Gui­tarists Dave Smith and Jack Cable of Cam­bridgeshire blues-rock out­fit Austin Gold.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

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

DAVE: I used to use Dun­lop Tor­tex 1.14s but about three years ago I switched to Jazz III XLs. I love the fo­cused point and rigid­ity for riffs and lead work. JACK: Dun­lop Tor­tex .88mm (green ones). I used to use lighter ones but I hit the strings a lot harder now, and I find that th­ese give me the best feel.

GT: If you had to give up all your ef­fects ped­als but three, what would they be?

DAVE: I’m a pedal ad­dict! I have buck­ets of vin­tage stuff. How­ever, for Austin Gold I’ve re­duced my board to lit­er­ally a Korg tuner, an Xotic BB Plus, a TC Elec­tronic Flash­back de­lay and a Elec­troHar­monix Holy Grail re­verb. Oh and the best ef­fect of all - the vol­ume knob! JACK: It would have to be my BB pre-amp, Neo In­stru­ments Mini Vent and TC Flash­back. They are the bare bones of the tones I used on the al­bum.

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

DAVE: Gui­tar is my in­stru­ment, first and fore­most. Sub­se­quently I’ve earned a liv­ing over the past 10 years as a drum­mer and ob­vi­ously a singer. I also play bass and pi­ano but my pas­sion and di­rec­tion is the gui­tar. From the age of 12 play­ing my dad’s dread­nought, I got the bug. JACK: I have filled in on bass many times in a func­tion band ca­pac­ity; even done a lit­tle ses­sion work on bass. I play drums for an­other project but mostly for fun and I wouldn’t call my­self a drum­mer. I did a gig with a funk band on keys once but I don’t think a hand full of 5ths and glis­san­dos make you a keys player.

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

DAVE: I’ve been a full-time gui­tar tu­tor for 20 years now and I’ve al­ways used tab. I’ve found my pupils have ben­e­fited from the im­me­di­acy of tab and then they con­cen­trate on ap­pli­ca­tion. Of course I re­spect that there’s two sides to charts and tabs. JACK: Chord charts, no prob­lem, I use them of­ten. A com­plex piece of tra­di­tional no­ta­tion, how­ever, I would need time to read and mem­o­rise for the most part.

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

DAVE: Well, Jack is the tech guy but leads make a huge dif­fer­ence. I’ve used Whirl­wind and Planet Waves in the past but in ad­di­tion I’ve re­ally no­ticed the dif­fer­ence with my Voodoo Labs 2 Plus power sup­ply. JACK: Yes I’m a lit­tle OCD when it comes to things like ca­bles and power. I am in the process of up­grad­ing my pedal board with a GigRig Quar­ter­mas­ter and all Lava Ca­bles sol­der­less patch­leads. I have Lava patch-leads now but feel I’m los­ing some­thing hav­ing all my ped­als in line. From gui­tar to board and board to amp I am cur­rently us­ing Som­mer Cable with Neu­trik con­nec­tors. I also have some Van Damme stuff that I like a lot too. So yes, ca­bles make a dif­fer­ence.

GT: Is there any­one’s play­ing (past or present) that you’re slightly jeal­ous of?

DAVE I’ve never been jeal­ous of any player’s abil­i­ties. I find it in­spi­ra­tional. Hen­drix, Gib­bons, Gil­mour, I strive every day to mas­ter their com­mand of the gui­tar. I had the plea­sure of meet­ing one my favourite gui­tarists, whom en­cap­su­lates the afore­men­tioned, Andy Tim­mons. He’s just in­cred­i­ble. JACK: I agree that jeal­ous is the wrong word. Are there play­ers that I can only ever dream of em­u­lat­ing? Yes, loads! I am cur­rently still try­ing to pick my jaw up off of the floor af­ter see­ing Joey Lan­dreth. John Mayer is high on my list too. Is there any­thing that guy can’t play?

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

DAVE: If I had to save only one of my gui­tars in an emer­gency, I would strug­gle, to be hon­est. But my sig­na­ture Van­quish DS model would be right up there. I’ve been very for­tu­nate to have been en­dorsed by Van­quish gui­tars since 2015. I used that gui­tar ex­clu­sively on our al­bum. JACK: My 57 reis­sue Les Paul Gold­top. My fa­ther bought me that gui­tar as an in­vest­ment in me on my 18th birth­day, so that gui­tar means a lot.

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

DAVE: I’m cur­rently us­ing a Mesa Sin­gle Rec­ti­fier 50w. Slightly un­ortho­dox for a Boo­gie Rec but I have the gain chan­nel set to vin­tage, nearly full mid, half bass and half tre­ble. It’s smooth and very re­spon­sive. I also use a 1978 Mar­shall JMP mas­ter vol­ume 100w with very sim­i­lar set­tings, maybe less tre­ble. They work so well as rhythm and lead. JACK: I love my Vic­tory V40. It’s a great pedal plat­form. I use it on Voice 2, gain set just on the edge, tre­ble and bass set around 6 and mid around 3. I use the re­verb on my board not the V40’s and all my ped­als are straight in the front.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your gui­tars - any quirks or foibles that have to be met?

DAVE: I’ve al­ways favoured a medium ac­tion on my gui­tars. I like to dig in and get un­der the strings when bend­ing. JACK: It de­pends on the fret height of the gui­tar. My Van­quish has pretty tall frets so I can have a lower ac­tion as my fin­gers don’t get caught up on the fret­board as much. My Les Paul has more vin­tage style frets so needs to be set up a lit­tle higher to achieve the same kind of thing.

GT: What strings do you use?

DAVE: As we de­tune a semi­tone I find .10s re­ally work with heavy bot­tom strings (fifth and sixth). I’ve started us­ing Roto-sound Pure Nickel strings and the sta­bil­ity is a game changer. JACK: I use Elixirs, 10-46 gauge. I started us­ing them a few years ago and liked the life­span of them. I have not found a rea­son to change yet but I have had a lot of rec­om­men­da­tions to try some Pure Nick­els so might give some a go pretty soon.

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

DAVE: I sup­pose my first ex­po­sure to the gui­tar was The Bea­tles. Beau­ti­ful chord ar­range­ments and Ge­orge’s counter melodies. But it has to be Billy Gib­bons, as see­ing ZZ Top on TV as a kid just blew me away. Then I dis­cov­ered Elec­tric Lady­land, Still Got The Blues, Dark Side Of The Moon, just re­ally tasty play­ers. JACK: John Fr­us­ciante. I picked up the gui­tar just af­ter the re­lease of By The Way. The first riff I learned to play was Can’t Stop. I bought all the books for the Chili Pep­pers al­bums and stud­ied them re­li­giously. I still re­ally en­joy play­ing through John’s stuff.

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

DAVE: I re­mem­ber be­ing at school, drool­ing over a pic­ture of a candy ap­ple red Amer­i­can Strat. That colour still stirs me to this day! JACK: Mine was a 60s Fen­der Tele­caster Cus­tom in three-tone sun­burst with dou­ble bind­ing. Prob­a­bly be­cause John Fr­us­ciante played one. I owned a Cus­tom Shop one for while but the neck was too thin so it stopped get­ting used in favour of the Van­quish. I’d like a proper one some day, with a lit­tle thicker neck and some taller frets.

GT: What was the sin­gle best gig you ever did?

DAVE: Hav­ing been a player for over 20 years there’s been many great gigs. But when we played a big fes­ti­val in Peter­bor­ough in front of a sea of faces all singing our songs, that was very spe­cial. JACK: I’m hop­ing the best is yet to come! Prob­a­bly one of our fes­ti­val gigs so far though. I do love the big­ger stages.

GT: And how about your worst play­ing night­mare?

DAVE: Well, even though I’ve played gigs with frac­tured ribs, with ton­sil­li­tis, bro­ken fin­gers, sick­ness, mal­func­tion­ing gear among many other night­mare sit­u­a­tions, I think that re­ceiv­ing the call to tell me that my wife was get­ting con­trac­tions with our son, mid-set, was the most trau­matic of all! JACK: I think I have gen­er­ally got off pretty lightly so far (hop­ing I haven’t just cursed my­self). I have had a few blown amps, the oc­ca­sional fight break out in the au­di­ence. But other than that I can’t re­mem­ber a time when I have been too ill to play, or had any­thing ma­jor go wrong. Sorry, bit of a bor­ing an­swer to that one.


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

DAVE: Upon dis­cov­er­ing the CAGED sys­tem, my play­ing changed overnight. The whole fret­board just opens up for rhythm, ar­range­ments with two gui­tars and keys and the free­dom to im­pro­vise in so­los. JACK: I can’t re­mem­ber where I first heard it but it has al­ways stuck with me: learn­ing when not to play. It is how I ap­proach my play­ing; if there isn’t a need for you to be play­ing, then don’t. Lis­ten to the band and find where there is a space for you. Pick your mo­ments, let the song breathe. As Jimmy Page al­ways says, “light and shade”.

GT: Do you still prac­tise?

DAVE: Prac­tice is para­mount. To get a par­tic­u­lar pas­sage cor­rect, or to nail the nu­ance, rep­e­ti­tion is key. Then, once it’s un­der your skin you have the op­por­tu­nity to move things around a lit­tle. JACK: Yes. But not in the way I used to. I’m cur­rently try­ing to spend more time find­ing in­ter­est­ing ways of play­ing through changes and al­ways in­creas­ing my knowl­edge of chord struc­ture. I have just picked up a slide af­ter my Joey Lan­dreth dis­cov­ery. I’m also a big Scott Hol­i­day (Ri­val Sons) fan so there are some open tun­ings be­ing worked on cur­rently.

GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up rou­tine?

DAVE: Pre-gig I like to play an acous­tic be­fore we go on. No dis­trac­tions with noise or set­tings, just play. Get your chops down. Plus play­ing a slightly heav­ier gauge of strings warms the fin­gers and ten­dons up so your hands are su­per re­laxed when you get the stage call. JACK: De­pends on the gig. Smaller shows I don’t tend to have any par­tic­u­lar rou­tine. Big­ger shows I might run through a cou­ple of warm-ups and a few parts from songs be­fore we go on. That’s kind of it. Check tun­ings and away we go.

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

DAVE: It would have to be Dave Grohl on drums, Chris Cor­nell on vo­cals, Paul McCart­ney on bass, El­ton John on keys and I’d try to keep up on gui­tar. JACK: How many play­ers am I al­lowed? Can I have subs at half time? Off the top of my head it would be: Jeff Por­caro on drums, Pino Pal­ladino on bass, Ste­vie Won­der on keys, John Mayer on gui­tar, Fred­die Mercury singing and I’ll hide near the back and try not to get thrown out.

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

DAVE: To pin­point the best guitarist that ever lived is so sub­jec­tive. I think the only way to ap­proach this is to ac­knowl­edge who’s been the most in­stru­men­tal to ex­pose the elec­tric gui­tar to the masses. So with that in mind I’d have to say Jimi Hen­drix. JACK: Hor­ri­ble ques­tion. Yeah, Jimi Hen­drix was prob­a­bly the most ground­break­ing of all time. But, what do I know and who is to say I’m right?

GT: Is there a solo by an­other guitarist that you re­ally wish you had played?

DAVE: It’s an ob­vi­ous choice to state which solo I wish I’d writ­ten but it would have to be Dave Gil­mour’s solo on Com­fort­ably Numb. I saw him play at the Royal Al­bert hall and when it kicked in, com­plete strangers were hold­ing hands and we were all touch­ing shoul­ders. It was a mo­ment of uni­fi­ca­tion via gui­tar. JACK: My dad isn’t a player but he loves mu­sic. He played me Stair­way To Heaven live from The Song Re­mains The Same. Jimmy Page’s solo on that is full of er­rors and fall-offs but that is a great live solo to me.

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

DAVE: There’s a track off our de­but al­bum Be­fore Dark Clouds called Home Ain’t Home. When I recorded the solo, our pro­ducer Andy Hawkins in­sisted I stand up and cut some shapes while lay­ing it down. By the cli­max I was shak­ing my gui­tar vig­or­ously and ended up on my knees! But the emo­tion comes through. JACK: I’m proud of them all. It’s parts not so­los for me. I think I play one very brief solo on the al­bum. That is one of Dave’s strengths, not mine. I’m proud of the open­ing riffs on See The Light and All The Way Down but in gen­eral I’m proud of all of my parts and all of our songs.

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

DAVE: If my lyrics, song­writ­ing and gui­tar play­ing af­fect any­one pos­i­tively, then I’ve done all I can. JACK: Just to be re­mem­bered would be nice wouldn’t it?

GT: And fi­nally, what are you up to at the mo­ment?

DAVE: Well our de­but al­bum Be­fore Dark Clouds is our pri­mary fo­cus at the minute. We are just putting to­gether a de­cent tour in the UK and Europe and have started do­ing some back­ground work, writ­ing ses­sions and bits and bobs ready for our se­cond al­bum. But let’s fo­cus on the first for now. It would be great if you could men­tion it: Austin Gold, Be­fore Dark Cloud. It’s on the Jig­saw la­bel and dis­trib­uted by Cadiz. Come and see us at: 22 Sept, Duck & Drake, Leeds 27 Sept, Dublin Cas­tle, Cam­den 6 Oct, Voodoo Lounge, Stam­ford 24 Oct, West Street Live, Sh­effield

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.austin­


Jack Cable: calls him­self the ‘parts’ player in Austin Gold

Jack with the Gold­top his Dad bought him, and Dave with his Van­quish DS

Dave Smith is main lead guitarist with Austin Gold

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