Musical Life: Equipment & Collaborations

My Electric Guitar Rig

This is the effects pedal rig I like to use. The set-up changes depending on the circumstances. The one thing that remains constant is the Effectrode PC-2A valve compressor on everything, electric-classical, acoustic and/or electric guitar. There are a few effects on-board that are nice to have 'just in case', such as leslie, ring modulator and an I use an Equalizer as a mid-boost. 

In addition to my solo-guitar commitments, I've been playing The Beatles music recently in several tribute bands (including The Back Beat Band from England and Beatles 65 from Germany) and this means that I have to cater for a greater variety of sounds one very few instruments. The valve tone and compression being of special importance but there are other tricks. I sometimes employ a Line 6 DL4 that can simulate both the old echoplex sound, backwards echo (e.g. Tomorrow Never Knows) and a 'looper' (for George Harrison's Indian drones). The Strymon Lex simulates the rotary-speaker "leslie" effect (e.g., as heard on the Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour albums) and sometimes 12-string guitar (where stage space is limited!), although I prefer the Sony M7 rack to do the job of both chorus and leslie effects when space is not an issue.  On the Beatles' album Let It Be, Harrison combines a Leslie with a wah-wah, so you have a really messed up but authentic sound! My wah-wah pedal also has a function where it can produce a 60's Hendrix-style fuzz sound. All guitarists should have a tuner that is readable on-stage. I grew up without the need for electric tuners (I used to employ a tuning fork!) but today's music production is so reliant upon auto-tune that playing slightly out of tune these days is a complete no-no.

My Favourite Instruments

Stephen Hill 'Granada' Classical:

Stephen constructs his guitars in La Herradura in Granada, Southern Spain. He built this guitar for me and it plays beautifully. It has a spruce sound-top and Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. I recorded my Reverie On A Hill CD with this instrument. I enthusiastically endorse this instrument for it's playability!

The fingerboard is the easier to play than most classical guitars and the string tension is about perfect. For those with big Spanish guitars, and especially those who use lattice-braced sound-tops, I can report that this type of guitar has a power of projection that rivals any new-fangled design concept. What matters is the balance and frequency response of the sounds as they travel through the air. These sort of guitar maintains good balance meaning that the sound is cohesive and sympathetic to the music.

Godin Grand Concert 'Ambiance'

This guitar makes life easier for the amplified classical guitarist. It has Fishman Electronics and their Aura imaging system in-built. This means that you get an even response from the pickup plus a microphone sound that can be blended-in. I also endorse this wonderful instrument for Godin, but that's because I completely love the concept! I get closer to a classical tone with this instrument than anything else I've ever tried! It is unbelievably good.

Plug-in and go!

Sincere thanks goes out to the guys at Godin Guitars' head office in Canada (Fred DiSanto, et al) and also to the Godin Guitar UK representatives. I've been lucky enough to have demonstrated for Godin Guitars in the UK, but our collabouration was born out of my love for both the instruments and the company.

Godin 'Progression' Electric Guitar

I'm grateful to Godin Guitars for customizing this guitar for me as a one-off.

This guitar is active, so the output is powerful and helps to prevent signal loss at the earliest opportunity. 

The question I'm often asked when out playing live is: "what is that guitar?", "is it any good"?! Well, considering that it's got the sounds, the looks and the personality to go with it. Moreover, it's built to the highest standards possible. In fact, it rivals many custom shop guitars such is the finish and attention to detail. My Godin Progression is (almost) one of the best kept secrets in the universe!

Charlie Kaman Adamas I Prototype

This guitar has a bolt on neck and I bought it with a spare second neck (not pictured here) that is a wide spacing classical type. I have played this guitar all over the place and it usually appears in my solo concerts. It usually equipped with very light strings, either 8's or 9's and I used this to effect on the Dark Tales CD, where I imitate the acoustic sounds of India. 

I play pieces of music on this guitar on the tuning pegs alone by the way.

It was a total accident how this instrument ended up in my hands. Ask me in person and I may tell you if the vibes are right.

Denny Laine played one of these Ovations plus a fair few others.

Collaborations - Old and New

Dale Harris And Jez Henderson

Drummer and percussionist Jez and I have a friendship dating back years. We started exploring a jazz-fusion style together incorporating Jazz, Indian Raga, Rock, Classical and, to an extent, comedy. Jez has a wonderful feel for creating an atmosphere and he can sense what is needed in a instant. We recorded the Dark Tales CD together. I used the Ovation Adamas guitar and an electric telecaster (with a midi-pickup attached to a Yamaha TX-7 module) for the majority of this recording.  Jez and I later collaborated on a little known follow-up (unreleased) CD with Chris White on vocals. We might release this one day soon! Here I used the Ovation Adamas again and also a Dean electric guitar with a classical type wide-neck.

The Brit Trio

Nick Bird, bass & vocals; 

Dale Harris, guitar & vocals;
Roger Bland, drums & vocals

The Brit Trio perform the best of British rock and pop music including songs by The Beatles, Marc Bolan, Dire Straits, Rolling Stones, Queen, The Small Faces, and many others.

Red Indra & Dale Harris (Duo or Band Collabourations)

We've played together for a few years now and we always have fun playing a range of music: Anything from Jazz, Rock And Roll, Original Songs, Rock, Popular, Spanish-Classical.  

Why not check out Indra's work?!

Fake Straits

Playing the music of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler, Fake Straits is one of the leading tribute bands. Our songs cover everything from the rock classics Sultans Of Swing, Money For Nothing, Romeo And Juliet and up to the later songs from Knopfler's solo albums such as Golden Heart, Shangri-La, and Privateering. 

Dale Harris leads the band in the role normally taken by Mark Knopfler.

The Beatles

I have started to explore the music of The Beatlessomething that inspired me in my very young days. I love the harmonies and the fun of the music. In fact, life (and music come to think of it) would be boring without The Beatles! I've played with the Counterfeit Beatles and Beatles 65 and I've performed in Germany and in some far-flung places such as Thailand!   

Beatles 65

Based in Germany, this group is led by the fantasic Eric Paisley, who plays John Lennon. Eric is also a brilliant Elvis Presley and he does a pretty good job of Neil Diamond too! I've had the pleasure of playing with the Beatles 65 in Germany and what great fun it was! The drummer is Christian Hake and also Nick Bird on Bass and vocals.

The Lorne Gibson Trio.

As soon as he was introduced to Lorne Gibson and auditioned there and then by playing at an impromptu gig, Dale was asked to join a legend in British country music, the singer Lorne Gibson. Dale stepped into the shoes of a role formerly occupied by Adrian Legg no less, and they performed numerous concerts and British Isles tours together. At their concerts, Lorne would often insist that Dale played a solo spot. He asked Dale if he knew Asturias by Albeniz to which the reply was yes (it was a work that Dale often performed whilst at music college circa 1983-5). The first few times he played with Lorne, Dale was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the audience. They usually played country and folk music venues (and fairly often in noisy public houses) the crowd would quickly hush, realising that something special was taking place. Dale always thinks of these magical times when performing Asturias.

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