with Gary Murray
Name: Gary Murray
Bands: Gary Murray & LN, (eighteen twelve)
Websites: GMandLN.com, garymurray.bandcamp.com
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Gary – My first guitar was an Alvarez Classic Custom. I still have it & play it.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Gary – Usually an Alvarez Classic Custom into 2 Alesis Nanoverbs into an Ampeg Reverberocket.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Gary – Certainly the guitar.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Gary – Ampeg Reverberockets meet most of my needs.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Gary – Alvarez Classic Customs are my favorite guitars. They made a certain model for a year or so back in the 90s. It’s a Dana design, but not a “scoop”. I love everything about them, the weight, the tone, neck & scale length. They are workhorses, nearly unbreakable, inexpensive. They hold alternate tuning extremely well & have a great all around sound. On the acoustic side, I play my custom made Kopp Paloma Hybrid. It was designed exclusively around my playing style & just feels “right” in every sense of the word.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Gary – Most would say the Alvarez’s I own are my signature guitar. I play them almost exclusively.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Gary – I rarely use pedals, but I guess my Malekko analog delay would be my pedal of choice.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Gary – I have 9 right now. 5 identical Alvarez Classic Customs, a Martin D-1, Kopp Betty Swing Archtop & a Kopp Paloma Hybrid acoustic/electric.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Gary – Right now, the ones that aren’t being used are cased & stacked in a corner of my studio.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Gary – Built in ashtrays.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Gary – $200.00 I usually refuse to pay more for one.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Gary – I usually block off a tremolo if it has one. I use so many different tunings that tremolos are useless for me.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Gary – I’ll play around with something. I don’t do much research though. If I like it & think I’ll actually use it, then I’ll buy it.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Gary – Not very often. Depending on venue size or who I’m playing with, there are slight changes.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Gary – I have a fairly consistent tone with most guitars.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Gary – Nothing at the moment.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Gary – I think people usually go for cheap beginner guitars & that’s a mistake. You can find great guitars that will stay with you for a lifetime for the same price as these “throwaway” starter guitars. I always suggest that people buy something real & solid.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Gary – I’m picky about what I buy, so there hasn’t been any “worst” purchases. The best purchase has been my Nanoverbs I think.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Gary – That depends on which tuning I’m in.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Gary – I started late in life. I didn’t buy my first guitar until I was 19.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Gary – I think I played my best at the beginning. Everything was new & fresh & exciting then. The more you learn the better you get, but the exploration & excitement fades a bit it seems.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Gary – The range of sounds that are possible.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Gary – I guess that really depends on the individual.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Gary – Definitely an ally.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Gary – I’m sure there are influences that come through, but I’ve never tried to emulate anyone with my playing or sound.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Gary – All my guitars have names. I do find it silly, but I like silliness.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Gary – I broke a tuning peg off my first Alvarez by throwing it & jumping on it. That was back in my punk rock days. Goes to show how solid those guitars are.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Gary – If I’m playing live for other projects, then I listen a lot to their recordings. Other than that, I simply play when I want to play.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Gary – Time varies. Sometimes I go days without touching a guitar.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Gary – I primarily fingerpick, but when I do use a pick its usually a .60 MM Dunlop nylon. I like the way they sound on the strings.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Gary – On the electrics I use 12s in flat-wounds. I slide around a lot & I’m not a fan of string noise. The acoustics are usually strung up with Martin XP 12s.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Gary – It depends.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Gary – Rarely.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Gary – I think my strumming/picking hand effects my style more.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Gary – I have a guitar tech.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Gary – I use several different tunings. For me it just adds excitement when writing & playing. I’ll often write something in one tuning & learn it in others.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Gary – I have my own secret code when first writing something or learning other artist’s songs that I will play live.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Gary – I usually hold mine rather low.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Gary – Nothing I can think of.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Gary – Anything.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Gary – Air guitar. I just look really stupid doing that.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Gary – Nothing I can think of as far as goals.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Gary – Capo cutting.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Gary – I use a capo a lot, so that’s my choice.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Gary – I’m pretty happy with most techniques I’ve tried.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Gary – Never in a real lesson setting. I’ve learned things from many of the guitarists I’ve played with over the years.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Gary – Not to be so strict & formulaic. Experiment & explore & find your own style.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Gary – Forget how to play :)
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Gary – I don’t like them for the reasons listed above.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Gary – Quite a bit.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Gary – No difference for me.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Gary – No. Everything has to work as a whole... & the most important part is the song itself.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Gary – None that I can think of.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Gary – I love Mick Turner’s guitar work. There are a lot of musicians out there that I admire, but again the songs or compositions matter more than the playing to me.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Gary – I guess my best work lies in the ear of the listener.
QRD – Anything else?
Gary – I think that sums it up.