Me and my guitar: Blair Dunlop

Singer songwriter Blair Dunlop shows us the Blue Pearl Gretsch Pro Jet that inspired his new album Notes From An Island.

Drumming up support

“I’d always played Fenders growing up when I was playing electric and they sit so differently. I loved single-coil guitars and I’d never got on with Gretsches, even though I loved the idea of them because they look amazing. One day I picked this up and fell in love with it. It’s a limited-edition finish, a homage to the drum finishes Gretsch has.”

Filter’Trons

Tuning down to DADGAD or a variation on that really sings on this guitar

“The Filter’Trons are unlike anything else, I’m a huge fan. They have a kind of chime and are in between a humbucker and a single-coil as a lot of you will know. They have a certain resonance and when I tune down and I’m doing arrangements of traditional tunes, the Filter’Trons help those notes to ring out in a way they just don’t on a Fender. Tuning down to DADGAD or a variation on that really sings on this guitar.”

Bigsby

“I’d never played with a Bigsby before and now I don’t know if I could do without one. I don’t really use if for playing lead but if I’m playing cowboy chords or inversions, it can put a bit of movement into the chord. I use tremolo with this guitar and they act really nicely together.”

High/low pass filter

“There’s a high/low pass filter [switch] that I don’t use so much and I’ve heard some Gretsch players block them off because you can knock them accidentally if you’re clumsy. I like to use it mainly for bedroom stuff if I’m playing around with odd tones. I haven’t found a use for cutting the high and low live yet but maybe I will.”

Master volume

I play through Fender amps pretty much exclusively and I really like that sparkle

“I use the master volume a bit but it’s probably the one thing I would change about this guitar. As soon as you roll it off you lose a lot of clarity on the top-end and I play through Fender amps pretty much exclusively and I really like that sparkle. As soon as you take it down a couple of percent it deadens the sound quite a lot. I know that a lot of Gretsch users modify their guitars so they don’t get that roll off of the high-end.”

Bridge

“I spent about a month playing this guitar solidly as I was getting used to it. It was on loan to me at the time and when I first started playing it I really didn’t get on with it. The bridge is so different to what I’d been used to playing but after about a month I got into it and it was that classic thing where the guitar had songs in it. It’s a cliché but it’s very true because it was informing my playing in a way another electric guitar hadn’t. I ended up writing pretty much the whole of my new album on this guitar and it’s all over the record too. I still play a bit of acoustic as I have done on my previous records but the body of the guitar work is on this because it gave me the songs on this album. It’s taught me to look outside my comfort zone for new ideas on the guitar.”

Blair Dunlop’s new album Notes From An Island is out now on Gilded Wings Records.

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