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

Guitar Techniques - - INTERVIEW - Kenny Wayne Shep­herd.

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?

KWS: No.

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.

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