with Shawn Lawson Freeman
to “The Silent Observer” by Shawn Lawson Freeman
Name: Shawn Lawson Freeman
Bands: Beneath Wind and Waves, The Weak Knees (playing drums)
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Shawn – Left-Handed Hohner HW 440 Acoustic Electric. I still have it & it’s my main acoustic guitar.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
– I’m either playing the Hohner acoustic or an Ibanez Artcore AF85L
through a Boss Chromatic Tuner – Line 6 Crunchtone distortion pedal –
Ibanez DE7 Delay/Echo pedal – DOD FX 96 Analog Delay/Echo pedal to an
Orange Crush 15 Amp.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
– Well… I guess I’d have to say the guitar, because if I didn’t have
that, then there really isn’t much need for the other things.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
– I have a Line 6 Flextone Amp. But a friend left the little Orange
Crush 15 at the house & I love the sound of it, plus it’s much
easier to carry.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
– It’s been the Hohner acoustic, just because that’s what I initially
have been learning & writing everything on & it’s comfortable.
But, I’ve been playing the Ibanez Artcore electric more frequently
& actually used it in the studio for the first time on a new song
called “The Silent Observer.”
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Shawn – Don’t have the desire for a signature guitar (or pedal).
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Shawn – 4 - A Hohner & Ibanez acoustic. & an Ibanez Artcore & a Fender Telecaster.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Shawn – At my house & either in the cases or out depending on what I’m playing.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Shawn – I’m happy with all my cases, unless you can put a time machine in them?
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Shawn – Usually feel & can I afford it?
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Shawn – I have no idea. Or? Whatever someone is willing to pay?
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Shawn – I had the bridge pinned on the Artcore so that changing strings would be easier.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
– Well, being that I’m left handed my choices are pretty limited,
especially when it comes to actually testing/hearing the instrument.
So, that kind of just leaves me reading reviews &/or crossing my
fingers that it’s the right feel & sound I want.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Shawn – Not really. Keep it simple!
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Shawn – See above.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Shawn – I try not to lust after anything in life!
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Shawn – A built-in tuner would be handy & instructions on how to change strings.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
– I love my Hohner acoustic & the Artcore! I actually got a really
nice Martin acoustic as a gift, but ended up selling it because it just
didn’t sound as good as the Hohner. & the Ibanez acoustic I rarely
use & is mainly just a back up.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Shawn – I think there are a ton of great companies out there making great products & it’s all just personal preference.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Shawn – Usually whatever I’m currently working on or I just sort of mess around & see if anything cool happens.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
– I got the acoustic about nine years ago, but it just kind of
collected dust & I didn’t really start playing it until about five
years ago, so that would be at age 37. Yep…I’m old.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Shawn – I’m not even close to being the best at anything.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Shawn – I’m actually much more comfortable with the drums than I’ll probably ever be with the guitar.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Shawn – I think you should play whatever instrument you’re drawn to & moves you.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Shawn – I would say ally, otherwise it would be really difficult to try & write songs.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
– I learn a lot from anyone I play with regardless of his or her
ability or level of playing. My friend Jim Walker is very encouraging
& supportive & owns the studio where I record at &
collaborates extensively on my songs & is a big influence & can
play any style or genre. There’s a lot of love at Studio Five-One-Five
here in Portland & I believe you need that from others, whatever it
is that you’re doing in life. It keeps you motivated & excited!
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Shawn – If people want to name things, whatever that may be it’s no concern of mine.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
– Oh… I was walking with my acoustic & accidentally hit the side of
it against a metal doorjamb & took a nice chunk out of the edge.
Adds character I guess.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Shawn – I just started taking lessons a month ago, so I try to practice what my teacher & I have been going over.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
– 10 hours a week is probably average, which I’m happy with. But,
sometimes I play more or sometimes less depending on my schedule.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Shawn – I like the Dunlop .60MM. Rigid but still a bit flexible.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Shawn – I use Martin FX mediums on my acoustics & Ernie Ball Super Slinky medium/heavy on my electrics.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Shawn – Often on my acoustic because I seem to break them & every few months on my electric, unless I break them as well.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Shawn – I’m not sure that I have a style, nor do I feel very proficient at either.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Shawn – I have no idea how to do a set up, so I take it to someone.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
– Standard; or tuned down a half or whole step; & lately I’ve been
using Drop D & sometimes tuning that down also, which is a lot of
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
– I don’t really know chords, but I hand write all the lyric ideas
& guitar changes in my own weird way on notebook paper so that I’ll
have some sort of recollection of what I’m doing.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Shawn – Wherever it’s comfortable. Not sure if that’s high or low?
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Shawn – Getting overly excited & breaking strings. Just playing too hard in general.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Shawn – I would think that playing any other instrument would be helpful in one way or another.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Shawn – I don’t think it’s necessarily any type, but I wish I had better technique.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Shawn – To understand how the guitar actually works?
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Shawn – No tricks up this sleeve….
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc.)?
– I used a capo a lot when I first started playing, but have been using
it less now. & I think the ebow adds an interesting effect.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Shawn – Any of them?
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Shawn – I just started & have had a few lessons & what I’ve learned is that, “Oh my, I have a lot to learn.”
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
– Learn what you can from others, but more importantly remember to
always be yourself. & a lot of times simplicity is much more
effective than over playing.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Shawn – I know very little, so if there is a need to emulate, then I would suggest it be someone else.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Shawn – I don’t use it, but it’s a cool sound.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Shawn – Depends if I’m playing acoustic or electric & whom I’m playing with.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Shawn – This is sort of a loaded question & one I think I’ll opt out on answering.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Shawn – Sorry, but no.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
– I’d pick Blake Schwarzenbach from the band Jawbreaker because I’m a
big fan & he’s left-handed as well, so I’d at least be able to play
the thing as opposed to just staring at it or hanging it on the wall.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Shawn – There are too many talented folks out there doing cool things to name.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Shawn – Check back in about ten years or so.
QRD – Anything else?
Shawn – Thanks for having me!