Over the years I’ve encountered countless questions during my time on the gig, particularly during set up and tear down. I believe there are no stupid questions – if
10. Can you get my guitar signed?
This one always makes me smile. It’s sort of like writing a letter to Santa because they are asking for a gift and there’s seemingly only one way to make it happen, even though it’s a bit of a fantasy, unbeknownst to them. I have no power over Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Brent Mason, Steve Lukather, Nathan East, Michael Rhodes or any of the other musicians I’ve worked for, but somehow fans think if they ask me, I’ll be able to bestow that gift upon them. And then there’s the occasional person who gets upset if he doesn’t get his gift; it is both amazing and comical to see grown adults throw tantrums because they didn’t get what they wanted.
9. Do they always play this loud?
Well, it’s called an amplifier. If you’re going to choose a spot where it’s too loud, change your channel and move. I have no hearing loss whatsoever and I’ve been on the gig for a long time. If you go hear your favorite guitarists live, bring earplugs or just get ready for loud volumes.
8. Can I have a pick?
This is always a yes for me. All the greats have tons of picks and generally don’t mind at all if a few are given away at the end of the gig – especially if the picks are worn out and won’t be used again.
7. Where do you go next?
I always wonder why people want to know this, but I usually say home.
6. How does the pedalboard work?
It’s different for everybody, but I suspect what they actually want to know is, “What is going on down there and how does it change the tone like it does?” For example, Larry Carlton uses the same pedalboard all the time (see my article from the September issue), while Robben Ford changes things up from gig to gig, and Brent Mason has several different boards he uses for various settings. As a side note, the last session Brent and I did together, he plugged straight into an amp from a 335 – don’t see that very often.
5. How do you set up those guitars?
This usually ends up as an introductory lesson on guitar setups. I go through what a truss rod does, how to adjust a saddle, how to set intonation and when frets need a level and dress. It’s not rocket science and most people can do the basics. I just think they’re a little afraid to step into that world.
4. What strings are you using?
Naturally, a great question, as people want to figure out how their heroes do what they do. I invariably say the brand and the gauges, but often ask them what they use, as well.
3. What kind of pickups are in that guitar?
Again, people are trying to hone in on tone and learn how they can emulate the sound they hear. I give them every detail possible. Pickups are a major part of guitar tone and there are a ton of them, all designed for different sounds and types of music.
2. What’s in your tech case?
I give it up totally. All my tools, the backup pieces of equipment, strings, types of winders and cutters, voltmeters, adaptors, spare parts and so on. I also give a lengthy soliloquy about why I carry what I do and how often I use each component. By that time they are ready to leave, so I guess it serves a dual purpose.
1. How did you get this gig?
My favorite question. Initially, I had no business being a tech. Larry Carlton knew me as a friend and fellow jazz guitarist and needed someone to sub for Sammy Sanchez (one of the greatest guitar techs of all time). He knew I could string correctly, do basic setups, and he trusted me with his guitars, so he asked me if I wanted to go. Four years later, I’m still subbing for Sammy, but I’ve definitely become a tech. There’s nothing like being totally unqualified and jumping in at the highest level in the business! In reality, it’s the question I ask myself every time I go to the gig.
Rick Wheeler currently works as Larry Carlton’s guitar tech and front of house engineer. He is also an accomplished jazz guitarist, vocalist, and educator. You can contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.
Handcrafted by a small team, Solstice prides itself on perfect setup and playing action, stability, and longevity.
Solstice Guitars just introduced a reimagined update to its custom-T design, previously called the Transit. Now known as the Tellurion, this guitar includes a thoughtful set of new attributes. Designed to be customized, the new Tellurion features include:
- New 3D Neck Joint
This dimensional neck joint utilizes a shaped pocket that locks in place with a 3-bolt system. More surface area, more coupling, more strength, longevity, and tone.
- 24-Frets Standard
The new neck joint & cutaway redesign make for an easy reach. 24 frets are now standard on all
- Neck Reinforcement
Twin carbon fiber rods and a modern double-action truss rod produce incredibly stable necks. Rod access is now up at the headstock.
- Hardware & Electronics
Professional components and hardware are by Gotoh. Includes hand-wired switching circuits and pickups by Lollar, Duncan, Dark Moon, or TV Jones.
The Tellurion is made with 3 tone chamber options:
- Fully chambered, semi-hollow (with or without f-hole)
- Half chambered, bass side (with or without f-hole)
- Half chambered, treble side (no hole)
A solid body option is also available using the highest graded super-light swamp ash.
Handcrafted by a small team, Solstice prides itself on perfect setup and playing action, stability, and longevity. With a base price of $2400, the new Tellurion offers high-end value with a host of intuitive options for the most demanding players.
For more information, please visit solsticeguitars.com.