A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great gui­tarist tick. Be­fore he jumped into his limo for the air­port we grabbed a quick chat with con­tem­po­rary UK blues singer-song­writer,

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Ash Wil­son. Ash Wil­son re­leases his de­but al­bum Bro­ken Ma­chine on April 21st. He is spe­cial guest on Dan Pat­lansky’s UK tour in May 2017. For more in­for­ma­tion please visit www.ash­wilson­mu­

This month we meet Lin­colnshire’s writer and player of con­tem­po­rary blues, Ash Wil­son.

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

AW: Jim Dun­lop Gator Grip 2mm. I’ve al­ways loved heavy picks, as I have more con­trol of dy­nam­ics than with the thin­ner type. I also love the way these sound, I think be­cause hav­ing slightly curved edges they sound less harsh strik­ing the string.

GT: You have to give up all your ped­als but three, what will they be?

AW: First of all a tuner! All of my gui­tars are reis­sues so I have tun­ing is­sues be­tween and oc­ca­sion­ally dur­ing songs so my best friend is my trusty Korg Pitch­black! I’m a big fan of Fuzz Face fuzzes and the best I’ve come across is the KingTone Vin­tage Fuzz pedal. You can go from clean as a whis­tle to full blown bone shak­ing fuzz with just the vol­ume pot on the gui­tar, so I’d def­i­nitely take that. Fi­nally I’m in love with the small in size but big in tone Ibanez Mini Ana­logue De­lay. I’m re­ally into slap-back and with the re­peats be­ing quite dark it blends bet­ter with the di­rect sig­nal.

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

AW: I flirt with bass gui­tar and have done a cou­ple of jobs as a bassist in a theatre pit but never in a band. I’m a mas­sive Glen Hughes fan so I was go­ing to join a band as a bassist that would be the an­gle I’d be look­ing at.

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

AW: Al­though I can read mu­sic I’m re­ally out of prac­tice with sight read­ing and would have to put some se­ri­ous hours in to do it con­fi­dently.

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

AW: I think as long as you are us­ing a good qual­ity ca­ble you can’t go wrong. I know peo­ple who swear by £150 jack-to-jacks but I’ve never had any is­sues with Planet Waves.

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

AW: The player I’m most into at the mo­ment is Doyle Bramhall II. I love his style and the way he un­der­plays, us­ing in­ter­est­ing note choices to ex­press him­self. On a side note, his tone is to die for.

GT: Your stu­dio is burn­ing down: which gui­tar do you sal­vage?

AW: The one I own that has real sen­ti­men­tal value for me is my 62 Reis­sue Strat from the ’90s. I’ve had it half my life and wher­ever I’ve toured it’s been my main gui­tar ,so lots of mem­o­ries as­so­ci­ated with that in­stru­ment. Whether I’d run into a burn­ing build­ing to res­cue it or not is an­other mat­ter.

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

AW: My 633 Engi­neer­ing Groove King. It’s a 50 watt 6L6 tube head that sounds a lit­tle like a Su­per Re­verb but has a fea­ture called ‘Vari­able Feed­back’ which ef­fec­tively en­ables you to set where the power tubes start to break up. It’s a great fea­ture mean­ing that no mat­ter what size the room is I can get that ‘just break­ing up’ nat­u­ral valve tone. As for set­tings; no two rooms re­act the same so I usu­ally just try and set it to suit the room. It’s an in­cred­i­ble amp, I’ve yet to find a bad sound in it.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your gui­tars?

AW: I have a Les Paul ’58 reis­sue and the neck is pretty hefty on it so I have a lower ac­tion than I would on my Strat to com­pen­sate. On the Strat I’d say it’s medium - high enough to play slide on and just miss the frets.

GT: What strings do you use?

On my Strat I use D’Ad­dario EXL 117s, 11-56 gauge as I’m tuned down

Eb to so I need a heav­ier string to com­pen­sate. For my Les Paul and ES-335 it’s EXL 116’s, 11-52 gauge as I don’t need the ex­tra heavy bass strings with hum­buck­ers. I rarely use a Tele­caster but when I do I tend to go for EXL10’s, 10-48 as I much pre­fer the tone of a Tele­caster with lighter strings.

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

AW: David Gil­mour. My par­ents had a live VHS tape that they had recorded off the TV of Pink Floyd’s Pulse tour. I pretty much wrecked the end of the tape con­stantly watch­ing Com­fort­ably Numb try­ing to work out the solo!

GT: What was the first gui­tar you re­ally lusted af­ter?

AW: A Fender Stra­to­caster. I didn’t even know what one looked like. I’d men­tioned to a friend I wanted a gui­tar and he said, “You should get a Fender Stra­to­caster”. I thought, “Wow, Fender Stra­to­caster that sounds amaz­ing!” I still think it’s the coolest sound­ing gui­tar name on the planet.

GT: The best gig you ever did?

AW: I think I’d have to say my first ‘Ash Wil­son’ last year. I’ve al­ways been in bands and I found real se­cu­rity in be­ing the gui­tarist on the side. When I started do­ing my own shows I was pretty ner­vous about be­ing the front man, es­pe­cially that first show play­ing my own songs. Ev­ery­one was re­ally wel­com­ing, and there was a re­ally amaz­ing vibe in the room. I came off stage on cloud 9. That’s the aim re­ally, play ev­ery gig like it’s my last be­cause it’s a priv­i­lege to be up on stage.

GT: Worst play­ing night­mare?

AW: I was on tour in Poland and it was our first show. We got to the venue an hour af­ter we were due to go on hav­ing just fin­ished a 26-hour drive. Upon get­ting to the venue the fel­low who’d put us on in­sisted we lit­er­ally un­load the van and go on. I got ev­ery­thing set up and man­aged to play maybe three notes be­fore my amp blew up be­fore then get­ting an elec­tric shock on the mi­cro­phone.

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

AW: I liken mu­sic to con­ver­sa­tion. It’s more in­ter­est­ing if there’s more than one per­son to talk to, and no one likes peo­ple who talk too much.

GT: Pre-gig warm-up rou­tine?

AW: I never used to but now I sing I have to as I need to not have to think about my gui­tar play­ing. I don’t re­ally do any for­mal rou­tine; I just noo­dle about 10 min­utes be­fore I go on, be­fore re­mind­ing my­self of the riff for the first song!

GT: If you could put to­gether a fan­tasy band with you in it, who would the other play­ers be?

AW: I love the groove of Jeff Por­caro, so we’ll start there. On bass, James Jamer­son, Dr John on Fender Rhodes and vo­cals, Jim­mie Vaughan gui­tar, Aretha on vo­cals.

GT: Who’s the great­est gui­tarist that’s ever lived?

AW: We have yet to see any­one in­no­vate like Jimi Hen­drix. He con­trib­uted more in four years than most do in a life­time.

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

AW: Hun­dreds! If I had to pick one it would be BB King’s play­ing on Sweet Lit­tle An­gel from Live At The Re­gal. The way the BB lays into the first few notes is sheer class.

GT: What’s the song of your own of which you’re most proud?

AW: On my new al­bum Bro­ken Ma­chine the song Show Me How To Love You was mainly recorded live. When it came to the solo sec­tion, rather than con­tin­u­ing with the rhythm I just went for it. Thank­fully the guys went with me and we ended up jam­ming the whole solo. I’m re­ally proud we man­aged to cre­ate some­thing in the mo­ment.

GT: What would you most like to be re­mem­bered for?

AW: I’d be great to be re­mem­bered as a guy who had great tone. But to be re­mem­bered with any­thing mu­sic re­lated would be amaz­ing!


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