It's safe to say that finding the right guitar is important for all guitarists, but it especially means a lot to Ash Reiter of Sugar Candy Mountain.
"I spent a long time playing on guitars that weren't the one. But I didn't become a real guitar player until later in life. When our lead guitarist, a New School graduate and jazz aficionado, left the band, I decided it was time to step up. I practiced, I played along to songs I liked and I even took a couple of guitar lessons from the our old lead guitarist. Turns out he's a great teacher," the vocalist/guitarist told us.
The band just released their new album, 666,
which boasts a psychedelic sound similar to bands like Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips. And with psychedelic music comes lots of guitar and trippy, distorted effects, which unfortunately you can't really achieve without a few pedals. "I began paying attention to tone, started thinking about gear and investing in pedals. I had some great pedals including the Empress Super Delay and the Diamond Vibrato. My buddy, Kyle Mclendon, is a huge pedal nerd and is friends with Steven Drozd from Flaming Lips who might be even a bigger pedal nerd. Kyle was helping manage our band at the time so there was constant talk of pedals. We watched tons of YouTube pedal demos and tested them out at guitar shops when we had time off on tour. My rig grew quickly but I still didn't have the guitar to go with it all. I didn't know exactly what I wanted but I knew the right guitar would make itself apparent."
"Then one day I ventured into Old Style Guitar Shop in Silver Lake, which Matt Adam's from The Blank Tapes had recommended, and there was the one: a 1963 Gretsch Corvette,
" says Reiter.
How do you know when you've found the right guitar? Sometimes you'll just know, or sometimes you'll play it and notice all of the technical things that work for you. Your fingers will fit perfectly in each fret, the body won't weigh you down, and it will produce the exact sound you've been searching for.
"The Corvette is a slim solid body guitar with a look a bit like an Gibson SG. The neck was perfect, the guitar felt well balanced and very easy to play. The pick ups sounded great and the guitar performed well with all my pedals."
And the visual aesthetic is important, of course.
"I loved the look, too -- it was a bit beat up, the pick guard was chipped and missing in places. I preferred something not pristine to take out on the road, knowing that I would my accumulate my out nicks and dents along the way. I liked that this guitar had seen some life. In its case, told a story -- with an American flag emblem and the band name Brainiacs stenciled on the front, I got a little back story on the previous owner. My Corvette is definitely a special part of my sound and probably the one piece of gear I could never replace. I hope I never have to."
A few years ago, Guitar World Magainze
featured legendary blues guitarist Rory Gallagher, who told them that the 1963 Gretsch Corvette was one of his favorite guitars to play.
Get a glimpse of the guitar sound Reiter is talking about and listen to Sugar Candy Mountain's new album (above), out now.