Peter Hodgson interviewed a buttload of guitarists in 2014. Some for Mixdown, some for his blog, some for other mags and websites. He tells us that one of the greatest aspects of interviewing renowned guitarists for a job is that it’s almost like getting a lesson from them. Gaining insight from artists like these opens up new doors and inspires new approaches to guitar playing. So here are some highlights from Peter’s interviews over the past 12 months, focusing on guitar playing, guitar loving and guitar related anecdotes.
MARC MARON (COMEDIAN)
“For years I was a Fender guy. I don’t have a lot of guitars. I had a couple Teles, neither one of them that great, and I had one Strat which I bought in like ’86 or something. I’m no guitar nerd, really. I played those for years and in about 2002 maybe, Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O’Brien band said I should get a Gibson Les Paul TV Junior. He hooked me up with his guy over at the Custom Shop and I got a good price on it, but I still didn’t quite know how to make Gibsons sound right for me for some reason. When I was a kid my first guitar was a Les Paul gold top copycat. Then at some point I had a tube amp and about four or five years ago I figured out what the beauty was of the Les Paul TV Junior with that one P90 pickup. Johnny Thunders is what changed the game for me. I didn’t realize how much you could dirty up that thing. Then I started playing it all the time. That was my primary guitar. I didn’t distort much. I would play straight in with no distortion, just clean blues riffs like Jimmie Vaughan, but then all of a sudden that Gibson blew my brains out and I started playing it all the time. I had an SG for years, but I could never wrap my brain around it. I couldn’t work the SG. It was from the late 70s. I ended up selling it, and I didn’t even know the neck was broken. I’ve had bad luck with guitars. I bought this weird old Gibson acoustic, an FJN. It’s a very odd guitar and I think they only made them for five or six years. It’s a big old jumbo body with two white pick guards on either side of the hole. It’s got this short, fat, almost classical neck. It’s this bizarre guitar from the 60s, and I love it. It has a little bit of a buzz in it, but it’s okay still. So I have that thing, and I don’t think many people play ‘em. Then I spent years looking for a J-45, and eventually I just bought one. I loved that guitar. Then Epiphone sent me one of them blue SGs with the tremolo on it, and a red Epiphone Dot, and that guitar changed my life. Y’know, my earliest guitar memories were as a big Chuck Berry fan, but I never saw myself with a red 335. So I got those guitars as a promotional thing because it had Brendon Small on. So I got me a red Epi Dot and I play it all the time. It’s the best guitar I ever played.”
JOBY FORD (THE BRONX)
“I absolutely loathe a hum bucker Marshall sound. The compression and sustain that people love about that sort of setup is super boring to me. I love the slash-and-burn, exciting sound of a single coil. It’s just bursting with excitement. Most of the time in the studio I have a Gibson Les Paul Classic with a P90, and then in the neck position it has a Danelectro lipstick tube single coil pickup. Those pickups were originally intended for a guitar that was made out of Masonite and had no sustain, but in the Les Paul, because there’s so much sustain, you really change what they were built for and you get a really unique sound. Taking credit for that, I can’t, that was a John Rhys thing from Rocket From The Crypt. He told me, ‘Throw this in your Les Paul, dude.’ So that’s been something I favour in the studios.”
“Y’know, one night I had a little bit too much to drink and I left my Stratocaster on the car and drove away out of the gig. I woke up the next morning and thought ‘Uh… where’s my guitar?’ I went back to the club and it was still laying in the case in the parking lot. I brought it home. I don’t know if anybody ran over it or not. When I first got it they were all over the place. You could buy ‘em for 200 bucks all day. They were sort of like an old Ford or something. You could just change the parts. They were cool. They float too, y’know?”
“I used to be in a punk rock band in high school, and I used to love playing any style. At the same time that I was learning to play folk songs from my dad’s friends. I was learning to play Metallica and Sepultura – all this thrash metal stuff – as well as punk stuff like Minor Threat and all that. The electric guitar has always been something I loved playing. Then I started travelling and making surf films and playing the acoustic guitar so much when we were travelling, so it was just easier to bring that along. So those first couple of albums ended up having a lot of acoustic just because of the songs I’d been writing. After touring a bunch once the whole thing started going, I just had an electric guitar around more often so I started recording with that. I got back to playing a lot of acoustic on this new album partly because a guy I met put this nylon-strong acoustic guitar in my hands and it was just a lot of fun to play.”