Eric Johnson Discusses His “Koto” Technique, Tone,
Signature Strat and More...
He's a perfection-driven, genre-bending ax slinger from Texas with one of the most distinctive electric guitar tones in music. But what Guitar World readers wanted to know is ...
How did you get that fantastic liquid tone on “Cliffs of Dover,” and was that one cohesive solo or an amalgam? — J. Paradis
I played a Gibson ES-335 through a 100-watt Marshall. I put it all together by playing sections, then dropping them in and connecting them into a seamless whole.
What is the greatest misconception about you and your music? — Ray Wilson
That’s hard to say. The music business constructs an image of an artist based on what it wants, and that image tends to stick around. Sometimes, no one bothers to look between the cracks to see if the image resembles the truth. That can be frustrating, but it’s also the responsibility of the artist to obliterate that image by making something powerful enough to dispel it. There is certainly a stigma to being a “guitar hero.” But I know what music turns me on and how I want to fit into the world of guitar players. I try to keep on that journey with everything I do, without worrying too much about how others perceive me.
What would you suggest for someone on a limited budget who wants that trademark Texas-sized Eric Johnson tone? — Voltage
Good tone, whether it’s based around mine or not, begins with a versatile amplifier. I recommend a silverface Fender Twin or Pro Reverb, especially if you can get one with a nice old Jensen speaker. You want an amp with pure tone, something with which you can create a clean and simple sound. From there, you can add an overdrive pedal or any other effect you want, but you have to begin with a good clean sound. To make another point, I think people overemphasize the importance of gear in their search for tone. Your sound comes from how you pick and dampen the strings, and from your attack, as much as anything.
Who are some of your favorite classical composers? — Joe Sweep
Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky and Mozart. Franz Liszt and Chopin are way up there. Georg Telemann is a very interesting guy, and I also love George Gershwin.
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