Featured Story
Interview written, researched and conducted
by Robert Silverstein for 
mwe3.com and 20th Century Guitar Magazine





GUARDIAN ANGEL



an interview with

Hank Marvin

 

 

Part 2
continued from previous page

RS: Could you say something about your Hank Marvin signature guitar with Fender?

HM: Yes well, there’s been a real series of those, funny enough Robert. The first one was the signature model, they made 50 signature models. They were based on a 1958 Stratocaster I have with a neck section and things like this, and the body was copied with a few modern innovations on it. I like locking machine heads so the strings wouldn’t slip. Just try to improve the tuning and they do stay in tune very, very well. They’ve got Kinman pickups. That’s an Australian, noiseless, single coil pickup. Then a couple years later they did another series called “The Autograph”, which was the same guitar basically with a personally autographed scratch plate. Another 50 of those and then they a 40th anniversary one a few years ago which was only 40 made of those. So what I use on stage are basically signature model guitars. I have one strung with heavier strings, 12-52 for most of the old stuff, Shads stuff which was played on probably heavier strings than that in fact. But it gives a bit more weight to the sound. Then for most of the, sort of what I call a compromise, for more of the later Shadows material, I’m trying to think of some of the numbers, say “Argentina” and “Equinox”, things of that nature, I use 11 to 50’s. That’s my sort of normal gauge. I can bend that around a bit you see, but it still sounds fairly strong. I didn’t use it on this tour, but sometimes for a couple of numbers where I really want to bend really very freely, I use for guitar strung 10 to 46. I used to use that on my shows when I do a couple numbers where I really wanted to bend around, almost country style and you need light strings for that so...But I didn’t use that on this Shads’ tour, I just used the two guitars, my two Fender signatures, one strung 12-52, one 11-50. Also Bruce and myself as you probably know used Burns guitars, they’re reissue Burns Marvins. Mine had 11-50’s on while I used on “Flingel Bunt” and “Don’t Make My Baby Blue.” And the acoustic guitar I used was a Lakewood with a sound system on the guitar, an amplification system. A B-band system. I was kind of disappointed in the sound on that acoustic guitar when it was recorded, because live it sounded incredibly realistic, everyone was commenting on how good it sounded as if there was a microphone stuck in front of it. Yet for some reason that didn’t translate onto the recording medium and I haven’t got a clue why. It sounded to me very synthetic, which was a bitter disappointment, I must say. But that’s the way it goes...That was disappointing to have what was obviously a very good sound in the venues, and everyone commenting on how natural it sounded, to end up on the recording medium sounding like a very bad piezo pickup. I don’t know what happened. But there you go, that is life Robert. Full of twists and turns.

RS: Can you offer any further comparisons between and Burns guitars and the Fender guitars?

HM: Oh, they’re different. They’re both very good guitars obviously. The Fender was the first, well not my first electric guitar but I’d been using the Strats from the summer of 1959, when I got my first Stratocaster direct from the States. We went to Burns or started using Burns in 1964 because we were having quite a bit of trouble with Fender guitars at that point, not Fender as a company, but the guitars we were being given by the importers. They had a lot of trouble with their tuning and we just got fed...particularly Bruce used to throw guitars against the wall. He couldn’t sort of handle the tuning situation, he was getting obsessed by it so we decided to change and in company with Jimmy Burns, who was Burns really in those days, we designed that guitar. And it was a good instrument. It sounded good and it’s still got a good sound. But I have to say, I prefer the Strat. I feel that the Strat is part of me really and the Burns...it’s like I had a dalliance with the Burns for a few years. But the Strat was my first true love sort of thing. (laughter) So they’re both very good guitars, in different ways. Similar in some ways but different in others. There is a similarity in the sound. They’re not a hundred miles away from each other soundwise. But, there is a difference. The Fender is a lighter guitar, a little bit easier to wear on stage. And I prefer the ease of use of the whammy bar on the Fender, which I use a lot as you know. So, both good guitars but my choice would be the Strat, for me...my Strats.

RS: I really enjoy your 2002 album Guitar Player and on the album, you feature the Favino guitar with the longer 26 1/2” scale. Could you say something about that guitar?

HM: Thank you. Well, the Favino guitar I have was a guitar made in France. It’s a French maker but as the name probably suggests...Jean Pierre I think was the father and his son still makes guitars but has now moved to the south of France where he makes them. And I think their background is Italian as their name would suggest. The Favino guitars of the type I was using were made as a copy, but not an identical copy, of a Selma—a guitar of the star which was used by Django Reinhardt. The oval hole. You’ve probably seen the photographs with the small oval sound hole in it. Well, the Favino is based on that, but the Favino has a slightly larger body. It’s slightly wider and it’s got a nicer neck. I have a 1949 Selma oval hole and the necks are almost square in section. You know, they’re very chunky necks where the Favino has got more of a c-shaped neck in section, so it’s probably an easier neck to cope with. And apart from that, the general look of it...if you looked at the Favino that I have, it’s a black one incidentally, at first glance you might think, ‘Oh, that looks like a Selmer’, the ones that Django Reinhardt used ‘cause the headstock and everything’s pretty much the same. It’s just got a slightly larger body and it’s a very nice guitar. Interesting tone. Obviously a little more difficult to play because of the longer scale. However; the Gypsies and the way these guitars were designed always use lighter strings. They either use like an 11 to 46 I think, with about a 23 wound third or a 10 to 45 with a 22 wound third. And the strings that they use are usually Argentine strings, which are designed for these guitars. They’re low tension strings. So in fact, with this lower gauge string, low tension string, you can bend around reasonably freely on the guitar, but because of the extra scale they don’t feel ridiculously sloppy or anything like that. They still got a certain tone to them and a certain feel to the strings. They don’t feel too light. Not at all. But they’re interesting guitars to play. When you first play them you think, ‘my goodness.’ I’ve only had the Selmer about a year but the Favino as you know, I’ve had longer. I use it on that album. The actions are incredibly high. Seriously, deadly. And I had to have the guitars re-fretted and the bridge lowered really. They’re solid wooden bridges. It’s just way too high. Some of the Gypsy players like actions very high. A sign of their masculinity Robert. (laughter) Whereas others, I found out do not. I think that’s probably dying out now. Some of the better players seem to have more manageable actions. The action on my Selmer is not as good as the action on the Favino. The Selmer is still harder to play. The strings are a little bit higher. I can’t get them any lower but they sound different. The two guitars, they both sound Gypsy but they’ve got different voices. They’re both within the Gypsy ballpark, but definitely different voices. The Selmer is quite loud and cutting. When you first play it, it sounds quite thin. But it’s a strange instrument. When someone else plays it in front of you it sounds different. The sound that comes out of it sounds different to when you’re playing it. It’s the way, I think, the small oval hole seems to throw the sound very much forward and you don’t hear as much from it as you do from a normal guitar with a bigger sound hole. But they do have a different sound. I do enjoy playing them. I very much got into Django Reinhardt again, who I was very fond of in my teens as a player and I’m very much into that ‘Hot Club’ stuff and also some of the modern Gypsy players. I’m trying to build myself a little repertoire of Gypsy jazz music and learn to play it.

RS: Any upcoming solo projects coming up or is the Shadows tour taking priority now?

HM: That’s taking priority. I don’t have any ideas at all Robert, for any solo projects at this time. With the Shadows thing and personal commitments in other areas, everything else is just sort of going along without any intent really in terms of recording or doing anything particular on my own. I haven’t any ideas in that direction at all yet, if indeed I will do anything, I don’t know.

RS: One last question is, can you say something about The Shadows recently recording the Jerry Lordan song “Life Story”? Jerry wrote so many great songs for the Shads, like “Apache”, “Wonderful Land” and “Atlantis” so can you say something about making “Life Story”?

HM: Well, it’s a tune that’s been knocking around for a while, as it happens. I saw Jerry, in fact he came and he spent a week over here in Australia with my wife and I just, in the year he died in fact. And he brought some material. He wanted me to try to write some lyrics for a tune he’d written and also he had a couple of sets of lyrics that conversely he wanted me to try to see if I could write a tune to them. I said, ‘wow, that’s a big ask’, because Jerry is such a good writer anyway. And before that he’d had a few instrumentals knocking around and one of them was “Life Story.” Originally he wrote that as a piano piece, almost as a slightly rhapsodic...I don’t know if that’s the expression to use, but it was a piano piece. And down the line a little bit, I think he had the idea of perhaps translating it into a guitar instrumental. I think, Brian Bennett knows a little bit more about this than I do. I believe that Claudine, Jerry’s widow spoke to Brian and sent him this piece and asked if we would like to record it, if we were doing any recording as The Shadows as we were getting back together. Well, the thing was, we weren’t really going to do any recording at all. However; we thought it would be a nice little touch to record, the first hit we ever had was Jerry’s “Apache”, and we thought it might be nice for the last thing possibly we ever recorded, certainly in the studio apart from live performance, would perhaps be one of Jerry’s compositions. We kind of did an arrangement of it, which is what you’ve heard on the album, of “Life Story” and that’s pretty much how it came about.

RS: Hank, thanks for all the great songs through the years. The music of The Shadows will always be a great inspiration to me.

HM: Thank you for that Robert. That’s nice. I appreciate those comments. That makes me feel very humbled. I wish you all the best. Nice to talk to you. Maybe one day we’ll meet up and shake hands and have a drink. All the best...bye-bye.



Reflections on The Shadows by Randy Bachman

To be able to go to The Shadows reunion tour final concert in June 2004 was my teenage dream come true. I must say, they fulfilled every expectation I had and even went beyond. I was able to meet them at their sound check and hear them play. We met afterwards and they signed autographs for me and Neil Young and we had photos taken. Hank invited me to play his guitar. Talk about ga-gag. This was quite unbelievable... Their show at the Hammersmith Apollo lasted about 3 hours. They played almost every song I could think of. A sides, B sides, album cuts, they played them all. They sounded exactly like the record. I was stunned at the performance. Brian May was sitting a few rows in front of me and he was also transported back to his teenage years of listening to The Shads and learning every note. To be treated with such warmth and friendliness by 4 complete strangers restored my faith in rock and roll. These guys were like my best friends. Every musician in the place was so totally impressed at how much better this band was than our memories. Brian Bennett’s drum solo must have had John Bonham, Keith Moon, Louis Belson, and Gene Krupa all cheering him on from drum heaven. It was the most memorable drum solo I’ve ever witnessed. Bruce’s rhythm guitar was tonefull, tasty and solid as a rock. Hank was Hank as only Hank can be. He’s one of a kind and truly one of the world’s greatest guitarists and nice guys. There’s no one who can get that tone out of a Fender guitar like Hank. Most guitarists know that it’s not just the guitar. It’s the heart, mind, hands and soul of the player that makes it what it is. My solo in ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is pure “Hank” as are many of Neil’s solos today. The great thing about copying The Shadows was that they were never that big in the USA. The Ventures seemed to hold that turf and kept it theirs to this day. But if you had The Shadows sounds and songs in your repertoire, you could be a bit different than the average American guitar band. I hope that there is one more Shadows reunion in the next couple of years and can say that I will be there front row center with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I once again relive all my teenage moments of learning to play like The Shadows.

Thanks to Hank B. Marvin and The Shadows, Brian Goode, Randy Bachman @ www.randybachman.com and Eagle Rock @ www.eaglerockent.com



THE SHADOWS: THE FINAL TOUR PT.2 - 2005

April 2005:
13: Kongresscenter, Ringsted
14: Knoserthuset, Oslo
15: Solna Hall, Stockholm
17: Katinkulta Festival - Vuokatti Finland
18: Icehall, Helsinki
20: Valbyhallen, Copenhagen
21: Aalborghallen, Aalborg
22: Stadionhallen, Esbjerg
23: Tinghallen, Viborg
24: Konserthuset, Oslo
25: Konserthuset, Stavanger
27: Liseberghallen, Goetheborg
28: Musikhuset, Aarhus
29: Kongresscenter, Ringsted
30: Idrætshal, Odense

May 2005:
01: Musikteatret, Vejle
02: Konserthuset Oslo
05: Fifan Sportshall, Reykjavik
07: Forest Nationale, Brussels
08: Westfalenhalle, Dortmund
09: Grand Rex, Paris
10: Heineken Musichall, Amsterdam
11: Heineken Musichall, Amsterdam
12: Heineken Musichall, Amsterdam
14: NIA Birmingham - UK
15: NIA Birmingham - UK


 

 

 


 

 

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