Erja Lyytinen: “I didn’t want to restrict myself to making radio hits. If the song required a longer guitar solo, I let it happen!”

Erja Lyytinen
(Image credit: Per Ole Hagen/Redferns)

Finnish slide blues phenom Erja Lyytinen spent lockdown upping her shred skills, and is ready to show them off on her self-produced 12th album Waiting For The Daylight, which is due for release on October 7. 

She discusses her hard-rocking new sound and explains why two pedalboards are better than one... 

What did you do differently on this new record? 

“In the past few years, my sound – and the whole way I approach the guitar – has been developing. I’ve been wanting to learn more about how to play technically. I started to do technique practice a few times per week, and every time before going on stage. Little by little, I began pushing myself by making much trickier guitar parts, and I think you can hear this on the album.”

Were you listening to less Bonnie Raitt and more Joe Satriani?

“Yes! They are both great guitar players. With this album, there are some really long guitar solos, and I wanted to honour the hard rock bands of the ’60s and ’70s. My mother is a rock ’n’ roll woman, and when I was a kid we listened to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep – all these cool rock bands. I didn’t want to restrict myself to making radio hits. If the song required a longer guitar solo, I let it happen!”

Which solo are you most proud of? 

“On the song Bad Seed, I played two different solos. It’s what Eric Johnson does on his albums and I got the idea from that. I like playing regular guitar and I like playing slide, so why not mix them in the same song? 

“There’s a bit of an Indian vibe to the chords under the first part, and I used the Indian scale. This very fast lick came and wanted to be in the solo. There’s probably the most notes I’ve ever played in those four bars, so that was pretty cool! Then on top of that, I played slide, and the guitars melt into each other.”

The G&L Z-3 Semi-Hollow is my most dear guitar because I’ve played with it for most of my career

What’s your number one guitar?  

“The G&L Z-3 Semi-Hollow is my most dear one because I’ve played with it for most of my career. I got it around 2005 and I’ve done basically all my international shows with it. I feel that it’s been quite safe to travel with – it doesn’t give a fuck about flights!”

What’s your set-up like for playing slide?

“The action is quite high. I use a D’Addario 0.012 set of strings, but the high E string is a 0.015, so I get a better, clearer sound. Then I use a regular Dunlop glass slide. I mainly use a 1968 Super Reverb with 4x10 inch cabinets, and because it’s a spring reverb, it sounds beautiful. I have two pedalboards that Kimmo Aroluoma from Custom Boards designed for me, which I combine together. 

“It’s easier to carry it all, having two separate ones! I have a couple of distortion pedals: a Little Green Wonder from Mad Professor and an Xotic SL Drive. Then I have a wah, and I like using a DigiTech Whammy for different harmonies.”

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Ellie Rogers

Since graduating university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.