|THE LATE ’70S IN LOS ANGELES WERE A PRETTY INCREDIBLE
time for kick-ass rock guitar. Walk into any bar on the Sunset
Strip and you could hear Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, and
many others absolutely killing, with amazing tone, chops, and
attitude. And right there with them was George Lynch. The
Dokken and Lynch Mob guitarist made an instant impact with
his razor-sharp guitar sounds (for many would-be rockers, Lynch
defined humbucker-into-Marshall tone as much as
Van Halen), squealing harmonics,
and blazing runs. The L.A. metal scene would ultimately
collapse under its own weight, but not before Lynch would line
his walls with platinum records and become a bona fide rock
god in the process. Rather than sit home and count his money,
pathetically work the nostalgia circuit, or descend into bitter
madness like so many of his contemporaries, Lynch has worked
pretty much constantly, cranking
out records with Lynch Mob, as a
solo artist, and with his current
incarnation, George Lynch’s Souls of
We. Let the Truth Be Known [Shrapnel] is full of his trademark
heavy tones, ballsy riffs, and inventive soloing. This
interview happened as Lynch was juggling promo for Souls
of We, gigs with Lynch Mob, teaching at his online Guitar
Dojo, and preparing for the Guitar Generations tour with
Paul Gilbert and Ritchie Kotzen.
How did the Souls of We come together?
This was a really long process—almost five years. In that
period, I had started other things that fell by the wayside. One
project morphed into another and they eventually all morphed
into Souls of We. There were many studios and as many as 25
musicians, writers, and engineers. I’m amazed that it even came
out, much less with any kind of thread of continuity.
Did you stick with the same gear to maintain
No, there was a whole bunch of gear. At
this point the basics of my rig are my Randall
Lynch Boxes, my ’68 plexi Marshall, and
my #6 Soldano built in 1987 that was on the
very first Lynch Mob record. For the bulk of
the rhythms on this record, I used Engl
Powerballs through old Hiwatt cabinets. I
used some Rivera amps occasionally. I used
my plexi for solos, my ’65 Super Reverb for
a lot of the cleaner stuff, and one of my secret
weapons—my ’70s WEM Dominator with a
15" speaker. It’s a bass amp that’s great for
real chimey AC30 sounds.
What specifically went into the super-heavy
intro on the title track?
That’s my ESP LTD baritone Vyper running
through the Engl. I started using my
Hiwatt cabs with the Fane 50-watt speakers,
but they were too flabby for the baritone. I
ended up going with a more modern Bogner
cab with Celestions—the 30s and 75s in an
X-pattern. It was a lot more solid in the low
end. What I like for the baritone now is using
the Grail modules in the Lynch box—those
are modeled after an early Boogie Dual Rectifier
sound—with my Lynch Box cabs, which
are ported. We mic the port, too, and that
gives you that thump right in the chest.
Is that intro doubled?
I absolutely double everything. It’s so
fun to double guitars in the studio. When
you get it, the track just blows up. The
painful thing, though, is getting that first
track. You have to be very accurate, and you
have to play something that you can double.
If you throw all these cool little
inflections in there like Eddie does, it’s tough
to double them, and that’s why a lot of his
parts would generally be just one track, at
least in the early days. Unless you’re Randy
Rhoads, it’s really hard to double everything
exactly. It’s unfortunate that I’m not good
enough to play stuff on the first track that’s
totally off the cuff and nail it on the second
track. I can, but what I have to do is go in
and relearn what I did, and punch in. It’s
hard to get it with the same feel.
But your tracks have always had those little
What I try to do in writing and preproduction
is to get all those things down so
well that I know what I’m doing when I go
into the studio. I build those little nuances
into the songs so everything’s tight and confident,
not off the cuff anymore.
Your solo in “January” is pretty mellow. Why
all the restraint?
A lot of times the way I play is dictated
by the gear I use. I’ve fallen in love with a
lot of vintage gear; on that song I played this
’59 Fender Esquire that’s just a desert island
guitar—it’s unbelievable. It does whatever
you want it to. It’ll be Eddie on “Eruption”
if you want it to, it’ll do Brad Paisley country—
you name it. That guitar sort of led me
into this restrained direction. Playing something
that’s a little different from what I
normally do is great. It’s an adventure.
Of the parts of your style that get the most
attention—your bends, vibrato, and note choices—
which do you feel is most representative of who
you are as a player?
I think it’s my unorthodox note selection.
That comes from me being a very
unschooled player, which may sound strange
seeing as how I have my own school, the
Dojo Online Guitar Academy—quick plug
[laughs]. I don’t know a lot of the rules so I
don’t know when I’m breaking them. I have
a different way of looking at the fretboard
than someone who went to GIT or learned
out of books. I don’t use the right fingers
to play scales and I don’t really know what
scales are. I have my own way of visualizing
patterns, and I put it all together in a
fairly unique way. That comes from making
a lot of mistakes when I was younger. I was
always asking, “What happens if I go here?
What if I string all this together and repeat
it?” And something very cool would sometimes
happen and that’s basically all it is.
When I’m playing a solo and feeling good
and in the zone, an underlying current of
thought is always, “Get away from it. Don’t
get comfortable.” I like to leave the listener
uncomfortable, like a high-wire act that
might fall off at any moment. That creates
a lot of tension. So, even though I don’t
really think about this, it’s there. Going
somewhere unexpected is sort of ingrained
in the way I play.
What was the L.A. scene of the late ’70s like?
It was a great, great scene. I was exposed
to so many amazing guitar players who were
all very different from one another. In addition
to Eddie and Randy, bands like A La
Carte and Stormer had great guitarists.
Another guy who was really good was Rusty
Anderson, who plays with Paul McCartney
now. He was in a band called Eulogy, and we
did a bunch of shows with them when I was
in Boyz. The difference between then and
now is that back then, nobody was hearing
anyone else and copying them. That didn’t
start until Eddie came along. Then everybody
wanted to be Eddie, just like later
everybody wanted to be Yngwie. Before that,
every player had his own unique approach
When Van Halen blew up, were the other guitarists
jealous or did you think it would translate
into a bunch of other bands getting signed?
Both. We were jealous and we were all
trying to play catch up. We thought, “Oh
boy, we better get on board. This guy’s going
to change the world.” I remember my reaction
when I first heard Eddie. I had been
hearing about this guy with the weird European
name. He’s got a torpedo onstage, the
bass player wears clogs, they have bombs
onstage, and the guy’s unbelievable. I saw him
and it blew my mind. They were still doing
covers at the time—Rainbow, Montrose—and
their original stuff was as good or better than
their cover stuff, which was pretty exceptional.
After their show, I went back to our
band room and played my guitar until the
sun came up. I thought, “Man! How can I
get that tone?”
Did you try to copy him?
What I really did was sort of bounce off
his stuff rather than emulate it. I’ve done
that with a lot of players. Instead of copying
them, I react to them. I’ll think, “Well, Di
Meola does this thing. I can do some alternate
picking, so I won’t copy it but I’ll embed
that a little bit into my tool box and do it
my own way.” I’ve tried to do that with any
player who has influenced me: Clapton, Hendrix,
Schenker, Eddie, Holdsworth. I couldn’t
play any of their stuff note-for-note to save
my life, but I can capture the gist of what
they’re doing by being exposed to it. I can
get the essence. The guys who do the notefor-
note thing do themselves a disservice
because they erase their own voice. It makes
it much more difficult to do their own thing.
That’s definitely something I try to teach: If
you can’t play other people’s stuff note-for-note,
you need to take pride in that.