Early life, family, how you arrived at guitar?
My earliest music was The Beatles and The Shadows followed by all the great 70's pop, most of which was guitar based. I knew I wanted to recreate these sounds and I received a nylon string when I was around 14. By 18 I had a summer job and was able to buy my first electric, a Les Paul copy.
Riff on the process of arranging. How deep does someone have to get into more advanced musical theory in order to 'get good' at it?
At this stage, arranging for the guitar is my language, I speak it, so I can do it on the spot. It's like anything you do every day for years. The best asset you can have is a good ear to simply figure out the parts in a song, a skill which is also something that can and should be developed. In my case I also studied jazz harmony and theory because I like to play jazz and many of my arrangements are in fact of jazz standards so having that knowledge is a plus.
Who are your musical influences?
Well, depending on the kind of music... In terms of solo guitar arranging, definitely Tuck Andress and Joe Pass. But for rock blues, I am a huge Gary Moore fan and I also love Pat Metheny and Allan Holdsworth for their music.
Gear rundown. Go.
Probably the most unique aspect of my gear is the fact that I use a jazz style, small body guitar where I use the sound of the neck humbucker blended with a piezo I have at the bridge. Each PU signal goes to a different channel on an acoustic guitar amp (usually my Acoustic AG60) for tonal control and blended at a ratio of approx 90% humbucker and 10% piezo. This way I can achive the tone I like but I can also reduce the piezo or not use it at all on certain gigs where I want a mellower tone, like my many restaurant and cocktail gigs. The guitar I used for many years is the Ibanez AG75, the famous one with the blue duct tape... For about a year now I have been using instead a Bill Comins GCS-1 which is a superior guitar in every way.
Away from guitar, what are your hobbies?
I love ice skating, hockey and gardening and best of all spending time with my three kids.
How has it been going on Youtube? Your channel is quite popular. Do you think its a viable thing for guitarists looking for exposure?
It's hard to say to tell the truth. I started on YouTube quite early and still add a new video every week so I work hard at it and while the channel is reasonably big, 20,000 subscribers, I have a long way to go. I still use Facebook and other methods to share my videos but whether it's useful for someone starting out now, it is hard to say. At the same time there are new platforms like Tmblr or Instagram where I have not gone, perhaps younger guitarists may know how to take advantage of those. In any case, if you are making a video, make it nice. Good visual, good sound quality, etc. For example, I find it hard to watch videos where the first thing you see is the person stepping back from the iPhone, sitting down, picking up the guitar, tuning, etc... Edit that stuff out! ;-)
Parking lots. Drive around until a good spot opens up or take the first, closest spot you see?
I drive around forever until I get my spot, lol, I drive my wife crazy!
What's the best guitar you've ever played?
Absolutely the Bill Comins GCS-1, an inspiring guitar. It play perfectly in tune up and down the neck, the build quality is like a dream and the tone is amazing.
Any links, shout-outs or anything you'd like to plug?
Please do check out the Bill Comins website. Also I have made personal friendships with many colleagues on YouTube, Adam Referty, Ben Lacy and many others, I have learned a lot from them too. And if you don't mind, please ask your readers to check out my YouTube Channel as well... :-)