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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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Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Guitarist Interview with Shawn Lawson Freeman
June 2012
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Listen to “The Silent Observer” by Shawn Lawson Freeman

Name: Shawn Lawson Freeman
Bands: Beneath Wind and Waves, The Weak Knees (playing drums)
Websites: www.beneathwindandwaves.com

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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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 fun.

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

Shawn – 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.)?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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?

Shawn – 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!