with... SIXTY SECONDS
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 US blues prodigy turned bonafide guitar star
GT: Do you have a type of pick (brand, thickness, etc) that you can’t live without?
KWS: Someone once gave me a genuine tortoiseshell pick and I must say that I’ve never found another pick that feels quite the same. Currently I’m using KWS edition heavy gauge picks made by Dunlop.
GT: If you had to give up all your effects pedals but three, what would they be?
KWS: My original Vox Clyde McCoy wah-wah pedal because I still haven’t found a wah pedal that sounds better than that one. My original Ibanez TS-808 Tube Screamer. It’s been everywhere with me and has never failed to deliver great tone. Finally, my Analogman King Of Tone pedal. It’s a fantastic sounding overdrive pedal that I use constantly.
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be able do so in a band?
KWS: I’m sure I could play bass in a band. I also believe I could be a good drummer if I could just find enough time to practise the instrument.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
GT: Do you think guitar cables really make a difference to things like tone or reliability? What make are yours?
KWS: Cables certainly do make a difference. Some cables are more reliable than others and some fail quickly. To the trained ear, cables can have an effect on your tone as well. I have custom made cables and I use a cable with the conductors made of solid silver that I use in the studio.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of?
KWS: I don’t like the word ‘jealous’. I’d say there are a lot of artists (past and present) whose playing I have a lot of respect for. SRV, Hendrix and Robert Johnson just to name a few. One guy I really recommend listening to is Doyle Dykes. He’s an incredible acoustic guitar player.
GT: Your house/studio is burning down: which of your guitars do you salvage?
KWS: My 1961 Stratocaster. It’s my number one guitar that I can’t live without.
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
KWS: I have a number of favourite amps, all of which were built by Alexander Dumble. Currently my favourite is a 1965 Fender Bandmaster he modified called the ‘Ultra-Phonix’. It has fantastic cleans and superior sustain with beautiful overtones.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars?
KWS: Medium to high action with jumbo frets and heavy gauge strings.
GT: What strings do you use?
KWS: I’m currently using Ernie Ball Cobalt strings: .011 .014 .018 .028 .038 .058. They sound great with lots if attack and immediate response. Heavy strings have a bigger sound and cut through the mix better.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
KWS: Meeting Stevie Ray Vaughan when I was seven years old was the main reason I got serious about playing guitar. I wanted to learn to play with the fire and intensity he had.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
KWS: The Fender Stratocaster. The first one I found that I couldn’t live without was my 1961 Strat.
GT: What was the best gig you ever did?
KWS: I have no idea. Each one has its merits. There have certainly been ones that are better than others, but no ‘best’.
GT: And your worst playing nightmare?
KWS: Having the rig go down is the worst. The hardest think to trouble-shoot is a bad cable in the pedal board. It can take up to a couple of minutes to track down the culprit and that feels like an eternity on stage.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
KWS: Play from your heart. If you play with that kind of passion, people will respond to it.
GT: Do you still practise?
KWS: Every night I’m on stage I get the best practice one can get.
GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine?
KWS: No. My pre-gig routine is pretty minimal. Maybe I’ll enjoy a good cigar before show time. A lot of times I just walk out there cold, with no warm-up. I like to push myself.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?
KWS: Well, I’m currently in two fantasy bands. My own band has Chris Layton from Double Trouble, Tony Franklin from The Firm, and Riley Osbourn (Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett). In my second band, The Rides I have Stephen Stills, Chris Layton, Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag) and Kevin McCormick (bassist with Crosby Stills and Nash and Jackson Browne).
GT: Present company excepted, who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
KWS: That’s subject to one’s opinion. My opinion would be Jimi Hendrix.
GT: Is there a solo you really wish you had played?
KWS: Not only do I wish I’d played the original Voodoo Child, I wish I had written it too!
GT: What’s the solo/song of your own that you’re most proud of?
KWS: I think the song I’m most proud of is Blue On Black, from our 1998 album Trouble Is. It still sounds great to me after all these years, and was a bonafide hit here in the States!
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
KWS: Being a good father.
I Think the song I’m most proud of is blue on black. It still sounds great after all these years
Kenny Wayne’s new album, Lay It On Down is released on 21 July 2017 on the Provogue/ Mascot Label Group. He’ll be performing a select number of UK shows including: Sat 29 July – Ramblin’ Man Fair, Maidstone (Headline Outlaw Country Stage); Sun 30 July - The Picturedrome, Holmfirth.