QRD - Current Issue   About QRD   QRD Archives
QRD #53 - Guitarist Interview Series V
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
about this issue
Guitarist Interviews:
Jason Handelsman
Andras Fekete 
Phil Mitchell
Jessica Bailiff 
Jason Lamoreaux
Ben Weyerhaeuser
Greg & Kyrsten Magnuson
Brandon Helms
Matt Guess 
Rachel Staggs
Jun Minowa 
Michael Cosma 
Cheryl Hall
QRD - Advertise
Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Cerebus TV
Silber Kickstarter

Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Cheryl Hall
Guitarist Interview with Cheryl Hall of Irata
October 2011
Cheryl Hall
Name: Cheryl Hall
Bands: Irata
Websites: www.iratalive.com

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

Cheryl – My first guitar was a Japanese made Fender Stratocaster.  After a while I didn’t care for it; the neck was thick & I felt like I should be playing country music on it.  I think I sold it to a friend for $150.

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

Cheryl – Right now, Gibson Les Paul to Boss Volume Pedal to Boss Delay, to Boss Flange to Digitech Reverb to Mesa Boogie Dual Stack.

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

Cheryl – Hmmm…at the moment I would have to say effects.  A lot of the sounds that I get are really for “ambience” (not in the shoe-gazey manner) & the effects really help with that.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Cheryl – To play gigs the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier.  I’ve always wanted a Boogie; the Marshall sound was real popular when I was young, but I always thought it sounded too flat & a little canned.  The Boogie has a little bit more flexibility in the sound, plus it’s LOUD. :-)

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

Cheryl – For gigs I have a wine red, double cut-away Gibson Les Paul.  It looks awesome & has a nice warm sound.

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

Cheryl – It would have the body of a Gibson Explorer with a natural finish, black hardware… damn, I actually used to have a list of all this stuff.  Suffice it to say, it would look & sound AWESOME!!!

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

Cheryl – I definitely want a pedal that’s easier to tweak on stage.  I prefer the individual pedals to the multi-effects processors, but some of the pedals I use have different settings for different songs & I would prefer to have a sound on stage that’s as authentic as possible.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Cheryl – Ummm, I think three.  Gibson Les Paul, Ibanez…. I don’t know, it’s a strat style.  I get a lot of grief for it, but it sounds good & plays really well.  I also own a LaPatrie classical guitar that I’ve had since high school.  I pull it out a few times a year; I’ll always have a soft spot for classical guitar.  

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Cheryl – In their cases.  I keep the Gibson at our practice spot.  The other two just stay in the bedroom at home.

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

Cheryl – A humidifier/temp control.

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

Cheryl – Well, I wasn’t going to put this first, but looks are always important.  In fact, if I don’t like the way a guitar looks I usually won’t even pick it up to try it.  After that is playability.  I like a fast, thin neck.  Then I make sure it seems well made, as far as I can tell.

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

Cheryl – Wow, I don’t have a clue.  I mean, I’d like for them to be cheap, but still….

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

Cheryl – I have traditionally stuck with what I’ve got.  After recording this last album though, I’m going to do something I’ve never done & get new pickups for my Les Paul.  In the future I may be more inclined to upgrade my equipment.

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

Cheryl – Good question.  I start off wanting to do a lot of thorough research, but my attention span is so short that it really only happens over the course of several sessions.  I probably do a poor job compared to my peers.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Cheryl – Mmmm, not really.  Once I get something I like, I kind of stick with it.

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

Cheryl – Well, I mess with my tone about once a month.  Sometimes I start to hear things differently, or I get bored or inspired.  I admit that I really just like to play & in the past tone has been more of an afterthought for me.

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

Cheryl – Mainly just a Gibson Explorer.  Though I certainly wouldn’t mind a couple of the ESP signature models they did for Kirk Hammett & James Hetfield… one of my guilty little secrets.

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

Cheryl – Hmmmm, I’ll have to think about this one a little longer…

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

Cheryl – I’m really in love with my Digiverb pedal right now.  It gets a really broad scope of reverb & is pretty manageable.  Don’t think I have a worst…

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

Cheryl – I’ve mainly used a lot of Boss effects in the past.  They tend to have a broader spectrum to play with than any other pedals I’ve tried.  I like Ibanez guitars because they’re pretty consistent with the quality for price, i.e., you pretty much know what you’re going to get.  I also like the playability; thin necks, etc.  I’m also really in love with Gibson.  They are nice, solid instruments with a great tone.

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

Cheryl – I always play slow finger exercises & chord progressions to get warmed up.  I think after people reach a certain level of proficiency they think they don’t need that sort of thing anymore, but always practicing basics immensely improves your performance in other areas.

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

Cheryl – 14.

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

Cheryl – Wow, I don’t know.  I hope I’m not as good as I’m ever going to get!!!!!

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

Cheryl – It’s the only one I’ve ever been able to sit down with for a long period of time, despite a very short attention span.

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

Cheryl – Absolutely not.  People should at the very least learn piano so they have a working knowledge of music before they decide to become a guitarist.

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

Cheryl – Definitely ally.  I wouldn’t be able to write on anything else.

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

Cheryl – When I started playing I listened to a lot of Metallica.  The people I was playing with at the time were into Dream Theatre or Led Zepplin & Jimi Hendrix, so learning to play all that stuff pushed me towards the style that I play now.

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

Cheryl – I don’t know, I think it must be a guy thing.

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

Cheryl – I was drinking one night, walking around the house with my guitar on & somehow I bashed one of the pickups into something.  It actually sank down into the body of the guitar.  I was pretty upset about it.

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

Cheryl – Like I mentioned earlier, scales & chord progressions.  I also like to ask random people what song they would learn on guitar if they could.  I have a list & whenever I get some free time (so not very often!!!)  I’ll tackle a song or two.

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

Cheryl – Hard to say, because it’s so sporadic.  I would definitely like to play more though!!

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

Cheryl – Umm, they’re these orange picks with a star cut out of the middle - the logo’s worn off of it so I couldn’t tell you what brand.  I don’t drop them as much.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Cheryl – I use 10s on a standard tuning & 11s with Irata… because we tune down to D.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Cheryl – Whenever it’s necessary!

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Cheryl – Pretty rarely.

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

Cheryl – My strumming hand is more proficient; my fretting hand has more of a mind of its own.  This means I’m a pretty solid rhythm player, with room to improve on the solo end.

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech?

Cheryl – Guitar Tech.  Best to let the pros do it.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Cheryl – Standard, tuned down to D, & drop C.  Irata uses the second two.

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

Cheryl – I write either tablature or chord charts with rhythm notation when writing my ideas down.   They’re pretty quick & easy to reference.

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

Cheryl – Across my stomach.

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

Cheryl – I’m noticing more & more as a try to write that I keep going back to those metal roots.  I want to break that habit mainly because I feel like it’s already been done so well by the pros that I want to move on to something else.

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

Cheryl – Definitely piano, if nothing else.

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

Cheryl – I started learning banjo a while ago & that is a very cool instrument.  I have carpal tunnel syndrome, so I’m really not able to practice those quick motions for a period of time suitable to be proficient at it.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?

Cheryl – I haven’t played a stadium yet!

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

Cheryl – Wow, I couldn’t tell you.  Maybe sweep picking?

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

Cheryl – I actually like whammy bars.  Don’t have one, but I like using them.

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

Cheryl – Tapping.

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

Cheryl – Yes, I took lessons from many different people.  I learned a lot of music theory & actually just guitar history when I was learning on electric.  When I studied classical I learned a lot about form & traditional techniques.

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

Cheryl – How to read music. :-)

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

Cheryl – I don’t know, but I can’t imagine it would take much!

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Cheryl – I think they’re neat, but I had two guitars with the Floyd Rose on them & that was just a huge pain.  Then again, I was basically still a beginner at the time.  I think if I had one now I would be able to manage it more effectively.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Cheryl – Next to never.

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

Cheryl – Well, lead guitars do solos & melodies on top of the music, while rhythm guitarists help drive the music.

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

Cheryl – Yeah, for a quick listen, but they wouldn’t be a band that I would like.  I would probably search for other work that the guitarist has done.  I usually have to at least like a couple things about a band before I can accept something that I normally wouldn’t care for.

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

Cheryl – Any of James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett’s guitars.  Why not?  They were my heroes when I started & will always have a soft spot in my heart.

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

Cheryl – I don’t know.  I don’t have a lot of serious guitar players in my circle, but non-guitar players seem to think Bucket Head is pretty awesome.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Cheryl – When I’m practicing by myself at home!

QRD – Anything else?

Cheryl – Thanks, have a great day!