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QRD #46 - Guitarists Interview Series
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Azalia Snail
Alan Sparhawk
Jesse Grey
Michael Shiny
Robert Brown
John Booker
Steven Mitchell
Ian McPhedran
Josef Echter
Jordan Barger
Zachary Corsa
Ed Ricart
Yair Yona
Jeff Schneider
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Guitarist Interview with Michael Shiny of Shiny Around The Edges
December 2010
Name: Michael Shiny
Bands: Shiny Around the Edges
Websites: www.shinyaroundtheedges.com
Listen to “Robinwood Must Burn”

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

Michael – Peavey T-30... traded it in for a Fender bass... I think... it’s been a while.

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

Michael – Guitar... cord... amp...period.

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

Michael – Amp. It is a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 1x12 that has a Weber Blue Dog speaker, re-soldered connections, & replacement capacitors. It is tuned hot which helps the dynamic between my guitar & amp perform like a theremin on command. Unfortunately, I burn out a bunch of tubes this way.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Michael – See above. Plus, the tone of the Hot Rod Deluxe with the Blue Dog is unbeatable. I also use a late 70s (?) Fender 2x15 cabinet.

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

Michael – Stock Mexican Fender Telecaster. It is comparatively inexpensive & if I lose it, break it, etc. it can easily be replaced. Tone-wise, the thickness can’t be beat.

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

Michael – I am currently working on deconstructing my ‘81 Fender Musicmaster, beveling the back a bit, switching the pick-up to a P-90, using a Strat neck, & eliminating the remaining gloss finish with a sander so the tone can breath.

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

Michael – Funny, I’ve actually have been talking to a friend of mine, Ethan Hahn, about this subject. He designs pedals for people via his company, ProTone Pedals, & does an amazing job. I’m looking to develop something that would have one button & be the ambient audio equivalent of fractal geometry, picking up the last phrase & running with it. But... I don’t use pedals & we are usually at a house party in Denton when we get on to this topic, so we are consistently at a vague impasse.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Michael – Six-ish.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Michael – In our rehearsal space in our house.

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

Michael – A very dry Martini & a generous amount of Russian beluga caviar.

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

Michael – Is it durable? Comparative weight. Tonality.

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

Michael – The amount one can make working for a few months part-time after school in 11th grade.

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

Michael – My Tele is stock. The Musicmaster is a work in progress.

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

Michael – I can tell in five minutes if a guitar is going to work for me.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Michael – No.

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

Michael – One particular guitar tone.

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

Michael – Well... I wouldn’t exactly say “lust,” but I really like the guitar Ronnie uses in Neon Indian. I have never seen anything like it. It is basically a flat screen monitor in the guitar that displays trippy graphics during their sets. It is a perfect match to Ronnie’s formidable playing talent & the aesthetics of the band. It wouldn’t work for me, but I am glad that it exists without a doubt!

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

Michael – A piece of paper that says, “Find a friend & start a band immediately.”

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

Michael – My Hot Rod Deluxe amp was the best; don’t really have a “worst.”

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

Michael – Gibson Les Pauls are just way too heavy.

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

Michael – A “D” chord.

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

Michael – 16.

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

Michael – Maybe last year? Many of those shows were righteous. Eh... I’m still learning.

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

Michael – Piano is really hard & trumpet is almost impossible.

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

Michael – Guitar is a great way to jump into the making of music.

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

Michael – The guitar is an extension of myself in the process.

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

Michael – Greg Ginn, Lou Reed, Bill Carter (Screaming Blue Messiahs), Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Norman Westberg (SWANS), Leo Kottke, Arto Lindsay (DNA), too many to list.…

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

Michael – I’ve never thought about it.

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

Michael – Various nicks, scratches, cuts, bloodstains, etc... playing shows.

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

Michael – At Shiny rehearsals, we enjoy having cocktails, talking endless about how badass we are & occasionally spilling out onto the lawn, throwing things, etc.… We find this adequately prepares us for our shows.

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

Michael – I’ve never kept track of this.

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

Michael – Medium orange ones. Thin ones fall apart & thick ones break strings or pop out of my hand. Orange because that’s what McBrides in Denton has a huge back stock of at the moment.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Michael – Medium. Light do not produce the required sound & heavy rip up my hands.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Michael – Every few weeks. 

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Michael – Not often as we tune fairly low. However, when the seasons change in Texas, I’ll break a bunch.

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

Michael – I am good with my hands.

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Michael – Guitar tech. If a guitar is not set-up, you are inviting a mess of mathematics that will kill your playing ability.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Michael – Half-step down standard with a drop D. It brings the rock in sufficient doses.

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

Michael – I make notes in tabs because I am not formally trained.

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

Michael – It is relaxed as far as it will go. I’m 6’4” & have long arms.

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

Michael – Doing shots that audience members buy us during our sets.

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

Michael – Piano.

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

Michael – I enjoy Adrian Belew’s work with King Crimson, but could never control pedals like that.

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

Michael – Greg Ginn recently sat in with Shiny Around the Edges, so I’m good.

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

Michael – Correctly using a digital guitar tuner was an uphill battle.

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

Michael – Don’t have one.

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

Michael – At Built to Spill shows, I’ve seen Doug Martsch tune his guitar while soloing. I am in awe of that.

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

Michael – My sister taught me how to play some folk songs from the 60s. How to play & write a song.

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

Michael – When you are supporting a band on tour, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD... make sure the members in your band know EXACTLY which brand of beer was on your rider.

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

Michael – Play like you may not have the chance to play a show again.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Michael – Always out of tune.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Michael – I set it, then don’t touch it.

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

Michael – Lead players are good at leveraging their brand across multiple revenue streams.

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

Michael – No.

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

Michael – Eric Clapton’s so I could sell it & make a bunch of cash.

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

Michael – Our bassist Kerm. Half the time I don’t know what he is doing, but it sounds like the apocalypse.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Michael – Our latest album, Denton’s Dreaming captures it pretty well.

QRD – Anything else?

Michael – Buy a guitar, find a friend, start a band. Everything will work out just fine.

Other QRD interviews with Michael Seman:
Couples interview with Mike & Jen of Shiny Around the Edges (February 2007)