SIXTY SECONDS with...
Guitar Techniques|May 2020
A minute’s all it takes to discover what makes a great guitarist tick. Before she jumped into her limo for the airport, we grabbed a quick chat with Spain-born, America-raised, Cornwall-living, singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid.
Sarah McQuaid

GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?

SMcQ: I use a Dunlop thumbpick all the time.

GT: If you had to give up all your pedals but three, what would they be?

SMcQ: I only have four. Two of them are stage tuners - one for the acoustic and the other for the electric. And then I have a tremolo pedal and a Donner Yellow Fall delay pedal that I use for an instrumental piece I wrote called The Day Of Wrath, That Day.

GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band, and if so have you ever done it?

SMcQ: Well, hilariously, when I was a teenager and living in Washington, DC, I played a Fender Rhodes in a prog-jazz outfit called The Rhinos. I also play keyboard (or preferably a real piano if it’s available) and a floor tom drum as well as acoustic and electric guitars in my live set.

GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

SMcQ: I can read standard notation and tab, but not a chart. I do love the way charts look, though. I have charts of a few of my songs that were written out by a keyboard player who played on one of my albums, and they came in handy when a fantastic keyboard player in the Netherlands sat in on a gig I did there.

GT: Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours?

SMcQ: For me it’s mainly a question of having something reliable. My cables were made for me by John Godsland from Orchid Electronics back in 2013 and I’ve been using them ever since! I also, at the request of my sound engineer, recently upgraded the patch leads on my pedal board to EBS Premium patch leads, and it does seem to make a difference. There’s a lot less hiss coming out of my amp now.

DOING A HOUSE CONCERT I WAS STRICKEN BY A TUMMY BUG. THE BATHROOM WAS RIGHT NEXT TO THE AUDIENCE AND THEY COULD HEAR EVERY HEAVE AND HACK

GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re slightly jealous of?

SMcQ: There are so many guitarists out there whose playing I love, and I’ve been privileged to meet and become friends with a lot of my guitar I keep in the USA for my tours over there. It has heroes - Michael Chapman, Adrian Legg, Pierre Bensusan, Dick Gaughan - but I wouldn’t say I’m ‘jealous’ of their playing.

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