What Strings Do You Use?
I’m jealous of people who saw my heroes like Jimi Hendrix or Robert Johnson.
We ask a great guitarist all those little questions you really do want the answers to… This month: Little Barrie and Primal Scream guitarist, Barrie Cadogan. GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
BC : The blue Jim Dunlop Tortex 1.0mm picks. I like the thick ones.
GT: If you had to give up all your pedals but three, what would they be?
BC : 1) Dr Scientist Reverberator - great reverb in a pedal. It’s organic rather than clinical and it has loads of cool settings. You can get some amazing psychedelic/surf/ spaghetti western sounds out of it. 2) My custom built U-Fuzz. Built by Magnetic Effects it’s based on the original Univox Superfuzz, which was the same circuit as the Shin Ei Companion or Shaftesbury Duo Fuzz. It’s very simple: Volume and Fuzz and a tone switch that gives you two different tones; one tone is fat and brutal and the other just face melting. 3) My Custom Built Fuzz-Wah, again built by Magnetic Effects. A combination of tweaked Tone Bender and a Vox wah-wah. Both sounds come on when you step on it. The idea behind it was to try and get a Ron Asheton (of The Stooges) sound.
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to do so in a band?
BC : I play bass on sessions sometimes. The only time I played bass onstage was at a gig for the Justice For Hillsborough campaign at The Scala. The band was some of Primal Scream plus Mick Jones And Paul Simenon. We played a set including Guns Of Brixton. Paul never played bass when he sang that so I volunteered to do it. He’d brought along his original white Precision he used in The Clash, so I had to play it on that. Paul sang it brilliantly while I was looking down at his bass in awe of it thinking ‘don’t drop it’.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
BC : Not at all.
GT: Do guitar cables make a difference? What are yours?
BC : I’m not even sure what brand my cables are at the moment; they must be a mixture. I’ve bought cheap ones that have been fine and expensive ones that have been rubbish. I’ve always liked the old style curly cables. I used to find them in bargain bins in shops or in old guitar cases. People used to laugh when I’d turn up to gigs with them, but you can buy them anywhere now. I have some Vox and Fender curly cables that have lasted a long time.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of?
BC : I’m more in awe of them than jealous. But I’m jealous of people who saw my heroes like Jimi Hendrix, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf or bands like the MC5 or James Brown in late 60s, early 70s - it must have been amazing! I wish I had the vibrato of Danny Kirwan, the originality of Johnny Marr or the explosiveness of J Mascis. One of my favourite guitarists of today is Tommy Brenneck, who plays guitar with Charles Bradley and The Budos Band. He’s such a great player, a lot of soul and R&B in there but he has his own spin on it and his own tone. Yeah, actually I’m jealous of him!
GT: Your house is burning down: which guitar do you salvage?
BC : My cherry red 1962 Gibson ES 330 (pictured) - that guitar’s stuck by me for the longest time.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
BC : My white 1963/64 Fender Bassman amp with its 2x12 cabinet - it’s such a great amp. I found my sound when I got that. It’s really simple but it just works. I use input 1 on the normal channel, Volume on 5 or 6, Treble at 5 1/2, Bass on 5 1/2 and Presence on full. Any guitar sounds good in that amp. Sometimes I take another cable out of input 2 on the Normal channel and feed it into a custom built JPF 2x12 combo or a brown 1961 Fender Super. That works really well too but the Bassman’s my No.1.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars?
BC : To be honest I’m not super fussy about set-up, although I don’t like the action too low. I don’t do much to the guitars myself. I took a few guitars into Regent Sounds once for a bit of a service and they told me they were all set up different.
GT: What strings do you use?
BC : I’m not too choosy on string brands either. I tend to use Ernie Ball strings a lot because I always have. If I’m playing a Gibson electric guitar it would be 11-48 strings. I’d use those on a Jazzmaster too. On the Dubreuille custom guitars I use 10-46. Sometimes my guitars have been restrung with other brands and I didn’t notice. I don’t like brand new strings. They’re always better after a few gigs, so I don’t change them that often.
GT: What are you up to at the moment?
BC : I’m doing Little Barrie stuff. We have a new album out on 26th May called Shadow so we’re getting ready for that. We have some US dates on the east coast and then we’ll be in the UK .
Barrie Cadogan and his favourite Gibson ES-330