Starr, whom Shifty credits with owning one of the best vintage guitar collections he’s ever seen, explains how he got into guitar at age six thanks to the influence of his dad, who was a bluegrass rhythm player.
But he turned to his mum, the rocker in the family, to help him get his first electric guitar: a Mosrite copy which he played through his sister’s stereo with some old-school technical finessing. (He eventually blew the stereo, which didn’t go over well with his sibling.) Starr and Shifty swap stories about getting their kids into guitar—Starr’s son wasn’t interested until he played guitar hero, when he discovered Allman Brothers and Van Halen.
Starr says his playing has never been too bogged down in theory—“I know what sounds good to me and what feels good to me,” he says—and he details how he came to his hybrid picking, middle-finger “crutch” style of lead-playing. For the scorching solo on “Waiting for the Thunder,” off their 2016 record Like An Arrow, Starr messed around until he found the right shape and sound. He used a 50-watt 1976 Marshall JMP, running through a 4x12 cab with Celestion Greenback speakers, and the same guitar he’s playing in this episode: a 2014 Gibson Custom Shop Southern Rock Tribute Les Paul, an homage to the smooth riffing of Duane Allman, Gary Rossington, and Dicky Betts.
You can hear those southern rock pioneers in Starr’s solo, which starts in the low register before slinking its way up the neck to a blistering crescendo. “Tom Waits said, ‘Our hands are like dogs, and they go to familiar places,’” says Starr.
Producer: Jason Shadrick
Executive Producers: Brady Sadler and Jake Brennan for Double Elvis
Engineering Support by Matt Tahaney and Matt Beaudion
Video Editors: Dan Destefano and Addison Sauvan
Special thanks to Chris Peterson, Greg Nacron, and the entire Volume.com crew.