Chris Shiflett has had quite the music career. From California punkers No Use For A Name to punk rock super-group Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to hitting the big time as a member of the Foo Fighters and now experimenting with country music as Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants, Chris has not been afraid to branch out in different musical directions.
A long time user of Seymour Duncan pickups, we thought it would be cool to talk to Chris about how he got started on the guitar, how he handles playing a range of musical styles, his signature Fender guitar, and of course his favourite pickups.
What got you started on the guitar? What bands or players inspired you to pick up the instrument?
Both of my older brothers played, so it was natural that I would pick it up too. It was the guitar hero era and my favorites were Randy Rhoads and Ace Frehley.
You’ve played in a range of bands covering a bunch of musical genres. How do you go switching between styles, do you see any similarities between them all? Do you essentially use the same gear, guitars, amps, etc?
There are lots of similarities sound-wise between Foos, Gimmes and No Use, and I’ve pretty much used the same setup in all those bands – humbuckers through a high gain amp. I tend not to use overdrives or distortion pedals live, but nowadays I usually add a boost for lead parts. The biggest stretch for me in recent years has been my setup in the Dead Peasants, which is a single coil Telecaster into an old Deluxe Reverb. I love it now, but it was scary at first.
You’ve played a lot of Gibsons and Gretschs over the years, but have now moved over to Telecasters. What prompted the change of guitar?
Part of it was my love for old honky tonk country music, and part of it was just a happy accident. I bought a ’72 Fender Telecaster Deluxe a few years back and loved it, but the pickups weren’t hot enough for Foos so I assembled a parts-guitar version of it with a JB and a ’59. Fender noticed that I had done that and approached me about doing a signature model and I jumped at the chance.
Speaking of the Chris Shiflett Telecaster Deluxe, what process did you go through to design your own signature guitar, and what are the differences between a standard Tele Deluxe and your signature?
The biggest difference between a regular Tele Deluxe and my model are the pickups. Mine has humbuckers, while the regular model has Wide Ranges. Also, mine has a rosewood fretboard and four bolt neck.
You’ve been a Seymour Duncan pickups player for some time now. What are your favourite models and why?
My standard setup has been a JB in the bridge and a ’59 in the neck (both previously reviewed here) for a long, long time, because in Foo Fighters I need a big, blown out tone and those pickups fill that space really well. I also like the single coil alnico pickups for my Teles and Strats.