It’s been a busy year for Ed. He’s been hauling his Breedlove guitars around the world, and says he’s approaching Platinum Status on Delta Airlines again with his 2013 tours through California, Italy, Japan and his performances at the Glastonbury Festival and the Canadian Guitar Festival. We caught up with Ed a few months ago while he was in Japan to get a peek into life on the road with one of our favorite Breedlove artists.
BREEDLOVE GUITARS: What’s your favorite thing about playing for Japanese audiences?
ED GERHARD: The Japanese seem to pay very close attention to the details and nuances. They know when you play something a little bit differently than you did last time and I enjoy keeping the audience engaged with fresh ideas.
BG: And Italian audiences?
EG: The Italians are so generous with their emotions and enthusiasm. Often they will begin applauding in the middle of a tune if a phrase hits them the right way. They are just beautiful people all 'round.
BG: Did you have time to take a breather and experience any of the cities along the way?
EG: I normally don't have time for sightseeing when I'm touring, but I just visited Hiroshima two days ago and was very moved.
BG: Tell us about your best (or craziest) meal in Japan:
EG: I've made it a point to approach dining with an open mind but I draw the line at any food that is pulsating. I'm more Bourdain than Zimmern in that regard. I've eaten and enjoyed things that would've horrified me twenty years ago and have truly never been repulsed by anything I've tried. I think food is closer to music than just about anything else.
BG: What is your favorite international venue to play, and why?
EG: I'm finding new ones all the time, but my three current favorites are:
1. Freight and Salvage in Berkeley – one of the best sounding rooms I've ever played and great from an audience perspective.
2. Teatro de Sale in Florence, Italy – it's an unusual place; a theater and a five-star restaurant. The sound system is not very good but the staff is fantastic and the food is amazing.
3. Star Pine's Cafe, near Tokyo – I've loved this little club since I first played there in 1998. The sound, lights and crew are first rate and the vibe is very cool.
BG: Tell us about the Breedlove models you own and what you like about each of them?
EG: I've got several Breedloves, including three iterations of my Ed Gerhard Signature Model. Two are Indian/Sitka and my favorite one is Brazilian/German. That one is named "Big Red" and has been around the world with me many times. Really great sounding guitar. I also have a couple Breedlove Hawaiians, including the first prototype. The one I tour with is highly figured Myrtle and it looks and sounds amazing. My current favorite six-string is a sapele/Adirondack Revival dreadnought that's called "Natty Dread." It’s the best road guitar I've ever had. Stable, sounds great and it amplifies well. I also have a couple Atlas models, including a couple Passport travel guitars. Those little buggers are cool.
BG: What’s your current string gauge setup, for both recording and live performance, on your Breedlove guitars?
EG: I use D'Addario strings on all my guitars and the gauges vary, depending on the guitar and what I need it to sound like in the studio. On the road a carry the dread and a Hawaiian. The dread is strung with D'Addario EJ 24s which gives me the tone, balance and feel I like. The Hawaiian gets a mixed set. I start with a medium gauge set (EJ 17) and replace the low E with an .059. The B is an .018 and the high E is an .015.
BG: Have you come across any other obscure or unique guitars that you’re currently playing or recording with?
EG: I've got a couple of real dandies. One is this little Oahu OO size guitar that is incredible for slide. It makes this truly scary sound. Another is an old, plastic Maccaferri archtop from the late ‘40s or ‘50s that still has the original strings on. I used both of these instruments on my "House Of Guitars" album and they will definitely get used again.
BG: So sorry, but we have to ask, where do you keep your Grammy statue?
EG: My Grammy is in my studio.