Friday, August 8, 2014

"GUITAR GODS: George Lynch"

What do you say about George Lynch? The man is known as one of the finest rock guitarists in history, one of the most influential guitarists from the 1980s, the man who wrote (and performed) "Mr. Scary"! Guitar World Magazine lists him as #68 in the "100 Best Guitarists" poll and on their "100 Best Metal Guitarists" at #47, and he even ranks at #10 on Gibson Guitar's "Best Metal Guitarists" poll.

Mark Kendall (guitarist of Great White) claims Lynch was using tapping techniques prior to Eddie Van Halen, and his "signature" guitar & musical techniques are so specific that to use his slide vibrato or "gothic octave" or even just hitting that diminished lick over a pedal tone just make the rest of us sound like we're copping his style.

His work with Dokken in the 1980s (and for a reunion in the 90s) is incomparable. Lynch joined Dokken in 1983 and left in 1989, which exactly coincides with their commercial success, which includes over 10 millions albums sold, 3 platinum and one Gold album, and a Grammy nomination in 1989. The band made him an instant international star.

In 1990, after his departure from Dokken , he formed Lynch Mob and proceeded to release - from then to now - 10 albums with 4 top 40 charting singles.

In addition to these 2 major bands, Lynch has played for a wide array of other bands (his newest is KXM with dUg Pinnick of King's X and Ray Luzier of Korn - see our review of their video and album), released a dozen solo albums, and done studio work doing guest solos for others (from Tony MacAlpine's debut release in the 1987 to Raven Quinn's debut in 2010).

In addition to this, George - a long-time ESP Guitar endorsee - makes his own custom Mr. Scary Guitars; he is working on a documentary film; he has released instructional videos, done clinic tours, taught at the Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp, and appeared on countless covers of guitar magazines; has long had his own signature guitars for ESP and signature pick-ups with Seymor Duncan; and has designed his own high-nickel guitar string for Dean Markley.

Visit George on-line here.

I had a chance to talk to George recently. Check it out!

1) What are your current projects?

KXM, Lynch Mob , Sweet/Lynch (ed note: this is a temporary name for this project featuring George on guitar, Stryper vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet, bassist James LoMenzo of White Lion, and drummer Brian Tichey [Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne]), Shadowtrain, The Infidels, and Uni-mog. And the "Shadow Nation" documentary film.

2) How does this (do these) differ from your past work?

The Sweet project is similar stylistically to Dokken in some ways. Lynch Mob has evolved but we still retain our "Wicked Sensation" roots at its core. The Infidels is Sal (Rodriguez - drummer) and Pancho (Tomaselli - bass) from the band War (ed note: the band who released hits like "Cisco Kid" and "Low Rider"). I'd describe it as heavy political funk with a dose of Band of Gypsies.

Uni-mog is myself and the programmer Haze, who's done work with Nine Inch Nails, Zombie, the Prodigy, etc. It's a very strange and fun project....sort of industrial but has a lot of other elements as well.

3) Do you have one project that you are most proud of as a guitarist?

Solo wise I'd say the Sweet/Lynch project is closest to what I'm known for ie: Dokken. Compositionally, I'd say Shadowtrain is the most varied and interesting because of the wide variety of styles ....which was due to the fact that it's a soundtrack record.

4) Can you give our readers a run-down of your basic gear (live and/or studio), and do you have a favorite piece of gear?

My core amp setup is a Randall Lynch Box head, Randall Lynch Box cab with 4x12" Celestion Lynch Back speakers...I always use at least one other amp (sometimes 2). That amp gets changed out frequently and could be my 68 Marshall Plexi 100 watt, Wizard, Freedman Dirty Shirley 50watt, old 60's Magnatone, Diezel Herbert, my 56 Fender Tweed Deluxe, etc....into either an old Marshall or Hiwatt cab. I'm always swapping stuff in and out.

5) Who would you cite as early influences, and who are you favorite new players?

Old: Django, Wes, Joe Beck, Albert King, early Holdsworth, Son House, Muddy, Clapton, Page, Beck, Hendrix, Gibbons, Leslie West, Johnny Winter, and many, many others.

Newer influences: Thorendal , Tosin, Guthrie Govan , guys from Periphery , Ritchie Faulkener, Doyle Brahmel, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Derrick Trucks, Warren Haynes.....

6) Can you give a few tips to aspiring players?

Any advice I've ever given anybody has turned out to be bad advice (haha!). So I'd suggest consider the advice then do the exact opposite!

Not everybody's going to be a gazillionaire rock star and we're all built differently, but fundamentally creating, experiencing, and appreciation music is one of the most enjoyable, healing, and mysterious things we can do. It's like air and water: we can't live without it and in some ways it makes life worth living or at least helps us make sense of our lives.

7) You have been very quietly a political activist for many years, focusing on social and environmental issues. But recently you decided to be more publicly outspoken. Can you tell our readers a little about "Shadow Train"?

The film has been re-titled; it's now "Shadow Nation" (the band is called Shadowtrain). It's an exploration of human nature through the lens of the Native American experience set against the backdrop of a band of musician activists traveling around the country visiting Indian reservations and playing music.

8) You are known for not only your incredible guitar technique, soulful approach, and high intensity performances, but for your love of the music gear. Can you tell our readers a little about Mr. Scary Guitar?
I was out of commission for health reasons some years ago so I began dabbling in art..then I began transferring those artistic impulses into my guitar crafting. I had always been involved in assembling my own guitars to some extent as well as putting guitars together for some of my guitar students back in the day. I began to study the luthier craft more seriously and began building and selling my own hand built instruments. They obviously have a personal and unique aesthetic but more importantly every instrument I build is a tone monster that's inspiring to play. I ask my customers to please refrain from just hanging these guitars on their wall. They are meant to be played. They're instruments of creation (haha!)!

9) Grammy nominations, platinum albums, "best guitarist" lists, both major label artist and total indie....what do you see as the George Lynch legacy?

That I utilized my tiny soapbox to affect change in the world in some small way....and maybe write a good song or two in the process

10) What are your future plans?

I don't really have a plan long as that soundtrack is bouncing around in my head I'll always be compelled to chase the dragon!

11) Thanx for talking to us, George!

You're very welcome!

If you'd like to support my work...


  1. Actually (at least according to what Dokken published) Jeff Pilson co-wrote "Mr. Scary" with George (George is listed as prime writer). But to your point, yes, I mis-spoke in the article above and left out Jeff's name.

    Thanx for bringing it to my attention, Todd.

  2. Please join us......The Coolest guitarist In The World! The world’s one and only George Lynch tribute Fan site.The Ultimate Salute to the world’s greatest guitarist! \m/(><)\m/
    Please come join us

  3. George Lynch has been my absolute favorite guitar player for nearly 30 years. The first moment I heard the opening riff to "Kiss of Death", I was blown away by his originality -both in style and sound.

  4. I always loved George Lynch and Dokken. Syracuse N.Y They opened up for journey

  5. seen dokken at monsters of rock and scorpions they crushed all other bands in Pittsburg George was killing it