From QRD #74:
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Chvad – My first guitar was my Opa’s 1960-ish Sears Silvertone. I beat it up a lot over the years, but I still have it. I get really emotionally attached to instruments. I can’t see ever parting ways with it.
QRD – what’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Chvad – My “go to” guitar is a black walnut Carvin custom shop guitar based on their SCB6 body style. It’s fitted with two Carvin Humbuckers. Prior to that I’d been using a Schecter Damien FR for the past 8 or so years. I have two pedal boards I use to keep things lighter to carry. The FX chain is as follows: Pedalboard 01: Earthquaker Devices Dream Crusher (fuzz), Fairfield Circuitry Randy’s Revenge Ring Modulator, Tech 21 Boost R.V.B. (reverb), MXR Fullbore Metal (distortion), WMD Geiger Counter (distortion), Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone (fuzz), Dentone Swamp Thing (tremolo) & a Death by Audio Ghost Delay. This chains into pedal board #2: Morley Volume Plus, Earthquaker Devices Tone Job (EQ), Red Panda Particle (delay), Strymon Brigadier (delay), Pigtronix Infinity Looper/Nose Expression/expansion pedal, Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master (reverb & delay), Tech 21 Sansamp Classic. My amp is a Peavey Studio Chorus 210. When I’m recording I usually go direct from the Sansamp. If I’m doing a more drone oriented show I’ll also go direct. If I’m working on heavier material live, I’ll use the amp. It’s the only amp I’ve ever had.
QRD – what’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Chvad – Probably the effects & then the guitar.
QRD – what’s your main amplifier & why?
Chvad – It’s a Peavey Studio Chorus 210. It’s the only amp I’ve ever had. Amps are heavy & suck to move, so I have a hard time wanting them.
QRD – what’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Chvad – It’s a Carvin custom shop guitar based on their SCB6. It’s got a black walnut body & through neck based on their SCB6 body style. It’s fitted with two Carvin Humbuckers with tappable coils. It sounds nice, looks beautiful, & it’s simple. My last guitar had a floating trem & it was horrible to restring & horrible to tune. I got tired of fighting with it & not being able to readily alter tunings without a lot of hassle.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Chvad – The before mentioned Carvin custom. It does everything I want.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Chvad – Probably some type of delay/reverb/fuzz combo that allowed you to alter the signal chain from one effect into the other. Something like the Dispatch Master combined with the Philosopher’s Tone. I think I could get a lot of miles out of something like that.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Chvad – Four.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Chvad – My resonator hangs on the wall. That’s the second most used guitar. The Carvin is on a floor stand next to my recording area. My grandfather’s guitar is in a case tucked behind my synths & my Schecter is retired under the bed.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Chvad – A lot prior to Mono cases. Since getting one of those I’m completely set. They’re amazing. Pricey, but I do believe worth it.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Chvad – Flexibility & ease of use.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Chvad – I think that’s hard to say. How do you quantify good mojo? I’m nowhere near informed enough to understand or explain the cost of some vintage guitars. I do know good craftsmanship takes skill & time. I’m happy paying enough to get that versus a guitar glued together on a machine somewhere. I can see spending between one & two thousand & walking away with something both physically beautiful & playable. You can get cheaper guitars that play well, but I have a real problem with how a lot of guitars look so, it’s tough to find something I like. Thus the custom build.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Chvad – I’ve never upgraded any of my guitars.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Chvad – Research a lot. I’ve never really had an option to test.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Chvad – Traditionally a lot yeah, but that’s slowing down lately. I spent a long time trying to get pedals that did the trick for me. That was harder than getting a guitar I liked & ultimately a lot pricier.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Chvad – I tend to gravitate from clean to ethereal to heavily distorted to bombastic feedback like noise. I need a lot of flexibility for the sounds I’m looking for. The end result is a lot of redundancy in my pedal board with four distortions, four delays, & two reverbs.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Chvad – I’m pretty lucky really as I’ve managed to get the gear that I want & it seems I’m not so picky that any of it ends up being too hard to get. If my attention ever turns to amps, maybe that’ll change; but until I’m successful enough to have someone else carry that shit around I doubt it. I feel like I’ve been looking at pedals from 4ms forever, but I’ve never actually grabbed one. I usually don’t buy things & stick them on the board if I don’t plan on using them live. The 4ms stuff is cool though & I’d love to have some of those in the studio some day.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Chvad – Lessons & maybe a teacher glued to the back of the headstock or something. If those came with the guitar I might have some clue as to what I was doing with one.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Chvad – The best? The Pigtronix Infinity looper for sure. That’s been super inspiring to play with. The worst? Maybe the Moog MF-104M. It’s FAR from a bad pedal, but for the cost versus how much enjoyment I got from it, the ratio was very low for me. I really love delays… hands down my favorite effect, but for whatever reason it just didn’t vibe well with me & I immediately regretted what I’d spent to get one.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Chvad – I don’t usually buy Boss or Digitech pedals & I’m not a fan of their switches. They feel weird to me. I really have been liking Earthquaker Devices a lot lately. Nice built quality & sounds. I love WMD a lot as a company & I have a number of their eurorack modules in addition to the Geiger Counter pedal. I’m looking forward to whatever pedals they produce in the future.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Chvad – I just noodle. The only tunes I know are my own.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Chvad – I think I grabbed one when I was 19 or 20. I’m currently 42.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Chvad – I’m a fucking horrible guitar player. I don’t think I’ve progressed one damn bit in my entire life. I don’t. It’s shameful really. I’m so far under competent it’s not even funny & I’m not being humble in the slightest.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Chvad – I’m a better keyboard player, but guitar for me has always been the instrument that humanizes my music. I feel like I’m able to emote better through that than anything else.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Chvad – I think any instrument is a good first instrument. If something inspires someone, then that’s the good thing to have.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Chvad – I see the guitar as an ally & my skill set as my adversary.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Chvad – Justin Broadrick. That’s about it. There are other players I love, but he’s the only person I’d consider influential as a player.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming guitars)?
Chvad – Nah. I think it’s cool. I’m just not cool enough to do it.
QRD – what’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Chvad – I don’t try to abuse instruments. I’m a little boring like that. I stepped on or dropped (I can’t remember) my brother’s bass once. That’s about it.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Chvad – Not a thing.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Chvad – Depends on the week. I ebb & flow with instruments. I’ll go for weeks spending three or four hours a day to weeks using other instruments entirely.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Chvad – I like Cool Picks Cat Tongue picks. I just like how they feel & they never slip.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Chvad – I use skinny top, heavy bottoms. I like heavy tones & shrill highs. These seem to get me there.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Chvad – My last set had rust on them before I changed them. I should probably do that more often.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Chvad – Never.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Chvad – Probably my strumming hand.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Chvad – I used to try & do it myself, but now I take it to a guy. He’s faster & way better at it.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Chvad – DADFAD. It’s something I stumbled on early on as I was strumming around. That’s basically all I’ve ever used. When I’ve played guitar for other bands I’ve used EADGBE, but I’m basically just committing patterns to memory at that point as I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with that tuning.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Chvad – I play by ear, so if I have any ideas I sing or hum them into a recorder or voicemail.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Chvad – 54 inches.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Chvad – Not bothering to learn anything about the instrument.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Chvad – I more or less navigate all instruments the same way. I try to find a compelling idea or sound & figure out the best way to execute it. So for me, one instrument is the same as any other. So for the question I’d say anything musical. I’m not sure how that would apply to anyone in general though.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you cant?
Chvad – Classic blues. I love hearing that stuff.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Chvad – I feel like I’m being redundant; but truly, learning to play. I’m always conflicted with having the time to create & record & then learning. I always opt for the create & record part.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Chvad – Wouldn’t even know.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (Ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Chvad – I used Ebow & slide all the time so I’ll go with those.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Chvad – I haven’t taken any, no.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo/vibrato systems?
Chvad – After years of having them I’m done with them. I love how they can sound, but I can’t deal with the hassle anymore.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Chvad – Every time I play. Especially with an Ebow. They can be kind of bright & harsh. I use the tone knobs to mellow that out.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Chvad – LOL, ego.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Chvad – I can’t, no.
QRD – What famous musicians guitar would you like to own & why?
Chvad – I think it’d be neat to have one of Billy Gibbons’s guitars. That guy is mind blowing to me.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Chvad – I think the best guitar work I’ve done was on the last Things Outside The Skin record I recorded in 2005. That record got tied up with a dispute with a label for years. I’ve got the rights to it now, but it seems so far removed from who I am & what I’m doing that I’m not sure if I’ll ever see it released. That’s always bummed me out. I spent a couple of years shopping it around, but no one showed any interest. That band never got the love it deserved in my opinion.
QRD – Anything else?
Chvad – I’m just trying to be honest about my skill set as a player. I’m not good & I don’t think I really need to be. I enjoy playing guitar more than any other instrument so, there’s got to be something in that alone I think.