Guy Buttery on Playing with Texture

November 8, 2012

“TONAL TEXTURES OFTEN REPRESENT THE SPIRT, EMOTION, and soul of a composition,” says South African acoustic adventurer Guy Buttery. “They remind us that guitar sounds are created by two human hands, and they often distinguish one player’s sound from the next. I’m always exploring and immersing myself in sonic textures on a quest to better understand them.”

“I’m facinated by the countless ways one can strike a single note on the guitar. I once saw a Ralph Towner video where he played a single fret- ted note a dozen different ways. I spent a year doing more or less the same. It intrigues me how a different approach to a note can change how an audience feels.”

“Emulate other instruments—such as an oud or kora—or simulate a waterfall or thunder. On ‘Burnside’ [from Buttery’s To Dissappear in Place],I wove a piece of hard cardboard between the strings to emu- late the ridiculously low action of South African oil-can guitars with 100-percent fret buzz on every note.”

“I find that detailed textures provoke deeper feelings than those of straightforward, horizontal guitar solos. In concert, I build synth-like textures via an EBow and a looper. After a couple of layers, the guitar sounds ambient—much like a Brian Eno keyboard solo.”

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