Ted's Tools of the Trade
Ted of Circles talks to us about how the end result can be more important than your guitar.
WHEN DID YOU START GUITAR?I started playing guitar at around 17-18 years old I reckon.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY GUITAR? CAN YOU PLAY ANY OTHER INSTRUMENTS?You know what, it was that riff from “Madman” by Silverchair from Frogstomp! That bridging riff, you know the one that goes 2-0-2-0-2-3-0-2-0-2-0-2-3-0 haha. I was learning by ear so I didn’t know what the hell palm muting was so I figured out that it made the same sound if you didn’t fret the first fret but just lightly place your finger on it. Needless to say I made it quite difficult for myself but it actually helped with my dexterity!
But yeah, taking it back to my early years, I was at my buddy Jesse’s house on a weekend. He and I figured out the “Axel F” theme from Beverly Hills Cop (cos we were obsessed with that film when it came out) on an upright piano at his house for shits n gigs. The following Monday, we took a casio keyboard I got from Santa (cheers dad) to school for show and tell and I ripped the bass line and he slayed the main melody. It was epic! Or at least we thought it was haha!
Fast forward from grade 2 to grade 5 and I found myself learning drums at my local scout hall as a part of a council initiative. $5 a lesson! My teacher Michael was great and taught me the basics and enough to hold down a beat and discover new music. I pursued everything drums for the next 6-7 years starting with Ron Welty (early Offspring) and Ben Gillies (Silverchair) who was my idol for a while and ending in year 10 when I heard the "None" EP and discovered Tomas Haake (Meshuggah). Any dreams of actually being a decent drummer got destroyed by hurricane Haake. I definitely did try though!
During my highschool years, I fell in love with audio and sound production so where a lot of musicians get obsessed with their instruments, I started to feed my audio hunger pangs. I bought a tascam 4 track tape recorder and hooked up all sorts of instruments to it, learnt them and created sounds and songs so I guess me discovering guitar was also out of necessity to fulfil what I heard in my head.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DECENT GUITAR?I believe it was a burgundy Ibanez "s-classic" like the one from that Butterfly song. No, not The Butterfly Effect. This one:
That’s right, Crazy Town.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM GUITAR?One that never breaks or have to change strings on.
Oh, if it plays itself, that’ll be rad too!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR GUITARS?I'm a practical kinda guy. I'm not fussy with woods, pickups blah blah. If it stays in tune, plays well and doesn't look like it belongs in a Michael Angelo Batio film clip, then I'm easy.
WHAT GUITAR DO YOU PLAY MOST, AND WHY?At the moment I play my '84 Japanese black telecaster squire that was pimped out my Michael Harron. Why? Because it's the most conveniently placed guitar at the moment haha!
ARE YOU A TUBE AMP OR DIGITAL FAN? HAVE YOU HAD EXPERIENCES WITH BOTH?I get this question a lot, and to me, it's kinda irrelevant now. I've experienced both and both are better than each other. Did I just confuse you? But yeah, I've heard a tube amp and gone, "fuck yeah, this is IT" then I'd hear the same amp profiled on a Kemper or modelled on an AxeFX and gone, "shit, I think this is better" so I guess the answer is to be open to anything given what you have access to and what the situation is. At the end of the day, it's what serves the SONG. I've never liked a band or a particular song because I loved the tube amp tone or they've used the latest firmware upgrade which allows you to configure the circuitry in the transformer so it allows for igcishifuhihvifqbiabf#$_":) whaaaatevverrrr.
I found that after speaking to a lot of guitarists, they get gear lust, talk about their dream guitar and want to measure each others..umm..scale length?? But at the end of the day, all you need to do is to express yourself through your art with whatever you can find that suits you. Just because you buy the Misha Mansoor signature guitar doesn't mean you're gonna play like him or write songs and riffs like he does.
DO YOU USE EFFECTS IN YOUR RIG?I only have a couple of bass pedals I use for recording but my "rig" consists of an AxeFX. That's it. Within certain patches I use "pedals" like compression, overdrive, EQ, gate, reverbs, delay, ring modulator, chorus etc.
YOU ARE ALSO A PRODUCER, ANY TIPS FOR RECORDING GUITARS?Well, it's like what I mentioned before in that the "sound" comes from the player. I've seen too many players rely or even blame the gear when it's actually themselves that are the problem. PREPARATION! Learn and practice your parts. Not just know how to play them but really listen. Choose the right pick, look at how you hold your pick and how you strike the string. Make sure you play consistently and be dynamic in the parts where you're meant to be. Get your guitar setup by a professional, not just a polish, setting intonation and a re-string. If you're in a band situation, leave your ego at the door. If the other guitarist sounds better playing it, get them to play it. Even if you wrote it originally. I could go on forever about it but I guess that's what comes to mind first up.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR Green O'Donnell CustomI’ve always wanted and dreamed of owning a PRS ever since I saw Daniel Johns play one on Rage just when Freak Show came out.Ya know, the green one?
So I was at my mates shop, Deluxe Guitars and I was looking at one and he mentioned that they also stock a local luthier's guitars. So i picked one up and played it thinking that it wouldn’t be much chop. It was sick so I ordered that same one but customised slightly.
So the specs are:
Body - Brazilian Mahogany chambered Body
Neck - Brazilian Mahogany 1/4 sawn one piece set neck
Top - Solid top Arch-top Maple
Fingerboard - Ebony
25 inch scale Length
Bridge - TonePros
Double Action Trussrod
Tuners - Schaller M6
Pickups - Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 (bridge) and SH-2n (neck)
Nut - Bone
1 x Volume - push pull single coil switch
1 X Tone Ebony Knobs
3 Way Selector switch
Nitrocellulose Paint Finish
TELL US ABOUT YOUR Warmoth StratMy mate Cam Curtis who I met while I was working at a music supplies warehouse as a guitar tech, told me he was working on his guitar building skills and had a warmoth strat build that just needed to be put together, he completed all the electronics and all I had to do was basically put the neck on and hardware. I took it to Craig O'Donnell and he completed it. All warmoth parts, dimarzio pickups (not sure what they are haha) and schaller hardware. I keep it in standard E tuning.
Dragon Ball O'Donnell Custom
TELL US ABOUT YOUR Dragon Ball O'Donnell CustomI’ve been obsessed with Dragon Ball since I was like 5 years old. I had my relatives in Japan tape it (that's VHS tape kiddies!) and when they had a couple of videos worth, they'd mail it to Australia to a mega nerdy kid who'd spend his weekend watching them and re watch them until he gets the next batch. So naturally I'd want to combine my love for Dragon Ball and music to create an ego instrument hahaha! I actually put this order in with Craig O'donnell in 2013. I designed the whole thing even the specific placement of the Dragon Balls up the neck. It was all going well then we had complications with the paint and the air brush artist so the process was drawn out for like 3 years! I finally have it now and it's sick.
Body - Chambered Brazilian Mahogany
Neck - 3 piece ¼ sawn mahogany with maple centre piece
Fretboard - Flamed maple
Scale Length - 25.8 inches
Hardware - Hipshot locking hardware
Pickups - Bareknuckle Aftermath matched pair
I've been using Bareknuckle for a few years now and they're great. I'm not a huge fan of active pickups personally for what I play. But definitely great for other applications which I recommend to other players when I record them.