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QRD #42 - Guitarist Series
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Ashkelon Sain
Zac Keiller
Eric Muhs
Patrick Vega
Russ Stedman
Bret Hart
Rick Ray
John William Gordon
Evan Peta
Evgeny Zheyda
Dave Halverson
Charles Rice Goff III
Calvin Johnson
Kim Chee
John G Sosnowski
Michael Walton
Annelies Monseré
Eric Quach
Robert Poss
Sarah June
Ted Johnson
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Guitarist Interview with Rick Ray 
July 2010

Name: Rick Ray
Bands:The Rick Ray Band
Websites: www.rickray.net
Listen to "Guitaren't You Surprised"
Listen to "Psychonaut"

QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?

Rick – A Silvertone Les Paul copy hollow body electric, got it in 1967... it cracked in half a few years later.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier? 

Rick – 1968 SG or 1985 Strat, A/B switch to go between guitars (the Strat has a GK1 to guitar synth) tuner, rotovibe, wah, compression, octave divider, A/B between two distortions one path EQ & tube distortion, the other transistor distortion, noise gate, phaser, stereo chorus, stereo flanger, analog delay, volume pedal, analog delay, flanger doubler, digital delay 1 second, digital delay 2 second, Echoplex to Peavey Stereo Chorus Amplifier.

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects? 

Rick – 1968 SG.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why? 

Rick – Peavey Stereo Chorus... very powerful & clean.

QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such? 

Rick – 1968 SG because it plays great... low profile frets, like the fretless wonder Les Pauls which you cannot get anymore.

QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?

Rick – Just what I’ve got now.

QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be? 

Rick – Tube Distortion with good EQ on it.

QRD – How many guitars do you own? 

Rick – Six.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars? 

Rick – All over the place... easy access to play at any time inspiration hits.

QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t? 

Rick – They’re fine like they are.

QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar? 

Rick – Feel & sound.

QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost? 

Rick – Cheaper than what they’re going for, that’s for sure.

QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get? 

Rick – Pretty much stick with what I get, but I do adjust them to my liking.

QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it? 

Rick – Read about it & try it first if possible.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often? 

Rick – Not much.

QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot? 

Rick – Depends on the song, yes.

QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after? 

Rick – My 1973 Les Paul Fretless Wonder... had it for years, sold it to an old drummer of mine, under the condition that later on in life I could buy it back... he died & the whereabouts are unknown.

QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there? 

Rick – Upon first learning... it’s the person, not the guitar.

QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made? 

Rick – Never made a bad purchase... the best was the 1973 Les Paul or my current 1968 SG.

QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why? 

Rick – Old Gibsons... not new ones, the frets are like railroad ties... MXR old & new.

QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar? 

Rick – Probably one of my tunes or a Beatle tune.

QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar? 

Rick – Six.

QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing? 

Rick – I started getting pretty good around 13... but my best playing is right now.

QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments? 

Rick – Not sure of that one.

QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is? 

Rick – Whatever the person’s passion is.

QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music? 

Rick – It’s my sanity keeper.

QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound? 

Rick – George Harrison, Robin Trower, Frank Marino, Steve Morse, John McGlauphlin, Greg Lake, Robert Fripp, Phil Keaggey.

QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)? 

Rick – Companies name them, I guess artists can to... I don’t.

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it? 

Rick – Cracked my first guitar in half by tuning it up way to high.

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing? 

Rick – Just playing “ALL THE TIME”.

QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to? 

Rick – Probably about 30 hours a week... & that’s probably enough.

QRD – What type of pick do you use & why? 

Rick – Heavy... more control than thin ones.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why? 

Rick – 10’s... better feel... less breakage.

QRD – How often do you change strings? 

Rick – Definitely before every gig... & whenever they start to sound dull.

QRD – How often do you break strings? 

Rick – Too much.

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style? 

Rick – I believe they’re equal... both as quick as each other.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why? 

Rick – Mostly standard... I’ve experimented with others & recorded some things that way, but I like standard tuning the best.

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas? 

Rick – Memory.

QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)? 

Rick – Not too high, not too low.

QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break? 

Rick – Can’t think of any.

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing? 

Rick – I like playing piano also & believe that has helped my musical knowledge.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t? 

Rick – Some of the classical type of picking I’d like to some day get to.

QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished? 

Rick – I think I’ve met the ones I’ve set up... just getting better all the time is the goal now.

QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned? 

Rick – Not into tricks.

QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)? 

Rick – None.

QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t? 

Rick – Some day, classical picking technique, although it’s not a high priority.

QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them? 

Rick – When I was a kid I did... didn’t learn anything from the teacher... so I learned myself.

QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher? 

Rick – Chords are “THE” most important thing when learning... everything else is secondary.

QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style? 

Rick – Learn the “Lost Chords” that I’ve found & pay close attention as some of it goes by fast & complex. 

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems? 

Rick – Electrical Tremolo or Vibrato? If the vibrato systems... I like what’s on my SG & Strat.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob? 

Rick – I don’t.

QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players? 

Rick – I’m both... so for me... no difference.

QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good? 

Rick – No... you can be the best guitarist in the world, but if your songs suck or the other musicians suck... so do you.

QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why? 

Rick – I’m happy with what I’ve got... don’t need or want someone else’s guitar.

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why? 

Rick – Phil Keaggy always surprises me as does Robin Trower... Frank Marino’s pretty inventive... Steve Morse is always coming up with unheard of things.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work? 

Rick – Some cuts can be heard at www.myspace.com/therickrayband

QRD – Anything else?

Rick – You can also checkout www.rickray.net