Ask Dominic

This is where you have the chance to ask Dominic a question. Please contact Dominic under contact@dominicmiller.com. Please understand that Dominic has a busy schedule and although he would love to answer all of your questions, he can only manage a few per month.

Question:

Being a minor guitar collector, I recently purchased a Charvel Eddie Van Halen 'Art Series' model. I thought that the guitar felt really good to play and sounded good unplugged as well. Only thing I noticed when I got back home was that the low E and G strings buzz in open position and in certain frets. I went back to the dealer (a major chain) and after checking the guitar, the in-house tech said that rock guitars which are designed for fast-playing are almost always buzzy due to the low action. The tech said he was happy to adjust the neck but that would ruin the great feel / playability of the guitar. I felt like I was getting an honest view (not just the tech being too lazy to adjust the neck) but in any event, wanted to check with a real pro since the guitar is somewhat of a major investment on my part.

Answer:

Don't worry about the buzz. My '62 Strat does the same acoustically but you never hear it when it's plugged in. I am sure you have a great guitar you can feel proud of.

Question:

I was wondering which guitar you used on all the demo pieces for Fourth Wall? Was it the all maple wood Kazafumi? I absolutely love your arrangements on Marcello & Villa Lobos' pieces and the way you blended in Iguazu. The different tones/colours and sustains that are produced on these pieces makes me feel that it's not the usual solid body nylon-string guitars being played. If I'm right ...I want one of those Kazafumi guitars BIG TIME !!! - from Paul

Answer:

You are right about the guitar. I am addicted to this instrument and can't seem to put it down. The difference in recording with this one (hollow body) and a solid body guitar like the Guild, P-Project or any other similar guitar is in the overtones. Being a real acoustic the pick-ups are responding to the instrument as a whole rather than just what is coming off the bridge. I hope this makes sense.

Question:

When you tour with Sting on various stages you have used the solid body nylon and or acoustic steel string for the applicable song. On his future dates,.. will you continue with the Guilds or go with your newer Flamenco? I also noticed that the P-project was used on the Third World disc. Do you ever pick up this guitar anymore. - from Andrew

Answer:

I always keep an open mind with the guitars and change them at different times for different reasons. They all have different characteristics which are important to me. Currently my guitar of choice is the Kazafumi. When I am on stage with Sting I prefer to use the Guild Paloma. This will most likely change at some point.

Question:

Is there any chance pick up your Fender Stratocaster again or are you going to be playing the Les Paul for a while? I also read in 'Ask Dominic' that you like Telecasters so is there a chance we will see you with one of them? - from Branden

Answer:

I will certainly pick up the Strat again but at the moment I favour the Les Paul. This will eventually change and maybe I will be getting a Telecaster as I am very interested in learning how to play one. We'll see.

Question:

I'm just curious about the Strat that you used on the Sting DVD (Live at Universal Amphitheatre). Can you tell me more about it? It is a newer one (custom shop?) or is it a vintage one? what colour is it? - from Richard

Answer:

This was a fake custom shop vintage white Strat.

Question:

I saw you on TV playing live with Sting on MuchMusic in Toronto. I loved the Taylor guitar you were playing. Would you please tell me the model you were using? Do you still use it and what is your opinion of the instrument? - from Ken

Answer:

I had forgotten that I played a Taylor for this show. It belongs to Sting so I don't know its model number. I am more of a nylon string player.

Question:

Why are you playing a Gibson Les Paul Custom on the broken music tour and not your Strat? - from Robert

Answer:

I use the Les Paul to make me feel like I am new in the band. I love it! Of course the Strat is my main instrument but it's great to change it.

Question:

I was just wondering what version of Rodriguez guitar do you use, and what one would you recommend to someone starting to play the classical guitar? - from Demitri

Answer:

The Rodriguez I use is made in Cordoba, Spain. It is a 1986 and they only make about ten a year. There is another Rodriguez make which isn't so serious. The best guitars to start out with are Yamahas because they are not too expensive but sound really good. Plus, they stay in tune really well.

Question:

I was wondering what you think of, or perhaps describe, the Peregrine. Do you think it does a good job of getting the real sound or actually does it have a sound of its own? Also is it a very playable guitar. - From Julian

Answer:

I am not familiar with the Peregrine. But I will say it is all down to the individual. It doesn't matter how good, bad, expensive or cheap a guitar is as long as you feel comfortable with it and find you can express yourself with it then it's fine by me.

Question:

I am inquiring about information on your Fernandes P-Project Nylon string. I have long admired the design and sound of this guitar. Unfortunately little information is available on it. I personally called Fernandes in California for info only to find out, sadly, that the luthier in Japan who made the guitars had passed away around 3 years ago. I see you are using Guild Paloma electro/nylon string guitars as well. Another very sweet guitar. - From Andy

Answer:

I didn't know that the luthier passed away. Sad news. I love the P-Project (I have four of them). The shape is of course based on the Telecaster. The concept was introduced my Godin guitars I believe (i.e.. electro acoustic nylon, semi hollow etc). But I think P-Project made a better job of it. It has a very crisp sound which is easier to control than any other guitar of its kind. However I do like the Paloma too. The Paloma is slightly more reliable for bigger shows because of its consistent intonation.

Question:

I've heard wonders about Linda Manzer's guitars, specially baritone and nylon string ones, but I've never been able to play one of them. Could you tell me what do you think of them (if you ever played one)? - From Julio

Answer:

I am not familiar with the Linda guitars.

Question:

I'm a big fan of your work, and being a guitar player myself I have to inquire about your beautiful sunburst Fender Strat. Can you tell me what year it is? I'm also curious, do you set the trem to sit on the body, or do you allow it to float? - From Brian

Answer:

My Strat is a '62. The trem sits on the body as it was intended. I have taken two of the springs off.

Question:

I am also interested in knowing what kind of guitars you play since I am a guitarist. From Manno

Answer:

I use all kinds of guitars for different projects. Fender Strats, P-Project and Guild acoustics, and my favourite is the Rodriguez classical guitar. I use various different effects and processors at different times with the electric guitar which always goes through two Mesa Boogie MK 3 amplifiers.

Question:

I recently acquired a P-project classical and absolutely love it!!! I had been playing my Gibson Chet Atkins for some time now and find the P-project to be much more versatile in many respects. Wondering how frequently you still use yours vs. your Guild Paloma and peregrine models. I guess my question is do you ever pull out these instruments and favour one over another? - from Andrew

Answer:

I am exclusively using a Japanese nylon now. It is custom built by Kazafumi. He is one of Japan's (and the world) leading makers. I still have the others but only use this one now.

Question:

I notice that you have a photo of an Ovation on your first album sleeve 'First Touch' and on your website banner. Have you ever recorded any material with the Ovation, if so what? I am a real convert - I have two collectors editions - and I know that players either love 'em or hate 'em. Which category do you subscribe to? - From Rick

Answer:

I have the 1983 collectors, limited series and love it. I also have the 25th anniversary model which is great. I do like them but find the sound to be an acquired taste. For some tunes they work well and for others they don't. You can hear an Ovation on a track called 'Last Dance' on my 'First Touch' album.

Question:

I want to know what made you change from your Fernandez electric, to your Fenders vintage Strats? What's the real difference between a vintage and an actual Strat? Do you like Telecasters? - from George

Answer:

The main difference with the Fernandes and Fender Strats is in the sound. Also, the Fender feels more natural to play. I also like Telecasters and would like to get a good one some day.

Question:

I am so interested in what classical guitar you played in the album Shapes. I like the pieces so much, may be I am a classical guitar player too. Any info of your guitars that can share with me and what guitar you love the best. - from Philip

Answer:

The guitar I used was (and still is) a Rodriguez, made in Cordoba, Spain in 1986. I love it! It is the same guitar I used on ‘Another Day in Paradise’ with Phil Collins and most of the albums I have recorded with Sting.

Question:

Just wanted to know what your new red guitar is - I couldn't see what name was on the headstock - is it a Hammer? Also wanted to know why you play this guitar on Sacred Love, does this song require different tuning? - from Drew

Answer:

Yes that was a Hammer, with knobs, especially the one playing it. I like the hollow body sound for that song. I will be getting a Gretsch soon!

Question:

I saw your video lesson on CD-ROM in the latest addition of Guitar Techniques and was wondering what make the new guitar you were playing was? It looks like a flamenco built guitar, is it? I love the sound it makes through the amp; does it also play well acoustically? Are you moving away from cedar tops to spruce for the added clarity that spruce brings when playing with flesh? - from Paul

Answer:

This is a custom built guitar made in Japan by Kazafumi. It's the best nylon I have had yet. It has a maple top and sides which I think makes for a warm sound.

Question:

I was just wondering what version of Rodriguez guitar do you use, and what one would you recommend to someone starting to play the classical guitar? - from Demitri

Answer:

The Rodriguez I use is made in Cordoba, Spain. It is a 1986 and they only make about ten a year. There is another Rodriguez make which isn't so serious. The best guitars to start out with are Yamahas because they are not too expensive but sound really good. Plus, they stay in tune really well.

Question:

I have P-project guitar (your signature model). If I play this one what amp do you recommend? - from Nakamura

Answer:

In my opinion these guitars sound better going DI (direct input) through a PA and not an amp. If you were using an amp I would recommend having it at very low level to get the best sound. Any amp will do. Just make sure you roll some of the low frequencies out to avoid a low hum.

Question:

I noticed that you have recently been using Mesa Boogie Lone Stars in your rig. Are you getting your gain (distortion) from the amp's dirty channel or are you using a distortion pedal to get your dirty sounds? - from Andy

Answer:

I use both. The amp dirty sound is good for crunchy rhythm parts and the pedal can be good for more modern 'moments' in the music.

Question:

I am a freelance session-player, and as such I have to play anything from 'straight-ahead' jazz to metal. What amplifier would you recommend for versatility, I've heard a lot of good things about mesa F100's but I haven't been able to find one. - from Nick

Answer:

I find Mesa Boogies to be the most versatile amplifiers but this is a matter of taste. With these amps I can get the sound I want without thinking too much.

Question:

I've read in several responses that you use Boogie Mark III amps and occasionally an AC30. I've seen you several times in concert and have a number of Sting DVDs, but don't see your amps on stage. Are you running your amps off stage for stage-volume purposes? If so, any thoughts on how you've done this successfully? - Dennis

Answer:

I have been placing my amps off-stage but keeping the cabinets behind me (Mesa 2/12s). There is no particular reason other than perhaps trying to keep the stage clean.

Question:

I am a touring professional guitarist/writer in Australia playing pop/funk who has bought endless amps/pedals to get 'that sound'. It was with great pleasure that I saw your board consisting of mostly Boss pedals and resulting in a fantastic sound. I was so impressed that after suffering the theft of all my equipment I have basically used your gear set-up as a shopping list and bought a 100w Mesa MK III, Korg G1, Boss HM2, etc... My question is (and I know it's 'all in the fingers') how do you utilise these otherwise average pedals with your amp to get such a great sound? Specifically the dist./overdrive pedals - do you run these against the clean signal on the amp or the dirty? Individual settings would be incredibly helpful... - From Ruairidh

Answer:

A lot of people ask me about my sound. There are many factors involved. One of the most important is the order you use the pedals. It's all down to personal taste and experimenting. I am left footed so I have the volume and wah on the left. But with this board I am free to change the order at will without moving the pedals. It's all in the wiring. Another important factor is the amp settings. Sometimes I use the amp grunge and for more 'produced' sounds I use the Boss pedal. I am always experimenting with different pedals. There is also a huge difference with live and recording. But ultimately it's in the choice of guitar and of course one's touch. For instance, Jeff Beck always gets the same sound regardless of what he's using which is often just a guitar and an amp. I hope this helps. Stay with it!" />

Question:

Since you use the Boogie Mark-III's, I've got a few questions regarding this amp, your thoughts, etc... How many do you own?; Combo, Head, Both?; Simulclass or non-Simulclass?; Red stripe, Blue stripe? The Mark-III's have really great tone, but all the controls are very interactive - meaning if you move one knob it seems to effect all the others (EQ-wise). It takes a long time to dial in a good tone (but when you get it you feel like Tony the Tiger). However, it seems that if you dial in a good crunch tone the Lead doesn't sound very good. If you dial in a good Lead tone, the Clean doesn't sound that great - there's a difficult medium to find. What do you do to get that all around great tone/sound on this amp that you get? What are your settings, and how do you adjust for different sounds - I've never seen you run off stage to dial in a different sound? - from Ian

Answer:

A lot of questions! I have three of these amps (one is a spare) which are combos but I run them through two Mesa 2 by 12s. In the studio I use them as they are but tend to only use one. You are right about the e.q. knobs being very sensitive. If one were to think 0 to 10 for each band width I would set it, starting from the left, to 3, 5, 4, 6 and 4 (or thereabouts). This makes for a common denominator of tone that I need for this particular show. In the studio I mess with the e.q. a lot to achieve the desired tone. The dirty channel on these amps is, in my opinion, the best one can get.

Question:

How do you 'manage' volume on stage. Do you have your monitors set to exactly how the band mix is heard in the auditorium so you can dial in a much volume as necessary using your volume pedal? Or do you just have enough volume in the monitors to hear what your playing and rely on the PA engineers to control things in the mix. I guess my question is how do you know where you are volume wise? I find this aspect really difficult when playing live. - from David

Answer:

To keep my stage level where it needs to be I have my guitar coming out of my monitors at the same level as they are from the amps. This stops me from playing too loud. I also rely on the side-fills for an overall mix of the band. The lower one's stage level the more control the sound guy has out front.

Question:

I'm a Vox AC30 owner. I've seen you use this amp on some TV appearances. Have you ever used this amp on a Sting recording? - From David

Answer:

Actually I did use an AC30 for the 'Soul Cages' album with Sting. Great amp!

Question:

Do you know what the difference is between the Celestion vintage 25 watt speaker and the Celestion vintage 30? I have a cabinet I want to put different speakers in and everyone recommends the 30's. But I like how certain players sound and they use the 25's. - From Richard

Answer:

I think the 25's sound better because they are smaller, enabling the player to get a better all round sound without playing too loud. They are somehow clearer yet have a better, dirty sound. Much like the Vox AC30. But I am not an expert in speakers. I have always used the same Mesa cabinets and they work for me.

Question:

I'm looking for a very versatile all tube combo. Can you tell me about some good combo you already played in that you personally liked? I like the Fender sound but I'm not quite sure about all the things in a tube amp, there's the famous ruby riot that I like too! - from João

Answer:

I think the most versatile amp is a Vox AC30. I hope you find one and if so, you agree with me.

Question:

What do you set your primary knobs to get that great sound? Each knob is also a push/pull, and each does so much - I can't seem to dial in the Dominic setting! - from Ian

Answer:

I need to have the amp in front of me to know which settings I use. I do it by feel and it varies from room to room. I change it a lot so there is no 'superglue' setting. I will let you know when I do. I am glad you are going for this amp as it is a great one. I hope you enjoy.

Question:

I love your sound, especially in live concerts with Sting, I love your Stratocaster sound. How you do it? I mean clean chorus sound and also distortion sound with nice space, for example in song Ain't No Sunshine, this sound is my favourite. - from Peter

Answer:

I am glad you like my sound. I often use the dirty channel on my amp for grunge and if I want it to sound clean I just play softer.

Question:

Could you recommend an overdrive pedal that will allow me to use jazzier voicings in a rock fusion context without the usual associated muddiness? - from Paul

Answer:

There are many good distortion pedals. Personally, I like the RAT pedal and also the gree Ibanez one. But nothing beats the sound of an amp in overdrive

Question:

I was wondering how much you use your guitar volume knob(s) on stage for varying the volume, distortion and tone of your sound? Some players seem to do everything with pedals while others use the guitar volume more. Which method do you prefer? I'm especially interested in your approach to the Les Paul as I recently switched to a Les Paul after many years of playing Strats and/or Teles and I'm finding it quite tough to get the right settings for varying between clean/dirty and rhythm/lead sounds on stage. Any advice would be much appreciated. - from Paul

Answer:

When I am playing the Strat I prefer to use the volume pedal to change my level which does slightly affect the sound. When I use the volume on the Strat it isn't so great. But it is with the Les Paul that I find the volume knob most useful or prominent. I can turn the level down and get a clean sound and grunge it up by turning it up. It's with the Les Paul I have more control with the sound especially by adjusting the pick-up levels when I am in the middle position. I am hooked on the Les Paul.

Question:

I noticed, that you are using lot of BOSS's gear. Did you ever have problems (sucking tone, level lost, height loss, etc) with those boss FX pedals, because they are not true bypass - they use a tone buffer, so that the sound is influenced in the bypass mode to. Lots of musicians prefer to use only true bypass equipment. Or do you have some true bypass switch is or true bypass modifications in your stomp boxes? Or are you using some external tube buffer or something like that? And one more question - what wah pedal(s) are you using? - from Adam

Answer:

I do use Boss pedals and a few others too. I had a pedal board designed by Pete Cornish which gives me the best possible performance out of these simple pedals. It's all hard wiring which gives the best or clearest signal. It is also fool proof, meaning if one goes down during a show it can be automatically bypassed. I can change the order of the pedals without moving them by way of wiring. My guitar tech knows more about the potential of this pedal board than I do. I use a Dunlop wah wah.

Question:

I'm curious as to what kind, but also the make and settings of reverb you use when you record. Especially the reverb on the demos that you have on your website at present. I know that your technique has a lot to do with the purity of your sound but the way you utilise the reverb is just heavenly!! - from Gary

Answer:

I use a Lexicon PCM 90. I love this machine.

Question:

I was wondering at what point you utilize the boss heavy metal pedal on your board? Is it something reserved for a specific instrument (Strat vs Les Paul) or do you use it for solos? I have this pedal and and struggle with its tone. How do you set yours and I suppose what application do you use this vs. the Boogie distortion. I've seen many of Stings DVD videos of the group in a studio setting and wonder how that tone is achieved. Just one more thing, will the black Fernandes Strat ever return or has it been retired? it sounded great and looked too cool!! - from Andrew

Answer:

I am always experimenting with different distortion pedals. The Boss Heavy Metal retired a while ago so now I use an Ibanez one which I really like. It's best for solos or smooth grunge rhythm parts. For more traditional grunge I use the Boogie dirty channel. The black Fernandes might well make a come back!

Question:

I saw you use different kinds of pedals, and you get many different sounds too (e.g. If I Ever Lose My Faith, This War, Sacred Love...). I wonder if it isn't difficult to change from one pedal to another all the time. What do you think about multi-effects processors like Mesa Boogie Triaxis? - from Luis

Answer:

I prefer separate effects pedals to the multi-effect ones because they are more specific and just focus an a particular sound. Sometimes it feels like I am tap dancing with all the changes I make which are very often spontaneous. With Multi-effects pedals this would be hard to achieve.

Question:

I would like to ask you about your pedal board. What are the pedals and specially what is the order the you switch them. I use a Jim Dunlop GCB-95 Cry Baby Wah Pedal, a Boss FV-50H volume pedal, a Boss CH-1 chorus, a Boss TR-2 tremolo, a Boss DD-5 delay and a Marshall Blues Braker II that I use mostly in overdrived guitar solos. I'm not sure about the order that I should switch them and what are the main differences in changing this order. - from João

Answer:

I think it should start with volume, wah wah, delay, chorus, tremolo, distortion, and compression and then guitar. I hope this works for you.

Question:

I like your sound and your technique, and I would like to know what guitar effects you use on your everyday playing. - from Rubin

Answer:

I use basic effects like delays, compression ext. The best effect is always your fingers and right hand (if you are right handed) technique.

Question:

In your picture of your guitar rig on your website, I see you use a line 6 POD. Are these any good and worth the money? - from Nic

Answer:

These are OK for the grunge sounds but not very good for the clean. I think it's a useful tool for demos, but an amp always sounds better.

Question:

My question is what effects do you use to get both your clean & distorted sound live? I have spent loads of money on Boss effects & Korg pedal boards hoping to find a sound much like your own but can never seem to even come close. I play a Fender Strat (with EMG pickups) & a Gibson Les Paul Std. through a Marshall Valestate Amp. Have you any advice on how I can improve my sound or get close to yours? - from Dave

Answer:

It sounds like you have the ingredients to get the sound you want. The order you have the pedals in is important. The guitar should go into the compressor and other pedals can follow. It's good to use the amp distortion by setting the level right, i.e. slightly louder than the clean sound.

Question:

You have great influence in my guitar playing. I love your style, sound and setup. I've been using my zoom4040 for 5 years already. I'm thinking of selling it and get those boss compact pedals like yours. What is a good initial setup? If I'm not mistaken, you use a lot of flange and phasing? Will I be okay with DS-1, CH-1, DD3, BF-2, Phase shift? - From Jun

Answer:

My theory with guitar effects is very personal with the player. I am sure the set up you have is fine. There is no better effect than your right hand (or the picking hand) because I think most of the feeling comes from the hands. Sometimes using effects can be fun though.

Question:

I noticed on the photo of your pedal board (for tech heads) that your using a pod in your set up. I was wondering how you run it through your rig and what type of tones you are using it for. - From Alan

Answer:

I only sometimes use the pod in studios when I there is no amp or I am lazy. I wouldn't recommend using this unit live.

Question:

You're using effects in a very subtle and elegant way. What do you think of guitarists like The Edge of U2 who's got a whole 'mission control' rig on stage, generating incredible sounds? It's like he's playing the guitar + the effect rig as one 'instrument'. Do you think it's related to the fact that he's got to fill a lot of "sonic space" in a band with just drums, bass and very little keyboard? - from Werner

Answer:

I think the Edge is one of the greatest band guitar players of all time. I love the way he uses effects because the sounds he creates never get in the way of the song. Instead they compliment it. He is the example of how to use effects. I try to emulate that in my own way when playing electric. Having said that, personally, I can get more effects with my acoustic guitar than with any mission control.

Question:

I have a question regarding your signal path, specifically your Boss Compressor, on your pedalboard. My question is, where have you found your best tone for the CS-3 in your signal path and what setting do you find work for you? Right now my Dyna-Comp, is used to hit the front of my amp more than anything else, and it's the first pedal in my chain immediately after my wah. Was going to try the CS-3 near the end of my chain - before my Adrenalinn II and my Fulltone Fat Boost...btw, if you haven't played through the Roger Linn Adrenalinn II, it's the bomb... too much fun for a guitar player to have!!! - From Dennis

Answer:

The way I do it is to have the compressor as the first pedal in the chain (or last, depending on which way you look at it). The guitar plugs straight in to the compressor etc. I feel this gives the best tone for what I am doing. You sound like you have a good selection of pedals. Try this!

Question:

Do you use the same jack to plug in your electric guitar and your acoustic guitar when you do live shows with Sting? If so, do you have an A/B box that splits your signal? What kind is it ? I am making my pedal board for the next Corneille tour and I am looking at different A/B boxes. - from Andy

Answer:

I go DI for the acoustic so it is on a different system. But it also goes through the pedal board so I can use the tuner. Good luck on the tour.

Question:

I'm a pro muso in Sweden doing about 200 gigs a year. My current setup is a Gibson Black Beautie 53 with a Boss GT5. I know... I should have an amp with stomp boxes but the current situation I'm playing with/in doesn't support that so what gear do you recommend with my Gibson? I'm playing everything from hard rock to country & western. - from Torbjörn

Answer:

It all depends on the sound you want to get. The least amount of pedals the better. I do find that Boss make the best ones. They are reliable. In the end it's all a matter of personal taste.

Question:

I am a touring professional guitarist/writer in Australia playing pop/funk who has bought endless amps/pedals to get "that sound". It was with great pleasure that I saw your board consisting of mostly Boss pedals and resulting in a fantastic sound. I was so impressed that after suffering the theft of all my equipment I have basically used your gear set-up as a shopping list and bought a 100w Mesa MK III, Korg G1, Boss HM2, etc... My question is (and I know it's 'all in the fingers') how do you utilise these otherwise average pedals with your amp to get such a great sound? Specifically the dist./overdrive pedals - do you run these against the clean signal on the amp or the dirty? Individual settings would be incredibly helpful... - From Ruairidh

Answer:

A lot of people ask me about my sound. There are many factors involved. One of the most important is the order you use the pedals. It's all down to personal taste and experimenting. I am left footed so I have the volume and wah on the left. But with this board I am free to change the order at will without moving the pedals. It's all in the wiring. Another important factor is the amp settings. Sometimes I use the amp grunge and for more 'produced' sounds I use the Boss pedal. I am always experimenting with different pedals. There is also a huge difference with live and recording. But ultimately it's in the choice of guitar and of course one's touch. For instance, Jeff Beck always gets the same sound regardless of what he's using which is often just a guitar and an amp. I hope this helps. Stay with it!

Question:

I really enjoyed your set Sunday night in Chicago. Beautiful arrangement of the National Anthem. Loved the Bach as well. Incredible technique, you make it look so easy. Just wanted to let you know how amazing your guitar sounds out in the audience. It's huge, much bigger than any regular 'classical' guitar I've heard before. My wife insisted there was a keyboard playing with you but I know that it was all you. What is the red nylon string guitar you used in the solo set as well as with Sting? Anything effects you are running it through? - from Michael

Answer:

Yes it is an amazing guitar. It's a 'Paloma' Guild electro-nylon acoustic specially made for me so I am happy with it. I did use a keyboard sound to fade in a chord during the set. I used a volume pedal. That was the only 'gimmick'.

Question:

What kind of pedals are you using? I'm building my own set of pedals... ! need some advices, please. - Tiago

Answer:

I am careful with pedals because I believe you can get the best sound with your fingers. But I do use Boss pedals because they sound good. The compressor sustainer is a really good one. I like the tremolo pan (especially in stereo) and the flanger is great!

Question:

Having listened to some of your solo album on classical guitar, I was wondering if you use any effects with the classical guitar sound like delay or reverb or is that just the natural sound of the guitar you play with? - From Alan

Answer:

For classical guitar the only effect I use is reverb. Compression is definitely a no no. The best effect with acoustic is expression which is in the fingers and takes time but well worth it.

Question:

I recently saw you at the White River Amphitheatre near Seattle Wa. You play one hell of a beautiful guitar. I'm interested to know the brand/type of reverb your using with your classical playing. It almost sounds like synth strings in the background. - From Mike

Answer:

Thanks Mike. I only use minimal reverb from the front of house desk (at his discretion) for the nylon guitar. I did have a volume pedal fading in a synth chord for two of the tunes. That was my 'gimmick'.

Question:

Do you use a tap tempo function? - from Ehsaan

Answer:

I use the Line 6 delay unit which I can tap the tempos in. Very useful!

Question:

Regarding the pieces being shared on the your site, are they being recorded using Mac with Pro Tools, or the Akai? - from Jonathan

Answer:

I don't use Pro Tools yet. I have been recording this on to an Akai DR16 hard disc recorder. It's like using a tape machine. I love the sound. I go through a Makie D8B desk and a Lexicon reverb unit. Pretty simple really.

Question:

From what I understand, you have a 'home recording studio'-type setup - I think I was browsing the pictures on your site and I noticed something along those lines. My question would be regarding your setup. What software do you use? What type of mixing boards/controls do you have - and what would be a good start to get a home recording studio going? - from Eric

Answer:

Although I consider my set up to be quite hi-tech it is dated. I record on to an Akai DR16 hard disc and go through a Mackie D8B automated desk. I also have some outboard equipment (Lexicon reverb, and a few different sound modules for my keyboard. I have some compressors, limiters etc). But in the times we work in now one can do all this with a lap top. The standard for recording is to use Pro Tools. All the processors, effects, tracking and editing capabilities are in this program. Most musicians like to run this program through a Mac because they are faster and more efficient. If you buy a newer Mac it will come with 'Garage Band' which uses the same principles as Pro Tools and I think is a good way to get started. Another good program is Logic. If I were you I would buy some specialist magazines on this subject and read different opinions that might help you form your own.

Question:

Looking over your website I noticed the pictures of your studio and the presence of your laptop computer. Do you use it for recording? Writing transcriptions? What sort of software do you use? - from Kirk

Answer:

Actually I don't use computers for music. The one you saw is the screen for the digital desk I use (Makie). I don't use sequencers and all that stuff. I do program drums sometimes, but that's about it.

Question:

I'd like your input on your preferred method to tune the guitar by ear. I can get it pretty close but I always have a discrepancy between two situations that have to do with the B string: either I tune so that my open D string and my D note - 3rd fret B string are in tune or I tune so that my open B string and my B note - 2nd fret A string are in tune. I can't get these two situations to be in tune with one another. Essentially. I have to choose whether I want my open D chord to be in tune or whether my open E chord (and similar-shaped barre chords) are in tune. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. - from Andy

Answer:

This is a very personal question Andy. My most important note is the A. Orchestras use A as THE note to go by. After being satisfied it is IN I then play it and the top E string together and try and nail it to the point of perfection. My next move would be to tune the bottom E to the top one by striking a harmonic (on the low E, 12th fret) to match the top one. Next I would play the harmonic of the low E on the seventh fret to create a B which is my guide for the second (B) string. Now we have two left. For the G string I do it the old fashioned way: Fret it on the fourth, playing it in unison with the second string and trying to match them. I then double check by fretting the low E on the third fret and trying to match them. For the D string I stay with this open G and listen out for a perfect fourth interval below the G until I am satisfied I am IN. So now I should be in tune but there are a few checks to be made: Play a few octaves up the neck in your own desired places. Intonation is so important with guitars and it varies from one to another. The G chord is my preferred template for tuning followed by a D. I make final adjustments by pulling the strings to flatten them. To sharpen I push down on them very gently between the nut and the machine head. ALWAYS tune UP to (as opposed to DOWN) to a note. You did ask!

Question:

As you’ll agree intonation is very important on guitars, I always tend to tune from g outwards. I wanted to ask you whether you have tried any the tempered tuning methods such as Buzz Feiten or Fretwave on any of your guitars? They seem to retain string intonation anywhere on the neck. - from Evren

Answer:

I haven't heard of this method. I use the A string as my 'home' and tune from there. Guitars are intrinsically sharp. This explains why when you hear sampled guitars they always sound out of tune. Why? Because they are in tune. Strange but true.

Question:

Could you recommend the brand of strings you use on your Paloma? Could you recommend an all-purpose brand/gauge of strings for a 'standard' classical guitar? - from William

Answer:

I would recommend Dadario extra high tension strings for the Paloma. For a normal classical I prefer the Augustine blue set.

Question:

What is the difference between flamenco and classical guitar strings? - from Lois

Answer:

Flamenco and guitar strings are essentially the same (nylon strings) although some flamenco guitarists favour lighter strings.

Question:

Why do you use an electric nylon string on your records? Is it a matter of getting a good sound when not recording in a big studio or what? - from Fredrik

Answer:

I used the electric because I recorded these albums at home where there was always the sound of kids, traffic phone etc. Also I like the sound. On 'Shapes' I used the 'real' one because I was in a proper studio.

Question:

I was wondering what size strings do you use on your electric guitars. And how can you tell when the strings are dead and need to be changed? - from Carlo

Answer:

For the Les Paul I start with 10 gauge strings and the Stratocaster 9s. For nylon I use D'Addario extra high tension. When the intonation goes it is time to change strings.

Question:

Dominic, have you used strings with polished or semi polished E,A,D on your P-Project or Guild Paloma? If not, what do you do to reduce finger noise on the wound classical strings? - from Garry

Answer:

I only wash my hands AFTER playing. This helps. In my opinion, natural sweat and general grime from the fingers is the best squeak deterrent. Also, I don't change the strings on the nylon until they are dead which can take months. Don't be fooled into buying silly products that claim to have the answer. In the end it's only Pledge with different packaging. Finally, the difference between professionals and amateurs is that amateurs always feel the need to complicate matters when in fact the solution is more often than not quite simple. I hope this helps.

Question:

Which number of strings do you use when you play the electric guitars? - from Santiago

Answer:

I use 9, 11, 16, 26, 36 and 46 strings on my electrics

Question:

I was just wondering what tension strings you use on your Rodriguez and why? I'm torn between going with a higher tension set on my classical or to stay with the lower tension I have. I find with the higher tension the guitars volume is a bit better and pull offs are easier as the strings don't give sideways as much. I think the tone is also a bit nicer. But then there is that little bit more stress on the body of the guitar. The lower tension is a bit easier on the fingers and people tell me you can play faster i.e. for flamenco music. I find the volume to be lacking however. - from Andrew

Answer:

I find high tension strings to be better for my style of playing and I can control my tone better. But low tension have a smoother tone. Somewhere in between would be great!

Question:

Do you change your strings before every gig or do you use them more than one time? - from Stephan

Answer:

I use custom made Fender strings for the electrics and they are changed every day. For acoustics I use Dadario extra high tension and change them about once a month.

Question:

What kind of pickups do you have on your Les Paul Custom? - from Robert

Answer:

I have Seymour Duncan pick-ups on the Les Paul.

Question:

You mention in an answer to a previous question that 'the Strat has single coil humbuckers'. Care to be more specific? I understand if you do not endorse a particular brand, but I read in an earlier interview with you that at some point you were having problems with single coil pickups and how they were interacting with radio transmitters that are used for lighting, etc. I was wondering if you had alleviated that problem with a particular pickup? - From Bill

Answer:

I am still using the same pick-ups and yes they are noisy by nature. But they do sound better than anything else I have tried. One has to adapt to the sound which sometimes means moving to a different position. Might well explain why I do so often.

Question:

What kind of pickups do you use on your Strat? - From Pat

Answer:

The Strat has single coil humbuckers.

Question:

In your opinion, which one produces the best sound for classical guitar, an active or passive pick up? Are there any advantages of one over the other? - Lois

Answer:

I think an active pickup on the bridge is best for an acoustic.

Question:

I play a classical Conde Hermanos, which is similar to your Rodriguez, my questions is very simple: what pickup do you use in that guitar? - from Antonio

Answer:

I would sell my mother before I would put a pick-up on the Rodriguez. For big live shows I use a 'Paloma' Guild electro-nylon acoustic. I think these are the closest one can get the real sound.

Question:

I've been itching to ask you about the mic(s) you use to record your acoustic guitars (i.e., Rodriguez) for a CD etc. What make do you prefer or is that something you leave up to the studio? I'm getting to the stage now where I would like to start recording a bit, and I'm starting to look for a decent mic for my classical guitar. - from Rick

Answer:

I have and always will leave that up to the engineer. It's always different. In my opinion, getting a good sound is more about positioning of the mic rather than the mic itself.

Question:

What mic do you use when recording the Rodriguez? - from Michael

Answer:

The mics I use on the Rodriguez are down to the producer.

Question:

I live in Canada and I'm flying to Europe soon and I would like to bring my classical guitar with me I was wondering if you have any tips? - from Carlo

Answer:

Try to take the guitar in the cabin with you. If not, loosen the strings before they take it away.

Question:

I have been hearing some rumours that when storing a guitar for a long period of time that you should loosen the strings, I was wondering if this is true or a load of rubbish. - from Carlo

Answer:

I think this is good advice. But the most important thing about storage is the humidity level. If it's too dry or damp it will have an affect on the neck, depending on what kind of guitar it is. Whenever I check a guitar on to a plane (check in luggage) I always loosen the strings because they don't have any heating down there and the temperatures can go below zero.

Question:

I am very curious about the nut width on your nylon string guitars. From what I have observed, a true classical has a 2 inch nut, while some modern variations have a 1 7/8 inch nut (i.e. Godin's). I looked at the specifications on the Guild Paloma and it appears to have a 1 11/16 inch nut, about the same as a Standard American Strat. If the Paloma indeed does have a 1 11/16 inch nut, doesn't that cramp your finger space when finger picking making it difficult to do some of the manoeuvres a wider nut allows, especially with nylon? Also, it appears that the classical you play most (not the Paloma) in your videos has a nut less than 2 inch. Just curious on what nut width you prefer -or- do you just find it easy to adapt to different widths? - from Daniel

Answer:

I have never taken this subject seriously. Maybe that's because I have always been happy with the nut widths. I have always been able to adapt to these varying widths as I have with varying scales (the one I am using now is a parlour size guitar). I played a baritone guitar recently and had no problem with it. I do have a P-Project nylon which has a small nut width which is noticeable. It can indeed be hard to articulate some of the trickier classical tunes, but it sounds so good it's worth it. I thought the Paloma was more like a real classical or at least it feels that way to me. My Rodriguez probably has the maximum width and I like it. Easier to articulate but sometimes harder to make the stretches. I shall now take more notice.

Question:

I was wondering what intonation means. - from Carlo

Answer:

Intonation is when the string is perfectly lined up with the frets. If the intonation is out you will find yourself more and more out of tune the further up the neck. For a singer it means singing in tune. For a violinist or cellist (or any instrument without frets) it means playing perfectly in tune. There are two reasons why the intonation on a guitar can go out. One is the bridge position might have moved as little as a tenth of a millimeter. The other is that the string(s) might be faulty.

Question:

I saw you the other night at Jones' Beach here in NY with Sting and was wondering what guitar strap you guys were using. It looked incredibly comfortable. - from Joe

Answer:

I have never been asked this one. I use Fender straps and yes they are comfortable, somehow making the guitar feel lighter.

Question:

As you play a vintage Strat I was wondering if you have your guitar fretted with the thin fretwire as originally fitted to this instrument, or do you go for the larger fretwire as fitted modern guitars. - from Steve

Answer:

Thank you very much Steve. The frets are the original thinner type. I find the larger (flat) ones work best on a Les Paul which I have (Deluxe 74).

Question:

I want to know what kind and gauge of plectra do you use and if you have long nail or use finger to play? - from Marco

Answer:

I use Herco (nylon) heavy gauge plectrums. I don't use nails when I play Spanish guitar. I prefer the flesh sound.

Question:

I know that Sting is a big fan of the Roland VG8 guitar synth. Do you ever mess around with it? - from Michael

Answer:

I think the VG8 is an interesting concept but I am a purist in that sense. I would rather try and get the sound organically. I can always tell the difference.