For this installment of my new blog I wanted to touch on a subject very close to my heart.
Shiny things. Oooooooooooooo
Hello, my name is Davy and I am a gear-a-holic. I am beyond help. The more flashing lights, knobs to twiddle and fancy coloured boxes the better. I am a complete victim of clever marketing. Boutique you say? Hand painted?? I'll take it. Do you take payment in kidneys? Excellent.
I remind myself of this fantastic Monty Python sketch from The Meaning Of Life;
Yes. Sometimes I get so carried away with the apparatus it is easy to forget about 'the patient'.
The patient being actually playing and writing music. You know, the important things I actually SHOULD be doing instead of drooling over gear porn. Ask me my stance on true bypass vs buffered effects pedals, or my favourite reverb units and I can rattle on for hours on end. Now ask me how to make an F#b11 chord and I will break down and weep at your feet. Priorities, hmmm...
I AM trying to rectify this now. I really should have paid more attention in music class at school. It just didn't seem that important then. What did seem important was trying to get closer to my ultimate goal, being Mark Knopfler. I think I even bought a headband.
HOWEVER. I do feel there is a bright side to being a complete gear head. Your choice in equipment directly influences how you play, and definitely in my case, how you write. The amount of things I've written (whether complete songs or just interesting ideas) from just messing and twiddling with sounds until something pops out that I like, or until it's made me play a sequence of notes/chords that I NEVER would have stumbled across without a machine that goes Ping. Compare that with the amount of times I have sat in writing sessions with immensely talented and creative people frozen solid looking like an unimaginative vegetable, or sat down at home CONVINCED i'm going to write something to be proud of now and ended up just looking at Pro Guitar Shop online to see what new and exciting toy I can immediately lust over. Sometimes you just can't force these things, and playing with new (to me) sounds is how I seem to ease into it.
So, I guess as with all things in life, finding a balance is key. Gear is there to be used as a tool to get those creative juices flowing, to find new and sonically interesting ways to get your feelings across. It is not there to take over your life and make you immensely boring at dinner parties. Believe it or not, most people are just generally not that interested in New Old Stock Mullard preamp tubes. I have found this out the hard way. My manager, Bob, tells me he gets a nose bleed when I start talking about it.
So to close out, i'm going to share (in no particular order) a few pictures of my favourite pieces of gear. These things are not just beautiful pieces of art to me, but inspiring instruments that have led me to expand myself and my music. I don't want to make this into a 'look what I have' fest. There are some other instruments and items that I hold very near and dear that I won't mention here.
Anyways, here we go;
This is my 1934 National Triolian. Same colour/model and era as my hero Rory Gallaghers'. Saw it in Gruhns Guitars in Nashville back in 2007 and begged my record label at the time to loan me the cash for it. I ate bread and soup for months. There is such a unique sound to these instruments, every time I pick it up I seem to come up with something.
This is a relative newcomer to the stable - it's a Paul Reed Smith Guitars Private Stock Signature. This is every guitar-playing kids dream. I have ALWAYS loved PRS, I actually had a pic of a Custom 22 hanging up in my locker at school. Told Paul Smith this once and he called me a sad bastard. I never thought i'd get to work with such a wonderful and prestigious company as PRS, let alone actually be involved with the design of a guitar. It is a huge honour, and one I shall treasure forever. VERY grateful to all my lovely friends out in Maryland for all they do. There is a lot of love in that factory, and it shows in every guitar that comes out of it.
This Bludotone Bludodrive is unfortunately not mine. It belongs to a very good friend of mine on the Isle of Man, and he was kind enough to loan it to me while I was recording in England recently. It MADE the sessions and inspired me to play outside of my comfort zone. People forget that amplifiers truly are just as important as the guitar. This one is special. I now have one on order. Simon - I love you but my wallet may attack you next time I see you.
This is an amp named 'The Tarts Handbag' and was built for me on the Isle of Man by Don Audio. It's a genius little amp. I wrote a good chunk of the first BDS album on this in my old bedroom at my folks place. Come Home, It'll All Come Around, Too Late and also Tear Down The Walls from the second record for sure were all written on this wee beastie. It is also making an appearance on the next project.
AnalogMan Sun Face Fuzz. Just a magical fuzzbox. Think David Gilmours' solo on 'Time' . Cracking pedal.
This is one a few of you may recognize - 'Ellie'. Ellie will be passed down in my family when I am dead and gone. She is a truly special guitar, and the only one I have really named. She was a gift from Paul Smith of Paul Reed Smith Guitars when he sat in with us one night. I had a bit of a cry off stage later. It was Pauls' personal guitar for a while. It immediately became my #1 for a long time. Paul played it again recently and said "I have to put it down, the guitar knows it's not mine anymore".
I get nervous about flying with it - but it'll be back out on the road when we get back in the bus.
This is a custom job from PRS that they built me - a single pickup McCarty. One I pick up all the time, and a load of riffs have come from this beastie. Hasn't been played live all that much - but it shall. Just a great guitar.
This is a PRS amp of mine, built by Doug Sewell. Doug is a GENIUS amp builder and flat out one of the nicest souls you will ever meet. I always have a good laugh when we meet up. This is a cracking amp.
Other things I must mention, but don't have pictures of...
Strymon Timeline delay - GET IT GET IT GET IT
ANYTHING by Moog - most notably the Cluster Flux and the Murf. Great stuff
Roger Linn Adrena-Linn. Great for hotel rooms and funky noises.
Thank you all for bearing with my nerdyness. Special thanks go out to my fiance Amber, who has to live with it.
See you all soon