An Interview With Kirk Fletcher Talking Guitars And Amps

An Interview With Kirk Fletcher Talking Guitars And Amps

As far as modern-day blues goes, few do it better than Kirk Fletcher, a native of Bellflower, California, whose style is steeped in an amalgam of Chicago and West Coast blues.

If you’ve heard his records, I’m Here & I’m Gone (1999), Shades of Blue (2003), My Turn (2010), Burning Blues (Live at the Baked Potato) (2014), Hold On (2018), My Blues Pathway (2020), and his most recent, Heartache by The Pound (2022), surely, you’ve caught the vibe. And the word is that Fletcher is working on his neck, though yet-to-be-announced, record.

In the meantime, he’s laying low, doing his thing, and drawing inspiration from all walks of life—which includes gear. To that end, the modern-day bluesbreaker dialed in with us here at ClassicRockHistory.com to share his love for heavy Gibsons and vintage tube amps and why, given a choice, single-coil pups are his ride-or-die.

What was the first serious guitar you bought with your own money?

The first guitar that I bought with my own money was a 1966 Gibson ES-335. I got it in Hollywood, California, at Voltage Guitars. I was just about to start playing with Charlie Musselwhite, so you can imagine how excited and overwhelmed I was [laughs].

What was the last guitar you bought, and why?

I think it was a 1973 or ‘74 Gibson Les Paul. Why? Everyone should own a ‘70s Les Paul [laughs]! It’s just so rock ‘n’ roll, and it just sounds different. And mine is really heavy, so it’s nice and solid. Plus, I love being different!

What has been your most incredible find or best bargain when shopping for gear?

I’d have to say the best bargain I’ve found was a 1959 Fender Stratocaster at a Guitar Center in Hollywood, California.

What’s the strongest case of buyer’s recourse that you’ve had? 

Honestly, buying the same style guitar twice, and thinking that the outcome is going to change. Also, having refrets done on guitars that I hadn’t played live yet.

What’s a piece of gear or a guitar you intensely regret letting go of?

Oh, definitely my Fender SRV Stratocaster. I played a lot of firsts on that guitar, and I became a professional musician with that guitar.

What’s your best tip for buying gear, and why?

If you can play it or try it in person, do that. Also, look at the completed listings on Reverb or eBay for price references. And also, try Facebook marketplace, maybe.

The last time you shopped online or in person, what were you looking at, and why?

I was probably looking at Fender amps, like the Princeton and Deluxe reverb. To my ears, those amps, when operating right, just sound right. And the majority of the recordings out of Los Angeles in the ‘70s used those amps. I’ve always loved them—especially late-60s and early-70s models.

Would you rather have a cheap amp and a great guitar or a great amp and a cheap guitar? 

That’s funny. My buddy Josh Smith asked me the same question. I’m a guitar-first guy. I literally can’t play a guitar that is set up weirdly, has little frets, or something. Heck, plug me into the PA; I’ll make it work [laughs]!

If you had to choose between humbuckers and single coils for the rest of your career, which would you choose, and why? 

That’s a great question and interesting to think about. I would absolutely have to go with single coils. Those are my foundations as a guitar player. Humbucking pickups are incredible, and they sound huge on the high strings for soloing. But for me, the dynamics, note articulation, and Jimi Hendrix are why, if I could only choose one, it would be single coils.

Kirk’s Go-To Rig:

I play a Gibson Custom Built ES-345, a 1969 ES-345, a Gibson Collectors Choice ‘Nicky’ Les Paul, and a Fender 57 Reissue Stratocaster. I use Ernie Ball strings, either 11-48 Power Slinkys or 10-46 Regular Slinkys. I use Fender Heavy picks, Ernie Ball-branded ones, and Ernie Ball cables.

As for amps, I use a Fender Super Reverb, a Headstrong Lil King amp, a Two Rock Traditional Clean, and a Morgan AC20. And I like Ron Ellis pickups. Lastly, I like the Vemuram Jan Ray Overdrive, the Catalinbread Topanga Reverb, and the TC Electronic Flashback Delay for pedals.

Check out our other Kirk Fletcher Interviews

Read More: Kirk Fletcher: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

Read More: Kirk Fletcher Interview: 12 Albums That Changed My Life

And the one that got away……..

An Interview With Kirk Fletcher Talking Guitars And Amps article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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