Interview with Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Name: Chris Olley
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Chris – It was so cheap it never had a name. I swapped it with my mate for something else.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Chris – Not much, a tuner, overdrive, & sometimes echo delay pedal.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Chris – A good lead & my tuner.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Chris – Vox AC30 1965, it sounds, er, amazing!
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Chris – Rickenbacker 330. I won’t play anything else. I have played this guitar since I bought it in 1997.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Chris – The one I have.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Chris – Coloursound Overdrive.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Chris – Rickenbacker 330 electric & Martin 00015S acoustic, Fender jazz bass. I sold everything else.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Chris – Hanging up in the hallway upstairs, on stands, lying around in the living room. They are in constant use.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Chris – I don’t buy guitars, I found what I was looking for.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Chris – £1000 upwards to be a proper instrument.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Chris – I stick with what I got.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Chris – Not too much, check it out on YouTube.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Chris – No.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Chris – I have one sound. When you put a Rickenbacker into a 1965 Vox AC30, well, it doesn’t really get much better than that.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Chris – Nothing, I’ve reached Nirvana
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Chris – It should be shit.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Chris – I bought a Gretsch Electromatic. Nice looking, but sounded terrible. Cheap Fender Telecasters... rubbish.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Chris – New Marshalls are shit. I like Sans Amp pedals for demo recording. I hate Line 6 stuff & anything that pretends to be the real thing in a digital simulation kind of way.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Chris – A chord.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Chris – 15.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Chris – 35.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Chris – It’s the coolest thing… electric guitars are the sexiest instruments in the world.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Chris – For me, yes.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Chris – My brother, my lover, my best friend, never leaves my side
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Chris – Neil Young, John Martyn, Peter Buck.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly?
Chris – Eh?
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Chris – I’ve smashed quite a few to pieces, including a 12 string acoustic & a 1963 Burns guitar. My Rickenbacker has been rebuilt 4 times & has had 3 scratchplates. I once threw it across the stage at the Electric Ballroom in London & I nearly cried in the dressing room, but it managed to survive. I’ve just had it refurbished & I will never throw it again.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Chris – Nothing, I always play songs.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Chris – I play about 4 hours a day. I would like to play 10, like I used to.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Chris – I use 88mm green ones because they work best for me & I’m always picking them up out of the washing machine
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Chris – 10-46... that gauge works for me, light.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Chris – Every gig after sound check.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Chris – Never.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Chris – Strumming hand, that is the most important, the other one pushes buttons but the strumming hand is the language.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Chris – I get someone who knows what they are doing to do it.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Chris – On electric, always standard, on acoustic drop D sometimes.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Chris – Neither, I look on YouTube or ask a friend to show me how to play something.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Chris – As low as possible so I can still play.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Chris – Don’t have one.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Chris – Don’t know.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Chris – Really good ragtime picking or Eddie Van Halen/Gary Moore fast playing.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Chris – There are many, see last question
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Chris – I can’t do any tricks!
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Chris – Just to be able to play really fast like Steve Vai!!
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Chris – No, never.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Chris – The importance of the strumming hand & simplicity & attacking the strings hard.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Chris – Play really hard & strum really fast.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Chris – Love them! Been toying with the idea of putting a Bigsby on my Rickenbacker, but been told it will change the sound.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Chris – One is a twat the other is the salt of the earth.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Chris – No, the drummer is the backbone of any band. If the drummer does his/her job right you will be listening to the guitarist.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Chris – Neil Young’s black Les Paul or Steve Jones’s white Les Paul.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Chris – Neil is God & always will be.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Chris – On my new solo album.
QRD – Anything else?
Chris – Find your place & be yourself.
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