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10 questions for George Lynch: “I wasn’t wearing underwear. My guitar tech leapt into action with a roll of duct tape”

(Image credit: STV Thrasher)

He’s the fearsome soloist from Dokken and The Lynch Mob - but how will George Lynch handle the 10 questions we ask everyone?

1. What was your first guitar?

“It was a no-name acoustic that my father bought for me at a place called Wallich’s Music City in California. It was horrible and I think it cost $10. It was virtually unplayable! I was about 10 and I thought that the idea was to cover up the strings that you didn’t want to resonate with your left hand. I didn’t understand the concept of fretting and chording, I’d just seen pictures of people playing so I was just trying to figure out what they were doing. The first six months I struggled with that.”

2. What one guitar would you save if the building was burning?

“Probably my tiger, because it has the most longevity and history. It was the original. I slapped it together myself and a friend helped me paint it in 1978 or 79.”

3. What’s the oldest guitar you own?

My wife owns a yoga studio and I thought I’d come in and play background music for the classes if she wanted me to

“That would be a ’59 Les Paul Junior. My first real decent guitar was similar to that: a ’60 Les Paul Special. That was my first real love, and it was stolen. This ’59 Junior actually reminded me of it, and a friend of mine owned it and offered to sell it to me. It definitely has a lot of magic mojo to it, it’s got 60 years of wear, smoke from bars… it’s just awesome and so I had to have it.”

4. What plectrums do you use?

“Dunlop Jazz IIIs. They’re very small and it’s the same pick that Eric Johnson uses - and if it’s good enough for Eric Johnson, it’s good enough for me!”

5. When was the last time you changed your own strings?

“The last thing I changed strings on is a Hindustani slide guitar. I bought it last year because my wife owns a yoga studio and I thought I’d come in and play background music for the classes if she wanted me to. I wanted to surprise her so I purchased this guitar, which is similar to a sitar, but you play it with a slide. It has drone strings and sympathetic strings… and I broke a string on it and so that’s the last thing I had to replace myself.”

6. What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on stage?

“Wardrobe malfunction. Back in the 80s I was doing a Dokken show and we wore these very tight, stretchy pants. I would wear these things every show to the point where I think they were just rotting from sweat and so forth, and they were tight. So those two things combined under stress and eventually a pair of my stretchy pants completely blew out on me in front of a crowd of 60,000 people - and I wasn’t wearing underwear. My guitar tech leapt into action with a roll of duct tape, got down on his knees mid-song and wrapped up all the important parts. It was a heroic effort; he really handled the situation, if you know what I mean.”

7. What song would you play on an acoustic around a campfire?

“That’s actually happened to me and I’ve never been invited back to a campfire since. My friends go camping with us and they assumed that I’m a professional guitar player and I’ll know all these songs… I’ve never been in a cover band in my life and I’ve never learned any other songs, really, so I can’t play Stairway To Heaven or Beatles songs or anything. So that was a huge disappointment.

“People were - almost to the point of getting angry - like, ‘Really? That’s it?’ I was trying to compose things around a campfire and people kept straggling off until it was just me and one other guy who was super drunk and he was trying to help me out until he went to bed around 2am and I just sat there trying to figure shit out!”

8. What aspect of playing guitar would you like to be better at?

Learn a bunch of songs, rather than writing your own songs. When I was growing up, bands just jammed

“I don’t know theory and it’s frustrated me all my playing life. I’ve gone about learning it many different ways: I’ve enrolled at MI, GIT, I’ve had private tutors, signed up for classes online, I’ve bought books and studied them - theory books, scale books, modes and so forth - and have never been able to figure it out. So that’s been a hindrance to expanding my playing or evolving because I’m not sure how all the pieces are supposed to fit together.”

9. What advice would you give your younger self about playing the guitar if you had the chance?

“Learn a bunch of songs, rather than writing your own songs. When I was growing up, bands just jammed. We did a little bit of Zeppelin or this or that, but mostly we just improvised, made up our own stuff - blues-based rock stuff - and I think that served me to some extent. But the downside of that is I didn’t get exposed to other ideas, how someone else would think about putting chords together when they’re writing songs. And I think that it would really benefit a guitar player because it would expand your ideas about what is possible.”

10. Is there a myth about you or your playing that you’d like to set the record straight on?

“Yeah, I did not teach Eddie Van Halen how to tap!”

Ultraphonix’s latest album Original Human Music is out now on earMUSIC.

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