with Grégory Duby of Jesus Is My Son
Name: Grégory Duby
Bands: Jesus is my son, Zoho (previous band: K-branding, The Invisible Frog)
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Grégory – My first guitar was an unbranded Les Paul copy. I sold it some months later & bought an Ibanez 440R. I still have the Ibanez. It is the only guitar on which I’ve made some changes: removed one pickup, changed the two other ones, blocked one way of the tremolo, & added a fret zero. I still play it.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Grégory – It depends on the project.
For Jesus is my son, I try to use as little as possible: SG (tuned in C) directly in a clean sound Fender amp (silver face Twin Reverb, Princeton Reverb,…).
For the other projects, the guitar may change: The SG, the Ibanez 440R, but most of the time it is with an Ibanez 2660 LP copy. About the effects, some pedals come & go. Some others are more stable like: the BD-2, LS-2, TR-2, DD5 or DD6 from Boss & a ring modulator from Electro Harmonix. I’ve also got an ebow, some nails, some keyrings, & a piezo pickup. The amp is any clean tube amp with enough headroom.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Grégory – For Jesus is my son, it’s first the amp, then the guitar.
When I play improvised music, the most important are the ebow, the ring modulator, & the objects.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Grégory – Too many. Most of them just stay in their case. I have some difficulties selling guitars I used to play. For the moment I’ve got 6 guitars & 4 amps.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Grégory – I always tune the guitar down, put on heavy strings, & set the action high. Playing in E with a light set of strings, it’s just a nightmare for me. That’s why I really hate to test instruments in a shop. Anyway, I always try to buy used instruments. The only upgrade I did is on my 440R. I put a fret zero & that was a great idea. The pickup change was done just to test.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Grégory – I always try to have a clear set “guitar+effects+objects” per project. It’s important to me that my sound is clearly defined & different from one project to another. I prefer to go deeply into one specific tone than losing myself in pedals.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Grégory – I started at 14 years if I remember correctly.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Grégory – I stopped practicing technical exercises 8 years ago. Now, I don’t care about being a good guitarist. I’m more interested in composition. My technique is enough to play what I want.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Grégory – First of all, it’s Derek Bailey & Keith Rowe. Then, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Leonard Cohen on his first albums, Ry Cooder on Paris-Texas, Jean-François Pauvros playing with a poet, Nels Cline on Interstellar Space Revisited, Richard Lee Johnson on The legend of Verman McAlister, Keiji Haino....
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Grégory – I’m tired of doing exercises. To improve my playing I learn songs/pieces I like. For the moment, I’m really into classical guitar stuff. I’m learning pieces from Bach & Erik Satie. I’m also reading a book on Arnold Schönberg & there is a book on Olivier Messiaen on my shelf. These books do not improve my playing, but really influence the way I hear music & compose. It’s a good source of inspiration.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Grégory – I try to play at least one hour per day. I love to play early in the morning before going to work. To wake up by playing some long songs, it’s so wonderful. If I found enough time & energy to play 3 hours per day, it’d be perfect. I also take a period of time to think about my music: rearrange new songs, thinking about how to make new weird sounds with the instrument, how to achieve some gestures with less efforts.... These reflections are as important as effectively playing the instrument.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Grégory – When the guitar is tuned in Eb, it’s an 11-52 gauge string set. The SG tuned in C has a 13-56 set.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Grégory – As little as possible. I really hate to do it. Most of the time it’s when it’s too late. Even for a concert it’s hard for me to find the motivation to do a change. I only make an effort when I have to record & then change the strings one week before.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Grégory – Some years ago, I would have said that my strumming hand was my best hand because I played a lot of fast riffs or just attacked the strings as hard as I could. Now I’m more interested in feeling the strings moving under my left hand & bending the note by only pressing a little bit more on the string. Maybe that’s why I love to have the action high. So, today, the hand that influences my sound the most is my left hand.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Grégory – I use & abuse ebows in my improvised projects now. Actually, I started to use this gadget some months ago. I love slides too, but I sound too bluesy when I use one. So I do not really play with one live.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Grégory – I love to play without picks. Just with fingers. I’d like to control the velocity of each of my fingers independently. For the moment, I master it with only two fingers.
QRD – Anything else?
Grégory – Let me think.