Bursting onto the scene in June of 2000 with their debut EP, "Half Hour of Power," Sum 41 combined punk rock, skate rock & hip-hop. Their latest CD, "Does This Look Infected?" adds a strong metal influence to the mix. Recently we sat down to talk with guitarist Dave Baksh about his equipment and playing style. -- April 2003
What do you like about PRS guitars? What models do you play?
Dave: I've just been a fan of PRS guitars for a long time. I like the way they look and I eventually saved up enough money to buy one. I started off with a McCarty and went to the Santana. These days I mainly play the McCarty and the Singlecut, but I'm actually still pulling out the Santana every once in a while!
GC: Tell us about the guitar rig that you have now.
Dave: I'm currently using a Soldano because I think it's the best 6L6-powered amp you can buy. It's a SLO100. I'm also using a Marshall JCM2000 DSL because it has less knobs and I don't think an amp should have that many knobs. It has multiple channels, but I don't really need them that much. I switch between clean and dirty channels, that's about it. I use a distortion pedal for leads and stuff like that.
GC: What gear did you use to record the last record?
Dave: On the last record we used a lot of Gibsons and PRS as well. We used mainly Gibson because we wanted to go for a more vintage guitar tone- the more creamy, older sounding kind of tones that aren't high-end driven but really mid-driven. Gibsons have the best pickups for that!
GC: Do you and Deryck play different guitars live in order to each have a different sort of sound?
Dave: Yeah, Deryck plays Gibsons and I play PRS, but we'd never tour with the kind of guitars we record in the studio with! We mainly use new guitars because old guitars might get damaged. It would be kind of like bringing your grandpa on the road! We do use different guitars for different tones though. Gibsons have a really warm feel. PRSs have a more metallic sound, which I think is due to the longer scale length. I think any lead guitarist should be using a PRS. It's the best playing guitar out there!
GC: What effects are you using on stage?
Dave: On stage, I'm using a MXR Phase 90, an Analog Delay by MXR, a Dunlop Crybaby Wah Pedal, a Digitech Wammy, a QZ1 Crybaby Q-zone by Dunlop, and a Electro Harmonics Graphic Fuzz. I like the MXR stuff a lot. Also I heard this thing, that the Eddie Van Halen lead sound was the MXR Phase 90 with a long delay. So I wanted to try it out and it sounds amazing! I really like the sound of that pedal. The Q-Zone is really just for one part in Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condrioid. The Q-Zone is basically like a wah but with only one knob that tweaks the frequency of the wah pedal.
GC: Do you have a home studio at all?
Dave: I do. For guitar I'm running a Line 6 POD, a Marshall JMP1 preamp and a Soldano X99 preamp. I have a Yamaha AW2816 16-track recorder, that one with the CD burner. It's a completely digital studio. I have a set of electronic Roland V-drums and an old, hundred-year-old piano. My studio is cool. I like it a lot. It's good enough for what I want to do. I don't really plan on buying a Studer 24-track anytime soon!
GC: How does the band write material? Does everybody contribute to the writing process?
Dave: We contribute once Deryck finishes the song as much as he can. As soon as the song is finished, Deryck will bring it to practice and then the three of us will throw in what we want to throw in. If it works, it works - if it doesn't, then we'll come up with something else. If everybody thinks it's not working, then we don't do it. But Deryck's usually the one to say it. Deryck kind of guides us as we put our own signature stuff in.
GC: What advice do you have for the young players who might want to model their career after yours?
Dave: Find a good songwriter like Deryck and just buckle up for the ride! Know the difference between a good song and a bad song. Not every song you write is going to be a smash hit. I think that's the most important part.
GC: Say if I'm an intermediate player and I already have the basic set up, maybe I'm in a band and I want to expand or improve my sound, do you have any suggestions about what I should get?
Dave: Sound-wise, I say just go try out what you're looking for. Take the unit home and get used to it! I never make a purchase unless I thoroughly test something out.
GC: In your own history what do you feel was the first thing you got that made a big difference as far as your sound went?
Dave: It was getting a Paul Reed Smith and getting a Marshall 2555SL Slash Signature model amp. Then I was like "OK, yeah, this is what I'm going for!" Before that I was using an JCM800, but I wasn't satisfied with it. It didn't have the nicer top end that the Slash had because the Slash is modeled after the 2555 Jubilee but with a little more mid range sweep in it.
GC: Do you shop at Guitar Center?
Dave: Yeah absolutely! I just bought a guitar I've always wanted there. It was a few months ago. I bought an old, old BC Rich Korina. It looks like a coffee table from the 70s! It's super nice, too. It's like a science guitar with all these knobs and bass switches and distortion boosters and things like that. It's only about one step down from Brian May's guitar!