When it comes to the age old battle of tone vs convenience, Richard Hawley is not renowned for his ability to compromise on the former.
Here, the Sheffieldian songwriter talks us through the guitars, amps and effects that he uses to bring his ear-candy-clad compositions to life in the in the live arena. Just be thankful for you're not in his crew!
1957 Gretsch 'G-Brand' 6120
“I have a ’56 as well, which sounds radically different - they were still experimenting to get it right, but there’s some debate over the exact year and month of this one. The book says ’57 but Deed, Duane Eddy’s wife - who knows her onions - says, ‘No, it’s a ’56: no G-brand in ’57’.”
Gretsch Country Club 6196CG 2003
“One of the finest guitars I have. It’s beautiful, it’s a big fat sound, the pickups have colossal testicles. I have no qualms or snobbery about playing new or reissue guitars: it’s all about the sound and the feel… and let’s face it, it looks fucking cool as well.”
2006 Gibson LP-295 Les Paul Goldtop
“I used this loads on Sky’s Edge, most notably on the solos for She Brings The Sunlight. A great guitar, but a bastard to keep in tune - me and Gordon White, my tech, have tried everything, but it still slips out of tune… and it drives me insane.”
Baldwin Double Six XII 1966
“One of my most treasured guitars, my lovely nanna Betty lent me the £100 to buy this in the mid-80s, which was a fortune to a steel worker’s boy back then,” Richard recalls.
“I was massively into the Byrds - still am - and desperately wanted this guitar. I busked and saved so I could give the money back to her, but she refused to take it back in the end. And she said, ‘It was good that you tried to pay it back and good you learned the value not just the worth of things.’ I smile and think of her every time I play it - she was a lovely woman.”
Custom acoustic made by the “wonderful” Roger Bucknall.
A Ricky 360/12 V64 from 1993.
1958 Gibson ES-225
Richard’s blonde 1958 Gibson ES-225 was a recent find by his guitar tech, featuring “to die for” dog-ear P-90 pickups.
Hawley’s live amp arsenal: Two Fender Deluxes, a Fender Super Sonic, plus a Blackstar 30-watt Artisan combo.
Richard’s live effects rig has a strong emphasis on vintage modulation and saturated drive.
Richard says he’s an experimentalist when it comes to pedals for recording, however:
“The cabin is stuffed with pedals. But I’ve got a very anarchic attitude to that. I remember talking to Richard Kirk from Cabaret Voltaire years ago and I asked him a similar question: ‘How did you get that sound?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, I just plugged loads of pedals in’ - and I sort of like that very anarchic approach.”
By the numbers
- Beneath the tape indicating settings is Artec’s RSV-3 Resovibe, generating a blend of Uni-Vibestyle phasing and tremolo effects.
- MXR’s Custom Badass ’78 Distortion deals the dirt in Hawley’s sizeable live effects rig, alonside an EHX Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker.
- Coopersonic The Repeater - a very stark tremolo-style effect that is based on a vintage Vox effect built into the Starstream guitar.
- Akai P1 Intelliphase features threshold controls that allow the player to apply phasing only to quieter verse playing, for example, not solos.
- Catalinbread Pareidolia mimics the harmonic tremolo effect found on some early 60s Fender amps.
Richard Hawley plays Glastonbury on 24 June.