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jarmo
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« on: January 13, 2020, 10:57:56 AM »

Q&A: Guns N Roses Richard Fortus On His New Signature Guitar, Playing With Slash And More
Steve Baltin
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Guns N Roses guitarist Richard Fortus will unveil a new signature guitar with Italy-based Paoletti Guitars at the annual NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, California this week. As Fortus explained to me when we spoke, he is approached frequently to do signature guitars. That is what happens when you play guitar in one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

But, as Fortus also explained to me, in this in-depth conversation, as a true guitar aficionado, a tech nerd in the best sense of the word, he was very particular about what he was looking for. And while he was initially skeptical he was absolutely won over by the craftsmanship and work of Paoletti.

"I think that what was really fun about doing this with Paoletti, was finding that unique sound that is a combination of different sounds that I've always loved. And making that into this unique thing," he says.

It was a joy to speak with Fortus as he went deep technically talking about the new guitar, as well as playing with Slash in the last few years, the GNR songs he hopes they resurrect live and his guitar insights into Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Tame Impala, Gary Clark Jr. and more.


Steve Baltin: What were you looking for in a company to partner with on a guitar?

Richard Fortus: I'm aligned with a few different companies. Gretsch is probably the main company that I've worked with. And that's an iconic brand. Next to Gibson and Fender it's one of the mainstays of rock and roll electric guitars. And I do have a signature model coming out with them as well (later this year). So many people who approach me now and say, "Hey, can we build you a guitar?" Which I love guitars. Some guitarists really are content with one guitar and that's their sound. And that's what they do, it's very specialized and specific. For me, I've always enjoyed painting with a broader palette. They [Paoletti] had approached me and said, "Hey, can we build you a guitar? We'd just like you to have and try one of our guitars." "Sure, no problem." Paoletti said, "This is the type of stuff that we're doing. What would you want?" So I was very specific and said, "This is what I think would be cool." At first I was a little skeptical because what makes them unique and sort of their angle was this 150-year-old chestnut wood, made from wine barrels. Which I thought sounded a little gimmicky to me. But I've never owned a chestnut guitar and I thought, "Okay, whatever, go ahead and make me this. If it sounds the way you say it's gonna sound this is what I would want to hear from it." I think it would be great with a Tele [Telecaster] bridge pickup, but I want the pickup angle reversed. So I want it to be sort of a left-handed Tele bridge. And then let's do a P-90 pickup in the neck." The characteristic of chestnut, from what I could tell from looking at their website, I thought, "Okay, this is going to be along the lines of an ash or alder type of wood as far as resonance goes.

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Baltin: What, to you, is the advantage of reversing the angle?

Fortus: It has always made sense to me to reverse that angle of a Stratocaster or a Telecaster. Not unlike what Jimi Hendrix ended up with when he took his Stratocaster and being left-handed, flipped it over. Now he had that angle that I'm talking about. And Hendrix's low end always sounded, to me, to be very piano like. Another thing that added to that was the left-handed headstock cause when he flipped the strings over that long tension was on the lower strings, making it more piano like and deeper sounding cause you have more tension on the low strings and on the high strings you have less tension. And making them easier to bend, it's just physics. I always thought that made a lot of sense and Hendrix happened into it being left-handed and liking his Stratocaster and the tone of it and the look of it. So when he flipped it over he gained those acoustic advantages. So I wanted them to make a left-handed Tele bridge with the left-handed neck. And then I also asked them to do that in a more of a Les Paul Junior type of body style, which I just like the aesthetics of. It's a single piece of wood so it's not like a Les Paul. But they built that for me and sent it to me and I was blown away with how resonant the wood was. And I wanted to redo them to my specifications, things I liked to do to my Tele's.

Baltin: What were those specifications?

Fortus: That's when I dropped the volume on my guitar. It really cleans up and gets sparkly and pretty sounding. And there's a lot of tone just within the volume control. So there are a lot of different sounds all within and it's basically using different resistors and capacitors in line with the volume control. So it becomes far more expressive just from working the volume. That's something Slash and I both do a lot of. And a lot of classic rock guitar players did, but it seems to be a dying art now. But it's really important to me. I use a single-channel amp. I don't have three channels on my amp. If I want a clean sound I just roll the volume down on my guitar. If I want more of a blazing sound I bring the volume up. That's all incorporated into this guitar. And what makes it truly special is that wood, really 150-year-old wine barrel. It really is an incredible sounding instrument. And that's where I wanted to lend my name to it and do a line with them, do this model with them. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Baltin: Talk about the anticipation for you of getting to share it with people at NAMM.

Fortus: That's always huge for me, just because I think it is so much cooler than anything else that's out there. Especially for Tele players. It's exciting to have people check out what I think is a really fantastic product. I've been playing the guitars live for the last year now. And so that's exciting to now release it officially and really give it a push. It's a really special guitar. Even though it's a smaller company and they're not that well-known in the U.S. I like adding my name to it just because I believe in it.

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jarmo
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2020, 10:58:02 AM »

Baltin: When you play in a band like Guns 'N' Roses everybody wants to know everything right of way, like "How does he get that sound? What is he playing?" Do you find that?

Fortus: It seems like there are all these forums and people are constantly chasing a tone that they hear in their head, which is cool. It's what we all do. But they're buying whatever the newest boutique pedal or amp or guitar is, thinking that's going to finally give them the sound and ability to play like the people that they grew up listening to. But really so much of the tone is in the individual player's fingers. Instead of spending the time there they're spending it searching for something that can't facilitate it. Look at Slash. Slash can play through anything and it's gonna sound like Slash. He can play on any guitar with any amp and it's still gonna sound like him. He has a very unique voice within his fingers. Same with Eddie Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen sounds like him no matter what he plays on. But that still doesn't stop us from constantly looking for the tools that are gonna help us help further our quest for the perfect guitar tone.

Baltin: What are you excited about for GNR in 2020?

Fortus: I'm excited to go back to South America in March, then we'll be in Europe in the summer. And doing the festivals in Europe is always a lot of fun because you get to see lots of great bands and friends that you don't normally see.

Baltin: Are there people you're excited to check out?

Fortus: We just did ACL and Billie Eilish and Tame Impala were on that bill and those were two people I was excited to see. Yeah unfortunately Tame Impala was on the same time as us. I was actually watching them during our set (laughs). I love that band. I could vaguely make out the songs they were playing, but they were playing a mile away. I could see the big screen and hear them cause they were on during our show. It was interesting. I was bummed cause that was one band I really wanted to see. Cage The Elephant too, I like those guys. We also played recently with the Raconteurs and they were great. I got to see Gary Clark.

Baltin: I love Gary, and such a great guy. For you as a guitar player just talk about watching him.

Fortus: What he's doing now is so different from the first time I saw him. It's such a bigger band and it's just different. I think he's a fantastic guitar player. I love his playing and I love him cause he stretches. He's not playing it safe. He's really branching out and taking chances, which is what I love about Slash. He doesn't fall into ruts. Every night it's different. We both do that and I know he inspires me to not repeat myself, because we'll do a lot of back and forth things. So I think we're pushing each other to go further and further out. That's what's cool about bands like Gary and Tame Impala. That's why I think I'm drawn to those bands, because they do take chances live. They stretch out and it's different, it's not the same every night. There's an element of danger that comes with that. It could be great or it could be a train wreck and it really just depends on the night and how much you're willing to put yourself out there.

Baltin: Rock is supposed to have an element of danger.

Fortus: I agree with that. And that's what is lacking in so many artists that you see when they're playing with backing tracks. I realize that they're supplementing, they're not necessarily relying on tracks in a Milli Vanilli type of way. But when a band is completely playing without a net and has room for that improvisation that is what rock and roll is about, that dangerous aspect. That's what makes Guns 'N' Roses a great band.

Baltin: Any update on new GNR music? I imagine as well for you guys it would reinvigorate the live show as well.

Fortus: We love bringing new songs in. We always rehearse stuff up. It's just a matter of everyone sort of feeling comfortable to integrate it into the show. I hope that we have new music out this coming year.

Baltin: Is there one song you guys haven't played live or that you haven't done in some time you'd love to bring into the live show?

Fortus: Over my tenure in the band, which is now stretching to like 18 years, there have been a bunch of songs we've rehearsed that we haven't done live. One I wish that we would, I really love the song, is "Perfect Crime." I've played that with this band for years and we've just never played it live for whatever reason. This last tour we did "Locomotive" a few times and that was really cool. I love that song. And it was fun to finally do that.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebaltin/2020/01/12/qa-guns-n-roses-richard-fortus-on-his-new-signature-guitar-playing-with-slash-and-more/#7c07606b3a53



/jarmo
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sofine11
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2020, 11:49:47 AM »

He seems pretty in the dark about new music, if in fact there is a release happening soon.  Wonder if only a few people know when it's coming.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2020, 12:23:01 PM »

He seems pretty in the dark about new music, if in fact there is a release happening soon.  Wonder if only a few people know when it's coming.

Sure, he could say "You'll hear new music tomorrow" or "you'll never hear new music" but it wouldn't count. I love when he talks about his guitars etc, he's the perfect guitar geek and i like it, but when we talk about new music well... He's not the person we should listen to  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2020, 02:38:08 PM »

He seems pretty in the dark about new music, if in fact there is a release happening soon.  Wonder if only a few people know when it's coming.

There was a recent interview with Dizzy where he said they get emailed or contacted when something is happening. So, a ballpark expectation could probably be perceived as a good thing.
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sofine11
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2020, 02:45:12 PM »

He seems pretty in the dark about new music, if in fact there is a release happening soon.  Wonder if only a few people know when it's coming.

There was a recent interview with Dizzy where he said they get emailed or contacted when something is happening. So, a ballpark expectation could probably be perceived as a good thing.

True.  In retrospect, even if these guys new management were actively trying to get music out by March or April, they would know better than to spit that out during an interview.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2020, 12:36:29 AM »

Really cool to hear he digs Tame Impala so much. I love them, too.
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2020, 10:15:58 AM »

Beautiful guitar!

https://www.paolettiguitars.com/product/richard-fortus-custom-leather-hb-jr-2/
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2020, 01:13:04 PM »


It is cool. But like a lot of his guitars, its just a bit too much. Lose the leather top and I'd really dig it.

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GNR4LIFEJD
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2020, 05:20:16 PM »

How about a round of applause for being in the band for 18 years will he ever have the recognition of a slash or duff or izzy no of course not but I am really happy this guy has been around as long as  he has. I enjoy watching him perform with everyone and hope to hear his input on a new album and songs.   :beer:to you richard
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