INTERVIEW: Dave Leslie of The Baby Animals

daveandsuzeHot off the success of their first studio album release in 20 years, This Is Not The End (and its Top 20 ARIA Album Chart debut), iconic Aussie rockers The Baby Animals are hitting the road for the national Feed The Birds tour. The tour will be filmed for the band’s first ever live DVD, to be called Feed the Birds (Live). And Baby Animals can always be counted on for great guitar moments courtesy of lead guitarist Dave Leslie and vocalist Suze DeMarchi. Dave’s one of those incredibly adapatble players who is able to sound perfectly at home whether he’s playing a simple rhythm part, dishing out the shred or – and this seems to be his most impressive skill – playing the kind of stuff that sounds simple until you try to play it yourself, whereupon you learn that it’s impossibly perfect and unpredictable. I Heart Guitar caught up with Dave right before the tour kick-off to talk shop.  Read More …

Three humbuckers are better than one

I’ve been playing my Taylor SolidBody a lot lately. It’s funny – almost every single time I pick it up, a new song comes out. At first they were all quite dark-sounding, sort of a Mastodon-At-Their-Most-Depressing kind of thing. I started to wonder if maybe the guitar’s dark colour scheme was influencing my perception of the kind of music I should play on it. But now it’s starting to give me some much more upbeat-sounding ideas too. I’m pretty sure that this guitar is trying to make me write an album for it. The material is coming out as a cross between Mastodon, Baroness, Devin Townsend’s Terria album and maybe even shades of Duff McKagan’s Loaded. My buddies Rohan and Pete (the rhythm section from The Upperhand) and I are going to get together soon to check out some of these ideas in a trio format. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

REVIEW: Taylor SolidBody Standard

Recently, Taylor Guitars and Australian distributor Audio Products Group offered me an incredible opportunity: to design my own guitar via the Solidbody Confgigurator at taylorguitars.com then have the guitar built, then use it for reviews and videos on I Heart Guitar. After thinking about it for about a millisecond I of course said yes and started designing. I’ve been in love with the Taylor Solidbody since the first time I reviewed the SolidBody Custom a few years ago, and if you dig around on YouTube you can even find a Share My Guitar video from NAMM 2010 which has about five seconds of me jamming with some random dudes in the background. So I was familiar with the general layout and qualities of the various Solidbody models, and I took this into account in designing my guitar.

My first choice was to decide between the SolidBody Classic (swamp ash body with satin-finish maple neck and Indian rosewood fretboard) or Standard (chambered mahogany body, quilted maple top, gloss-finish mahogany neck, ebony fretboard). I decided on the Standard. The next choice was cutaway: single or double? I selected the double cutaway version just because it feels more ‘me.’ The guitar’s scale length is 24 7/8″.

The Configurator gives you the option of tremolo or fixed bridge versions. I selected the tremolo version – it’s a non-locking unit with a low fulcrum point which gives it extra smooth operation, and the intonation setup work is done through the back of the guitar, keeping the playing surface smooth and screw-free. I decided to go for a pickguard rather than direct mount pickups, so I could later take advantage of Taylor’s interchangeable solderless pickguards. I selected three of Taylor’s mini humbuckers, which I fell in love with when I reviewed that first SolidBody back in the day. To my ears, these pickups are voiced somewhere between a P90 and a Gretsch FilterTron, with maybe a bit of overwound Strat thrown in. But they’re very low noise and are uniquely Taylor in construction and tone. Taylor’s tone knob is specially voiced to produce a wah-like midrange kick when it’s turned all the way down, and their guitars feature a fuse to protect you from unwanted zaps onstage.

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