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Wes has been playing guitar (and occasionally bass) in bands since high school, always striving to write, perform and record the best songs he and his bandmates could come up with. Running the gamut from indie pop to heavy metal and now incorporating surf influences into his playing, it's never been about getting rich and famous, though, of course, that would be nice. It's always been about sharing his music with as many people as possible. He currently lives in central Virginia and works as a journalist and content creator.
Profile Photo Credit "OddJohn" (oddjohn.com)
As a military brat, I was fortunate to grow up in Europe, living for eight of my most formative years in Germany and Belgium. I was exposed to the Beatles and Barbra Streisand through my parents, but it wasn't until I heard Queen on the radio that I recognized guitar might be something I wanted to pursue. In about 8th grade, a friend introduced me to Iron Maiden's then-brand-new "Piece of Mind" album, and that was it - it was all the soaring, searing harmonies of Queen but with a level of power, aggression, and bad-boy attitude that captured my imagination. I knew then I wanted to be a guitar player! Piano lessons throughout childhood were one thing, but I wanted to be able to play those harmonies and write music that other people could enjoy. Luckily all those years of piano lessons gave me a solid theory background, so transitioning to the guitar wasn't as hard as I imagined it could have been.
I would definitely tell my younger self to practice more efficiently, perhaps to focus more on building skills early on as opposed to what I did, which was establish some bad habits and then maintain them for years before finding ways to correct my inefficiencies. It took some dedicated years studying classical guitar to undo a lot of the things my teenage self did the hard way. I would also tell teenage me to listen to a little more pop music instead of all heavy metal all the time.
I'm all about the next show, the next EP or LP, the next opportunity to share the music my band makes with anybody who will listen. It's always been my drive from day one - that almost desperate need to share my music with people, preferably at high volumes. When I listen to 7th Grade Girl Fight, so do the neighbors!
I cut my teeth on BOSS pedals as a teenager, and their durability and simplicity have stuck with me throughout my playing career. If I had to limit myself to just three, well, that's easy: DS-1 Distortion, CE-2 Chorus, OC-2 Octaver. Between the DS-1 and the CE-2, there's not a sound I need I can't find, and while the OC-2 might be a weird choice if I'm stuck on a desert island, I'm no doubt going to need some heavy bass frequencies shaking the trees!
Ruts can be tough to break out of, so when I find myself in one, I try to change something up. Last year it was getting a Jazzmaster - and it worked! Other times, I've experimented by trying to learn some difficult songs (Dream Theater pops to mind), going back to classical guitar for a few weeks, or doing my best to get into some genre of music I've overlooked in the past - which is how I discovered the uniqueness of reggae guitar in the early 2000s after overdosing on grunge for most of a decade. That was so refreshing and invigorating to me as a player that I looked forward to incorporating some of what I learned into my playing. Even though I'm by no means a skilled reggae player, it's not hard to hear some of that influence bleed into my playing.
Let's get one thing straight - Queen has been, is now, and always will be my absolute favorite band! These days I'm heavily into instrumental surf (and surf-adjacent) rock, so I'm listening to a lot of that. It's a huge scene just under most people's radar. My favorite band in that genre is a toss-up between The Del-Vipers out of Austin, Texas, and The Irradiates, a French surf band made up of scientists with advanced degrees. Ten years ago was about when I got into Slayer after many years of ignoring them, and all I wanted to listen to was the albums they put out in the 2000s, which I consider to be their best. What's changed is my tolerance for high-gain sounds, as the hearing loss has robbed me of high frequencies; when you think about it, a lot of surf rock is just heavy metal without distortion!
My go-to riffs when test-driving gear is all Queen - Tie Your Mother Down, Now I'm Here, The Prophet's Song (to check for Drop D suitability), and a deep cut, Fight From the Inside, which has some killer music written by Roger Taylor, the band's drummer.
My most prized piece of gear is my 1993 Guild Brian May Signature guitar. I got it in 1997, and it cleaned out my savings account, but I couldn't let that opportunity pass me by. Brian May is my guitar hero, and I've played that guitar so much that I had to have it partially refretted a few years ago. There's something about its short scale and weird single-coil pickups, plus the ability to put them out of phase with each other with the flick of a switch, that makes it super playable and wildly versatile.
Now that I've equipped my studio and gig rigs with Rattlesnake cables, I'm keeping my eye out for another Jazzmaster with a sparkle finish to serve as a backup for the one I gig with. It's getting harder to find them with lightweight ash bodies, so I'm trying hard to be patient and stay attentive to the usual avenues for buying gear.
These days my go-to guitar is a Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster I've had for about a year. It's not only fun to play, but it looks great and sounds even better! My backups are typically Strats, but I lean heavily on two Rickenbackers, a 380LPZ and a 330/12, plus the odd PRS from time to time. Out from the guitar is a 20' Rattlesnake snake head - light purple with white PVC
Do you have to be a famous musician to be featured? No. Do you have to be a professional musician to be featured? No. Do you have passion about playing and gear -- oh and a verified Rattlesnake Cable Company cable user. Yes!
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