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Biography

Guitar Henry

For anyone who might have a remote interest in the gear I use, please continue.

The guitar has been the principal instrument of choice for me from the beginning of time, and my preoccupation with it shows no sign of abating. I’m rather glad about that as, otherwise, I’d have nothing to do. My progress on it has been long and lonely, like most others similarly fixated, I suspect. I’ve sorely fingered my way through several levels of competence, as well as standards of equipment used.

I’m now up to a Fender Strat and a Hofner Verythin for electrics and a Takamine EF360SC for acoustic, but I’ve had Gibson electric copies and a couple of Ibanez’s too. I’ve also got a cheapo acoustic that hangs on a wall, made by a company called Fenix. It serves as a vehicle for bashing out initial ideas, until they become so polished that I have to get the good one out to make it all sound truly superb.

I also have a lovely Takamine Spanish that does its utmost to let me sound suitably lush and exotic. A ukelele I bought just prior to recording the “Overspill” album saw some action on a couple of tracks, until I overtuned it and the poor thing snapped in half (it was cheap…..). I will replace that again, soon.

Recently, I became the proud owner of a Fender Jazz Bass – black with a Rosewood neck, active pickups and four control pots, for Master volume and various tone settings. It will be liberally sprinkled over future recordings, I can promise you.

Having listed all that above, I must stress that I’m not quite at the Steve Howe/Andy Summers plateau of displaying hundreds of guitars in an air-conditioned ante-room, but there’s still time (donations to my collection would be humbly accepted).

In my “Music Henry” page, I make fleeting reference to Adrian Belew and Stevie Ray Vaughan and I can add the following guitarists to a list of players that have left a lasting impact on me : Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, BB King, Paul McCartney, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Jeff Beck, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Dave Davies, Albert Lee, Brian Setzer and the guy who plays dobro for Union Station (I think it’s Jerry Douglas). There’ll no doubt be a few more to add once I can remember them (ah, yes – Martin Taylor, Stanley Jordan, Django Reinhardt and Joe Pass from the world of Jazz).

The main Takamine acoustic has a few chips and scuffs on it now, a legacy of its sterling road service, but it still rings out fulsomely with a set of 0.11 gauge Martin strings on there. It has a heavy-duty pickup with a DSP in the body that pumps out some polished tones, and offers independent volume control and a tuner function that’s especially valuable in a live situation.

The Strat is a US Hot Rod, about 16 years old, red with a maple neck, 2 single coil pickups, a DiMarzio humbucker, a 5-way switch and a Floyd Rose locking tremolo that allows all the strings to be ‘wobbled’ and ‘re-pitched’ until completely slack, a la Van Halen. Amplification is catered for by a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 40W valve (the heaviest object known to man) and I have a compact Yamaha PA for acoustic gigs, ideal for those intimate venues I tend to frequent.

My main effects box is a Zoom G9.2tt floor board with 2 controller pedals on it, one of which moves horizontally!!!. Electric strings are Fenders and acoustic strings are invariably by Martin, although Ernie Balls and D’Addarios have been used from time to time. I tend to fingerpick on the acoustic in a style borrowed lock, headstock and barrel from John Martyn, whereas the plectrum still tries to pick its way around the electric.

Right, I must stop now so I can complete my daily, 3 hour practice ritual………..

Thank you and have another pleasant evening.

– James Henry

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