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Spotlight: Jack Gray

Jack Gray
(Image credit: Josh Pulford)

JACK GRAY

HAILS FROM: Sunshine Coast, QLD
PLAYS: Solo
SOUNDS LIKE: Sweet and summery acoustic pop
LATEST DROP: "Selfish" (single out now via Warner)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
My go-to guitar is a Fender Stratocaster. My uncle gave me his Strat when I was nine – it was the first electric guitar I ever had. I went through a few different phases with guitars, like my Jazzmaster and my Gretsch Electromatic, but I always find myself coming back to the Strat. It’s such a universal guitar with a beautiful tone, and it feels so good to play.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
My very first guitar was an Ibanez acoustic. It was my dad’s – he brought it secondhand from a market 30 years ago. When I was six, I found it lying under his bed and just became obsessed. My dad was in a band, and I looked up to him – he was the drummer, but I wanted to find my own thing, so the guitar under the bed did that for me. It’s this faded sunburst colour and has mould on the body, but it just looks so beautiful. The action is super low so it’s really nice to play, and easy to learn on. The neck is thin too, so when I was only six my hand could fit around it. It has so much sentimental value that I wanted to be able to use it onstage, so I replaced the machine heads, got it set up and fitted LR Baggs Anthem pickups in it.

What inspires you as a player?
In high school, one of my favourite bands was Busby Marou. Every time they came through town, I’d go to see them. Then I got the chance to support one of their shows and hang out with them. Jeremy Marou became a massive inspiration for my guitar playing at that time, and you can hear it when in my solos. Then there’s John Mayer – it’s almost like he makes his guitar sing. You can both hear and feel what he trying to convey by the notes he plays and how he plays them. And then The 1975 – for them it’s more about the vibe, and less about showing off how good they are. I take a similar approach in my recorded music, but then let loose and get a bit self-indulgent in my live shows.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I’m a massive gear nerd in the studio and with my production – that’s where I spend most of my time learning and geeking out. But I do love a good pedal. I just got this new MXR Carbon Copy analog delay that sounds super tasty! And I love the Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal when I’m rocking out. Amp-wise I normally just use a Fender Blues Junior or something with a similar tone. But I grew up with a Line 6 Spider, which was really cool because it had all these different effects and presets that covered all the bases. 

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
I kind of don’t. I feel like I should definitely have one, but haven’t really thought about it lately. Although I have always wanted a vintage Mustang. I think they look super cool, and it would be a great addition to the collection.

What would your signature model look like?
Off-white-on-white Fender Stratocaster with an ash body, maple neck, vintage ’50s-style single-coil pickups, a smaller streamlined headstock, with all the metal in gold. That would do it for me! 

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Jimi Hendrix. One of my favourite songs is “Purple Haze” – I used to cover it all the time. He’s such a tripper. I’d love to learn how to think outside the box with my playing like he does so well.