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DTC Interview for Kramer Guitars


1. When did you start playing guitar?

I consider that I officially started playing in high school. Even though there was a guitar around the house previously I didn't really start practicing until high school. I played bass for awhile then went back to guitar full time. Once I started I became very serious. I went nearly 20 years without missing a single day where I did not play guitar for at least one hour. The streak was broken due to bad weather and my flight being diverted to another airport where I had to spend the night in the airport without a guitar.

2. Who are your greatest influences?

That is a very hard question to answer. I have been influenced by so many different people in different styles of music but no single individual or band has been extensively emulated. I will list some here but there are many more; Allan Holdsworth, Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, Tommy Bolin, Kansas, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Uli Roth, early ZZ Top, Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie, Dio, Di Meola, Hendrix, Cream, early Zeppelin, AC/DC. With that said I don't think my music really sounds like any of them.

3. What advice would you offer other guitarists looking to improve their playing?

Practice and practice with either a metronome or a drum machine. Try to be original. Listen to everything but copy nothing. Even when I first started playing I always did lots of original music. When we did do cover songs I always played my own solos. I think jamming is a great way to improve your playing. Of course learn as much as you can about music theory. An instructor would be a great help if they teach things other than just playing a Pearl Jam song. As strange as it may seem I have never had a guitar lesson. I have studied theory for years but I have always wanted to be my own man. I have no desire to sound like someone else. I also strongly suggest getting the best playing guitar you can afford. That is one reason it took me so long to start was that the acoustic guitar that was around my house in the early days was unplayable. A good guitar will be easier to play and will sound better. Therefore you will feel more inspired to play and will progress at a much faster pace.

4. Tell us a little bit about your latest project/work?

My most recent release is from one of my metal bands ZANISTER and the new Cd is called "Fear No Man." That Cd also features guitarist Michael Harris who is really a monster. That band plays more traditional metal in the vein of older Iron Maiden, Priest, Chastain and Dio. I enjoy the double guitar attack in this format. The release before that one was SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN "Exotic Dancer Blues" which was a heavy blues rock Cd that is the best reviewed Cd on my career.

5. What's coming up?

My next release is an all instrumental Cd called "Rock Solid Guitar" which will be released under my name. That is a real inspired sounding Cd that in reality was more of a jam session that turned into a really hot piece of music. That is the type of music that I most enjoy playing. I find that I usually play more inspired leads the first time I do something than playing it over and over again. I also have started a new internet music company called Diginet Music, that will be releasing a lot of my quirky and previously unavailable stuff that has accumulated over the years. Also a new CHASTAIN band Cd is in the works. Plus I will be laying down tracks for a new SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN Cd that will probably hit the streets in early 2002. So all in all I will have tons of new stuff in 2001.

6. What equipment are you using now?

A slew of old and new Kramer guitars played either through a Marshall Valvestate and/or a POD. Nothing in between the guitars and the amps.

7. What do you like about the old and the NEW Kramer guitars?

I have a couple of old Pacer's that have been with me for about 15 years that I used on most every release through the years. They have lacquered necks that have always felt really nice. In the past 6 months I have recorded Cds using the NEW Kramer guitars. I did the new Chastain with the Baretta FR404S/D with the Quadrail pickups. I truly believe that is the heaviest guitar sound I have ever laid down. That guitar is one intense guitar for Metal inspired material. I don't know where those Quadrails come from but they put out the power. I am playing guitar on a Cd for a local singer named Ruud Cooty and I specifically wanted to record the Cd using the new Kramer Pacer FT211S guitar. However I can't believe those guitars are only $110! It has a pretty clean sound and it has worked very well on this blues rock inspired Cd. I recently began playing the new Baretta-II PRO Electric Guitar and it is definitely the cream of the crop. The neck plays incredible. And with a Floyd Rose and Seymour Duncan pickups it is all in all one fine guitar. On my next tour I am sure that will be my number 1 guitar. I have been messing around with the new Kramer 7 String Striker FR-2027S guitar that is way beyond heavy. I have laid down a few tracks with that guitar and I hope to have some releasable stuff with it later in the year. I also have a Kramer bass that I lay down bass tracks on tons of stuff and it also sounds great.

8. Do you have any "tricks" for getting the sound you use?

As I said before in the studio I usually count on the amps and guitars to provide the sound. I might add effects later in the mix. When I play live I use the Marshall Valvestate exclusively. In the effects loop there will probably be a DBX noise reduction unit, some sort of effects processor for an occasional delay. I also have an old MXR pitch transposer set to the 5th below that I might use for a synth sound depending on the band. I usually use light strings on the guitars. 008 or 009 sets with a little heavier gauge on the lower strings than common with those sets. Depending on the band the guitar could be tuned anywhere from normal to one step down. Even then the E strings might get dropped down another step after that so it is really a C. I think I have a unique style so that is what makes my stuff sound "unique."

9. Your guitar playing has been likened to that of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Stevie Ray. That's pretty high praise don't you think?

Oh yes I have had some great reviews from very well respected critics through the years. I have put out a very diverse catalog of music and it has universally been praised for the most part. Depending on the style of the Cd the guitar mags have compared my stuff to Satriani, Vai, Stevie Ray, Morse, Eric Johnson, Holdsworth, Di Meola, Yngwie, Schenker and Roth. That is pretty heady company. As I have said before I just do what I do and at some point I hope some people will get it even if the masses don't. I long ago decided to make music of integrity and not music for money. I have put out metal, fusion, hard rock, acoustic, improvisation, and blues rock Cds and played all the styles pretty credible. Some people may say I spread myself too thin and they maybe right but that is just the way this train rolls. I would get too bored if I had to play only one style even though I would become more proficient in that one style.

10. Where do you see yourself and your music 10 years from now?

As time has progressed I have played concerts less and less and concentrated more and more on studio work. I believe I will always record music till my dying days. Every time I pick up the guitar new music flows out of me from somewhere. I truthfully believe I could do a new Cd every week if given that as my only job. My initial goal in playing music was just to be successful enough to be able to acquire some decent recording gear. That goal has long since been accomplished but recording new music is still my main goal. My desire in life is not to see how much money and wealth I can accumulate but how much music I can create.