What’s your current electric setup?
My main electric is a ’96 Fender Strat-ocaster loaded with Fender Noiseless pickups. It’s really comfortable, and it has a thin, fast neck. I love the sound of single-coils. They’re so clean and punchy. My amp rig is a solid-state Fender Jazzmaster Ultralight head and 1x12 cabinet. I was strictly a tube-amp lover until I tried this little amp. It has a beautiful clean sound, a tight distortion tone, it’s loud, and it weighs less than 17 lbs—which is great for musicians like me who carry their own gear. For effects, I have a Boss GT-6 and a DigiTech JamMan. My strings are D’Addario, and I use Fender 358 Jazz picks. For acoustic work, I mainly play a Martin 00C-MAE strung with Ernie Ball Bronze Silk & Steel strings. I also have a Yamaha Magicstomp, and a Fender Acoustasonic Junior amp. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different tunings on my Line 6 Variax Acoustic 700. That’s great fun. Also, Shubb capos are great for changing your sound.
What tools do you employ for songwriting?
I have a Korg Triton LE workstation that I use for composing drum and keyboard parts. To record, I use Steinberg Cubase SX3. When I record at home, I find that I get a lot more accomplished, because there’s less pressure and I’m free to experiment. I like to use sequencers in the initial songwriting stages, so I can experiment with various sounds on different parts. I’ll also record a part on both electric and acoustic to see which sounds the best, and that can set me in a certain direction, as well. Sometimes, just by noodling on the guitar, I’ll come up with a great idea.
What do you think made you an award-winning player?
I just believe you should feel every note you play—whether it’s a fast run, a melody, or a rhythmic groove. On the technical side, I practice chords and scales every day, and I’m still learning things from very basic exercises. There’s always more to learn.