Are there any secret weapons, any gear you can't live without?
Yes, and I've had to live without it actually [laughs], and no one can fix it. I love my Lexicon 224 reverb—it has some really cool modified settings, ways of making it sound like it's not a reverb—but it died and no one can fix it. I've shipped this gigantic thing all over and they say it's too far gone. So, what I've done is get into digital effects more. Now I'm using Cubase and you learn to get some really good sounds out of the digital gear that's out. I'm also using iZotope [Ozone] like a little mastering module. It fits in Cubase like a VST plug-in, so when you go to mix, you just go to your master fader and modify that, and all of a sudden this little mastering module comes up. Anyway, I thought that really helped, especially at the end—it made everything sound better.
Those Lexicon reverbs are pretty cool—they always make me think of a David Gilmour-type tone.
Yeah, it's a shame. Everything I usually like, I know they're gonna stop making it if I really like it. So I try not to like things too much. [Laughs]
Some of today's hottest players like Zakk Wylde and John Petrucci are pretty vocal about their love of your style and music. What modern guitarists do you listen to?
Well, you started by naming two of the best guys. Personally, I like to listen to guys live more than anything, because the whole experience just gets me. It's like you can watch a movie from a distance while people are talking and everything, and you're far away and the TV is small, and it's totally different from being inside a theater where you're right up front and it's taking up your whole field of vision. So, I like to listen to stuff with headphones—zero distractions—or live. All of the guitarists I've seen live really impress me—it's been that way my whole life. Surely any musician has something that's gonna amaze me, because human beings all make different choices and take different paths and meet different crossroads along their life. It's still amazing to me how everybody playing the same 12 notes, repeated over and over, is gonna sound different. If I'm on the road, or if there's somebody playing with us, I try to listen to good guitar players. You have your obvious ones like you just mentioned, but all of the guitar greats I've heard have really impressed me. full interview