taking classical lessons at a local community
college. That was a great experience—it really taught me how to
look at guitar in a different way.
On the guitar, we don’t have to
really think about the names of
notes—we just move the same
shape to a different fret to play
in a different key. But when I
started playing classical guitar, I
began to read music. I learned
what, say, a G chord looks like
on the staff in different inversions. A lot of classical guitar
repertoire was originally written
for another instrument, like the
piano, with all these simultaneous bass lines and melodies.
So I learned a lot about how
harmony works and how music
is structured, and I learned to
approach music for music’s sake
and not to just play the same
old boxes and patterns.
How did you get involved
with Collective Soul?
After I got out of high school,
I was scratching and clawing
around with local bands, rehearsing four or five nights a week
in crappy warehouse rehearsal
rooms and playing shows for no
money. I needed to put gas in my
car and have a little something
to eat, so I started doing some
paint and body work on cars and
motorcycles. My dad’s a mechanic, so I’d always been around that
stuff. I had my own little business
for a few years and was always
trying to get closer to music.
Then one day around ’ 96 or
’ 97, a friend of mine introduced
me to [Collective Soul vocalist/
guitarist/songwriter] Ed Roland.
I told Ed I was trying to get out
of the auto business and that I’d
love to take any job that might
be available in his organization.
It happened that Collective Soul
needed someone to work on
their guitars, and I was a good fit
. . . when I was working with Collective Soul
in the late 1990s, Ed [Roland] had some old
Vox AC30s that . . . were constantly blowing
up, so that became the catalyst for me learning
how to repair and modify tube-amp stuff.
because I’d always tinkered with
mine and set them up myself.
How did you learn to work on
guitars and amps?
My first electric guitar was a
Japanese SG rip-off made of
plywood that I bought for 10
dollars. Since it was so junky, it
didn’t matter if I messed it up,
so I used it to learn how to set
things up as demonstrated in my
little library of how-to books.
Also, Eddie Van Halen was melt-
ing everyone’s face off when I
was coming up, and everybody
was copying him and build-
ing their own “super strats,” so
naturally I had to make one, too.
I bought the basic parts from
Warmoth and took the body
to my high-school shop class to
route out the cavities for a bridge
pickup and a volume knob. Later,
I got into Steve Morse, so I rout-
ed out a neck pickup and a toggle
switch. I put in a coil-tap switch
and then took it out, painted the
guitar about 10 different times,
swapped out the neck—you
name it—and learned a whole lot
in the process. Later, when I was
working with Collective Soul in
the late 1990s, Ed had some old
Vox AC30s that he brought out
on the road. They were constant-
ly blowing up, so that became the
catalyst for me learning how to
repair and modify tube-amp stuff.
How did you teach yourself
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146 PREMIER GUITAR JUNE 2011
2/15/11 9: 47 PM