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Kevin Eubanks: Changing Channels

Kevin Eubanks: Changing Channels

It’s almost like you approach it backwards.

This one-off hollowobody that Abe Rivera built for Kevin Eubanks features an ornately carved tailpiece, a 22-fret neck with gold parallelogram inlays, a gold-plated bridge and neck humbucker, figured-maple binding, and Volume and Tone knobs. Photo by Raj Naik
Right, I prefer that because then you get a great presentation of the song already. We already had a good feel for it and we weren’t trying to find our way.

You cover a lot of musical ground on this record. It seems the only thing you have in common with more traditional jazz guitar records is that there aren’t any vocals.

Wait until the next record. You won’t be saying that.

Will you be singing?

We are going to have vocals on the next record. I’m already putting it together. I am just about getting into some music since I have seen so much from being in Hollywood, and before that, from being on tour for 15 years. I’m really open and feel confident that, from a musical perspective, it will be really good. Right now, I’m looking for some musical opportunities and adventures and bringing it all to bear with who I am.

Now that Zen Food is out, do you have plans to tour?

Yeah, I want to get out on the road, back on the circuit, and play some gigs. I also want to listen to other musicians, because I really love that when I’m out on tour. I’m looking for an artist in a different genre, someone maybe in bluegrass or progressive country who is in the same boat as me. They need to have a career behind them and want to do something adventurous. You know, do something together where I can bring my audience to their audience and bring their audience to mine and hopefully create a nice record. It’s hard to go out and look for that. Instead, I think it just needs to happen. I am sure there’s an artist out there feeling the same way in their music as I am. I don’t like this whole exclusivity thing that seems to permeate different genres of music. I want to be inclusive—the whole country needs to be more inclusive. Maybe it’s better if everyone contributes to the whole instead of just a few people.

“Das It” is a pretty ferocious duo with you and Smitty.

Yeah, that’s a thing we started to hit on soundchecks. Here and there we’d add pieces to it and finally, we had a forum for it. It developed into a thing and we decided to stick it on the end of the album. It’s pretty intense and I have a feeling it will turn into a full composition. I don’t think we are done with that yet.

Martin’s Dick Boak on Eubanks’ Custom D-18V

When Kevin Eubanks wanted an acoustic guitar, he called up Dick Boak at Martin to create this unique axe. Eubanks was looking for a few key features, namely a wide fingerboard and a big neck. “Kevin wanted a D-18 with a very wide neck,” says Boak. “Much wider—more than 2"—than anything we make normally. It was quite a challenge. I assumed it was because he has large hands, but it turns out he doesn’t have large hands.”

Eubanks isn’t particular about what amp he plays through, but he always plugs into this
Éclair Engineering DMS-1 preamp. Photo by Bruce Seifried

Boak ended up using a classical fingerboard and an untrimmed 12-string neck blank that he found on a shelf in Martin’s wood-acclimating room. According to Boak, the blank was quite old, from the days before modern machinery, in fact. “It had a very long headstock— enough to make a 14- or 16-string guitar. It was very wide too, from the days when necks were hogged out with drawknives.”

Kevin Eubanks at Martin headquarters with his custom D-18V built by Dick Boak. Photo by Dick Boak

After the guitar was put together, Boak heard exactly what Eubanks had been going for. “The really interesting thing is that the guitar sounded magnificent! All I could figure is that the extra neck wood lent more resonance somehow. All of the guitars he’s ordered with wide necks sound better than their narrow-necked counterparts.”

Kevin Eubanks’ Gearbox
Custom Abe Rivera electric, custom Martin flattop

Éclair Engineering DMS-1 preamp built by Bruce Siefried

Ernie Ball volume pedal, Klon Centaur

D’Addario .014-.056
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