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QRD #57 - Guitarist Interview Series Part VII
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Francesco Candura
Justin O’Connor
C Joynes
Brandon W Pittman
Killick Hinds
Kyle Arthur Miller
Mark Wol
Dan West
Olaf Rupp
Lorne Hind
Mark Nelsen
Jordan Ferreira
Willy B
Andrè Erbyeah
Shane Handal
Interview Series Updates:
Andras Fekete
Martin Newman
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Brandon W Pittman
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Brandon W Pittman
Brandon W Pittman
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Brandon W Pittman
Guitarist Interview with Brandon W Pittman of when the word was (((sound)))
January 2013
Brandon W Pittman by Daniel Catro - http://danielcastrophotography.com/
Name: Brandon W Pittman
Bands: when the word was (((sound))), My Lover the Ghost
Websites: http://www.whenthewordwassound.com/, http://www.facebook.com/pages/When-the-Word-Was-Sound/255069950303?ref=hl, http://soundcloud.com/when-the-word-was-sound, http://wtwws.bigcartel.com/, http://www.facebook.com/mylovertheghosthttp://soundcloud.com/mylovertheghost

Listen to “Dayblink” by when the word was (((sound)))

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

Brandon – My first guitar was a late sixties harmony acoustic. It can still be found at my family’s home...

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

Brandon – It all starts with my G&L ASAT BluesBoy (I recently retired my beloved early 90s Fender Tele).... my pedals include a Loooper 3 way router (guitar & 2 keyboards in), Boss tuner, Digitech Whammy 1, 80s reissue IbanezTS9, Prescription Electronics Overdriver, ZVex Fuzz Factory, Big Muff, modded ProCo RAT, Boss EQ, Line 6 MM4, Digitech Space Station, Electro Harmonix Holy Grail plus reverb, 3 Line 6 DL4s, & a Digitech Jamman... I also split my signal out between a mid 90s VOX AC30 & a VOX Night Train  (with a 4x12 Peavey Cab).

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

Brandon – I would have to say from a tone perspective my G&L & VOX amps give me versatility & the tone I have sought for years. I do a great deal of looping with wtww(((s)))... so, I would have to say my DL4s are the key to my (((sound))).

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Brandon – VOX AC30 (or my Night Train... depending on the size of the venue)... they sound amazing & (again) give me the tonal versatility I need between projects.

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

Brandon – G&L ASAT BluesBoy... I can go from ambient, psychedelia, jazz, blues, country, metal, & beyond. Great sounding guitar all around.

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

Brandon – Hmm… probably a cross between a Telecaster, Jazzmaster, & a Gibson Thunderbird. I love all of these guitars & would love an instrument that would combine elements of each....

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

Brandon – It would definitely be some type of delay/looper... I would love one with programmable delay (that can be used when looping & after the loop) & a loop bank… basically a tweaked Strymon Timeline.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Brandon – Not enough….

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Brandon – Gig bags & hard cases. I store them in my studio.

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

Brandon – Wheels? LOL ... I don’t know….

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

Brandon – Definitely a comfortable neck & a “magic” tone that speaks to you. I always feel like the right guitar will let you know when you find it.

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

Brandon – I think value is important.… I hate seeing guitars that cost as much as a small car.... I could see a REALLY great, pro grade guitar selling for a grand.  But definitely not more than that….

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

Brandon – I am really lo-fi... I don’t like to tinker with things... I want an instrument that is ready & sounds proper from the beginning….

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

Brandon – I do a fair amount of research... mostly for finding a good price... I think it is important to sit with an instrument/piece of gear… make sure it fits your needs... & maybe most importantly... inspires one to create.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Brandon – Only if I add a new piece of equipment... & generally it isn’t too drastic of a reordering process. I try to keep things as straight forward as possible.

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

Brandon – For me it all depends on what sound I am trying to capture... I always try to be true to what I am playing. It really just depends on the picture I am trying to paint (musically speaking).

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

Brandon – I  LOVE old Telecasters, Jazzmasters & Firebirds... & I would really love to get my hands on the new  Telemaster. I also would love to have a Matchless Chieftan amp (they sound brilliant). As for pedals... I adore pedals in general. I could list about 50 I would REALLY like to add to the arsenal!

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

Brandon – I think it is more important for a first guitar to feel “right” for a new player than any one specific feature. In other words, the instrument should inspire the player as well as be comfortable to learn on....

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

Brandon – It would definitely be the Ibanez EX series guitar I bought when I was 14... I went for value over function... that guitar was not made for me….

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

Brandon – I really like G&L, VOX, Digitech, Zvex, & I am loving what Strymon is doing. Just need to save my pennies before I can invest in their product.  As for why, I think they sound inventive & interesting while still being musical. They sound great....

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

Brandon – Whatever comes out…. I try not to repeat myself too often….

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

Brandon – I started when I was 12, but really became serious about learning/playing around the age of 14.

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

Brandon – I think I was definitely faster/more proficient as young man. However, I think over the last few years, I have become more versatile stylistically & have learned that space & tension are wonderful tools.

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

Brandon – I would say the connection between my guitar & “inner voice”. The fact that it is more like singing than trying to play an instrument. It just feels right.

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

Brandon – I think piano is a great starter as well. It really helps to see the way scales, chords, & the basic theory structure is set up. Again, I am more of the notion that one should play what they feel & take a natural approach to music.

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

Brandon – It should always be an ally, in my opinion... but perhaps one that provides a little strife at times….

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

Brandon – Cream era Clapton, Jimmy Page, Django,  Nels Cline, Jim Campilongo, Ian Moore, Jonny Greenwood, & Ed O’Brien.

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

Brandon – I generally name mine... so I would hope it doesn’t seem silly!

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

Brandon – Oh… I hate to admit it... but I snapped the neck on that old Ibanez.… It wasn’t on purpose... just kind of gave it a “thump” on the floor (on the body) & the neck split on a bias. Hate to destroy gear, but that guitar was horrible….

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

Brandon – I practice the tunes we are working on for my new project (My Lover the Ghost). Build loops & soundscapes to play over when practicing, or practice a particular style (i.e. jazz, blues, etc.).

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

Brandon – Not nearly enough... maybe 3.5 to 4..?  I would like to play at least an hour a day... seems like that would be simple enough, eh?  As they say... “not enough hours in a day...”

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

Brandon – I use Dunlop Tortex .50 & .60mm picks.  I like them because they are neither too hard nor too soft.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Brandon – I generally use TNT Boomer 11s... I need a heavier string with a bit of resistance... I dislike overly slinky (easily bent) strings.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Brandon – I play pretty aggressively.  Depending on how aggressively... I generally get a gig & 1 to 2 practices out of a set.
QRD – How often do you break strings?

Brandon – I used to break strings almost every gig when I was younger.  Now, I rarely break them... I find it is more a matter of wearing them down until they lose tone & sustain.

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

Brandon – I think my fretting hand is a bit more proficient... but I don’t feel my strumming hand hinders me in any capacity... I feel comfortable enough with both hands to play what I feel.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Brandon – I use standard, drop D, & I enjoy DADDAD & a variety of open tunings.... I enjoy the variety of tone & texture open tunings can provide.

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

Brandon – When I compose I generally don’t use traditional chords... I piece things together & use a lot of chord fragments.  I find these type of variations sound a little more interesting...

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

Brandon – I find it most comfortable when the pickups of the guitar are around navel height.

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

Brandon – I wish I would have practiced string skipping exercises a bit more as a young player.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?

Brandon – I would imagine playing violin would bring a great deal of technique & style to playing guitar.

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

Brandon – Maybe  a bit of turbo chicken picking.  Those country cats are lightning fast... all while playing so clean.

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

Brandon – Definitely my ebow... I also use a real bow at times... I enjoy playing slide as well (sometimes using slide & ebow together).

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

Brandon – A few different times as a teenager & I took 2 semesters of lessons in college. I learned a great deal in each phase... not always in a theory setting... but I learned valuable lessons in approach… for me that is a major key... I believe more in what you say than what you can play.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?

Brandon – I would definitely teach from more of a “zen” perspective... approach, intent… that type of process.

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

Brandon – Play what you feel... even when emulating... always play what you feel....

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Brandon – I love what Nels Cline does with tremolo.  Absolutely divine.  It really depends on how it is used.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Brandon – Not too often.  I will dial it down when going for a jazzy tone & pump up the treble if I want to get a more country twang.

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

Brandon – I suppose just the ability to articulate melody & play out... I have always thought of rhythm players as a player who simply plays chords or basic riffs.

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

Brandon – No.  The music has to compliment... flow as a whole.

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

Brandon – Oh... that is a tough one.  I think I would rather let them keep their babies.  I think the relationship between owner & instrument is an almost sacred bond... capable of some sort of magic.... I would rather listen to them play their own.

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

Brandon – DEFINITELY Mr. Nels Cline... he can do it all & he does it so beautifully... a complete master of his craft.  The way he blends styles, modes, noise, loops, chops, texture... hands down... he is the best alive, in my opinion.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Brandon – I would have to say in when the word was (((sound)))’s live show... but as far as recordings go... Dayblink (resurface) is a good example of what I do.  My approach is more sonic than straight forward. I try to paint pictures as opposed to “rock out”.  I actually enjoy when people can’t figure out how/what I am doing.

Official Website of when the world was (((sound)))