Lynch on Tone: ‘The Less Gain, the Better’

June 22, 2009 | By | Reply More

Too Nervous to Meet Clapton?!


George Lynch is a gain maniac. Always has been, WAY before the Mesa crowd stormed the gates of rock. He was using solid state Randalls before anyone even heard about Dimebag Darrell (RIP, bro).

So I read with interest recent comments he made in a Guitar Center interview. In it he also talks a little about his SeymourDuncan Custom Shop Super V pickup, which for some reason has hardly been talked about at all. Anyhow, read on. All of the below are quotes from George.

Less Gain

All my life, my playing life, it’s always been my tone that dictates how well I’m going to play and how creative I get. So my whole life it’s just been about tone-questing. I’ve found the less gain, the better. I’ve just learned to play with less gain, and the more I’ve done that, the more I’ve realized that you hear the fingers and the dynamics and the wood and everything that you want to hear. All those inflections and tonalities and dynamics and when you listen to Beck and all these guys, you really hear expression in the playing. And I guess that’s just a matter of maybe becoming a more mature player. I mean I still like heavy music, obviously, and I still do that and probably still play with too much gain at times, but you sacrifice certain things when you do that. It becomes so compressed and sort of one dimensional.


I’ve had the Seymour Duncan Screamin’ Demon pickup for about 15 years now. The name sort of implies kind of a really hot pickup, but this really isn’t. It’s a little hotter than a PAF. It really works well in heavier guitars, I’ve found. My ESP Tiger guitar is extremely heavy and it sounds good in that. I also have another pickup that’s custom shop only called a Super V, which is very Seth Lover-ish.


Having a voice is important, too. Having a unique style, I think is something. I don’t know if you can acquire that consciously and go, OK, I’m going to acquire my own sound and style. I mean you’ve got your different techniques that set you apart, which you probably borrowed from somebody else. We’re all building on the shoulders of our predecessors, so my stuff is all a mix of Hendrix and Beck and a little Yngwie and a little Eddie and all that. I just kind of put it all together in my own way and I’m sure we all do that. None of us just thought of something in the middle of the night and we’re geniuses – unless you’re Hendrix or some kind of anomaly like that. Most of us are just taking what we’ve learned and kind of re-synthesizing it into and saying it in our own way.

Guitar Heroes

I don’t think any of us ever intend to be “guitar heroes,” and it’s hard for us to understand how people view us that way. It’s hard to understand that people would view us that way, personally for myself. But I know how it feels. I have my heroes and fortunately I got to meet Jeff Beck. I did the Eric Clapton Crossroads thing and he was backstage. I thought, I may never get this chance again in my life. And I was like a little kid – I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to be “that guy.” And I was seriously almost in tears to meet this guy.

Category: ESP, George Lynch, Seymour Duncan

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