The Adventures of Bumblefoot: TheMerc Talks to Ron Thal

by Felipe on Jul.07, 2010

Infectious? Yes, but no hemorrhoid cream is needed for this case of Bumblefoot. “It goes back to when I was helping [his wife] study to become a vet,” says Ron, “that’s where I came across the names of the animal diseases.”

In addition to impressive solo album releases and collaborative work throughout his career, Ron’s work has been featured on videogames such as Wild Woody (SEGA, 1996), Outlaw Volleyball (XBox 2003) and Test Drive – Eve Of Destruction (PS2 2004) as well as television on MXC, That Metal Show and more. Ron is also preparing to release a new original song for the popular videogame Rockband, “Right now we have the song “Guitars SUCK” in play-testing to be released through Rockband Network, it’s set up for version 2 of the game.” The makers of Rockband recently announced the introduction of the new ‘pro’ controllers to be available with the upcoming third installment of the game due out for the 2010 holiday season. The new ‘pro’ controllers are meant to teach ‘real’ guitar through the game, as they will feature a full size fret board and the option to use a real electric guitar as optional controller for the game. The new controller format is bound to add a challenging edge to Ron’s tunes, “I plan on releasing more songs for Rockband, and when Rockband 3 comes out end of this year I’d like to keep up with the most current format if possible.” But that’s not all! Ron is also going through final preparations to re-release his acclaimed debut album The Adventures of Bumblefoot in August as well as a tab book personally transcribed by him. “It was an incredible challenge” he admits, “it took 6 months of listening to every guitar track singled out, re-learning what I played and exactly how I played it, and writing out 200 pages of TAB, musical notation, fingers, picking, everything for every note I played on the album.” All this coming from a guy who allegedly Can’t Play The Blues.

His tenure in the current incarnation of Guns n’Roses, including contributions on the band’s anticipated release Chinese Democracy (2008), is the latest addition to an already well-rounded resume. Despite an impressive portfolio that would make almost any musician green with envy, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal is an abnormally normal guy who not only takes the DIY philosophy to heart but also is notorious for his constant interaction with his fans. “I enjoy meeting everyone, getting to know them.” Even with the hectic and often unpredictable Gn’R tour schedule Ron would often find time to meet fans outside the hotel, at venues and wherever he was spotted, often posting numerous witty Facebook updates of his Adventures. As a true independent artist, Ron also handles his own accounting, publicity and bookings. “It’s a constant battle to get things done,” he adds, “more things are added to the “To Do list” faster than you can check things off.” Ron has not only contributed to the long awaited Guns n’ Roses release Chinese Democracy but he has also found time in between to release an original album and an acoustic EP (Abnormal and Barefoot EP 2008) while concurrently working with heavyweights such as Overkill, Anthrax and Exodus (just to name a few) at his private studio in central New Jersey, an unassuming house near Princeton that Ron has renovated into a studio. He describes the place as just “an old house where I go to make noise.” However, the studio is a busy place, boasting visitors such as Zakk Wylde and Dream Theatre while adding video production to the services provided.

“I love challenges,” he adds, and it is this love for challenges that led a young Ron Thal to learn Eddie VanHalen’s legendary instrumental song Eruption, a challenging benchmark of shred skills to any guitarist, however young Ron took it a step further and after learning the song from the top he decided to learn it backwards too! “It goes back to being 12, being so inspired by Eddie Van Halen, I learned Eruption and then flipped the tape reels in the cassette copy I had of it and learned the song backwards.” And though it was KISS’ 100,000 Years that made Ron want to pick up a guitar and play it was EVH’s iconic instrumental that inspired him. It started with learning Eruption backwards and quickly evolved into modifying and creating his own gear, “it was hearing Eddie Van Halen at that age that inspired this” he adds “–I’d read how he’d modify his guitars and I started coming up with my own weird modifications for my guitars.” This fascination continues, showcased on some of Ron’s most iconic guitars such as his “Cheese” and “Bumblefoot” models, which he chopped up himself, or his “Hand” model, which was cut by Tom Cannalonga.

Ron has also toured with iconic punk-rock guitarist Lita Ford, “I had a lot of fun on the Lita tour, it was with my solo band drummer Dennis Leeflang, and friends of mine – there was a lot of laughing and fun.” Ron keeps some of his gear consistent between tour and solo appearances, “With Lita we usually had a rented Marshall half-stack and a Les Paul waiting for me at gigs, and I’d bring one of my Vigier guitars, a wah pedal, a Tube Screamer & a Boss delay pedal. Sometimes we’d have an Engl Invader100 head whenever possible, which is what I use with GNR.”

Ron’s material is available online at as well as on Guns and Roses’ 2008 studio album Chinese Democracy.


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