Me & Mr. Clapton


The people we idolize when we are young can have such a lasting impact on our lives. Sometime in junior high school I discovered the music of Eric Clapton. This was a pivotal moment in my journey. Clapton was one of the first players I came across that used his guitar as an extension of his voice. I was obsessed with my new found guitar hero, and spent most of my teenage years studying every nuance of his playing and legacy. I've even owned two of his signature Stratocasters.

I quickly identified with Clapton’s persona. He seems a bit introverted and shy, and really lets his music do the talking. His stage shows typically have a pretty simple set up - not a lot of flash, and he is always diplomatic when it comes to sharing the stage. This is something I’ve always tried to embody as a performer. Surrounding yourself with excellent musicians and allowing them space to shine is one the greatest thrills of being on stage.

One of the first Clapton records I got my hands on was a live CD/DVD recording called One More Car, One More Rider. I probably watched that thing hundreds of times. Many members of his live band are some of my favorite players today - Nathan East, Steve Gadd, and Billy Preston - just to name a few. The first time I saw Clapton in concert I remember being overwhelmed to the point of tears.

Whether Clapton is your guitar hero or not, it’s hard to deny his impact on blues and rock music. I think his larger legacy is keeping blues music alive. Clapton has put the spotlight on so many blues artists that may have fallen by the wayside in their later years - B.B. King, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy , JJ Cale - the list goes on and on. He also paved the way for so many younger players from Richie Sambora to John Mayer. Clapton is largely responsible for introducing Bob Marley's music to American audiences as well. 

I imagine our childhood heroes are much like our first boyfriends or girlfriends. Even though we go on to experience other things, they always hold a special place in our hearts. I still find inspiration in Eric’s records today. I saw recently he will be playing two dates this fall at Madison Square Garden. I’ll probably grab a ticket -  it will most likely be my last chance to see my hero. 

The gear

The guitar nerd in me decided to profile the gear I use. It has taken me years to build a rig that I'm happy with. It takes a lot of trial and error and it is always evolving. I prefer a "less is more" approach and I think that is reflected in my gear. Every player has different needs and preferences - these are mine. Check out my complete guitar rig below.  

MONO CASE:  I love this product because it provides a durable and convenient way to carry my guitar. It is able to be worn as a backpack which frees up your hands to carry additional gear. Highly recommend this product for musicians on the go. Check this case out and many of their other wonderful products HERE.  

FENDER RICHIE KOTZEN TELECASTER:  This has been my main electric guitar for a few years now.  I've had dozens of electric guitars through the years but this guitar has quickly become my favorite. This guitar is designed to Richie Kotzen's (Winery Dogs, Mr. Big) specs. Some unique features specific to this guitar include a very large neck, comfort cut, and two DiMarzio pickups. Despite not playing anything like Richie and my small hands, this has proven to be a perfect guitar for me. I find that a larger guitar neck significantly reduces hand fatigue. This is a very versatile guitar that can cover any style of music. Find out more about this guitar HERE.

MARTIN CE0-7: I've had this guitar for a few years now. The fine folks at Woody's Music in Rock Hill, South Carolina ordered this for me. I love the smaller body and style of this guitar. It has that classic Martin tone and is also quite the looker. Before this acoustic guitar I primarily played a Gibson J-35. I loved the Gibson but wanted something a little more compact since I'm always crammed in some corner of a bar. The only modification I've made to this guitar is adding a LR Baggs active pickup system. Learn more about this guitar HERE

TECH 21 FLYRIG 5: I'm not much of a guitar pedal user, but this product caught my eye a few years ago and I had to have it. It's essentially three pedals in one - delay, distortion, and a clean boost. The greatest part is I can throw it in my guitar bag and go. What also makes this pedal unique is due to the SanAmp portion of the pedal, I can plug directly into a PA system if I absolutely had to. It is also convenient to carry when I'm using back-line gear and am not sure what amp I will be playing out of - I can click on the sansamp function and feel confident I am going to get a good tone. Check it out HERE.

QUILTER MACH PRO 2 HD: This is the most recent gear addition to my rig. After my Fender Vibrolux was stolen after a gig last year, I began a search for a replacement amp and I decided to get something different. Quilter is a small boutique brand out of Costa Mesa, California. I can't say enough good things about this amp. I've owned several Fender amps including a Deluxe and Vibrolux. While these were great amps in their own right, this amp blows them all out of the water. It should be mentioned that this is a solid state amp. Most guitar players I know turn up their nose when solid state amps are brought up. To some extent I get it - we've all experienced the cheap Line 6 and Peavey amps that leave a lot to be desired. The Quilter amps are not modeling amps. This is a high quality solid state amp that responds and sounds like it's tube counterparts - without the typical unreliable tube technology. Not only is this amp incredibly loud - it weighs in at only 21 pounds! Easy to grab and hop on the subway or throw in the trunk and head to the next gig. Learn more HERE.

If you're looking for a fantastic guide to help you pick a guitar, check out Beginner Guitar HQ HERE for some practical tips and advice to help you on your journey!