4 On 6's - Andy Taylor
My first guitar I've had about seven years, it's one of the early Yamaha models, a little thing which I think they called the SG90 then. But I've stripped t down over the years — I've fitted it with DiMarzio pickups, I've refretted it several times, it's got Grover machines, all sorts of different bits and bobs.
So it's not essentially a Yamaha now, it's a sort of concoction. All the pots have been changed, too, through the years. I've got about 10 or 11 other guitars, old Gibsons, a couple of Strats, some other Yamahas — Yamaha sponsor us for advertising.
I've never really found a better guitar than this little one I've had all these years. You can create any sound you want with technology, but the weight and feel of my Yamaha is right. I'm not a particularly big guy, and if I ever wear a Les Paul on stage I start buckling at the knees! I use mainly the Yamaha or a botched Strat in the studio, it has all the guts taken out and just one DiMarzio Super Distortion on it and one volume control.
I don't really have a favourite studio: I think it's much of a muchness actually. It was only a few months ago I discovered this, I did some work producing a band called the Bloomsbury Set. We went in this fairly cheap 24-track in Birmingham because we didn't have a lot of money — it wasn't brilliant by any means and basically had nothing outboard...
We mixed it at Marquee studio and the sound turned out great, everybody was freaking, and it was recorded in the crummiest little 24-track, £18 an hour place!
Let me see... we mixed some stuff at Tony Visconti's studio, Good Earth, that was good. We did the second album at Air — it's so perfect, it's horrible! Whatever you're doing it's dead accurate: you put on 4dB at 15k and you'll definitely get 4dB at 15k back.
I don't think anybody was ever happy with the second album, the sound on it — not so much the production and the songs, but the sound production. We ended up remixing the whole of the first side about three times and still there's something wrong with it. I think "New Religion" did turn out really good, and we did a remix "Rio" for the single which turned out great, and another remix of "Hold Back The Rain" in America with David Kershenbaum and that turned out amazing. I think those three are the ones I'm totally happy with. But if you're happy with everything, that's the end.
Adrian Belew and Eddie Van Halen are my two favourite guitarists: Eddie's amazing, as rock'n'roll guitarists go he's got to be the best. I've known him for a couple of years, he's an amazing bloke — so into guitars, builds all these things. He's classically trained on piano as well, which helps. Adrian Belew, too — he just plugs in and does things and you think, God, where are they coming from? They are guitar players, and they've taken the guitar one stage farther than say Zappa did ten years ago, or Hendrix.
I've got a Roland guitar synth, the recent one: I used it on the first album, it's all the way through "Planet Earth", and I tried using it live on some of the early gigs we did. But you've got to use their guitar, an Ibanez I believe that comes with it, and that just put me off. There's one or two good sounds on it, but they're nothing more exciting than you get out of a Prophet or any good Roland synth, and it's not a lot of money for us.
They try to bring these brilliant marketing techniques for your latest-fangled doobrie, whatever, and sell it to kids, making this new footpedal look incredibly pretty with lots of lights on, and it basically does nothing.
I don't think they're bothered about guys like us, they're more bothered about selling en masse to the kid who's getting his band together.
I'm going to get a couple of things made for me — what I really want is a replica of the guitar I use all the time, because I haven't actually got another guitar like it for a spare. There's a few blokes I know, there's John Diggins in Birmingham who's done all the repairs and things I've had done. He's probably the best in the world as far as guitar craftsmanship goes.
When we were in LA recently I needed a refret and one of the roadies said "Oh yeah, I know the best guy in America". He brought it back and, well... it was okay, but it was nothing compared to what John in Birmingham had done. I'll have to go and see him...
Over the last 18 months my roadie, Skal Lorret, our stage manager, Keith Morris from ML, and I have concocted an amplification system, it's basically a simple amp rack. I just have four 100 watt Marshall heads, with two linked together, and some linked 4 x 12 cabinets that we got from Mega.
I have a Nady radio system on the guitar, and the signal goes into the receiver and then to a splitter box, one to an amp straight and the other to an MXR Pitch Transposer, an MXR rack Flanger, and a Boss chorus/echo.
That goes to another amp, so you have a straight signal and an effects signal. You get a double-tracking effect from the Pitch Transposer giving a sort of stereo, one cabinet is straight and one has the effect. I first used that in the studio, but it took a while to suss out how to get it live.
I'd been using the Eventide 910 harmoniser in the studio to get this split effect, a big spread guitar through the Marshalls, and I wanted that on-stage rather than just out-front. The biggest problem it posed was financial — it became a very expensive whim!
I use very few effects. I've been through them all — I sometimes use a flanger, but I think - they just destroy your signal. There's a lot of things you can do without effects if you apply your technique to it and work at it — there's a lot of effects you can create — harmonics, for example. Personally I prefer to use my hands rather than all these boxes, because you can go on forever.
I don't think manufacturers bother with players such as myself and anybody who's in a band that has any fame or success, they don't try to sell to us because we either get it free or get it cheap anyway,
4 on 6's
Feature by Tony Bacon
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