The Unlikely Guitar by Carl Verheyen

| October 10, 2009

Last weekend I played a concert with some old friends here in LA—bassist Abraham Laborial, who I've worked with for 25 years, and drummer Gregg Bissonette who I've been working with for at least as long (he’s on my “Slingshot” CD).  Tommy King from Maroon 5 joined us on keys with ex-Toto singer Joe Williams.  As many of you know, I’m pretty much known as a Strat guy.  Stratocasters are usually my go-to guitar because the sound is versatile and expansive and seems to cover the sonic space in my touring band (a trio) the best for me. But since there was a keyboard in the band I used my 1966 Gibson SG for a little sonic nudge of inspiration.  It was sweet! Two weeks ago I played a duet concert at USC with Flamenco master (and faculty member) Adam del Monte.  Feeling that this revered palace of academia needed a bit of shaking up, I decided to use my '92 Gibson Flying V through a Victoria tweed Deluxe-style amp. Once again I was truly inspired because this guitar sings like no other. Visually I’m sure we made an impact, too: the appropriately well dressed and seated Flamenco master next to a guy with a V!
         Last night I was honored to play “Guitar Night” at Spazio, a local jazz club. This is a tradition that guitarist John Pisano has kept alive for 12 years here in LA, hiring local or touring guest guitarists to play with his trio on Tuesday nights.  Once or twice a year I get the call and begin feverishly working up my jazz chops. This year, when I pulled out the old '58 Gibson ES-175, I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to play the show on my ’69 Fender Thinline Telecaster through a ‘66 Marshall JTM-45 head and a 2X10 Dr. Z cabinet.  The neck pickup sound is warm and clear, without a trace of the muddy tone you get from a lot of hollowbody guitars. Ted Greene and Ed Bickert were really on to something with those Teles . . . Guitars inspire us. A different guitar will shift your ears and coax new ideas out of the same old hands.  Some guitars have songs in them waiting to emerge.  Inspiration may be as far away as the next guitar case in the closet.  Bottom line: You can’t own too many guitars!


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