Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guitarist Interview with Killick Hinds of Killick


January 2013
Name: Killick Hinds
Bands: Killick (solo); Pocketful of Claptonite

QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Killick – When I was 12 I got a red star-shaped Hondo electric with ski-jump action. I didn’t have it for long, but it set the stage. I don’t recall where it ended up.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Killick – I either plug the guitar straight into the amp or I’ll use the classics: eq, compressor, chorus, delay, looper, distortion/fuzz, & reverb. Depends on the situation.

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
 Killick – Guitar, for sure, since I usually play unamplified at home, though lately I’ve got a soft spot for effects & I’ve heard some dazzling amps in the past year that make me think that’s an underrated aspect of sound generation.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Killick – I have an SWR Strawberry Blonde acoustic amp I got in trade for a way-too-heavy amp. For electric, I use a tiny Mahaffay Little Lanilei head & 2x10 cabinet; very lightweight together…good for my back.

QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such? Killick – I have one electric guitar, a 7-string Teuffel Tesla. It has quartertone frets up to the 7th fret, but is otherwise Ulrich Teuffel’s standard model. My other instruments are “guitar-like”- a 38-string harp guitar called Big Red & a bowed 18-string called the H’arpeggione.

QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be? Killick – Quartertone frets! Something aesthetically unconventional, yet with pleasing proportions.

QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be? Killick – Something that adds ethereal (& controllable) harmonic content.

QRD – How many guitars do you own? Killick – The three mentioned above, plus an acoustic guitar I don’t play any longer.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars? Killick – In their cases.

QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t? Killick – Featherweight. QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar? Killick – Any time I’ve had something specific in mind, I end up using it in a way very different from how it was first envisioned.


QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost? Killick – I wish money wasn’t a factor. QRD – Do you upgrade &  customize your guitars or just stick with what you get? Killick – My three are pretty much as built.


QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it? Killick – Obsessively & extensively. I only go for something if it will have utility for years to come.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often? Killick – No.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot? Killick – I work at all the nuances possible with the instruments.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after? Killick – I love the look of jazz archtops; I don’t know if I’d make the best use of one, though.

QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there? Killick – It’s changing these days with the proliferation of surprisingly high-quality/low cost instruments, but in the ‘80s beginning guitars were (generally) a physical strain to play, which might have turned some intrepid souls off.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made? Killick – What I have is the best for me. Anything I had in the past was sold to help fund the new, so it’s all good.


QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why? Killick – Anything designed with care is great & anything less has some redeeming qualities- even if that’s cheese or texture or chaos.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar? Killick – I don’t have a standard starting point.

QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar? Killick – 12.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing? Killick – Hopefully there’s a long way to go, but I was pleased overall by about age 33.  

 QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments? Killick – At this point, it’s my history with it, although my guitars are variations on the typical setup. I don’t play “regular” guitars often, although it can be fun to pull out some Randy Rhoads riffs.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is? Killick – Any instrument approached with enthusiasm can be fantastic.


 QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?  Killick – We walk the road together.
 QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound? Killick – When I was young I loved Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Cliff Burton, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman, Eddie Van Halen, Stanley Jordan, & eventually Michael Hedges. My older cousin Heather was the person who got me excited about playing in the first place - she was huge into Randy Rhoads. I don’t think my “sound” has much in common with any of the above, though.

QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)? Killick – The only instrument of mine with a “name” is Big Red. It’s big & red, so maybe that’s natural & silly.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it? Killick – There’s a dent on my Teuffel Tesla from it falling out of the case… cute tiny fingers unlatched the locks without my knowing &  I lifted it up without checking the locks. Oops! I couldn’t be mad since the culprits were so charming. I also check the locks now before lifting.

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing? Killick – That’s pretty much it, simply playing.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to? Killick – At this point, maybe between five & ten, unless I’ve got a bunch of live dates, where it could end up being much more. Any time in the past I’ve wanted to play more, my behavior hasn’t shifted much, so I just don’t worry about it any longer.  

QRD – What type of pick do you use & why? Killick – I rarely use picks. There’s a nice green Dunlop Tortex I’ve had for 17 some odd years now! & there’s a few more lying about, all found. QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why? Killick – Relatively light for the tunings I use. I like a little warble & wobble in the sound, & gentleness in the feel.

QRD – How often do you change strings? Killick – Rarely. Some of my Teuffel’s strings are over 10 years old.
QRD – How often do you break strings? Killick – Rarely.  

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style? Killick – I used to reckon both were equally developed, though lately I’m focused on my right hand plucking motion, & more gestural-than-articulated motions in my left hand. I do symmetrical exercises with the neck straight up & down in front of me some times, which is helpful for cognitive balancing.


QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why? Killick – Somewhere in between myself & not at all. I just go along for the ride.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why? Killick – My instruments are mostly in fifths. I originally started this to break up ingrained patterns from standard tuning, but came to enjoy the wide intervals. I can’t do a bunch of “guitaristic” things in this tuning, but I don’t mind the tradeoff.

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas? Killick – It used to be a mix of all three (the “some other notation system” being plain words), though lately I haven’t been writing anything down.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)? Killick – Higher than rock ‘n’ roll, lower than fusion. I went for years without using a strap at all, but now I use one for better balance. I still play seated, primarily.


QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break? Killick – I have fairly good “proper” technique, so no real complaints.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing? Killick – Any other instrument is helpful in many ways.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t? Killick – It’s not my calling, but I love Madagascar-style fingerpicking.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished? Killick – I’m happy with how my playing has developed.


QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned? Killick – I’m still working on a sort of natural wah-wah sound (without using effects)… it is possible, but remains elusive.


QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Killick – I love the EBow & I use a wooden letter opener as a slide. A gyroscope is pretty magical, too.


QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t? Killick – I have a bunch of study pieces I created, some of which I’ve played a thousand times… there’s still a ways to go on getting them right. I’m less obsessed with them these days.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them? Killick – Yes, when I was young & a few as a young adult. I learned enough to know to explore the areas that resonated. & I had great music theory training through my public high school.


QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher? Killick – Don’t worry about could/should/would, just do what excites you.


QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style? Killick – My instruments are unusual. Ultimately, they’d have to have my experiences in life, so it probably won’t happen. I don’t have any signature licks, so there’s nothing to readily emulate.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems? Killick – They’re pretty nifty, but maybe not for me. I am, however, intrigued by the Bigsby style….


QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob? Killick – Not too much… it’s only an option on the Teuffel.


QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players? Killick – Tiny notes vs. low notes?

QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Killick – All cylinders firing is best.


QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Killick – I have no desire towards this, but it would be fun to strum Willie Nelson’s Trigger guitar. So much history & such lovely sound.

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why? Killick – Everyone who plays… constant creation.


QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work? Killick – Through there’s links to recordings & videos. I’m particularly pleased with,,,, &


 QRD – Anything else? Killick – Thank you for listening. Links: Official Website