with Jim Walker
Name: Jim Walker
Bands: Tim & Jim, JVA
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.