QRD - Current Issue   About QRD   QRD Archives
QRD #69 - a little bit of everything
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
about this issue

Feature Interviews:
Nick Marino

Guitarist Interviews:
Trey McManus
Ryan Potter
Jonathon Trevillien

Comic Creator Interviews:
Sarah Roark

Comic Shop Interviews:
Legends Comics & Books
Modern Myths
Third Eye

QRD - Martin Newman
QRD - Advertise
Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Silber Kickstarter
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
Guitarist Interview with Ryan Potter of The Scrapes
September 2014
Ryan Potter
Name: Ryan Potter
Bands: The Maryettas, The Scrapes
Websites: themaryettas.bandcamp.com, planetofthescrapes.bandcamp.com

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

Ryan – My first guitar was a very cheap nylon string one & I think it must have been given to a friend

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

Ryan – It depends who I’m playing with, but usually I go from the guitar to a ClinchFX TxFuzz, to a Hotcake overdrive, a tuner, a Boss RE20XL loop pedal & then a VanAmps Sole-Mate reverb. I avoid going through the loop pedal if I don’t need it.

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

Ryan – Probably the amp - that’s where all the sound comes out of. But I don’t think I rely on any one piece of equipment.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Ryan – A Vase Trendsetter 40. It’s an old one from the 60s with two separate channels so with The Scrapes we can run guitar through one channel & violin through the other. In this way both instruments go through the same tremolo of the amp, which we use for effect quite a lot.

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

Ryan – It’s called a Solist. It’s a 60s Japanese hollowbody - kind of a Gretsch copy with a Bigsby. The neck pickup is original, but at some stage someone put a P90 in the bridge. It looks as though it has been modified a fair bit over the years with different bridges, pickguards, etc.

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

Ryan – If not completely hollow than at least hollow chambers - I like the fullness in the sound from hollow guitars, the bass & the kind of feedback you get. I think it would be unpainted - leaving exposed wood & it would have to have a whammy bar. I like the Bigsby, but I also like the Strat style ones. Probably P90 pickups.

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

Ryan – I would love a pedal that makes crazy feedback without the amp having to be too loud... I’m not sure if this already exists, but it would be great.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Ryan – I think around 6, but there might be a few more around. The Solist, a Squier Strat, a Bolero steel string acoustic, a Fender Jaguar, a Rickenbacker 360 & a nylon string.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Ryan – I have 3 at home - the Bolero, the Solist, & the Strat. The electrics stay in their cases & the acoustic I have next to the bed so I can play it whenever I feel like. The others are in storage at the moment. They’re guitars that I don’t want to sell but they don’t get played regularly, so they’ll stay there until I have more room.

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

Ryan – If they could be strong enough to withstand baggage handlers, be lightweight & not take up any extra room, that would be great.

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

Ryan – Something with character & something different from what I already have. The guitars I have are great, so if I bought another one it would have to offer something special that my current guitars don’t have.

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

Ryan – I think $1000 for a guitar is a good price if it’s well made & you’re going to use it a lot - good tone, good feel, & a bit of character. I would pay more for a guitar custom made for me, but otherwise anything close to $2000 is too expensive.

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

Ryan – With the Solist I have left it how it is because I knew what I wanted before I found it & it came along at the right time. The Jaguar & Strat I have continually been upgrading & customising - different bridges, altering the vibrato set-ups a lot, fiddling with the electronics & pickups. The Rickenbacker is all original.

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

Ryan – Quite a lot of research for effects & then testing as much as I can. But with guitars I have always just bought them when the opportunity came along - if they were sitting in a store when I walked in & I had some money or they were a gift or I bought it from a friend. The amp was a gift & I really like it, so I’ve just stuck with it.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Ryan – I have changed it around a lot over the years, but for the last year it’s been settled & I’m happy with it.

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

Ryan – I don’t have certain settings that I always stick to, I change it around all the time. I’ve worked out a few different settings that I like for each of the pedals & I decide how I’ll have them before each show. There aren’t really any settings on my amp & for the guitar the most I do is change between bridge & neck pickups.

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

Ryan – I would love one of the new Vase combos. I have been playing my Vase for 8 years now & have never had any problems with it, but it would be nice to have something smaller & lighter. I like to choose something locally made if there’s an option.

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

Ryan – I think people should learn on acoustic guitars - you learn a lot more about guitars than you would if you started on an electric.

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

Ryan – My Bolero acoustic guitar I got by my father trading a coffee table for it & it’s one of the best acoustic guitars I’ve played! The worst is probably the Crowther Prunes & Custard pedal. I got it because I love the Hotcake, but I’ve never been able to find a way to work the Prunes & Custard into my sound.

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

Ryan – I like locally made stuff. All the old Australian made amps I like. There’s no guitars or amps that I particularly dis-like I think everything has its place.

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

Ryan – Normally the A string. Then some really slow chords, so you can hear every note & all the strings ringing together - that’s a good way to get a guitar’s sound really quickly.

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

Ryan – Around 10.

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

Ryan – I don’t think I have. I’m always shifting my focus towards different things. At the moment I’m not nearly as fast or precise as I used to be, but my ear is so much better I know how to get what I want & what to play when. I’m getting better at playing to bring out the musicians around me.

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

Ryan – It’s such a social instrument. I used to play saxophone as well, but in high school I stopped because there weren’t the same opportunities to play it with friends. The guitar is so easy to play along with other people.

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

Ryan – I think if someone falls in love with the sound of any instrument they should learn that. I don’t think the guitar is as inspiring to listen to as violin or saxophone, but you can get a good understanding of music through the guitar & it’s probably easier.

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

Ryan – I would say it’s my ally. We definitely have to work together, even if sometimes it takes a bit of convincing for it to do what I want.

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

Ryan – I have loved Neil Young for quite a while. I love the really messy soloists like Neil Young, Tom Verlaine, Robert Quine, Gareth Liddiard & Jeff Tweedy on A Ghost is Born. I like Blixa Bargeld’s style & I like the old blues guitarists. R.L Burnside, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo Diddley are all great. Mick Turner changed the way I play a lot. I love Link Wray too.

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

Ryan – I’ve never done it but I don’t have a problem with it.

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

Ryan – I’ve never really smashed a guitar or anything. The most damage I’ve done is probably to myself - playing too hard for too long after dropping a pick & slicing up all my fingers. Then the guitar gets covered in blood & damaged that way.

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

Ryan – Nothing!

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

Ryan – I play for probably 5 hours a week on average - sometimes more & sometimes less. I think that’s a good amount for me to play.

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

Ryan – Most of the time I prefer a fairly hard plastic pick & recently I’ve been using a metal thumb pick, but I haven’t got to a level with that where I’m completely comfortable yet.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Ryan – Normally just 10s. I like the sound of heavier gauged strings, but I want to be able to stretch them, twist them, bend them around.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Ryan – Around every two to three months, which normally coincides with an important show or recording.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Ryan – Quite rarely. Maybe a couple of times a year.

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

Ryan – At the moment I’d say my strumming hand because I’m working a lot trying to create interesting rhythms.

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Ryan – I normally only get it set up when I have something modified & then I get the guitar repairer to do it.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Ryan – Normally I start in standard & when it calls for it I change. I play in drop D, & open B mostly. In open B you can get a huge bass sound & I tune the highest pitch strings both to the same B, but slightly out of tune so you can play phase-y melodies that sound a bit sitar-like.

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

Ryan – I never really write parts down unless it’s a chord progression to go with some lyrics.

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

Ryan – Medium length? Just so it’s comfortable - just so my fingering hand is not too cramped up or stretched out at the wrist.

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

Ryan – I don’t always play in the timing/phrasing that I intend to so I would like to improve on that.

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?

Ryan – I don’t really play any other instruments, but I’d like to play saxophone again.

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

Ryan – I wish I could play the old blues fingerpicking stuff, I can never get the rhythm & feel quite right.

QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?

Ryan – The feel of the old blues players & to be able to improvise at length creatively. I can improvise, but after a while it’s hard to keep it fresh & interesting. I’d like to play a pedal steel too.

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

Ryan – I often play with a metal file. You can play chromatically & because you’re not picking you get long sustained notes like a raspy violin.

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

Ryan – I had guitar lessons from when I was 10 until when I was 17 & I learnt mostly classical playing - fingerpicking, scales, chord shapes, how to read music, & every so often I would learn a contemporary tune.

QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?

Ryan – I would get students to start improvising as soon as possible - with a little understanding of scales.

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

Ryan – I think my timing is pretty loose so they could do that. & I play quite sparsely.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo/vibrato systems?

Ryan – I like ones that give you a big change in pitch. I like the Strat style vibrato the best.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Ryan – It’s mostly turned to the brightest setting & when it’s not it’s turned to the bassiest setting - I change it to get one sound or another but I don’t really fine tune it to any sweet spot or anything.

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

Ryan – A rhythm guitarist should set the feel of the song, while the lead player needs to be lyrical.

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

Ryan – Sometimes... If there’s any element of a band that is amazing, a great singer, a great guitarist, violinist, saxophonist, organist, I can ignore the rest of the band & lock on to what I like.

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

Ryan – Either Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitar because he’s one of my songwriting heroes, or Neil Young’s Old Black - that guitar has played some of my favorite guitar solos & seems to have some kind of magic to it.

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

Ryan – I’m not really sure... I think I’ve become a bit stuck looking towards the past.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Ryan – The Maryettas album Great Australian Rope Trick is the best example of my lead playing & ‘rock’ style playing while anything by The Scrapes shows the looser, improvised, experimental kind of playing.