A LOCAL AND A FOREIGNER
Welcome to our talk with Ross and his two beauties, one from a local maker that is no longer producing guitars.
WHEN DID YOU START GUITAR?I picked up the guitar around 1986. My parents bought me a Yamaha classical guitar and I had introductory lessons, but I didn’t really click with it. So, the guitar sat in the corner for a while and I picked it back up again a year or so later. With the exception of a handful of basic chords, I am completely ear-trained. That being said, lessons are hugely beneficial!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY GUITAR? CAN YOU PLAY ANY OTHER INSTRUMENTS?I saw the "Nothin' But A Good Time" video by Poison, with C.C DeVille running around the stage and in just about every shot he had a different guitar, each one more amazing than the previous. I was completely blown away by it. That was when I started to really focus on guitar. I became infatuated with B.C Rich, Jackson and Ibanez. I’m an 80’s kid!
The first instruments I learnt were piano and drums. I was horrendous with piano and to this day I am thoroughly impressed with anyone that can play anything on one. Drums were very natural for me. I loved them and still do! Oddly, I actually find the drums more fun to play than guitar.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DECENT GUITAR?My first guitar was an Ibanez EX140 which I still own. A cheapy, but a brilliant guitar as far as sound and feel go. As far as decent quality guitars go, I’d say Squier Pro Tone Strat was my first good one. Very, very heavy, but a beautiful guitar to play. Since then it has been a revolving door of different guitars. Other than the PRS and Belman, I have a Peavey Wolfgang and ESP/LTD Strat taking up space on my studio wall.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM GUITAR?A Belman Albatross. Extremely difficult to come across these days. Otherwise, something custom built by Charles Cilia.
ARE YOU A TUBE AMP OR DIGITAL FAN? HAVE YOU HAD EXPERIENCES WITH BOTH?Both! I run a Blackstar Stage 100 tube head, but use a Line 6 HD-500 multi-fx unit to get most of my sounds, including my main rhythm sounds. By itself, the Blackstar is hugely flexible and sounds excellent. I bought the head and a handful of individual pedals at the same time. Whilst that set-up worked ok, I found myself wanting to really expand the sounds, so I looked at the HD-500. I use Line 6 stuff to record, so I am comfortable with their products. I started using that with the Blackstar and it was good. I noticed that I was running the amp and unit volume at 50%, which seemed a bit off for a 100 watt tube head. I did some research and came across the Four-Cable method for connecting the board to the head. It totally changed my sound and power output. The volume on both amp and head has been no higher than 30%. It sounds massive!
DO YOU USE EFFECTS IN YOUR RIG?Other than the Line 6 HD-500, I also run a Boss Phaser, Digitech Whammy and a EHX Doctor Q Filter, all outboard. These pedals get chopped and changed quite often, but they seem to fit with things I do the most. I love effects! They inspire writing and ideas. I have gotten rid of a couple of pedals I really wish I hadn’t have, but they can be bought again.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR GUITARS?The PRS was just the coolest looking guitar I had ever seen. Sonically, it sits in the sweet spot of a Les Paul and a Strat. The look and diversity was a HUGE drawcard for me. I first came across them in the early 90s and they were forever out of my price point. Belman had the reputation. Similar to the PRS in shape, but sonically warmer and beefier. A friend got a custom made super strat back in ‘97 and since then I had watched them release a line of incredible instruments, hoping one day to have my own. When I had the opportunity to buy one, I jumped at it.
WHAT GUITAR DO YOU PLAY MOST, AND WHY?Mostly, the PRS just because of it’s tuning (Drop C). I plan on swapping out both bridge pick-ups in the PRS and Belman so that may change which get’s played more.
PRS Custom 22 Ten Top in Trans-Black 1999
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PRSMy PRS was gifted to me in 2008. I have been a PRS fan for decades and would have given a limb (not an arm, though) to get one. After graduating into my current job, it was given to me. I was blown away, as anyone would be. I am a massive Clint Lowery fan and that was where the desire to buy one came from. Interestingly, before I had this, I almost bought a Custom 22 in Whale Blue owned by Clint Lowery! Pipped at the last second on eBay. Bah!!!
Belman Double Cutaway Model in Crimson Red 2005
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BELMANThe Belman I bought when I worked in a music store. That guitar was on the rack for less than 5 hours before it was cased up and taken home. I was playing in a band that was playing in Drop C and I needed something that could handle that, but be versatile. I was playing a Peavey Wolfgang at the time, so the Belman replaced it.
I am a huge advocate for Australian made products. As I mentioned before, I was well aware of the Belman quality and sound. Being able to sell them also made me realise how impeccable they are. Whilst it’s #2 as far as being played goes, it is still may absolute favourite guitar.
The band I was in, at the time I bought it, was fortunate enough to be included on the 'Taste of Chaos' bill for Melbourne, playing at Rod Laver Arena in front of 13,500 people. The Belman was what I used, so it is hugely sentimental for me. Every ding and scratch has a story ;)