George Lynch remains one of the great rock stylists of our time. With a history that stems from his early work throughout the ’80s with Dokken, to various solo albums as well as with his current group, Lynch Mob, George Lynch continues to forge ahead and explore various new territories of rock musical styles and tone.
With two new albums out and multiple projects ahead, George was kind enough to take time away from his hectic recording and touring schedule to give LegendaryTones the low-down on his music as well as the topics of tone, technique, and the future. Check out his site at www.georgelynch.com and enjoy!
LT: You are well-known and respected not only for your music as well as your mastery of the instrument, but for your great sense of guitar tone. How would you describe or characterize “the ultimate” rock guitar tone and what was it that drove your initial quest for tone early on?
GL: “The ultimate rock tone would be totally transparent, allowing you to express yourself completely, yet it would also inspire new ideas. I’m not the kind of player that can just plug into any old piece of crap and sound brilliant. I am very dependant on my tone to get me into that place I need to be to be, where I can be comfortable and play inspired. Having said that, I’m going to completely contradict myself, because one of the most inspiring tones I have ever experienced was when I was about fifteen years old. I would plug into my dads GE console stereo headphone jack with my Tiesco and a Jordan Boss Tone and I thought I was Jimi Hendrix.”
LT: The new Lynch Mob record “REvolution” is out and it takes a fresh and updated approach to many classic Dokken and Lynch Mob tunes. Did you try out or use any new pieces of gear with your guitar rig in the studio as well for the album?
GL: “All of the guitars on that record were recorded pretty straight forward and without a lot of overdubs or effects. There are two rhythm tracks on all of the songs, one done with a Bogner Uberschall and the other with a Diesel VH4. Both are really nice amps and very similar in tone. For the solos, I used the Bogner and a Marshall JCM800 (vertical jack) that was modified by John Suhr. For my clean and jangly tones, I used a GT solo. I believe that’s the name of it. It’s a small 1X12″ combo that you can swap the tubes out in. I used everything from the EL84 to KT88’s. It’s an awesome sounding amp, and I have to thank Aspen Pitman for coming up with that one. I also experimented with a few different mic pre’s, which also play a huge part in getting your tone right in the studio. My favorites are Summit and the old Telefunken. I also have a real interesting Peavey tube mic pre that sounds great for certain things. It’s very grainy with a nice crisp edge on top. I sound like a wine taster (LOL)! I also really love the Groove Tube Viper for guitars, snare, bass…”
LT: You’ve been photographed in hundreds of stories through the years with a wide range of guitars and you’re most widely known for your associations with Charvel, Kramer, and of course ESP, who carries your signature model. Any current particular favorites?
GL: “I started playing with 27 ½” scale baritone a few years ago. I love low tuning, but it’s very difficult to migrate the kind of lead tone and playing I’m known for into that type of environment. I have an ESP Viper (baritone) with Seymour Duncan Screamin’ Demon pick ups, which really works for me in that respect. I also have a beautiful green flame ESP baritone, which I call my “Green Manalishi,” that sounds great too. This is the prototype for my newest signature model ESP is coming out with this summer at the Nashville NAMM show.”
LT: There’s a lot of debate from players that either side on the debate that “tone is all in the fingers” and those who state that you’re just not going to get good tone unless you’ve got the gear. Though LegendaryTones itself is primarily a gear-related site, I’m a believer that the player is atleast 50% of the equation if not more. What are your thoughts on that?
GL: “Well, if you’re Adrian Belew you are the kind of player that’s inclined to depend on effects. Stevie Ray Vaughan depended on great vintage tone, and guys like Zack Wylde and Eddie Van Halen can sit down and blow you away plugged into a garbage disposal. I think the end justifies the means, as we’re all built differently. I think the 50% equation is about right.”
LT: What are some of your favorite moments on record for riffs or rhythm parts? Any personal favorite solos? I recall that the “In my Dreams” solo recorded by Dokken was voted by readers in a guitar magazine as the “Solo of the Year.”
GL: “I honestly very rarely listen to my old stuff. It’s behind me, and I hate dwelling on it. Past creative endeavors are fragments of a continuing process, and until I really nail something, I’m continually frustrated listening to myself missing the mark. Records are sometimes so painful to make. By the time your done making them, that’s the last piece of music you ever want to hear again. But when I do hear old stuff, there are some great moments on every album that I’ve had the privilege of working on. Although a lot of people didn’t dig it, the Lynch Mob record “Smoke This” had a lot of stuff on it that I love. There is also some great material on the new Lynch Pilson record which will stand the test of time.”
LT: From past interviews, you definitely come across as a perfectionist with your tone as well as with how you communicate your musical ideas. No doubt you continue to inspire countless players today. Does anyone out there inspire you right now ? – whether it’s another guitarist or a musician of another genre even or maybe someone or something completely outside of music?
GL: “I’m sort of chameleon in the sense that I tend to acquire stuff from good players from every era that I’ve gone through in my lifetime. I incorporate those elements into my playing. I’ve been heavily influenced, in semi-chronological order, by the Beatles, Albert King, Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Beck, Johnny Winter, Leslie West, Blackmore, Gibbons, Brian May, Frank Morino, Al Dimeola, Shenker, Uli Roth, Holdsworth, EVH, Yngwie and a hundred other players from the 60’s to present day. I think what I’m blessed with is the ability to take those influences, make them my own, and making it part of my musical vocabulary. I guess as guitarists we all do that to a certain extent. So many things inspire me and a lot of those things are non-musical. I think that the greatest artists may not been have inspired so much by their peers, as they were by their own deep sense of urgency or unique state of mind. I’m not finding that there is those select few great ones that we look up to anymore. Now, it’s more of a collective movement that you have to tap into.”
LT: What advice would you give a young player today looking to get the similar aggressive voicings and fluid-leads in their playing like what you’ve developed? Are there any particular practice techniques or exercises that you’d recommend to keep in the ultimate shape?
GL: I very rarely practice, but when I gear up for a record, writing mode or a tour, I’ll lock myself away. Sometimes I’ll drop in at G.I.T. in Hollywood, which is very close to my studio, and teach one on one, sort of unannounced. My chops go through the roof in a week just being around all that. G.I.T. is the epicenter of the technical guitar universe. My oldest son, Sean, is enrolling there for Fall ’03. I’m a 100% ear player with no technical musical knowledge, so it’s very hard for me to explain or teach using traditional methods. Just like with my kids, I try to teach my students by example. (Not that I’ve set a good example by being undisciplined and not applying myself to grasping theory.)”
LT: You’ve been keeping very busy! The new Lynch Mob album is in stores as well as a collaborative album you’ve done with your former Dokken bandmate Jeff Pilson entitled Lynch-Pilson, “Wicked Underground.” Are there any future projects or activities you can give our readers a hint about?
GL: Lynch Mob has a live DVD coming out at the end of the summer. We may also be playing a few select shows as well as going to Japan. I hope Jeff and I will tour with LP before the end of the year. I am writing and producing songs with a female vocalist that’s coming along great. I’ve finally gotten my new dream team effort moving again. It’s a little early to say who’s involved, but it will be worth the suspense.