Contact: Dan Warren, firstname.lastname@example.org
Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Rick Derringer (originally Zheringer) has earned his “legend” status. From his teen beginnings as spearhead of hit ’60s band The McCoys, to his 1974 smash “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,” to his work in smooth jazz, his legacy is sealed. He also has amassed well-deserved accolades as a session artist and producer as well. These days Derringer plays about 100 live shows per year.
What’s your top gear?
I use Warrior Guitars exclusively. But I also have a collection of guitars that includes a ’57 Les Paul Jr., an exact custom shop copy of the ES 355 TD Gibson guitar that I used in The McCoys and on the road with Ringo Starr. I have a fat PRS guitar that I’ve used on some of my smooth jazz stuff and have a D’Angelico guitar as well. So I’ve got a few collectibles, but the Warrior guitars are what I’m using live and are some of the best I’ve ever played in my life.
Do you modify your gear?
I work with a guy right here in Tampa named Mike Vans Evers. He wired the entire studio where I do most of my recording. Mike does strange things to my guitars. He makes them sound better, like taking the back plate off the guitar and having me play it acoustically. It sounded much better immediately.
What kind of amplification are you using?
I use VVT Pre Amps. They are actually copies of a Dumble Overdrive Special amplifier. So I can take that pre amp and plug it into any power amp that can become pretty close to sounding like a Dumble. So, I use a Marshall JCM 100 amp for a little less gain and also use the VVT and plug that into a small Fender Blues Deville or something like that. And I use that for the massive amount of overdrive that I love. The combination of the two is what I’m always using on stage.
What strings are you using now?
I use DR Tight Fit strings—tuned down to B, 10 through 52.
What kind of outboard gear are you using?
I have a pedal board with only two controls on it. It has the Klon overdrive—the older one that people love. And then I plug that into an El Capistan echo pedal. And then there is a stereo out, so I can run one of those outputs to that Marshall amp and one of those outputs to that Dumble-ized Fender amp. I have a little bit of old-sounding tape-type echo that is set so it warbles a little bit. It gives the sound a really nice effect.
How have you become better at your craft?
Just playing and listening to other great musicians. I’m listening to Lenny Breau and Chet Atkins right now on a duets album.
What are your impressions when you hear your old recordings?
My objective is, I wanna like the things I’ve done. As a producer, sometimes I’ve thought I could have done this or that better. But the idea I guess is to try and put things into perspective and try to get better.
How to excel as a sessioneer/sideman?
You wanna play for results and you want people to really like what you’re doing. For instance, I played on the demos that got Donald Fagen his record deal with Steely Dan. But whether it’s Steely Dan or KISS you just try to do the best you can. If your style or personality leaks through, all the better. But actually, when you’re playing with all these different people, it’s really about not having such a distinctive style. It’s about just playing what they wanna hear.