Simon Ellis, lead guitarist of UK Thrash Band 'Helgrind'
2.Who made you want to pick up the guitar
It was a combination of different things really. My father played guitar and a bit of piano so there were always instruments around the house, so when I was 6 I remember hearing the lyrics to the song summer of 69 by Bryan Adams 'played until my fingers bled' and I was like, that's so cool, im going to try that. So I picked up my father's huge ass 12-string acoustic and learnt to play a G chord and then it kind of spiralled out of control from there. There was always music playing around the house by Genesis, The Eagles, Jethro Tull, Status Quo etc. But of all the music that inspired me, the guy that made me want to play and play well was Slash.
3. Are you self taught or did you take lessons?
. I started taking lessons around the age of 10/11. I was teaching myself and getting help from my dad up to that point. Then after school I went on to study the Popular music performance Degree at The Guitar Institute (G. I. T) in London
4. Can you read music, Can you read tab?
. Yes I can read both. I think it's important to get the both down as well as you can. Music is a universal language so being able to work with other musicians especially these days with music being collaborative over the Internet it opens up endless possibilities for global collaboration. So transcribing your music and getting another musician to perform on it is a really helpful tool.
5.Do you feel like you have your own sound / tone ?
I like to think i have my own playing style but like many of us, im still searching for that signature sound I have in my head.
6.Tell us about your guitar ( brand ,model . year , color).
I’m not one who is too precious about guitars. If they feel right they get the job. I do mod them all myself too. They get thrown around and beaten up. My main live guitars are:
Jackson King V Black
Gibson 2016 Cherry Explorer
Gibson 2015 Red LPM Les Paul
Fender Jim Root 2008 White
7.What about pickups? Passive or active ? Tell us about them.
I am very much an EMG fan. Mainly the 81/85 combo, but i have a 60 in one of them that I like the sound of as it little softer in the neck position. I find that I have more control over active pickup. I use my volume to back off gain and to clean up the sound on sing sections and I find EMG pickups incredible for that. It also means I am able to back the gain off on my amp more so i get much better note definition which is needed for thrash.
8.Lets get into amplification, Same drill brand , model , speakers etc.
Very simple Peavey 6505 120watt Head with Tong-sol 6l6 power amp tubes and Sovtek 12ax7 preamp tubes.
I use 2 Montage 2X12 cabs.
1 loaded with 2 Eminence Governor speakers
1 loaded with 2 Eminance Man 'o' War speakers
9.Do you have a pedal board? Tell us about that badboy.
Once again, nice and simple really. The less in the chain the less to go wrong especially with quick set time turn around.
I run into: Shure digital wireless system with a built in tuner
Cry Baby Wah Mini
MXR Zakk Wylde Chorus
Boss NS-2 Noise suppressor
Korg Pitch Black tuner (for when I don't use my wireless)
10..Now tell us your Dream Rig in detail…..
Ideally i would like the Peavey 6505+ but I couldn't get my hands on one at the time when i switched amps. Maybe a Mesa Boogie MK.V but i'm pretty simple guy when it comes to gear. Maybe a Kemper for fly gigs but apart from that I'm happy with what I'm working with. Boring I know, lol sorry.
11.What guitarist can you not stand?
I don't think I hate guitarists as players because everyone has their own means of musical expression. I guess I don't like the attitude of the players that think shredding and playing articulate fast music is just guitar wanking. Then at the same time couldn't play it even if they tried. It's a lazy stupid attitude. If the same music was played on piano or violin it would be considered incredible.
12. Is tone more important or is technique?
I would have to say tone. No point being a great musician if you sound like a wasp in a can.
13. Name your top 5 guitarist.
In no particular order:
3. Zakk Wylde
4. Alex Skolnick
5. Randy Rhodes
14.Who is the most overrated guitarist.
It's a hard question because it's not the players fault that they are so highly rated. For me, it's Eric Clapton.
15.Who would you like a one hour private sit down lessons with anyone dead or alive?
For me it would have to be Mr. Randy Rhodes