IC: Since it is officially 2010, do you have any New Year's Resolutions?
Got a few little things, and I've already started. I have stacks
of old CDRs with old albums I've recorded, mine and other bands. I
managed to find all my old software and plugins from 1999 and loaded
them onto a computer and have been making mix stems of every track of
every song, with the existing fx and automation. Need to do it before
the software is too out-of-date to run, and before the CDRs turn into
You've had an involvement in the instrumental guitar community ever
since your very first release on the now-classic underground guitar
compilation, "Ominous Guitarists From the Unknown." Bringing
things full-circle, in recent years, you produced a fantastic virtuoso
guitar compilation entitled, "Guitars That Ate My Brain." Could you
talk a little bit about your involvement on that project?
It was 2 years ago, Pete at Magna Carta had half the tracks and asked
if I would finish the other half of the album. I hired Jeremy Krull to
write songs in the vibe of different metal artists, I co-wrote some,
Dennis Leeflang laid drums at my studio with Jeremy engineering. For
Shane Gibson's song Dennis laid drum tracks at his studio. Then
the performers were matched up with songs, they laid their guitar solos
and sent tracks to me, (I did my solos at my place), then mixing began
- I mixed drums, Jeremy re-amped guitars and mixed music stems at his
place and sent tracks to me, and mixes were completed. I got the rest
of the tracks from Pete and did the mastering. It's a pretty cool
guitar cd, great players.
You've done frequent lessons for guitar magazines over the years, and
even worked as a transcriber much earlier in your career. Do you
have plans to ever release an instructional DVD, tab book, or anything
of the sort?
Man, every year I say 'This year I'm finally gonna do instructional
videos..." Been saying that for 8 years, but there's never enough
time with touring and studio work. I have a bunch of
instructional ideas ready to go, just need time, never enough
time... would like to do TAB books for all my albums,
but it's the same obstacle, time time time......! Always
racing against the clock. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
IC: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring musicians who look up to you as a guitar player?
A quick 10 off the top of my head: 1 - take care of your teeth
and gums. 2 - take care of your feet. 3 - wait for no one,
get things done yourself, now. 4 - it's an endless battle up a
muddy hill while the world throws stones at you. Don't think about it,
just keep pushing yourself forward. 5 - you don't get a 2nd
brain, body and spirit. Treat yours well. Treat others' well. 6 -
don't just play guitar parts on your guitar - play music, songs,
include multiple melodies. 7 - experience all you can in life,
have greater stories to tell in your music. 8 - unexpected things
aren't necessarily bad things. Give up control and learn to roll with
it. 9 - bad things are the push to make touching songs, use
them. 10 - forgive your own mistakes and become a better
person. Do good things.
For years, your debut solo album, "The Adventures of Bumblefoot," has
been out-of-print, with original copies sometimes seen on eBay, selling
for hundreds of dollars. However, it would appear that it is
finally available again, only this time with some bonus material?
Yes, Shrapnel is re-releasing the album after 15 years, and we're
adding a few extra tracks from a video game I did music for around the
time the album was first released. I spent 6 months transcribing
the album, as detailed as possible. Notation, TAB, fingers,
picking, everything the hands do on every guitar track for every song
(the 12 songs, not the bonus tracks) It's about 200 pages, all I
have to do is add some text info, photos, tweak the layout and get 'em
printed. Hope to have it available by mid-2010.
In the past, you've played swiss cheese, hands, the infamous "Flying
Foot" guitar, as well as your fretless endeavors. But more
recently, Vigier Guitars released the Limited Edition Bumblefoot model.
Could you tell us a bit about the unique features built into that
signature model, and where you first got the idea to use a thimble in
The thimble (metal cap that goes over the finger) started in the late
80s, I was looking for a way to get the notes on the string that
continued past the fretboard. I keep a thimble on my picking hand
little finger and tap on the string with it to get those extra notes. A
good way to find those notes is with simple math. The higher octave of
any note can be found at the half-way point between the note and the
bridge. The fifth above any note can be found at one-third, its octave
at the 2nd third (which is the half-way point of the 1st third, hence
its octave) Make sense? And of course, use your ears!
the guitar - starting with the neck, it has 24 frets, it has a 'zero
fret', and there's no truss rod - instead there's a strip of graphite
rock going through the neck, and these necks *never* need adjusting.
I've beaten them up on tour, changes in temperature and humidity, and
the things have *never* warped or needed any adjusting. The body - two
pickups, a DiMarzio Tone Zone at the bridge and a Chopper at the neck,
with a 5-way toggle switch - bridge, bridge split-coil, bridge &
neck, bridge & neck out-of-phase for that quacky piercing tone, and
neck position. There's a Floyd Rose with custom pole pieces that make
it smoother, the bridge is hard against the body so it only bend down,
not up (this way the guitar stays in tune if you break a string).
There's a magnetized hole on the body that houses the thimble. More technical info here. Last year we made a special 2009 edition, with a gritty black textured finish and a kill-switch.
last solo album, "Abnormal," was released back in '08, and is even
available as an instrumental mix through iTunes. What's next for
you as far as solo releases go?
I honestly don't know. When I'm touring, the writing goes dry. And
there's plenty of touring planned for the near future. I'm not
gonna force it, just gonna see where things go. Would love to do
"How To Play [Album]" DVDs and TAB books for every album, breaking down
the how-and-why of everything for each album. Maybe I can use
those stems I'm making of the old recordings for Rock Band versions of
the songs, or my own "Make Your Own Mix Of [Song]" where you can set
your own levels and make your own versions of the songs. Hmmmm...
You've done various clinic tours and master-classes all over the world,
including appearances at IA's Freak Guitar Camp, your Live at The RMA
DVD, and so on. Now that you're working with GN'R, do you still
have time to perform as a solo artist?
Because of the touring, life has gotten really backed up, I have a ToDo
list that has about 4 years of work waiting to get done on it.
And I love the studio so much more, when I have time I'd rather spend
it in the studio creating. I got this old house that I've been
slowly turning into a studio over the last few years. A place where you
go to record, but it's like home - a place where you can live without
distractions when you go there to record your album. Maybe after
I get some things off the To-Do list I can think about doing solo gigs
The "Abnormal" album featured a song of yours called "Simple Days"
(also heard on "Barefoot"), which has one of the most memorable solos
I've ever heard. Do you have any particular process for writing
Thank you! Usually solos are played spontaneously in the rough
tracks, and I use them as is or tweak them for the final tracks. That
solo was a spontaneous one. It's funny, I think a lot of the melodic
stuff on the album goes unnoticed sometimes, cool ya pointed that one
IC: Final question… You do a lot of fundraising, through various benefit concerts, the "9.11" album, and even a portion of your signature guitar cable sales going to charity. What foundations are you most closely associated with, and what could your fans do to help out?
Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation, www.msrf.org started by my good
friend Ralph Rosa. He was a guitar player and friend that was
diagnosed with MS in 1997. He started a non-profit organization,
with the support of friends and family. We would hold dinner/comedy
events, concerts, and 100% of the proceeds went to researchers and labs
working towards a cure. We did our homework and found the researchers
we believed in, visited the labs, would get updates on progress.
Ralph's physical condition reached a point where we had to cut back on
events and just accept donations. I donate money from my autographed
cds and merch. What can fans do to help? Just be good to each
other, be strong honorable people - if y'all do that, the world will be
a little better. That's what you can do to help.