As the lead guitarist of Carbon Leaf, Carter Gravatt has successfully toured and recorded since 1992, crossing paths with huge names in the music business (Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler, the Avett Brothers, and many more).  What’s especially fascinating about Carter is that he performs not only on electric and acoustic guitars, but also on an incredible number of other instruments including mandolin, banjo, violin, cello, lap steel, pedal steel, bouzouki, hurdy gurdy, dobro, and probably more! In part 1 of 2 of this interview, Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick enjoy talking with Carter about his story, Carbon Leaf, musical influences, and gear.
Carter tells the guys about Carbon Leaf’s efforts to release an album every 8 months and their history with record labels and FM radio.  Joe asks how Carter became such a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist.  The guys talk about practicing and how musicians used to learn music before the days of YouTube and the internet.  Carter talks about the technical difficulties of touring with his many instruments: huge amounts of gear (multiple pedalboards, amplifications systems, the instruments themselves) and maintenance is required to keep everything working properly.  The discussion includes insights into acoustic amplification, guitar amps, getting overdrive from amps vs. pedals, the complications of switching between instruments during shows, and different picks.
Fun facts: In 2002 Carbon Leaf won an American Music Award for their song “The Boxer.”  They featured Katy Perry in their 2006 music video, “Learn to Fly.”  They recorded music for the 2009 film Curious George 2. In 2002 their music was featured on national commercials for the Pontiac Vibe.  They have played with/crossed paths with other major acts including Dave Matthews, O.A.R., The Avett Brothers, Sister Hazel, Big Head Todd, Blues Traveler, Jason Mraz, and many others.
Find out more about Carter and Carbon Leaf at: https://www.carbonleaf.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carbonleaf/
Welcome to Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name is Joe McMurray and I am Aaron
Sefchick. And today we have with us Carter Gravatt. He’s the lead guitarist for Carbon
Leaf, a national touring rock band and we’re excited to have you, good morning
Carter! Morning guys! Yeah, so where are you calling in from? I’m calling in from
my garage. Carter’s garage. So for those of you who can’t see, it’s a nicer than
average garage. It’s finished and it’s got stacks of amps and guitars behind
him. Awesome. You’re in Virginia there right? Yeah. That’s kind of the
headquarters of Carbon Leaf right? Absolutely. I would say the headquarters
is probably Terry’s house. The other guitar player because we built I think it was
when we did the Curious George soundtrack, we built out his
studio so that we could track pretty much anything we needed to do in there.
He was the A engineer at one of the big studios in town before he just got it
got touring got to the point where he just couldn’t you know I had to call him
too too often and they had had to replace him but so he’s probably
engineered Orko engineered every every release we’ve ever had I think oh wow
how many albums have you guys released I just like wow I don’t have any that it
it’s a lot somewhere in the teens I think there’s something like that Barry
was saying you guys were trying to put out an album every eight months or so
yeah well that’s kind of our motto is on an unrealistic time frame any good about
about doing that but yeah it’d be it’d be really nice to unfortunately you know
you just run into there’s so much stuff going on especially this day and age you
know just keeping up with your head above water with all of the social media
stuff that needs to be maintained and you know there’s so much stuff going on
now it’s just it’s just incredible um but yeah it would be it would be
great if we could make that and it’s nice to have a goal like that that you
know keeps you keeps you rolling and creatively as well as you know you’ve
got the touring going on and and everything else but yeah I guess the
gathering EP came out and that’s if I understand it correctly supposed to be
one I think one of four for that particular project which I would assume
would be thematically tied in or if not musically as well and then we also want
to do you know some rock a rock record and stuff like that but then you get
into the what’s an album these days nobody puts out more than like five
songs in it yeah yeah it’s coming from coming from old school where you you
know you come up with a block of songs that makes sense together and you think
you’re telling like a cohesive thing now it’s gotten run down to like a couple of
songs you put up more than that and it’s just kind of wasting them but yeah we’re
definitely trying to maintain a pretty nimble release schedule and being
independent we can we can do that you know you don’t have to wait for anybody
except yourself independent from a record label yeah yeah yeah we did three
albums on Vanguard and I guess they wanted I was about two thousand nine ish
I think that we went back to straight independent and now you can kind of
build your own label kind of ala carte as you need it as opposed to you know
being on a label where you’re part of that huge support structure at any given
time but it’s like turning a battleship you know when you want to do something
you know now if you need something you can hire out for the duration of how
long you would need that person to work for you
like like promotional people or marketing specialists if you wanted to
push this onto radio you’d hire a promoter that would run it for a certain
cycle and then then be gone or you know extra promoters people if you’re putting
an album out just about anything you know as the the big systems have
dissolved they’re tons of time great people out there that you can work
with to kind of have their own thing going so you get a promoter they just
have special ins with the radio stations and they just spend it X hours a day
sending your album to everybody something along those lines
yeah and it’s people that used to work for labels and now they’ve started their
own thing and you know they have the relationships with people and if they
take on your album I guess the people that they know well because they’ve
taken it on and they’ve worked with them in the past will you know give it a
listener give it a chance just because but like I don’t know that there ton of
guarantees in any of that you know but that’s not I don’t I’m not as tapped in
to that is say Barry and Terry are who really had their finger on the pulse of
everything that’s kind of going on oh well for those of you who haven’t who
didn’t notice we uh we actually had a two-part interview with Barry you can
check it out in our episodes archive I had a great conversation with him and
Carter you’ve probably done to this but we actually interviewed Steve black an
FM radio host out of Detroit I don’t know if you know him but no he it was a
really cool interview because we he’s done like 1500 interviews isn’t that
right Erin yeah yeah like he’s interviewed like tons and tons of big
name bands from the 80s late 80s through today he’s partied with guns and roses
and all kinds of cool stories but he had a lot of interesting insights into the
world of FM radio I’m Shirley and how it’s changed over the years
yeah I’m sure yeah golly and yeah it’s had been in the in the trenches over you
know the last 20 years would be you know I can’t imagine there was a time where
there was more change going on and it’s like from the late nineties till now
yeah you know it’s internet radio and Sirius XM and so many things yeah Apple
music and Amazon music there’s so many different platforms yeah so true
well with all the time spent on all this these other other aspects of the band
how do you find time to practice and like I talked about this earlier well
before the show but I at for those of you don’t know carbon leaf or haven’t
seen them I got to see them at st. Patrick’s Day weekend in Virginia Beach
at elevation 27 and I had never seen them before
I had listened to their music before but on Carter’s side of the stage there were
at least 10 – maybe there were 12 or 13 instruments and there were multiple
guitars but there were there was a mandolin there was a cello fiddle an old
like parlor acoustic guitar you know Les Paul’s and strats and kind of everything
in between so yeah you know banjo yeah um yeah it’s you know stuff that’s kind
of come in over the years I guess we had it kind of got I probably started we got
a little bored riding with two guitars kind of quick um you know by the second
album was like alright well you know there’s two guitars mm-hmm
what else and that I think that what else is what ended up burning me in the
end but um yeah so I was a big fan of REM and you know obviously Peter Buck I
was playing mandolin on like green and out of time and then John Paul Jones for
the Zeppelin stuff and then growing up in the country you know there’s you know
a lot of video I heard a lot of bluegrass but kind of you know it wasn’t
right in my face but kind of in the background so I was like you know get it
I’m gonna get a mandolin so I ordered a mandolin and it came in a box and the
bridge was was laying down on it when it showed up so up in this box and the
strings are just hanging loose and the bridge is laying on the tables I go huh
oops is it broken you know you know
finally figured out how how to set that up and I think that day I wrote the song
we have caught ordinary eyes that was on our third album but yeah so I just
started picking up instruments in that one I just kind of beat on for a while
until Barry was tinkering around with a banjo for a little bit and he we had
this really cool record store called playing nine up the road from where we
lived and he would he got this record name he came over to me and was like hey
you know I got this record it I’m not that into it but I think you need to
hear it and it was Edgar Meyer Mike Marshall and bailiff Lac I was a record
called on ritual mm-hmm that record like rearranged everything it was like
somebody pulled up the parking brake and you know all sorts of stuff that you
thought were like where the ceiling was you know with with some types of music
and with with mandolin and stuff that was just all completely ripped off and
that that was the beginning for me of like practice and listening and like
getting into like going okay you know this isn’t it’s it’s not what I thought
you know there’s there’s a whole nother world out there and there it’s
everything’s got you know there’s no no limit to the possibilities so I I was
playing I play guitar with kind of a pic and my fingers I’ll leave my hand kind
of open for chicken pickin stuff mm-hmm but that doesn’t really work that well
on the mandolin or at least it didn’t for me because you end up with all this
extra weight swinging around when you’ve got a really tiny space so I taught
myself to play mandolin with a closed hand which was like you know it’s like a
year it’s like throwing everything in the first back in the first year you’re
like okay but um so yeah after that and kind of you know that just kind of blew
my world open and the bela Fleck Edgar Meyer album yeah I think bela Fleck does
that to everybody oh yeah okay Larrin Mike Marshall was on
that and up until then like and ended for me with I think I had one
bail up like Flecktones record it was live art and Sam Bush is on there and I
was like okay well this has got to be the pinnacle you know that Sam Bush you
know I know Sam Bush he’s got to be you know there’s the ceiling and then and he
Sam is amazing but then I heard Mike Marshall and he was playing a lot a lot
cleaner and a lot more technical and that just really you know I didn’t
realize how how beautiful the mandolin could be you know is it is its own thing
and so that really sent me down a rabbit hole but then you know I picked up a
banjo I got into old-time music my old-time Appalachian music as opposed to
bluegrass which is very different and like any genre of music you know you
will you get into it and they’re gonna be the purest they’re gonna take your
head off you know when you get anything wrong I got into uh you know a little
clawhammer banjo then into a more uh I can do some of the Scruggs stuff or the
you know the bailiff stuff got into steel picked up a fiddle which was I put
that off forever because it is the worst because you know
how bad you are you have to stick right next to your ear and it’s loud as hell
and terrible and your intonation is oh it’s are more difficult without friends
I think I picked that misty uh Pelle steel of at the same time just
toast and it was just an attitude nightmare
how so how do you that’s what I wanted no cuz like I I try to do this too and I
I teach piano and I’ve I teach various instruments and there’s just so much
time in the day and to really get pretty much any instrument is a full
undertaking it you know if I was teaching my students I would say you
should be practicing at a minimum 15 to 30 minutes a day if you really want to
get better so you know you got to apply that to yourself –
were you actually spending that much time each day on each of these
instruments um they were they came you know it was kind of over over the years
that I would you know pick pick each one off
um but you know there’s certainly time it you know especially now you know I’ve
got kids and we’ve got the band and you know the guys sitting really don’t like
to hear me noodling around you know we were like on the bus or something like
that that was like shut down quickly like you know I could I would play like
all day on the bus I would just sit and I would and I’d loved every second of it
right didn’t you get like a you know run it
into headphones yeah but there’s still that you know that you know kind of
stuff going on with you know even with electric guitar yep oh man there’s got
to be a compromise or you can like turn on the fan or something yeah yeah like
leave on the fan it back white know it like it’s white noise CD um but no so
you just you know you find your times and you know there times when you’ll be
able to practice ferociously you know especially if this it like I find
something that I want to learn if it’s a piece of music or if I get to the point
that I’m like I see something that I really want to be capable of or hear
something something inspires me to really dig in then it’s you know it’s
pretty much off at that point any spare second I have I’m gonna be you
know digging away like that um I love that feeling of me oh it’s the best
there’s nothing better than having you know seeing it something that you want
to attain and you know just getting after it it’s like a full-blown
obsession that whoever comes you and you like I’m like watching YouTube videos
and listening everywhere I go and like carrying around my mini speaker around
the house listening and then I like I gotta try it and I sit down for a couple
hours that was what I was gonna say is that so you’re you’re this is all
self-taught yeah right and this is I would imagine before YouTube so you
didn’t have the internet to just kind of go to quickly learn how the banjo or
fiddle or anything like that it’s it’s a matter of sitting there with the
instrument for hours upon and actually figuring it out for
yourself yeah it is it is unbelievable how how much information is at people’s
fingertips these days and you know it’s just it’s kind of mind-blowing got
anything you want to learn it’s right literally right at your fingertips
it’s which is mind-blowing for me because I was swinging in the dark right
and we moved to Richmond and you know I didn’t have any infrastructure of
friends or know anybody here really so it was just basically the band and then
you know so I was gotta go to the record store and just buy records you know and
you know which is incredibly foolish foolhardy money you know financially but
you know for every 10 records or so I did I’d find something that I was like
okay no I don’t know you know I did this so and it would take me in to take me
somewhere and then out of every 20 you’d finally find the real gem you know
you’re like okay alright but um yes so it was it was a lot of just kind
of hammering away at stuff listening to records and I was never really good at
probably probably like massive undiagnosed EDD but I’ve never been able
to sit down and transcribe people’s solos or anything like that I haven’t
never been in a situation where I had to but just never never got into that sort
of thing so but I would just listen and try to hear like how they were playing
and kind of the overall arc of you know what was going on and you know listening
to like the way people would attack instruments especially the mandolin
stuff and you know the banjo and yeah it was just a lot of you know and getting
you could get books you know you could find it find random books or you know
I’ve got a got a rack of books and I’ve you know open like four pages you know I
liked it good Rick the advancing guitarists you guys that’s that one no
oh my god and so there’s things you get in like
three pages you’re like alright yep that’s too heavy that’s like soloing
on one string like a giant statue and you can only even go a half step up or a
full step down or get drawn you know I got okay that’s what I’ve got this book
this Joe Pass guitar style and it’s just it’s so heavy I’ll pick out like I’ll
pick out one lesson and work on it for a couple weeks and that’s like it’s just
not the kind of book you can work through very quickly and retain this for
me it’s slow-going it’s like you know a concept you read one page of minds blown
you read it again and you’re like okay I think I see where he’s coming from and
yeah work on that for the rest of your life
yeah but yet I saw a long long story short yeah how there was no YouTube
there was there was just kind of figuring it out with some instructional
videos that were pretty good oh yeah well all Gilbert stuff came out
in the 90s and that was yeah I don’t I know that name but I’m not sure who that
is yeah no no Paul mm-hmm over the hot wax videos what yeah into
something else now yeah um and there’s this the homespun stuff which i think is
online now and they had some cool stuff um but yeah I remember I got the Brian
Setzer video because I always loved his playing and I don’t think I learned a
single thing but it was just it was fun to watch people play yeah and you could
listen to him like the openings and when they were when they were play stuff and
that’s as close as I would get to you know going to a concert and seeing these
guys was does little it’s like you know buying the video for like the little
YouTube clips of you know watching him open up or play like rock this town or
something yeah um yeah I remember buying VHS tapes when you’re young and you know
watching them over and over and over again because that was the only thing
that you had available to you yeah yeah absolutely it was uh it was the only way
you could get in get ahold of any of that stuff or see
like a lot of these people that I would never ever have a chance to see I
remember uh Danny Gatton passed away before I was able to see him and I have
his his old tape and you know you can’t take anything I couldn’t take anything
away from that the video a watching it play was just so neat yeah you know his
like just his approach to the guitar he just knew it so well there wasn’t you
know I think it’s to the point it’s hard to listen to because like he’s
harmonizing with himself when he’s playing solos just cuz he bored you know
it’s like he’s taken everything into like solos and he’s playing so his solos
is like triads and all the way up you’re just like what the hell is happening but
uh I’ve seen some of that video he’s he’s crazy good that’s so good and he’s
like any he’ll play with like tom pop I can’t remember it I’ve seen him tell you
name but Danny Gatton he’s he’s not got the formal training but it just like put
him right next to like a real jazz player and he just plays him basically
internalized like the music and he can hear you know here all the voicings
and hear exactly what’s going on yeah he’s lightning fast oh my god play
straight-ahead jazz can mix he’s kind of like the bailiff luck of the guitar he
thinks he’s mixing styles that you wouldn’t normally hear it is yeah it was
that was just terrible you know we lost him I guess I was about 95 94 185
something like that yeah okay uh such a bummer but yeah now oh yeah so practice
yeah so I hope man whenever I can you know how especially these days with
kids you know if I get a spare minute I’ll just go out and tinker with
something but also when you build up you know when you’re taking that many
instruments on the road you’re doing a lot of repair work and maintenance stuff
too so that’s kind of one of the big yeah I think when we we chatted that the
other day we were talking about it’s like so there’s the creative time when
you’re riding there’s you can work on like pushing
on all of the instruments down the field you know if just a little bit further
and then there’s like checking all the gear you know fixing stuff making sure
things were working or trying out something new you know a new especially
with all the acoustic instruments you know a new way to make them sound the
slightly more palatable because I mean let’s be honest you plug in an acoustic
instrument it just sounds like poop um and then what do you do for your
acoustics to make him make them somebody especially the guitar it’s tough man
because I have to run the way I run all that so stop probably got like ten
different acoustic instruments at a show or so maybe maybe a little bit more
depending on what we’re doing um but I’ve also got to be relatively
streamlined as far as my my inputs go and how I’m getting transferring that to
you know our front of house engineer so I actually have to run aren’t currently
running in order to make it because I mean my my for floor footprint is
massive um but I run it through one preamp which is kind of nuts when you
really think about it you know you wanna it’s easy to come up with a with a
signal chain for any one instrument and make it sound pretty good but coming up
with a signal chain for you know all these different instruments all these
different types of pickups and have it kind of work together is a little
challenging um so what does that look like hell on earth really yeah yeah I
imagine cycle blew up like a computer factory and then put it on the ground I
can show you well alright so I’ve got it behind me but I guess yeah yeah yeah
yeah yeah we’ll explain it explain it while you show us and people can get on
youtube if they want to see let’s see how well I can turn yo Oh Lord tangled
up in cables nut tangled up them blues the song passage um so let’s see so you
can see it that’s my pumpkin my acoustic board down there oh yeah um so there’s a
lot of switching that goes on there so it’ll go from gosh
let’s see how can I explain this um so first thing is you gotta get I gotta get
into it so I’ll run a wireless LAN to different from Wireless lines once for
the fiddles ones for everything else and then the third line would be for the
hurdy-gurdy and then they’ll all run into a grace felix preamp okay um and
then the effects loop of that I’ve got a origin effects Kali 76 compressor it’s a
really amazing sounding compressor but they’re huge but if we go through much
more like you’ll understand that like huge pedals are kind of my thing um but
they turn off a lot of people cuz they’re just enormous but great um so
I’ve got that the LR bags reverb which i think is spectacular um then I’ve got
which is currently in the shop an API transformer it’s their kind of guitar
pedal but it has their little preamp section like an EQ section and is that
the new one that they came out with which is also enormous yeah I saw that
probably last year and yeah was like whoa that’s I’d love to get my hands on
one of those that’s cool you have one on electric I for sessions and stuff
plugged straight in Amanda Lynn stranger like an API lunchbox and be like oh that
sounds nice yeah bring a lunchbox on tour and you’re like
that lasts about five minutes but then so from that I go into a full tone tape
echo and then run out to a bunch of splitters and the splitters I run it I
use a bunch of the gig rig stuff I don’t know if you guys have checked that out I
love their stuff they’ve got a line splitter called the humdinger which is
awesome so I’ll hit that and then one of those lines goes to one of their little
I guess it’s uh one of those little strips where they you can have
like your own little effects loops you can put you know put things in and out
but I’m using it as a sin thing so all the sins or just I’m just kind of using
it out so it’s like having a 1 to 4 out thing so the 4 outputs of that go to
needy eyes that are on the back line and that will split up all the different
things so you hit the humdinger one of those goes there and that since the main
signal to the main di then there’s no effects that goes out of the other side
of the humdinger which gets octave effects for and potentially a looper for
the acoustic instruments so the cello and the fiddles and sometimes for the
acoustic guitar I’ll use a couple of different octave things to kind of fill
out because I mean most of the time when somebody picks up a fiddle in the rock
band and you were playing like this grand glorious electric guitar stuff
that fills up the room you go to fiddle and you’ve got this screechie horrible
thing so if you have a little bit of girth from I use for the fiddle I use
the hog the ehx the big thing yet enough and for the acoustic I used the TC poly
something or another it’s it’s their little octave things one of the kind of
smaller guys here you’re hitting it an octave below I don’t fill it out it’ll
gets an octave and another akkad a second octave below so because any any
octave pal in my opinion that goes it’s just too bright the you know it’s just
like puts the sizzle e high end on everything you send so the acoustic one
that goes to the cello and stuff just gets one octave lower and fiddle gets
two and then so our engineer gets both of those lines so he can kind of blend
them depending on you know how the PA you know some or sub heavy so you can’t
put too much in there otherwise you know people poop depants um with the brown
note but see you guys run with your own engineer to give a new to Venu
absolutely okay we have an engineer for ever one of the first things we learned
especially you know with all the instrument switching that I’m doing
sometimes playing two or three day a song all five of us sing you know
there’s so much stuff happening if you’re you know a house engineer and we
show up you’re just gonna be like what in the hell just happened
yeah right um you know especially EQ and in all the you know all the different
acoustic instruments and having them kind of work and sounds somewhat
palatable and you know having things where they need to be in the mix with
all the songs and there’s also pretty little air in our sets longest song it’s
like write each one it’s like right on top of the other so there’s no there’s
really once we get started it’s there’s no real break right no no banter or
anything like that not really not really unless uh Barry’s
feeling particularly chatty it’s Billy’s daddy at st. Patrick’s Day was he yeah
every show is a little bit different but normally there’s no real unless
something you know I don’t know every now and then he’ll get get off on a
tangent but it’s normally pretty pretty quick but yeah so we have we have on guy
which is Ken which is awesome yeah very much very much like the sixth bender
sixth member of your of your absolutely absolutely and you know he’s also
handling you know a bunch of stuff he helps me with my gear before the show
just checking everything to make sure everything looks right because they
don’t they don’t like for me to come out before the show because I would love if
I had my you know my choice I’d be out there you know check and everything make
sure all the settings are right because you know if you have like an opener
you know cables will inevitably get dragged across your stuff right you know
when you’ve got a like a field of dreams like I do down there it’s like all right
everything looks all right but then you step on one thing that’s just like blows
off the stage well so I guess they hit that one tonight right but yeah he’s
he’s just incredible listen how long has he
been with you he’s our current guy’s been with us for
about six years I think okay I think no matter what I’ll probably get it wrong
he’ll be insulted yeah spectacular and we also record all the shows and sell
them after so he’s handling you know indexing and all that stuff right after
the show he’s on that and then bomb them down to these little thumb drives among
a million other responsibilities city yet oh yeah the short short version of
my acoustic signal pretty convoluted yeah we’ve we’ve had on we had on Dustin
furlough who’s a fingerstyle guitarist yeah and we like I I have I have my
tailor here it’s just got the under saddle mmm
built in the piezo pickup in it you know it just doesn’t sound that good and so
he was I mean he’s saying a lot of the guys use solo fingerstyle guitarists use
these nice microphone inputs that are already blend the piezo and the and the
microphone pickups BPA makes a really great mic there what EPA EPA okay great
mics that a lot of people use I can’t do that
just because our stage is a little bit too loud but with a full drum kit and
you know John’s Rakatan you know an eight-by-ten it’s you know it’s too loud
and there’s too much ambient noise and I’m a really quiet player so that makes
it even worse obviously if the Chum up even more yeah it’s you know you
basically turn it turn me up you’re trying out the snare drum so yeah I wish
I wish that there were more options like that for me but trying to trying to do
this stuff in like a full rock band it makes it a little more a little more
tricky for acoustics I used LR bags m80 pick up the sound
hole pick up and the dam1 I think it’s the ad there’s the m1 active
and then the one that’s got the little brown strip in the middle I think he’s
the m80 and that’s what I use for all of my acoustics and one thing I like is
when we’re not touring or if we’re doing a radio show or anything I can just
unscrew it and pop the pickup out and it’s just you know the one little cable
which I have taped right inside the sound hole and I just you know I’ll just
pop it out real quick and you know then you’ve got you know your normal guitar
but yeah that’s I’ve been using those since they came out and I was using the
m1 since I think I might have gotten a one of the early ones right even before
it hit the street but yeah I think that it’s not like getting the attack away
from the bridge unless you’re like I think if you’re gonna use any of the
current modelling stuff that they have it’s probably best to have that under
the saddle thing you know like the tum Dexter any of those things that are
doing imaging it’s probably advantageous to use a different style pickup but if
you’re just using a you know regular preamp and a pickup I’ve been as happy
as I’ve been with anything with these guys and it sounds a little a little
more palatable getting getting that attack you know out of like right there
where all that tension is and it’s little left rubber band II well so we’ve
talked about all these acoustic instruments but I mean you are a
phenomenal lead guitar player so can we jump over to Jared electric stuff the
other day you were showing me your your different amps and your your plane on
the Stratocaster it and I’ll show me some stuff so you it looked like you had
several half stacks and different amp models I’ve got a little bit I’m trying
to figure out a way that I can let’s see if how can I do this um try to find a
extension cable so that I can move about more freely for those of you who are
listening on the podcast we definitely jump over to fret buzz the
podcast on our on our YouTube channel you can see all the cool things up and
stuff already alright you guys I can we can all sweet
alright alright well that’s gonna fall over all right so let’s see spin you
guys around
nope that didn’t work at all yeah I’m not even gonna do that alright so here
we are in am plain uh I’ll start over here that’s my favorite rig to take out
that’s an old 7200 watt marshall super trim my favourite Bluto and an old 64
baseman khabbâb off from Linda Freeman um a couple of fun amps that bill Callie
and built that are awesome my 412 which is very heavy the current
touring rig which is what I’ve been using for most of the last couple of
years that’s an old 64 twin and Bluto number
two then there’s some fun stuff it was 66 super holland 64 Princeton 65 deluxe
64 baseman ass wart matchless and another so all sorts of fun stuff it’s
beautiful salivating over here like it just kind
of comes you know an amp every year so and next thing you know you have a
garage full yeah I mean the super I just got last year it was from I guess in a
state sale and a buddy had it he was like man do you want a super I was like
absolutely not and he was like well I’ll give it to you for this I said well I
guess I’ll have a super zone I guess alright now I have a super reader
um but yeah so I’ve been I was using the rig for ever and okay so whatever reason
I decided to switch down to the twin everybody used to tell me they’re like
yeah you don’t want it twin you don’t want a twin it’s like you sure they’re
like no you want to deluxe oh you want this with that oh my god okay well I do
love deluxe reverb so great I finally got a twin I was like this is what I
wanted that whole time man I never should’ve listened to you guys why do
you like the twin better I love the twin what why would you
rather have that over the deluxe um just the umph it’s just got a lot of I don’t
know it’s just a little more sturdy sounding the deluxe I feel like
sometimes yeah I remember we’ve got I think we were playing with like the Goo
Goo Dolls for something and I had this little petite rig that I was laying on
it’s you know it’s so light so cute and I got a man I couldn’t tell if my amps
were broken because I could hear apart from the front of the stage of a deluxe
Ivor a little bit small but you were plucked there miking your amp anyway
right yeah but I wasn’t using wasn’t using years and at the time wasn’t you
know putting guitar in the monitor has never been something that sounded quite
right to me because then you’ve got a whole different speaker configuration
giving you what’s coming out of your hand like but what’s coming out of my
hand before that’s supposed to sound like right my hand doesn’t have horn
yeah wait Jesus but yeah I switched to the twin a couple of years ago and I’ve
got these two Bluto tongue heads that I just adore and so the big one is 150
watts and I got and Brandon made me he came out with a smaller version of that
head and I got one of those and it’s only a hundred watts you know very small
was it you know el34 is so it’s a little bit more Marshall so I took the twin and
I took out the speakers that were in it which were the originals and I put in EB
twelve owls off which er if you don’t know anything or don’t know does about
the heavies our speakers on the planet so I took the
heaviest combo and in the world and made it like twice as heavy huh so we took it
out on the first run and so having today they rip the baffle out so the whole
thing it was hysterical I turned around and here’s a pony over the ceiling I’ve
seen the baffle that was you know looks like it’s particle board or whatever and
it was just shredded I sent that to him and they took the grill cloth off and
everything and made me a new one it’s super sturdy so anyway the twin gets one
of those speakers and the blue dough gets the other so basically I’ve got a 2
amp rig that’s got a really small footprint compared to when I was doing
the base using the basement cab which is pretty substantial and two heads you
know it’s it’s a pretty pretty good bit of umph for a relatively small footprint
if you like so so I’ve I’ve moved small I’ve gotten the opposite although I’m
playing totally different types of shows from you but cuz I like pushing my I use
the Princeton Reverb so good I can get it to break up a little bit so are you
actually pushing your amp to break up are using pedals no all my amps are such
high watt high wattage that I’ve gotten like cranked I saw baffle amps off so
I’ll take color board lids that @f foam on the inside and I’ll put one behind it
to block the reflection up the wall and then one in front to keep from neutering
the people in the front row yeah and so at that point I’ll crank em
up to the point that they’re you know if I can and still the reflection is still
can get pretty loud but I’ll crank those out to where they’re you know pretty
darn loud and then you know I get all my gain
off the floor and I kind of like it that way if I’m using the Marshall if I’m
playing something with humbuckers it’ll break up it’s loud enough to break up a
little but that’s also why use the high wattage
speakers is if I’m getting breakup I want to know it’s either coming from the
floor maybe the amp I don’t need that third
thing in there that might also possibly be distorting so I find it just cleans
things up a little bit for me um but yet so they’re loud but they’re not breaking
up generally speaking yeah there’s I mean I like what I’m practicing I’m
using complete 100% pedal Distortion yeah when I play as soon as I get to
play outside like the mixture of the two I don’t I don’t particularly love the
sound of thumb playing lead guitar I don’t I’m not looking for like a 50s
Blues breakup but the combination of a pedal with a little with the yeah
natural amp breakup is my favorite it’s very like it’s this soaring sound that I
get out of my am I you know I think that for me that would work better I feel
like a lot of amps when you start to overdrive and they get a little splatty
you know and kind of I don’t know I I feel like a pedal will help kind of
compressed it a little bit and tighten it up and and keep it from just kind of
falling apart a little too much um but like their own way of doing stuff which
is the coolest thing about especially now in the gear revolution gosh when I
was coming up there was none of this stuff like if you wanted this a
distortion pedal yet there was like one option you know it’s like you didn’t
have to worry about that it was just finding the one it wasn’t like now where
you’ve got a research for like five months it’s like going down the cereal
aisle at the grocery store you’re like wow yeah you know it’s hard to like you
get a Guitar Center you can only try so many before the guys get a little
earlier if you go I mean there’s so many offices you can’t try them all and
heaven forbid you gotta get to get online and start looking at you know the
inventory of places like music toys or something like that for it’s just you
know pages and pages of you know just overdrive pebbles not even distortion
just like overdrive but my just that’s it I use this
it’s been the same for a very long time
yeah and I’m kind of frightening I really
probably get somebody to overhaul everything that I’ve got going on but
yeah since I started I’ve always used pellets for distortion just because it’s
just kind of what works for me and I I was doing a little more looping back
then so if you’re running a loop into a distorted amp it really doesn’t work
yeah um so keeping the the gain before that was also another another reason I
did that I think the camera it’s harder remember what my brain was doing back
then why they have so why the obsession with large petals man yeah yeah like I
love the original rodas here I’ve got one of those and made this thing called
the reflex which how I walk you guys over there again which I’ve used for
ever and I’ve probably had about eight or ten of them um so the Lachie can you
see the big silver guys that have tape all over them right there so those guys
I used through the reflexes there it was like a dual head tape thing maybe it
supposed to be a tape simulator or something like that but I’m like a thing
and so I was telling you that I turned the amps up pretty loud I’ve never
really changed the volume on the answers they’re always cranked but for the rim I
actually used that pedal as a preamp for the whole rig so it has on/off the
second channels reverb so I have the reverb turned all the way off but I used
that to engage the pedal and then the preamp of the pedal is in line so I can
use that if I’m too loud for a room I’ll pull it down there so I just want to hit
on the front end quite as hard as I would like to but it’s a good way to
keep the amps kind of cooking and just pull down my overall volume right but
yet so those things are huge den I was down at Virginia Beach ages
ago and I bought this Buddha overdrive pedal that’s you know the size of like a
Star Wars lunchbox um and it’s got two 12ax7 s and I still use
that and that’s huge I’ve got another one of those origin
compressors on there and that’s huge so those four pedals I think are
probably bigger than most people’s pedal boards altogether um do you have to kick
do the other guys help you carry this or oh yeah I mean we all we all load the
rig unloaded you know as a group so I mean it’s a good workout it’s like a
group fitness plan you just get help your stuff and everybody stays fit yeah
um I mean you know if I’m if I’m stuck it merged or something like that to get
some of the guys will start pack up my stuff but normally I try to pack it and
I definitely unpack and set up everything
um which takes a minute it’s a fair amount of stuff but well yeah it’s I
tried to streamline it down to a smaller board but I guess maybe we have 17
albums and you know there’s certain couple of pebbles on there that if we do
like a handful of songs I kind of need that one thing do I have to have it dude
does it make the song kind of better and more like it you know people want to
hear probably yeah I think it was around 2009 or 2010 I tried to do a tour with
just like mostly a whole electric guitar and I had a ball it was so nice you were
talking about switching between songs it was so man I was just like ah I’m so
comfortable like three songs in you just like oh yeah electric guitar man this is
a lot of fun but it was I don’t think I think people kind of like to see that
you know the circus monkey running around and playing all the different
stuff you know and it in you know creates a certain vibe and it’s fun like
will show up in a theater like a seated theater and I’ll play
different instruments on every team than I would it say is standing rock show but
it’s nice to have this option so you know we’ll go over the setlist in venues
like that I’ll go with Barry I’ll say you know why don’t you know mandolin on
these three maybe banjo here you know steel here let’s do this on whatever and
it’s you know it changes it changes out the dynamics of the songs and you know
you might find a better way to play a tune that you had before or something
that will help connect with people that they wouldn’t have you know if you just
like slamming it out on the electric which is lots of fun
it definitely helped keep the it made everything every song it kept songs from
running together sometimes with bands even when you like them if it’s the same
overall sound you start to kind of what you’re kind of zone in and out yeah your
ears can get kind of Numb from that same you know that same thing and you I feel
like things become a little more indistinct and turns into this wall but
yeah it’s it certainly separates sometimes probably a little too
dramatically some of the songs should from each other but yeah that’s
certainly jumping from you know all the different scale links to fretless to you
know whatever it is pretty nerve-racking you know like all the lights in your
face you can’t quite hear every every instrument that you pick up you’re not
gonna be able to hear it like you heard the last one so you’ve got to
immediately like try to just focus in on it in your head and figure out where it
is in the mix so you can distinguish yourself and find you know what you’re
doing and you know it keeps you if it really keeps you on your toes and then
you know I’ve got a sin you know playing playing like double stops on a fiddle
and singing at the same time is not sweet I think when you’re not like a
fiddle player it’s when your guitar player that has that owns the fiddle
it’s uh it’s a little nerve-wracking I
find it hard even I’ve been doing these acoustic sets in the middle of my
overall electric yeah yeah and it’s even just switching having a wider nut on my
acoustic I mean everything I just feel clumsy I usually try to put something a
little easier as my first acoustic song yeah I can get my fingers used to that
scale length and that this concurrent feel yeah absolutely absolutely
I wish that whenever I think whenever I tell Barry and like you know could we
not do that right there he’s like that’s like a challenge okay he’s like oh yeah
you can do it that the best thing we should do but yes might might have to go
out on an acoustic tour or something a very minimalistic but yeah you know how
to do it over the years you know I used to have like it different you know we
were talking about just the differences in like pick like the different picks
that I’ll use for different instruments the way you hold them is different the
way you attack the instruments are different it’s yeah it’s just getting
used to switching like right before we go out on a big tour say in the fall
I’ll start you know practice for that will be just me going around the room
and playing you know picking something up and just playing on it for a minute
then switching to something and you know playing you know playing a couple of
tunes on it or whatever but getting used to just switching you know haphazardly
and trying to instantly make you know some sort of palatable palatable moines
but yeah I smartly do it different picks for like almost everything and I’ve
gotten to the point now that I’ve streamlined it down and like you know
I’ll just use two different things and hopefully I won’t drop one because I
have like one of each you know help it around like in nerd and like sand the
burrs the pics and stuff like that but when I
lose a pic I got i like my pic so much I I got a hundred pack of my done lip the
old text 90.9 Oh millimeter I like I have to have that pic I feel clumsy with
in what shape it’s like the pointy it’s it’s this oh yeah yeah standard fender I
would call that yeah but it’s a Dunlop Oh next sharp 0.9 but I use a point 7 3
from my acoustic old Tech’s uh-huh and let’s see what else I’m dating
let’s see what’s looking around the the old desk here I know there’s another one
of those around here somewhere yeah I switched out to the little Jeffries
years ago okay yeah yeah but uh right for sharing their pics right there don’t
pick on me oh yeah I like yours there and those are pretty similar to my old
ex I got that Clayton oh yeah same like light yellow material there yeah it’s
like it disappears instantly the second it hits the ground no matter what
surface it’s on one of you I use these clear can’t you make it like bright
orange neon but I think it should have a little flashing neon light on it well
led inside II that would be great done look please you’re listening yes he
did something that a green oh that’s pretty good uh unless you’re playing on
grass uh so he’s got this shape that I like but the thickness varies
dramatically so here’s a Clayton yeah I’ve got okay the only time I ever got
picks made I got these Clayton purple do burrs that say currently funk
because they’re like well do you want something on them I was like no you’re
like are you sure I was like okay I can for the band name on there um but anyway
so yes the guy you have to specify and you can only give him a range you know
it’s like I still got a bunch of different thicknesses just what the one
that I have to go through you know I’ll order like 20 or 30 and you go through
and find the ones that are thick enough though the others in the pile and take
the ones that work oh yeah leave my thumb picks I have to the only some of
them make you thumb like turn it goes numb because it’s so tight and others
fall off the second you kind of hit something a little weird I love the ones
that are too loose because occasionally you’ll catch a string under the side
right there yet trying to play life nice pretty like you know mellow passage walk
and clams will always be the loudest but yeah pigs man if they’re fun I used to
be rido shaped guys for new Stig yeah I know man it’s you know I mean
miraculously you can lose those two yeah it’s like man that thing’s the size of
like a waffle really for me it’d all be always comes down to the the texture of
the of the pick it has to have just a tiny bit of grit to it
man it’s funny because when anything like that that makes sense on that side
and I never liked the way they sound but if it’s impossible to hold on to or
invisible then I totally love the way it sounds okay I mean I will sit sit around
with with these guys and like a thousand grit wet dry paper and just keep like
keep at it until I get the edges to the point it they sound good cuz mandolins
consept so bad yeah you know just so bright and tinny you know and you don’t
you can’t really ma Amanda Lynn just sound better you know
yet take your sandpaper to it and start sanding the top off or something like
that what are you gonna do I’ve actually
taken on my old Leatherman knife I I had like a saw on it and I would actually
crosshatch the part where my foot your thumb holds onto the pick that helped
for a while now I just have a just I don’t lose the pick as much yeah I just
gave up I tend to just clumsily drop the pick when I’m not playing is my problem
usually if I drop it I’m gonna drop it in the sound hole can you give an
instrument no I come back and get it later until then it’s like a maraca and
a guitar to jump around a lot but yeah funny and it gets students always drop
their picks in the guitar hey you feel like you shouldn’t hold the pick in the
strings like that you’re gonna drop it you’re gonna drive up there kids that’s
man it seemed the way people like people to pick hold you can tell naturally like
you know this is either gonna work for this kid or not you know then there’s
people that’s hold on you know well yeah that’s not gonna work
like that you know got the pincer it’s like when you try to pick up a spy a
granddaddy long long legs and you don’t really want to touch it yeah or like a
really gross you know something from the trash the
dog pulled out okay I’m a tail yeah but yeah did you did you have any other
electric guitar weak questions or guitar electric guitar in general as I’m
looking across to the field of dreams well in terms of like electric guitars
what what are your what are your babies what I work with what do you play and
what would be your favorite oh yeah right like there’s an even answer to
that what I can tell you it’s easy it’s just it’s a clump of Guitar Center my
favorite um I was man I’m trying to remember I wasn’t really like went to a
big thing where when I was really getting any mandolin and stuff I
wouldn’t play a lot play electric guitar one song tonight the set was such that
you know it was all acoustic guitar to me
and around the time we would started with Blues Traveler or somebody like
that I started I was like all right I got to get this electric thing figured
out because you know and especially when we have this sample what about
everything that people were really digging and it was something I wrote on
mandolin and you know you’re playing this very pretty little mandolin on this
tin that’s got oh you know it’s kind of a rock tune and you know you’re trying
to convey you know to a big room full of people like the arc of a rock song with
a mandolin you know you’re like all right this isn’t working
so I started switching some of those things stubbornly over to electric and
that’s when I started really tinkering with what I wanted the electric guitar
to sound like so anyway long story longer I was you know I just kept
getting different Fender guitars and it wasn’t digging them so I was like all
right I’m gonna build my own vintage guitars so I got a bunch of old bodies
and necks and started putting together I’ve like 250 strats and I had like my
one pawn shop awesome prizes I have a 65 telly that I bought for like $400 oh
that’s my one everything every other good story I have like that ended in you
know dismay um but anyway so I I built those guitars and they were pretty good
and I was using those and then a buddy of mine from Nashville or thet in
Nashville told me I should get in touch with this guy named Bill Callahan who’s
up in Winchester Virginia because there were some parts I needed and some other
stuff and he was playing a strat build with Bill and so I went up there and my
my telling is another thing to send me up there has this teeny little neck on
it so we show up to gigs and you know if it’s too humid or it’s you know to drive
the neck would just be so the action was like very so much on that guitar that it
was just you know I was starting to get kind of frustrated so I got him to build
me a pair of Telly’s and he built me a rosewood and a maple
telling and when I got those I liked him so much I got him to do a pair of strats
for me and I sold all the vintage stuff except for the viola telly and I’ve been
using those ever since so those are my favorites and depending on my mood
because I’ve got the whole like the fender cannon a maple and a rosewood
strat and maple on a rosewood telly I just those are typically what I’ll
gravitate towards hit ending in the point um but he has a I’m making guitars
anymore unfortunately no in that always the way
you know and I get on him all the time but he makes a hardware so if you wanted
a steel bridge or anything for your strats or you know a bridge plate for
your telly like so he machines these the saddles these big awesome burled knobs
which are great if you like to do this kind of stuff with telly stuff these
plates to steel neck plates all of it it’s so a lot of the times digs in like
zinc or pop metal so it’s really soft start with placing that stuff with steel
and you get like the whole instrumental transfer sound like way better oh yeah
so those are probably my favorites and he does he does gibson bridges and tail
pieces too I’ve got one of his bridges on my Gretch I guess on both of my
branches and all the Gibson’s have his bridge and tail pieces that we know of
all the instruments if you had am all laid out in front of you in terms of
everything what would you gravitate towards the
most metric mandoline mandoline yeah okay so that’s
where your heart is yeah but yeah if I’m gonna know if I’m just gonna walk around
the house and play something it’ll nine times out of 10 it’ll be
it’ll be mandolin that’s cool yeah I wish I played guitar more you know what
wheel and amp around I’ve got a I’ve got some acoustics that I really love
but yeah typically we’ll just kind of walk around and play mandolin looking
around and see what else him I had that you guys would like um it seems like as
a you know there are so many guitarists out there you really are
it’s almost smarter to go with the instrument that’s less if you want to
stand out it’s just easier if you’re a mandolin player or if you’re a slide
guitarist or just something out of the ordinary from your average even if
you’re really good at the guitar there’s so many people it’s all really good at
it it’s not it’s I wouldn’t say that I’m motivated by anything like that because
fortunately I’m still in my first band five years later and that’s the great
thing so just have to be me so I don’t I don’t have to you know fight for the gig
I don’t have to compete with anybody I just get to be me and so there’s I guess
is it
you know it’s kind of comforting comforting and I and the guys encouraged
me to do you know I write accordingly I get to kind of go off on whatever
tangent I find expiring.
And once again that ladies and gentlemen is where we’re
gonna leave it for today. Join us next Thursday for part two with Carter
Gravatt of the band Carbon Leaf. First off, I want to thank you, our listener. It
really does mean a lot to both Joe and I. I’m so overjoyed that you enjoy our
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We love to get them. You know, it’s it’s a privilege and an honor to talk to all of
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and with that… Join us next Thursday for part 2 with Carter Gravatt of the
band Carbon Leaf on Fret Buzz The Podcast.

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