Eddie Van Halen
by Paul Guy
Interview for FUZZ magazine
© Paul Guy 1998
Van Halen website
This interview took place just prior to the release of the album "Van Halen 3".
I've been listening to the new album, it's real interesting. It's still very definitely
a Van Halen album, but at the same time it's very different to anything you've done
Yeah, well, I like to compare the band to an oak tree, you know, it started out
as a little acorn, and it grew, and now it's branching out.
How did you get involved with Mike Post, your co-producer?
He's a golfing buddy of mine - I play golf sometimes, just to relax, that's how
we met - and of course he expected me to be more like a rock star or something, but
after we played he came over to me and gave me a big hug and says, "Man, you're the
most normal person I've ever met!" And I said, "Well what did you expect, Prince, or what?"
Or the artist formerly known as Human Being, you know what I mean? Well, you never
know, you hear stories, and some are true, some are not, but I'm just a normal guy,
I make a living making music, that's what I do, I'm not a rock star, that just comes
along with the territory.
But anyway, we just got along great, and at the time we were kind of, not interviewing
or auditioning, but we had a couple of producers come by, we played them some of
the new stuff, and they didn't quite understand what the new band is about, you know,
it kinda went over their heads, and whenever something sounded similar to old Van Halen,
they'd say, "Oh, I like that, I like that!" Well underline *old*, this is a new band,
when you change members, the whole dynamic changes.
So anyway, after I did this little ditty with Mike Post, on a rainy Monday afternoon,
he left, and we were still sitting around going "Who can we get to produce?", and
Glenn Ballard, who helped produce the couple of tunes we did with Roth on the "Best
Of" album, he said, "Ed, why don't you just produce and engineer yourself?" And, well,
I basically did, it's just that I prefer to have an outside objective ear - and it
was actually Gary's idea, he's going "Why don't you ask Mike Post, he'll do it."
Because it's such a broad term, so to speak - "producer" - in the record business. Some producers
consider it their record, some of them even write and play the instruments, you know
what I'm saying? And, well, we're not really that kind of band, we just need an outside objective ear, cause sometimes you get too close to your own thing, and you
lose your objectivity, you know?
So I kind of - I didn't mean to, but I asked him if he would, and at first he says
- "Wow. I'll have to think about that." And I kept kind of drilling him, you know,
and because we're such good friends, that it's better, you know, than somebody who's
a great musician... In America, a lot of people laughed at first, you know, they're going,
"This guy writes TV jingles", you know, that's *all* he does? - he does music for
TV movies, but, years ago, he won his first Grammy for producing a song called "Classical Gas", with Mason Williams - he produced it and arranged it and everything - he
also played guitar on all the Sonny and Cher records. So anyway, he basically was
at the top of his field, so to speak, in being a studio session guy, but he just
kind of - he didn't like the music business. And neither do I, you know. I'm not in the music
business, I'm in the business of making music. There's a big difference.
So anyway, he chose his own path, which was TV. (Credits include the "Hill Street
Blues" and "L.A. Law" themes, among many others. Author's note.) Nobody questions
him, he does what he wants, and that's it. But it was kind of I think on his part
sort of an unfulfilled dream, that he always wanted to rock and roll. So finally, a couple
of weeks later, we played him some stuff, and he was going, "Wow! This is some great
stuff!", he had no idea, you know, his preconceived idea of Van Halen is like everybody
else, you know, America's premiere party band - "Jump", "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love",
you know what I mean? And, well, there's much more to me than that - I was classically
trained, and even songs like, say "Right Now", I wrote that back in '83, before I
wrote "Jump" - it didn't come out until about '92, '93 or something like that, cause nobody
wanted anything to do with it. Well, this record, there are no more people that -
the circle is complete, Gary is...
It all depends what you enter this arena for, so to speak, this business. or whatever
you want to call it, but I'm a musician, not a rock star, and rock stars burn out,
you know. Musicians make music till the day they drop. So that's what I do, all I
do is make music. So we played the stuff for (Mike) , actually a lot more stuff than was
on the record, we had so many songs written, at one point in time we were actually
thinking of putting out a double CD, but we got talked out of it by "the business"
people, because they just didn't think it was financially feasible, so to speak... But
it didn't matter to me, anyway, the songs are written and ready to go for the next
It wasn't until later that Mike Post said, "You know, you're pretty good at manipulating
me to get me to do it!" It was just a wonderful experience, because he - I don't
know, he - very much like Glenn Ballard was wonderful to work with - just an outside
ear, you know, not heavy-handed, just - you know, sometimes I wouldn't see him for
a week at a time, he'd just say, call me if you need me. And I'd work up the songs,
and then call him, and he'd come by, and he'd go "That's great", or, he'd say -"Hmmm.
Why don't you try this here?" And we'd try it, and sometimes it would work, and sometimes
what I had was fine. But he did play piano, on Newworld, because we wanted the vibe
of two guys sitting in a room playing, so I played acoustic guitar and he played
piano - it was just one take, and we did it live, you know, so it's just got that kind
of vibe. I don't know, he was just very encouraging, and very supportive, and he
wasn't the type of producer that goes "We need a Top 40 hit!" For one, we're not
that kind of band.
Gary Cherone seems to fit in very well...
Yeah, he's like my long-lost brother... If you think about it, he actually looks
more like Alex than I do!
He has some very unusual phrasing sometimes...
That's more me, more the way I wrote them - one of the most important things that
I have to stress about this record is the fact that even if this is our twelfth studio
record, this is the first time ever in my *life* - and I've been making music since
I was six years old, when we lived in Holland - and, well, never ever have lyrics
inspired me to write music. My theory had always been, you know, what do you put
over (sings Beethoven's Fifth) "Da-da-da-dum..." - what lyrics would you put on
it, and what countermelody would you put to it. So I was never really - it's like if you listen
to our records, if you remove the singing, the music still holds up on its own. But
anyway, this record, more than half the songs were inspired by Gary handing me lyrics. The very first song was "How Many Say I", which is the last song on the record, and
I ended up singing it, too! They forced me... And after that came "From Afar", and
"Josephina", and "Dirty Water Dog", and on and on, you know, for more than half the
record. It's just his lyrics just - tell a story. I'm not knocking the past, there's a
twenty year history here, you know, you can't deny that... We had a lot of good times
with Dave and with Sammy, but they both quit, they went their own way, but you know,
Gary's lyrics, they tell a story, they're not just about female body parts, so to speak...
You know what I'm saying? And, well, I'm serious, you know, like I said, I'm not
knocking the old stuff, because there's a time and a place for everything. It's just
that - here we go back to my tree analogy, we're branching out and doing other things.
But, just listen to "Ballot Or The Bullet", "Fire In The Hole" and "Without You"
- there's plenty of heavy... I think "Ballot Or The Bullet" is one of the heaviest
songs I've ever done.
I'll second that. There's some quite heavy "social commentary" in the lyrics, too.
Everything on the record is based on personal experience or on something that -
you know, based on reality. There were no contrived - *anything* - on this record,
not a damn *note* on this record is contrived, not a lyric, not anything. People
might think that that's pretentious, or whatever, but they're quite mistaken, because we are
totally incapable of sitting down and writing a song about something we know nothing
about. You know what I mean? And if we're not inspired... I can't do what Barry Manilow does, I can't write jingles, I can't say, you know, if someone says, "Hey, have a
MacDonald's commercial music ready for me by Monday" - hey, I don't know how to do
that. I have to be inspired, and since Gary's been in the band, and I've been...
I cut out the booze, you know, almost four years ago and I'm a lot clearer. I used to think
that I had to drink in order to *write*! Well, boy, was I mistaken! I realised that
the drinking was actually blocking the ideas instead of adding - and I think there's
a lot more depth on this record, but not in a pretentious way. This is like the most *real*
record we've ever made - until the next one...
How much input do Alex and Michael have on songwriting and arranging?
Well, it's a strange phenomenon, you know - I write everything, and Gary writes
the lyrics, and he would just hand me lyrics, and I would write the music and the
melodies and actually sing them, and he would resing them. But, bottom line . everything's a group effort, it's not about *credit*, it's about the end result, and it's a strange
phenomenon, because you walk in the studio with an idea, and they just kinda go with
it. It's a strange thing, but it snowballs, you know, and everyone gets excited,
and "Hey! How about this? How about that?" So whoever the sparkplug is is irrelevant,
you know what I mean? When you really think about it, where do ideas come from? You
know? I mean, the man upstairs has been very good to me, so to speak, because - once
you start thinking you're responsible... forget it. If you start thinking that *you're*
the reason, I mean... where do ideas come from, they're given to you, you know? And
I just do my best to keep my chops up so I can execute what's given to the best of
my ability. And - I don't know - it's just amazing that - I can actually listen back to
this record, and go - "Wow! I don't even remember doing that." People say - cause
you know, I was also producing along with Mike Post, so I was looking more at the
big picture than just playing guitar and coming up with riffs and this and that. And when
I started doing interviews a while ago, people were going, "Wow, man, there's some
amazing guitar stuff", and I'm going, "Man, I don't even remember playing guitar!"
That proves it was very spontaneous, then.
Oh, yeah, yeah... It was just given, you know - and it's like, Gary and I are just,
I don't know, musical soulmates, it took me over twenty-something years to find
him, or for him to find me, or whatever, but there's a reason for everything, and
I probably wasn't ready before.
It's a very interesting development in the sound of Van Halen.
Yeah, it's just a natural evolution, so to speak - we don't plan anything, it's
just given, and it comes, and we do what comes. I'm incapable of doing what some
bands do, which is make the same record over and over. But a lot of people - a majority
of people - are afraid of change, don't like change, but, hey, you know, I just turned
43 years old, and I'm sorry, I can't help but change. I welcome it with open arms,
otherwise you get in a rut, you know, and you get stale. It's like the circle is
complete now, everybody's reading the same book, we're on the same page, there's no arguing,
there's no "my way or no way" kind of bullshit going on, you know what I mean? Gary,
he's such a great guy - he lives here with me, he lives in the guesthouse - I could
yell at him from here...
The first track is real pretty, what sort of acoustic are you playing there?
It's called a Musser, M-U-S-S-E-R... I have two guitars made by the same guy, I
don't know what his first name is, but somebody turned me on to it, and I tried it,
and I liked it, and I bought it! (Laughs)
You're using a lot of very unusual rhythmic things on this album, like on "Fire In
The Hole" - where did those ideas come from?
Well, I'm actually more of a rhythmic player than a soloist, if you really listen
to what I'm doing.
I always enjoyed your rhythm playing.
Yeah, well, really guitar was not my choice of instrument - Alex took my drums,
and got better - and so I said, "OK, fuck you, you've taken the drums, I'll play
your damn guitar." And my first instrument is really piano.
Is that you playing the piano on "How Many Say I"?
Uhuh, yeah, I've been playing piano since I was six years old.
I started playing piano when I was five, but then when I was nine I got my hands on
a guitar and I never played piano again after that. I'm sorry about that, to tell
Yeah, and I'm glad I picked it back up, because it's a wonderful instrument. You
have an orchestra at your fingertips, you can do whatever you want with it. I quit
too, when I started playing guitar - or when I started playing drums, actually -
the main reason behind was because - yes, I love classical music, but, you know, nobody allowed
me to improvise, or do my own thing. It's like that movie "Shine", that's how I was
raised, you know, it was all strict - practise the song for a whole damn year, and
then go down to the City College, and they'd put you in a little room, and they'd judge
you - I actually won three years in a row, but it just didn't - I just had it with
it, you know, this is not what I want to do with my life. I don't mean to sound pompous, but when I started playing guitar, because Al fit better on the drums, the first
thing my Mom did was buy me a Mel Bay book of how to play guitar, and you opened
the book, and the first page was like, "Here's how you hold the guitar pick" well,
I couldn't hold it that way, I hold it with my middle finger and my thumb. And my Mom goes.
"You're doing it wrong", and I'm going, "...Wait a minute, it's called music *theory*,
not music *fact* - there are no rules, so don't tell me I'm doing it wrong." And
she always used to say to me - I don't mean to make fun of my Mom, but she always used
to say, "Why do you always have to make that high crying noise?" And I'm going, you
know, "Well, it bought you a house, didn't it?" It's so funny, cause my Dad, you
know, he was the musician, and he never pushed us, forced us, or anything.
Music is something very special.
Oh, yeah. It's like my son, I don't force him, anything, I just - his environment
is music, and he loves it, He's six years old, and he's already plinking on the piano,
coming up with his own little ditties. You've got twelve notes, you know, do whatever you want with them, and if it sounds good to you it is good, don't let anyone tell
You still use that dropped D tuning a lot, don't you?
Yeah, I developed a thing for the Floyd Rose, it's just this little sleeve that
goes over it, and you pull it out and it drops the E down to a D, without having
to unclamp the nut.
That's a nice gadget.
Yeah, actually the whole Floyd Rose idea was more my design than it was his.
Yeah, I mean the whole fine tuner thing was mine, not his.
Oh yeah, cause the first ones, when they came out, I looked at them and I said, hey,
how the hell are you going to tune this guitar?
Yes! And he claims that I had nothing to do with it. He's a multi... Well, whatever,
I don't care about that, it's not about the money, or the credit... the man upstairs
knows, you know, and in his heart, he knows.
Is that a Coral sitar on "Primary"?
How did you have that tuned?
It's tuned the same way as "Ballot Or The Bullet" - Oh God, I don't know, I just
do it by ear... Well, I'm using a bass A string for a bottom on the guitar and the
sitar, so it's an A tuning, but I don't know what the notes are.
It's straight across like a normal guitar then, except that the outside strings are
Yes. Instead of the low string being in E it's a bass string A.
You're playing on the sympathetic strings there in places, aren't you?
Yes, yes, I tuned those to sound like a doorbell, "Bing-bong, bing-bong" (laughs).
It just came as an afterthought, really, I was sitting in the studio and I thought,
"This song could use an intro", so I just plugged in, took one pass at it, played
it for the guys and they liked it, so... We're in rehearsal now, and I had a stand made
for it, because I can't play two guitars at once, and that thing is on a stand. I
play the intro on that, and as that thing's sitting there feeding back in front of
my amp, so I go into "Ballot Or The Bullet" with the other guitar that I have around my neck.
There's been a hell of a lot of talk on the Net (which I suspect is mostly bullshit)
as to why you changed from Ernie Ball to Peavey, what's the truth, from the horse's
The truth is, that I thought that since I designed the guitar, that I owned it.
Like the Peavey, the Wolfgang, they make it for me, but I own it. I can go to any
other company if I want to. I mean Peavey is a very family-oriented place, and God
forbid we should ever butt heads, but if I should want to, I could leave, and take the guitar
with me. Because I own it, it's patented, and they just make it for me. And I thought
the same thing with Music Man, and well, I was sadly mistaken... And when I found
that out, that Music Man also registered the trademark "5150" for string use... I mean
come on, you know, the world pretty much knows the 5150 and the stripes is pretty
much my thing. And they registered the trademark, so I just said, you know, fuck
you guys. And the guitar was never really finished for me. The next guitar I wanted to build
would have been the Wolfgang anyway. I wanted an archtop, and I wanted to experiment
some more. I figured they were a small shop, but they couldn't keep up with the orders, you know, and even Peavey's having a tough time. They're so back-ordered it's ridiculous,
and they haven't even done an ad for it.
I took a look at a couple in the local music store, they looked like pretty good instruments.
Well, you know, I'm not in the business of making guitars, or of making amps either,
even though I do - but it's just - well, that's what I need to do my thing, and if
anyone else wants one, they can buy one. But that's not why I do it, I've always
putzed with the guitars, it's just a fun thing to do - you know what I mean? It's not
like I do it for the money, I really don't. I don't care what Music Man says, it's
not about the money, I don't even know what I make on a guitar, it just doesn't matter
I heard that you personally set up the first 100 Peaveys, is this true?
Actually I don't know if it was a hundred, I think it was about 50 or 75. It might
have been 100, I don't remember, cause that was what, four - I don't know how many
years ago. I held the guitar back a year - they showed it at a NAMM show, and I said,
"Hey, it ain't ready..." So a lot of people got ticked off, you know, dudes that they
put in their orders, and they didn't get the guitar till a year later. But, Hartley
Peavey's a man of his word, you know, and I told him, hey, this guitar's not going
out until I say it's ready, and he kept his word.
An Internet buddy of mine says he tried one of the ones you set up, he thought you
did a great job.
What I don't understand is, when I first started playing guitar, the cheaper the
guitar, the harder it is to play. But it's such B.S., because - I have a piece of
shit Harmony guitar, with the kind of bridge, it's just a piece of wood which kinda
slides around - I can make any guitar play easy. It's all in the setup! All it is is a piece
of wood with strings on it. And what people don't pay attention to is, you know how
many kids get turned off, who want to play the guitar, but they pick up a guitar,
and it hurts their fingers? So they go, fuck this. And it's so damn easy - you know,
make sure the neck is straight, lower it till it buzzes, and back off a bit. Make
it as easy as possible, you know.
Do you still like basswood in the body?
Yes, it's basswood with a maple top. The basswood gives it the tone, and the maple
gives like kind of a bite to it. And I just came out with the Wolfgang Special, which
is much more affordable, even though the regular Wolfgang is a better guitar than
a lot of guitars that cost twice as much - well, this one's much more affordable, I
think, "don't quote me", you know, but I think about 6 to 800 bucks - and it's the
identical guitar except, it's not archtop, and it's just basswood, but it sounds
fat... It's an incredible-sounding guitar.
I like a fat-sounding guitar.
Well, you'll love the Special, then.
How many springs do you have in your Floyds?
Uh, just two. It doesn't really matter, see... because my Floyd is not floating,
it's connected to the wood, it doesn't go back. It only goes down.
You get a much better tone that way.
Oh yeah, everything needs to be connected. I just use two springs and set the tension
to where when I push it down, when I let it go back it's flat with the wood again.
Also, the radius of the fingerboard is much flatter than say on a Fender or a Gibson, that way you can bend the E string way higher without it fretting out.
Who makes the pickups for the new guitar?
Peavey. They're just wound to my ear. I mean, I worked with Steve Blucher at DiMarzio
for a year on the pickups for the Music Man, you know. And he kept sending me pickups,
and I'd say, no, I don't like this, I like 'em weaker, I don't like hot pickups. I don't like these overdriven - where you hit the preamp so hard you get nothing
but fuzz, you know. And just like with DiMarzio, I just worked with Peavey until
we ended up with a pickup that pleased my ear.
I see you're endorsing the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, what can you tell me about it?
He did one guitar for me... It's just another theory, but the thing is, you know,
the way I jump around and move, I can bend the neck while I'm playing more than -
I can bend it so that you're almost a quarter step - you know what I'm saying? I
mean, it's wood, it bends, so - I don't know, I guess for some studio guys it works great,
but it doesn't make a bit of difference for me, because - just moving the nut a few
thousandths or whatever, just moving the neck and there's more movement than that.
You know what I'm saying? And I'm definitely not bad-rapping his product, you know, cause
for acoustic guitars, it works great. It's just for me personally, for the way I
play, it really doesn't make much difference. It's like the guitar... is just theoretically built wrong. Because every string - the intervals are fourths, except for from G
to B, which is a third, and it's always that damn B string that fucks it up. So I
always tune it a little bit flat, and then when I need it in tune, I just bend it
up. Because once it's sharp, you can't make it flat! Over the years, you know, it's just a feel
thing, you develop a feel for when you hit a certain chord, you know how to manipulate
the string to make it in tune.
Your Peavey 5150 amps have gotten very popular, I saw Steve Morse using two of them
with Deep Purple...
Oh yeah? Actually I'm coming out with a new one, I'm going to road test it, it's
the 5150 slash 2, which has an incredible clean sound, because the 5150 has no clean
sound - it's a three-channel amp, so to speak, but it really only does one thing,
you know, it's just balls-to-the-wall. But I need an amp that also gets a clean sound,
and we've been working on it, and I'm using it in rehearsal right now, and I've got
some more coming and I'm going to take them on the road and thoroughly road test
them for the whole tour, and then they'll come out next year.
Do you use the same amps in the studio too?
Oh yeah, yeah.
What about effects? Are you still using the system in that diagram I saw in Guitar
Player a few years ago?
Oh God. I couldn't even make sense out of that. I don't know who made the diagram,
but it didn't make sense to me...
What do you use?
In the studio - I just use one amp, one cabinet, and two 57 mikes on the cabinet
- one straight in, and one angled in from the side - and dump a lot of bottom end
on it, cause 57's will generally be pretty high-mid-rangey sounding mikes, just add
bottom, and low mid, and that's it... And I use a harmonizer and an EMS delay. And for "Dirty
Water Dog" I used a prototype Peavey single coil Strat-type guitar, direct into the
board through an MXR DynaComp, and a Whammy pedal or something like that, just to
get a little chorus sound happening - and that's about it. And on "Fire In The Hole"
I used a prototype Peavey guitar with a Steinberger TransTrem in it... On "Once"
I used a prototype double-neck - I don't think this one will be for sale, it's just
for me to be able to pull it off live - it's a six-string guitar with a Fernandez Sustainer
in it on the bottom, and a six-string bass on the top. That's cause I did the solo
on a six-string bass.
Isn't it a bit heavy?
Ah - yeah. But the thing is that the six-string bass is hollow. It's like a Danelectro.
So it's a bit difficult to make, because it's a hollow guitar, and then the guitar
side is solid. So it took a bit of engineering to make that happen.
Live, on tour, how many pedals do you have on stage in front of you?
Actually I'm going way, way back to basics, I'm not even using cordless, I'm using
a cable, and I got the old MXR flanger and phaser back out, and Echoplex - yeah,
I'm just going back to basics. My philosophy has always kind of been the path of
least resistance, you know, the less crap you go through, the truer the sound - and then,
you know, if you can't pull it off in your underwear, it ain't worth a shit to begin
with. Sure, you use lights and this and that, to make it a little special, but hey,
it's about the music. Without the music, what do you got?
How many guitars do you take on tour?
Wow. On this tour I'm going to need a lot. Obviously I have a backup for each guitar
too, in case I break a string, so - probably about 12 - 16, anywhere around there.
Do you actually own any vintage instruments at all?
Oh yeah - I got some '58 Les Pauls, and an original Flying V, a '58, and... yeah,
I've got some goodies, some old stuff.
I seem to remember reading in an interview a long time ago that one of your biggest
influences on the guitar was Jeff Beck's "Truth" album, is that right?
Actually, no - "Blow By Blow". He's a good friend of mine - actually Steve Lukather,
who is one of my best friends, is producing his new record. I've heard some of it,
it's incredible. Beck is just amazing.
He is. He's too much.
He's so heavy, he's too much for himself. He gets nervous, and stuff - he's a trippy
guy. He's a great guy, though.
Have you ever played with him?
No, I never actually played with him. But whenever I go to England, you know, we
hang out, we have a lot of fun.
Are there any guitar players you haven't played with that you would particularly like
Well, I don't know, I'm just so damn busy doing my own thing that I never really
have a chance to listen to anything. I guess part of the reason that Van Halen is
still around twenty years later is that we don't follow trends, we just make music
and do what we do, you know.
How did you get the original idea for your finger-tapping?
I saw Led Zeppelin back in - I think it was '70, '71, something like that, and
Jimmy Page had his arm up in the air, and he was doing pull-offs on the G string,
or the B string - and I said, wait a minute - and I took my right hand, and I put
it where the nut is, and I just moved it up, and kept going up the neck. So I used my right
index finger as the nut, like a capo, and then I reversed it, and I used my index
finger of my left hand as the nut, and the finger on my right hand is now just an
extension of another finger on my left hand. And that's where it came from. It's funny, cause
I watch other people do it, and I guess it's just been part of my playing for so
long, and as you hold the neck, it's not like my right hand is tapping, I'm actually
pulling off just like I would with my left hand, you know what I'm saying? And I don't know
why they call them hammer-ons, cause I'm not hammering it - it's just like if you're
doing a trill with your left hand, I'm just adding my right hand to it.
Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm going to be 50 this year, so when you really
made it big and influenced all the kids, I was like around 30, and I never really
got into the Floyd Rose and the pulling-off. But I had a young apprentice back then
who was a total Van Halen freak, he would play Van Halen tapes in the shop every day, so
I heard all your records - I dug the music...
Oh, I thought you were going to say, "Get that shit outta here..."
No, I liked the music, I just never really tried to play it. But my apprentice would
sit and practise your songs for hours, he was really into the pulling-off. I could
never fix it like him.
Well, I take it as a compliment, if you can inspire somebody to play, you know.
Well you really inspired a whole generation of guitar players, I don't know how many
kids came into my shop with their stripey guitars and I installed humbuckers and
Floyd Roses for them.
Yeah, it's funny, you know, cause I didn't start using a Floyd until late in the
second tour - but I've got a tricky way of keeping a regular Strat in tune - it's
difficult to explain over the phone, but all the little variables - the main reason
the guitar goes out of tune is that the string hangs up at the nut. So what I used to do,
I had a brass nut, and I would put oil on the nut, and the string would slide smoothly
- and I would put it through the hole in the tuner, and wind it up instead of down.
So there was no angle from nut to tuning peg. And every now and then. if you hit an
open string it would pop out of the nut - so I used my index finger behind the nut
to keep it from popping out. But I recorded those first two albums without a Floyd.
You had a hell of a sound on those albums, even today.
Well, it was just that old Marshall, which I still have, and actually, you know,
on the tour, we're doing a lot of old stuff, we're doing "I'm The One", off the first
record, and I used an MXR phaser a lot, and that's really what that sound is.
That's a really nice guitar sound, it was interesting that you said that about the
low-output pickups, I don't think you can get that sound with high-output pickups.
Yeah, I never liked the Super Distortion thing, it's like the 5150/2 amp that's
going to be coming out in a while, we added another preamp tube, so it's got six
preamp tubes now - just to smooth it out, you know, cause I don't like distortion,
I like sustain.
Ritchie Blackmore said the same thing when I interviewed him, he said he was always
looking for sustain without distortion, he said an AC30 was about the best for that.
Yeah, but it just wasn't quite enough for me.
© Paul Guy, 1998