Wednesday, September 4, 2019

THE AXEMEN SERIES : Phil Berger of ReFrame

1.Tell us your name and the band you play for

My name is Phil Berger, and I am the guitarist for ReFrame

2.Who made you want to pick up the guitar

As far as famous guitarists it was definitely the Crazy Train. I didn’t know what I was listening or to who but I had to find out and from that point on for a long time, Randy Rhodes was the main inspiration

The first time I heard that riff though was from a childhood friend who moved to Florida when we were 9 the next time I saw him a year later he was playing guitar and could play Crazy Train, Paranoid, Smoke on the Water and For Whom The Bell Tolls I went home and drove my family nuts about wanting the guitar a few months after my 10th birthday I bought an Ibanez Iceman and have been playing ever since

3.Are you self taught or did you take lessons?

I graduated from Berklee College Of Music with a dual bachelor in Education and Jazz Performamce

4. Can you read music, Can you read tab?

I can read both, my “day” job is as a studio musician but I also do transcriptions for other musicians so definitely keep my reading chops somewhat where they need to be.

5.Do you feel like you have your own sound / tone ?

While yes I feel like that I have developed a sound that is unique to me, especially with having keyboards and a busy bassist, I’m constantly striving to keep it, it’s too easy to get to a gig, the studio or rehearsal and just feel like something needs to be tweaked so I think at this point it’s more difficult not to mess my tone up than it it to achieve it

6.Tell us about your guitar ( brand ,model . year , color )

My 2 main guitars are a Stealth black v2014 Music Man BFR John Petrucci 7 string (with solid rosewood neck) I use this guitar as much for the 7 string as I do for the piezos, to get the acoustic sound I need to switch to on several of our songs…this guitar has been my main guitar since 2014, tuning wise it’s standard tuning BEADGBE string gauge 10-64

My 2nd is a custom 6 string made my Carl Thompson (the guy who makes Les Claypools basses) and a guy named Ray Rivera I believe this guitar is from 2002 it was given to me as a gift around 2011 and I know I’m not the first owner. The top is spalted maple with a natural satin oil finish this I tune to Drop C: CGCFADC 10-56

7.What about pickups? Passive or active ? Tell us about them

I prefer Dimarzio Pickups on all my non-PRS guitars(I played PRS from 1997 till 2014 still love their guitars just have chosen to switch to the Music Man…for now. The Music Man has Dimarzio Crunch Lab in the Bridge and Liquifire in the neck. the Carl Thompson has Dimarzio Super Distortion in The Bridge and Steve’s Special in the neck.

8.Lets get into amplification, Same drill brand , model , speakers etc

A Mesa/Boogie Mark V is my main amp since 2010, although I’ve cycled a EVH 5150 III, Splawn Quick Rod, Bogner Ubershall,Soldano SLO 100 and Diezel Lil’ Fokker into my rig at different points but overall Mesa has been my amp since 1997

9.Do you have a pedal board? Tell us about that badboy

I do have a pedalboard that is constantly evolving…as of today August 2019, the front end of the amp is Korg Pitch Black tuner, Dunlop Mini-Wah, Xotic EP Booster, then it goes into a One Control Crocodile Tail Loop and the rest of the pedals are in there own true bypass loop. TC Electronic Sub N Up Octave Pedal, Xotic Sp Comp, Xotic BB Preamp, JHS AT plus Andy Timmons pedal), MXR Phase 90, TC Electronic SCF(Stereo Chorus/Flange and Vibrato)the rest go through the effects loop of the One Control, TC Electronic Flashback X4, TC Electronic Hall Of Fame and a Custom built clean boost…I’m pretty sure that’s it at the moment

10.Now tell us your Dream Rig in detail….

My dream rig is not too different from my current Rig maybe a 1984 Mesa Mark IIC plus or a Diezel VH4 amp wise and maybe a Private Stock PRS 7 String with piezos

12. Is tone more important or is technique?

Better technique will help your tone, a lot of tone comes from good technique, take a guitar player like Steve Morse or Al DiMeola both have phenomenal almost otherworldly technique and when they really lay into a note it is just monstrous even on acoustic guitar. All of the toys, the amps, overdrive pedals, delays etc enhance what’s already there more Than vise verse

13. Name your top 5 guitarist

5 is so tough but here we go. Definitely not in any relevant order

1) John Petrucci
2) Alex Lifeson
3) Shawn Lane
4) Andy Timmons
5) Steve Morse
Honorable mentions: Guthrie Govan, Steve Howe, Roine Stolt, Randy Rhodes, David Gilmore, Richard Henshall, Al DiMeola, Steve Vai, Steve Rothery, Allan Holdsworth, Eric Johnson, Adrian Belew…I’m just such a fan of music/Guitar in general I could go on for days

14.Who is the most overrated guitarist

The guitarist who feels he has nothing else to learn, or tries to sell his talent as being greater than the big picture the song and enhancing the band. Even instrumental virtuoso guitar players like Vai or Satriani put the band and the song before themselves. An over inflated Ego is the worst thing  any musician can do

15.Who would you like a one hour private sit down lessons with anyone dead or alive?

There 2 Randy Rhodes for numerous reasons but definitely would try to get him to teach me that AMAZING outro solo to Tonite off Diary of a Madman, so powerful

And 2 would be Frank Zappa to talk to him about just everything. Such a HUGE influence on the way I try to arrange some of the more esoteric instrumentation. The choir we put together for the album definitely came from Zappa’s Ike-Ettes(Tina Turner and several other well known R&B singers)


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