Interview with Rick Ray
Name: Rick Ray
Bands:The Rick Ray Band
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