Just one short minute is all it takes to find out what makes a great gui­tarist tick. Be­fore she jumped into her limo for the air­port, we grabbed a chat with ex­cit­ing Fin­nish blues and slide gui­tarist, Erja Lyyti­nen.

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GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live with­out?

EL: When play­ing slide I get a louder sound with Dun­lop fin­ger­picks. I use a thumb pick and a mid­dle-fin­ger pick. I need fin­ger­picks to be able to play Travis pick­ing style with heavy gauge strings. When play­ing reg­u­lar guitar, I use a red Dun­lop Jazz III. It fits my small hand well and makes my play­ing pre­cise.

GT: If you had to give up all your ped­als but three, could you do it and what would they be?

EL: Full­tone Clyde Stan­dard Wah-wah. In ad­di­tion to the wah sound, you can leave the pedal in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions to get this nasal sound. TC Elec­tronic Flash­back De­lay with Looper, so many pre-sets to have fun. De­lay adds a feel of sus­tain to play­ing. Mad Pro­fes­sor Mighty Red dis­tor­tion. I rarely play with­out dis­tor­tion.

GT: Do you play another in­stru­ment well enough to be in a band?

EL: I play some bass and drums. I also play keys and I’d love to some­day be able to record some stan­dards – just a woman and a pi­ano. I made the horn ar­range­ments on the Sky Is Cry­ing al­bum us­ing a pi­ano, so it is an es­sen­tial in­stru­ment to me in that re­spect too.

GT: If a mu­sic chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

EL: Yes def­i­nitely! I got a Mas­ters de­gree in mu­sic from Si­belius Academy, Helsinki. It’s a very ba­sic but im­por­tant skill.

GT: Do guitar ca­bles re­ally make a dif­fer­ence? What make are yours?

EL: Yes they do. My pedal board has been built with Ge­orge L’s ca­bles. Some­times I use a wire­less sys­tem though and then it’s Stage Clix, which hardly changes the orig­i­nal sound, but boosts it a bit.

GT: Is there any­one’s play­ing, of which you’re slightly jeal­ous?

EL: Eric John­son and Pat Metheny both have a bril­liant sense of melody. They’re amaz­ing soloists and com­posers too. Sonny Lan­dreth has his own unique style.

GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?

EL: I used to play a lot with Mon­ster Amps (Fin­nish), but re­cently bought a 135-watt Twin Re­verb from 1975. Vol­ume and gain both 5.5, spring re­verb at 3, not too much bass.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your gui­tars? (Any par­tic­u­lar quirks etc?)

EL: I use a high ac­tion. Stan­dard guitar ac­tion 2.0 mm at 17th fret and on slide gui­tars it is 2.5mm.

GT: What kind of strings do you use?

Stan­dard guitar, it’s D’Ad­dario .010-.046 and when play­ing slide, I use .012-.052 and change the high­est string to .015 to get a thicker sound.

GT: Who was your first in­flu­ence to play the guitar?

EL: My Dad.

GT: What was the best gig you ever did?

EL: Open­ing for Robert Plant in 2001. It was just a girl and a guitar – scary, but so cool!

GT: And your worst play­ing night­mare?

EL: In Swe­den, a huge biker fes­ti­val. The crowd was nice, but the weather was hor­ri­bly cold – two de­grees C in the sum­mer. My fin­gers re­ally hurt.

GT: What’s the most im­por­tant mu­si­cal les­son you ever learnt?

EL: Play what you feel. When you’re on stage, for­get what you’ve learned; scales, fancy chords etc. Feel is so im­por­tant.

GT: Present com­pany ex­cepted, who’s the great­est gui­tarist that’s ever lived?

EL: Jimi Hen­drix was just phe­nom­e­nal for his time.

GT: Is there a solo you re­ally wish you had played?

EL: Mike Stern on Lit­tle Shoes. He has got the blues – un­til he shreds it to 36 mil­lion notes.

GT: What’s the solo or song of your own that you’re most proud of?

EL: Song: Grip Of The Blues; it has some nice chords, a deep story and lots of wah-wah dis­torted guitar. Solo: The Sky Is Cry­ing – there’s the El­more legacy and it keeps grow­ing. Erja Lyyti­nen’s Live In Lon­don al­bum is out now on Tuohi Records. Her na­tion­wide 13-date UK tour starts Oc­to­ber 2nd at the Dar­ling­ton Blues Club. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on Erja Lyyti­nen, visit:­ja­lyyti­

Play what you feel. When you’re on stage, for­get what you’ve learnt; scales, fancy chords. Feel is so im­por­tant.

Erja Lyyti­nen with sparkly G&L ASAT and Mon­ster amp

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