Dear Guitar Hero: Ben Weinman
What is your main guitar, and how do you keep it in tune while you’re flailing around onstage?—Josh Newton
I use ESP guitars, and having a decent neck-through solidbody guitar really helps keep things in tune. I also use Sperzel tuning pegs, because they lock onto the strings.
Can you name a few guitarists that inspire you that might surprise us?—Paul Baker
I grew up listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. You can’t hear much of that in Dillinger, but it’s the stuff I first learned to play. Not only is their music challenging to play but it’s based on feeling. You have to play with technical proficiency, but to make the songs sound right you also have to put feeling into it. Later, I got into more fusion, jazz and metal. In Dillinger, we want to push ourselves musically, but at the same time it has to have that feeling. We like to think that’s what separates us from a lot of the other technical bands.
I’m trying to add some jazz flavor to my metal. Can you suggest a few artists to study that could help me to build phrases like the ones you play in the middle clean section of “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants”?—Julien
The Mahavishnu Orchestra, with John McLaughlin. Some of their records are so eclectic. The thing about McLaughlin is that, while he didn’t concentrate on being the cleanest guitarist of all time, his playing was really aggressive. His stuff is easily applied if you’re trying to add more fusion- and jazz-style phrasings to your heavy music. Also, check out King Crimson, with Robert Fripp. McLaughlin and Fripp are great transitional artists to listen to if you want to break out of your routine.