Kiss

Here at Gibson.com, we had the privilege of interviewing a collection of amazingly talented, bright guitar players in 2012, and, yes, we learned a thing or two about our favorite thing: playing guitar! From Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington to Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, we’re highlighting some of our favorite interviews from the past year and looking forward to more six-string talk in 2013!

KISS’s Gene Simmons on why he gravitated towards the bass guitar.

I’ve always been a pragmatist. Everybody else was playing guitar. I could see clearly that if I wanted to be in a band, maybe I should play bass, since there were fewer bass players. Of course, some of the bass players for the biggest bands in the world started out as guitar players. Being able to play guitar gives you a different perspective as a bass player.

For the rest of the chat, head here.

KISS’s Paul Stanley on KISS riffs having a distinct sound.

…There is something distinctive about KISS riffs. But I also think most great riffs have already been written, and Jimmy Page probably wrote most of them. “Black Dog,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Heartbreaker,” “Dazed and Confused,” on and on. Granted, much of what Led Zeppelin did was based on Blind Boy Fuller, Robert Johnson, Hubert Sumlin, you name it -- but they took those things and skewed them in a way that created a signature. Most of what’s come afterward has been based on that. Has anyone else come up with riffs that great? There have been other good riffs by other players, but most of them tip their hats to those same sources. I doubt they’ll stand the test of time as well as the originals.

For more from Stanley, head to this link.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gary Rossington on loving Les Paul guitars.

I always use my ’59 reissue Les Pauls. I’ve got one that’s a sunburst and one in black that I play slide on. I’ve got the action a little higher on that and the strings a little lighter, so it’s dirtier. As usual, I just played all Gibson Les Pauls and I left the other models of guitars to the other guys for contrast.

I love Les Pauls. Most of the time I use standard tuning for slide. Early on, we didn’t have the time to change tunings on stage, plus I only had one guitar back then, so I learned to play slide in standard. But I like to play in open E a lot. I use that on this CD a lot, and open G. Duane Allman was real fond of open E and played it great, and he was a big influence on all of us. We were still teenagers when we’d go to see the Allman Brothers. When I first heard Duane he was tuned to open E and I didn’t know what the hell he was doing until I discovered open tunings for myself.

For more of the interview, go here.

Fozzy’s Rich Ward on why he chooses to rock Gibsons.

Consistency and quality. And also because when I got that first Les Paul 1992, it was more about the overall sound of the instrument and feel of the instrument. It was the “aha” moment. The light bulb went off. It was not only that I was proud to be playing a guitar that Randy Rhodes had played, but it was knowing that there’s a reason they played it. Now that I’ve been playing Gibsons for years, it’s like a pair of shoes that just fit! My core tone and what I have found for myself as a player with Gibsons is the fit for me.

For the rest of the read, go here.

Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora on the legacy of Les Paul, the man.

His life was a model. It was almost a fatherly role. We did talk a lot about business. A lot of the advice he gave me was business advice, and a lot was about staying young, staying creative. That was the essence of his life. He stressed the importance of always keeping busy, of having things to do, and keeping your mind flexible and nimble. Of course he also stressed the importance of continuing to play. The guy played those Monday night shows until he was 93.

For more of Sambora’s tale, head here.

Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan on how to get that classic Pumpkins tone.

I think if you want to get the Gibson end of the Pumpkins sound, you take any amp that has a pretty good pre-amp in it, and the treble is probably not going to go any higher than about 3 o’clock. You want the treble on 2 or 3 o’clock. You don’t want the highs too cranky. You want to scoop the mids a bit, so the mids are probably somewhere in the range of 10 o’clock, and then the bass is in the range of 3 o’clock. So, you want bass but not too much bass, you want treble but not too much treble and you want to scoop the mids, and that’s pretty much where you start. And crank the pre-amp all the way up.

Read more of Corgan’s thoughts, here.

Smashing Pumpkins’ Jeff Schroeder on what makes Les Pauls special.

People always say, “Oh, this sounds like a Les Paul guitar,” but nothing sounds like it. Get the right Les Paul with the right amp, and it’s just an aggressive, big rock sound that’s become iconic. There’s nothing that can replicate it. I have yet to find a guitar that sounds like a Les Paul that isn’t a Les Paul.

For more of our chat with Schroeder, go here.

Ryan Bingham on who influenced him as a guitar player.

I never tried to mimic anyone, because I didn’t want it to rub off on me, where I played in someone else’s style. I felt the only way I could come up with my own style was to try to do my own thing. But I certainly listened to lots of different types of music. I like everything from Bob Marley to Bob Wills. Mariachi music was definitely a big influence when I was starting out. There are lots of styles I’ve been influenced by – bluegrass, folk, Tejano, the blues and western swing. I think I draw from all of that, although what I do is rough around the edges.

Read more of what Bingham had to say about the J-45, here.

Eric Church on the coincidence of his entire band playing Gibsons.

We all came from different areas, and those guys have been playing forever, and that’s what they’ve always played! It’s funny, when we first started playing together, we looked around and thought it was funny that we all played Gibsons. It turned out being a good thing with Gibson, too, and I’m glad we all played them already. I would never want to play something I didn’t want to play. It had to do with the fact we liked to play this thing.

For the rest of what Church had to say, check out the full interview.

Ben, son of James Taylor, on his go-to guitars.

It’s a 1942 or 1945 J-45 original. I’ve never had it on the road. Then, the folks at Gibson were generous enough to make one that’s similar to that original guitar that I can play onstage. I love Gibsons, in general. I love a lot of the custom stuff. The Jackson Browne model guitar is killer!

For more from Taylor, go here.