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

Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Matt Guess
Guitarist Interview with Matt Guess of White Cascade
March 2011
Matt Guess
Name: Matt Guess
Band: White Cascade
Websites: myspace.com/thewhitecascade, thewhitecascade.bandcamp.com, diyshoegazer.tumblr.com (my gear blog)

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

Matt – Ibanez 4 string bass from high school. Used it in my first band where I played bass with no effects. Now it sits in my parent’s house unused.

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

Matt – Oh lord here we go. I use a modified Mexican Fender Fat Strat (HSS, 2002) with a Roland GK-3 guitar synth pickup, that goes into a Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth floor unit, & then out into my pedal board, which contains (in the following order) a reissue MXR Dynacomp, Proco RAT II (non LM308 chip), Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, Ehx Big Muff Pi, Boss BF-2 Flanger, Fender Blender, Boss HF-2 Hi-Band Flanger (1986), Boss DD-3 Digital Delay (1994), Boss PH-3 Phaser (1986), Ehx Freeze, Boss RC-20XL Loopstation, Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Boss TU-2 Tuner, & finally into a rack consisting of a Lexicon MX400 Reverb & finally a BBE 482i Sonic Maximizer before being sent to my amp, a Roland JC-77.

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

Matt – The effects chain, the order of effects, & the effects settings themselves, I usually keep my amp settings the same, but I constantly change the effects pedals, pickup position, & the guitar synth patches & wet/dry mix. I prefer to write songs in terms of tones & I’m constantly changing settings in order to challenge myself with new sounds.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Matt – Roland JC-77 with stock icepick speakers. It is a crystal clear full-range amp with a lot of high end that most guitar amps just don’t have which allows me to play things other than guitar through it, such as loops, drum beats, synth, samples, & even vocals. The stereo chorus gives it true dimension & a genuine 80s vibe. I always use the chorus with a very slow rate & 50% depth. Robert Smith, Neil Halstead, & Andy Summers all used Jazz Choruses.

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

Matt – Fender Fat Strat, MIM 2002. Replaced the pickups with a Screamin’ Demon humbucker & two blues-like vintage single coils. It is tuned to a custom tuning that my friends call “Guess tuning” which is useful for open drones. It also has a GK-3 Guitar Synth module mounted on it & I use this extensively for mixing synth textures with my standard guitar tones. I have a few extra unused GK modules that I hope to use on my future guitars, hopefully a JM/JAG next.

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

Matt – Jazzmaster, Sonic Blue/Surf Green with a tortoiseshell pickguard & internal Roland GK electronics. Badass.

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

Matt – Digital Delay with built in limiter so it could self-oscillate without getting extremely loud. Maybe with a built-in phaser on the output stage like on my current pedal board.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Matt – Two, The fat strat & a Seagull Cedar folk acoustic.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Matt – The electric in a soft padded gig bag, & the acoustic in a hard padded case

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

Matt – Art on the outside.

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

Matt – It has to look awesome first & foremost, & second it has to have a fretboard that I instantly agree with. As far as sound, I always end up replacing the stock pickups anyways. Balance is a big thing too. I find SGs & LPs to be very unnatural to hold. I like Fenders in general.

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

Matt – $500.

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

Matt – Always, always upgrade.

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

Matt – Usually I research a ton online & on YouTube & then just end up buying things. Most of my curiosity pieces that don’t work out still teach me a lot about sound & that is worth something.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Matt – Yes, although the changes are now more minute settings tweaking & effects ordering & more about fine tuning what I already have. On the other hand sometimes you just have to throw a new pedal on the board & start over.

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

Matt – In general I do not like the idea of writing tons of songs with the same tone. That is boring to me. I strive to find new tones constantly because that is where my inspiration lies.

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

Matt – Jazzmasters, 70-80s Boss/ehx Pedals (SG-1 Slow Gear, SP-1 Spectrum, DC-2 Dimension C), Very harsh-sounding vintage fuzz/wah pedals like what J&MC used, & ‘80s rack Reverbs like RMX, PCM70/80. I’d like to buy or build my own theremin one day. Lastly studio compressors of any variety interest me, although I don’t have the motivation to try a lot of pedal compressors. Often things that I have never heard of end up being my favorite gear.

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

Matt – Playability, light strings & nice action, & an input jack that isn’t loose.

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

Matt – Best = 3 way tie between the JC-77, GR-30 Guitar Synthesizer, & Alesis Microverb IV. Worst = this terrible dbx 1066 compressor & those danelectro pedals that go for under $20 new. The Art TubeMP was pretty mediocre.

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

Matt – I love Fender guitars, older Boss pedals, & new & old Electro-Harmonix pedals, Lexicon Reverbs, & last but not least pretty much everything with Roland on it. Also the RAT 2 is the most versatile distortion I have ever used, big props.

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

Matt – Retune it to “Guess tuning”

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

Matt – 17.

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

Matt – 22.

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

Matt – I play the effects more so than the guitars. It is about listening & observing what the knobs do to manipulate sound.

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

Matt – No, we need more drummers, less guitarists.

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

Matt – Wave generator.

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

Matt – Kevin Shields, Robin Guthrie, Neil Halstead, Robert Smith, & the Strokes.

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

Matt – I don’t feel that connection with my guitar. I’m much more attached to my pedals & I adorn them in my own special way.

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

Matt – I accidentally dropped my electric (on the concrete floor at the Cave no less) when the neck strap slipped out & it put a big hole in the bottom & cracked the outer finish. From then on I duct taped the strap to the guitar. I also half-smashed an acoustic guitar once so that I could be sworn in to the rock star community.

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

Matt – I don’t really practice as far as just repeating exercises or even my own songs. I just improvise new tones constantly until I find something that I know I like & then I explore it freely while my computer is recording everything.

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

Matt – Would like to do it every day. Now I usually practice once a week if I’m lucky.

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

Matt – Medium with a nice tortoiseshell color.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Matt – I’ve tried to move up to a heavier gauge for more sustain & better tone.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Matt – Once a month.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Matt – Can’t remember the last time.

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

Matt – Neither, mine both suck terribly.

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

Matt – I like to teach myself. If I mess something up that just opens up more possibilities for unique experimentation.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Matt – Guess tuning because it allows me to play a melody while keeping a constant drone going.

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

Matt – I don’t write down ideas. I record them. I can’t read sheet music anymore. I use a computer DAW for good sound, or when I don’t have much time a voice recorder or my digital camera in video capture mode.

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

Matt – No clue.

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

Matt – Missing a stomp.

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

Matt – Theremin.

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

Matt – Lap steel or slide guitar.

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

Matt – Speed picking. Sweeping.

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

Matt – Extremely slow pick slides with ringmod->delay->reverb.

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

Matt – I use the capo a lot, & Guitar Synth of course.

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

Matt – Feedback with tube amps.

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

Matt – No, & I thank God every day that I was never taught the pentatonic scale.

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

Matt – I would show them one of each type of effect & then playback a popular song that used that effect. I would also show them how to use delay without dialing it into the distant background like a pussy.

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

Matt – Haul around a ridiculous amount of gear, buy & learn to use a guitar synth, retune the guitars to Guess tuning, spend several weeks on end twisting knobs & figuring out the proper combination of pedals & the proper pedal order, pay close attention to reverb/compression, always keep up the drone, oh & worship the ground that the early ‘90s british shoegazers walked on of course.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Matt – Great idea. I wouldn’t want to be without one.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Matt – Never. I never really liked the range of it.

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

Matt – Do both at the same time (& sing) is my philosophy.

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

Matt – No, that would be equivalent to enjoying Joe Satriani.

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

Matt – Any Jazzmaster touched by Thurston Moore or Kevin Shields would be grand.

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

Matt – I do not know, I’m still stuck in the ‘80s. Tough question.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Matt – “Sunblind” from White Cascade EP

QRD – Anything else?

Matt – Thank you for your questions!