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QRD #55 - Guitarist Interview Series VI
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Mason Jones
Chris Wade
Corbie Hill
Davy Curci
Matt Northrup
Xavier Dubois
Tony Sagger
Rich Bennett
Jonas Munk
Matthew Eyles
Francesco “fuzz” Brasini
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Jacques LaMore
Curran Faris
Sean Fewell
Ryan Scally
Shawn Steven
Sophia Johnson
Mick Barr
Joshua Heinrich
Jim Walker
Jacob Peck
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Guitarist Interview with Jim Walker
June 2012
Jim Walker
Name: Jim Walker
Bands: Tim & Jim, JVA
Websites: www.jvamusic.com

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

Jim – 12 years old. Epiphone Les Paul. I often wonder what happened to that guitar.

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

Jim – Norman acoustic guitar (just a beater). I don’t want to take a really good guitar out on a gig. I have a 1965 Hofner acoustic at home for recording. The Norman’s just something I can pound on. I have a BOSS pedal board that contains; BOSS Tuner, BOSS reverb, BOSS delay, BOSS octave divider, BOSS tremolo. That gets plugged right into our Peavey PA head.

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

Jim – Guitar. The Norman has a lot of bottom end. The other guy I play with is Tim Ellis. He plays much more of the top end & color notes. I just brace myself to the guitar & hold down the rhythm, steady as I can.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Jim – I rarely play electric live, but in the studio I use a Fender Deluxe reverb I bought in 1982.

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

Jim – See above. In the studio I have a Fender Telecaster from 1982 (bought it with the amp!). It’s always had an intonation problem that no one seems to be able to fix. So I also have a Stratocaster for other things.

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

Jim – I don’t think about things like that. :)

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Jim – 5.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Jim – In a safe, dry place.

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

Jim – I think they work great.

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

Jim – Bottom end that’s not woofy, just warm & feels good. I rarely play above the 5th fret, so my concentration is on the low notes. I should have been a bass player, but the guitar feels better to me.

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

Jim – They should be cheap enough so every kid in the world can afford one. Everybody should be able to make some music.

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

Jim – I have certain pickups I like for acoustic guitars. Every one of my guitars eventually needs a fret job because I beat them unmerciful.

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

Jim – Every guitar I own has been an impulse buy. I’m also the guy that buys Chap Stick & Sharpies while standing in line at the market.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Jim – Rarely. If it ain’t broke.…

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

Jim – I lock in to the sound with my front teeth & never let it go.

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

Jim – A sunburst Les Paul like Jimmy Page had in The Song Remains the Same. A sea-foam green Fender Mustang like Elvis Costello’s.

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

Jim – Fingers, as often as possible.

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

Jim – I bought an acoustic/electric bass for recording purposes that felt & sounded great at the store. I brought it home & found that the whole thing had terrible intonation. I put it in a dry, safe place & have never looked at it again. Just ate shit on that one.

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

Jim – I’m not very brand loyal. If it feels & sounds good, there you go.

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

Jim – G Major chord.

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

Jim – 11 years old.

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

Jim – About 25. Been downhill ever since.

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

Jim – I’m a songwriter first & foremost, way more so than a guitar player. The acoustic guitar fits my mood.

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

Jim – I’m not sure how to answer that.

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

Jim – Ally.

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

Jim – David Gilmour, Mike Campbell, Jeff Baxter, Elliot Randall, Steve Howe.

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

Jim – Whatever floats your boat, man.

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

Jim – In my old electric band, my bass player & I used to do something we’d introduce as FRICTION. I’d turn on my distortion & the bass player & I would rub the necks of our guitars together, sawing away, making an ungodly racket. We thought it was funny. The audience thought it sucked.

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

Jim – I play so many gigs I don’t have time to practice. If I’m going to spend my time doing anything, it’s memorizing lyrics.

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

Jim – About 16-20 hours a week. I think that’s enough.

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

Jim – A Clayton 1.26mm. Because it’s the thickest & largest pick I can find. Like I said, I pound on the guitar.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Jim – Acoustic - D-addario Jazz Medium. Electric - Ernie Ball Super Slinkys.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Jim – Before every gig.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Jim – Once every couple of months.

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

Jim – Strumming hand. I’m a rhythm guy.

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

Jim – To a tech. I don’t know anything about the guitar other than how to play it.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Jim – Standard tuning, because if I used other tunings, I’d have to tune more, & I hate tuning. It’s a good way to watch your life seep away.

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

Jim – Used to be I carried a little mini cassette player back in the day. Now I use the voice memo app on my Iphone. Sounds great.

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

Jim – Tit height.

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

Jim – Playing a G Major chord every time I pickup a guitar.

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

Jim – Piano. It’s a whole different muscle set to use.

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

Jim – Old jazz; Charlie Christian, Joe Pass, Barney Kessell. It’s just not in me, but I love to listen.

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

Jim – Playing above the 5th fret.

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

Jim – That a pick rake sounds better when you rake UP the neck, but looks cooler when you rake DOWN the neck.

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

Jim – Ebow, definitely

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

Jim – Ragtime blues like Rev. Gary Davis.

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

Jim – I took one year of classical guitar, & one year of jazz guitar. I learned all the fundamentals of music. I forget what they are now, but I’m sure it was very educational.

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

Jim – How to play a song. That’s what people want to learn. The fundamentals will come eventually, but to be able to play a song is so damn empowering when you start off. Being able to do that makes you want to learn more.

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

Jim – Lock the guitar in place with your forearm & pick the low strings like a machine gun.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Jim – Sure I’ll take one.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Jim – Endlessly.

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

Jim – Girls, versus less girls.

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

Jim – No. If it sucks there’s no ignoring it.

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

Jim – Frank Zappa’s SG. Because Frank is my hero.

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

Jim – Buckethead. Because he’s a great guitar player, but he also has a bucket on his head. He’s taken it to a new place, see?

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Jim – I have 17 CDs out. You can hear samples of everything at my website; www.jvamusic.com

QRD – Anything else?

Jim – Always bring a book, there’s always a line.