What strings do you use, Neal Schon?

(Image credit: Marty Moffatt)

We catch-up great guitarist all those little questions you really do want the answers to... This time: Journey's six-string monster, Neal Schon.

Do you have a type of pick that you can't live without?

Medium gauge celluloid picks. I'm currently using Dunlop medium gauge celluloid.

If you had to give up all your pedals but three, what would they be?

I don't use a lot of pedals, but I guess my Dunlop Hendrix wah, the Boss CS-3 compressor, and the Fulltone Fat Boost.

Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band?

Bass guitar.

If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

Somewhat - I read music when I was younger, but now I write my own charts.

Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours?

Yes, good cabling is a necessity. Monster is the best.

Is there anyone's playing (past or present) that you're slightly jealous of?

Jealous, no. But I admire so many great players, past and present. Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, Albert King, BB King, Jeff Beck, John McLaughlin, Les Paul, Paco de Lucia, Carlos Santana of course anybody who's good on their instrument, famous or otherwise.

Your house/studio is burning down: which of your guitars do you salvage?

As many as I can carry!

What's your favourite amp and how do you set it?

Wow - I have a warehouse full of amps. I use different ones for different projects. The Blackstar line is really solid. I use them live and in the studio with Journey. They are readily available throughout Europe which is nice when you're touring there.

I also like hand-wired like Bogner Shivas - I used them on my new solo album The Calling. And Fractal Axe-Fx direct to board. Oh, and the new Orange reissue. And old Marshalls.

I'm working with Paul Reed Smith on a new amp. Paul is very diligent, and a joy to work with: I make my comments, he makes the changes and sends it right back to me. As soon as I get to do another soundcheck (touring schedule's been pretty nuts lately!), I'll plug it in and give it a test run.

What kind of action do you have on your guitars?

Very low, right before it buzzes and is not sustaining; but just a little height to get my fingers under. I don't believe a guitar should be hard to play - it should feel like butter. I have the best guitar tech, Adam Day; he takes care of everything.

What guitar strings do you use?

D'Addario 9 thru 42. Some people use strings as large as cables. Anything heavier than a 10 is silly. But for the blues, heavier strings are better.