Per­fect 10

He’s an awe­some ses­sioneer and the gui­tar power be­hind prog pop­sters Su­per­tramp, but how will he han­dle the 10 ques­tions we ask ev­ery­one?

Guitarist - - Contents -

1

What was your first gui­tar and when did you get it? “I got my first gui­tar and my first les­son on my 11th birthday; it was a Ja­pane­se­made gui­tar, ny­lon string, called a St Ge­orge. Then I got an elec­tric gui­tar a year later and I don’t even re­mem­ber the brand of that, it was pretty funky. But a few years after that I bor­rowed a friend’s dot neck 335 – it must have been a ’60 335 – and they lent it to me for a year and then asked if I wanted to buy it for $300, but I didn’t have the money and so I even­tu­ally got my­self an SG, then a Les Paul and then I switched to Strats very soon after that.”

2

If the build­ing was burn­ing down, what one gui­tar from your col­lec­tion would you save? “I would prob­a­bly grab my 1961 Sea Foam Green Strat; I do have about 70 gui­tars, but that one’s re­ally im­por­tant to me. I’ve got a ’58 and a ’65 Strat as well, but that ’61 is of the most sen­ti­men­tal value to me.”

3

What’s the old­est gui­tar that you own? “A 1936 Gib­son L-00 acous­tic, that has to be the old­est one. It’s the Robert John­son style acous­tic and it re­ally does sound like that, too, it’s a pretty amaz­ing gui­tar and you can even play slide on it and it doesn’t fret out. It sounds great with slide or fin­gers; it’s very hip, a very cool gui­tar.”

4

When was the last time you prac­tised and what did you play? “Let’s see… I prac­tised yes­ter­day and was us­ing the Real Book app called iReal Pro and I was play­ing John Coltrane’s Gi­ant Steps in my ho­tel room; it’s just a lit­tle puz­zle to un­lock once a week, it’s good for your brain and it’s fun to chal­lenge your­self to make it a lit­tle faster than the last time. It’s got noth­ing to do with the show I’m out on the road do­ing at the mo­ment, which is pretty much blues-based, but it’s just fun to do.”

5

When was the last time you changed your own strings? “It was prob­a­bly four or five shows ago – about the mid­dle of last week – but I’m due to do it to­day and that will cover me for the last five shows of the tour. I’m us­ing DR strings, I use 9-46, light top, heavy bot­tom, but with an 0.037 gauge A string; with my bal­anced bridge set-up with the Stra­to­cast­ers it re­ally adds the right amount of ten­sion to make the whole thing play per­fectly in tune.”

6

If you could change one thing about a record­ing you’ve been on, what would it be and why? “I’ve been on hundreds and hundreds of records and sound­tracks and TV shows and things like that. There’s a few that stick out where I didn’t have any­thing to do with the fi­nal mix and I re­ally don’t like the gui­tar sound. I’m em­bar­rassed by it, y’know? But of my own records, there’s one called At­las Overload, it’s a trio record, there are no key­boards on it, and I think in ret­ro­spect key­boards would have been a bet­ter thing. I of­ten lis­ten to it and go, ‘Hmmm, yeah…’ Shoulda, coulda, woulda!”

7

What are you do­ing five min­utes be­fore you go on­stage and five min­utes af­ter­wards? “Five min­utes be­fore, if I have a gui­tar in my hands I’m run­ning over some of the ideas in the first song. It’s in the key of D and it’s a fast blues, so I’m play­ing dom­i­nant sev­enth mixoly­dian lines, think­ing, ‘Hey, maybe I can in­cor­po­rate this into my solo tonight’. Five min­utes after I’m open­ing some red wine and tow­elling off!”

8

What’s the worst thing that’s hap­pened to you on­stage? “With Su­per­tramp I was out on what we call the ‘ego ramp’ – one of those ramps that went out from the front of the stage – I was out there, my eyes were closed, I was play­ing a long im­pro­vised solo and all of a sud­den the gui­tar went dead and I looked down to find that some­body had thrown their t-shirt and it had wrapped around the neck… that was pretty weird.”

9

What as­pect of play­ing gui­tar would you like to be bet­ter at? “I aban­doned tapping at the end of the 80s – I just walked away from it and said, ‘that’s not mu­si­cal…’ but I’m start­ing to see some value in it now and I’m start­ing to work on it again. So that’s one thing.”

10

What ad­vice would you give your younger self about the gui­tar if you had the chance? “It would be more about the busi­ness. My ad­vice would be to try to find a way to get out on the road and es­tab­lish your­self across Amer­ica, Europe and Asia in your 20s be­cause I waited un­til my 30s to do it and by then I was mar­ried and had a house and car pay­ments and all that, which makes it more dif­fi­cult. I wish I’d started tour­ing ear­lier.”

“I was play­ing a solo and the gui­tar went dead. Some­body had thrown their t-shirt and it had wrapped around the neck”

Carl Ver­heyen’s lat­est CD Es­sen­tial

Blues is avail­able now via Video Mu­sic Inc www.car­lver­heyen.com

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