We spoke to Ash Grunwald ahead of the Melbourne Guitar Show:
Playing at the Guitar Show on Saturday 3 rd August / Sunday 4 th August at 1:10 PM + 4:00 PM (time) at Main Stage
How long have you been playing guitar? Why did you first start playing guitar?
I started when I was 10 and I’m 42 now. My grandpa taught me guitar, we used to play together all the time. He learnt to play guitar in South Africa and he taught himself how to multi-track record when I was younger and we would record and play together.
Which guitarist influenced your playing?
My early influences were all the blues guys – on my first album were the hero’s of the Delta Blues era. However, earlier on when I had just picked up the guitar it was the easy to get in to Blues Rock guys, Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King and B.B. King, I love all of the main blues greats. They’ve all influences me in different ways, Son House, John Lee Hooker and my big vocal hero is Howlin’ Wolf.
Describe your favourite guitar.
My favourite guitar is my new signature guitar RBJ90 Ash Grunwald x Pratley Guitar – it’s inspired by big hollow bodied Gibson guitars, it’s designed to be the ultimate blues guitar. It’s a Pratley guitar who I partnered with in designing the guitar. Martin Pratley really made my dreams come to life to have a beautiful resonance and playability.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
In terms of any interesting stories from the road I’d like to talk about my guitar playing for my whole career.
I started off like any kid trying to get good at guitar and it was this amazing adventure. Then in my ealrly 20’s I switched to have a song writers focus and I didn’t actively try to improve much at the guitar, even when I was a kid I wasn’t trying to become an amazing guitarist or a shredder I saw the guitar as a vehicle for songs and expressing myself. Lately I’ve been really enjoying trying to improve my dexterity as a guitarist, not necessarily a more diverse player over different styles and genres I’m still working within the blues rock frame work but I’m trying to put the technical work into my playing so I can be purely free when I play, which I have been working on over the past 18 months. One influence on that was speaking to John Butler in my podcast ‘Soulful Conversations’ and he had some great things about practicing and how to unlock yourself and be a conduit for spirit to go through you. I’ve found that to be really inspiring way of looking at it.
What, or who, inspires you?
The young band who have come out of Melbourne, Australia in fact the Eastern Suburbs where I came from are The Teskey Brothers, I’ve found the to be really inspiring. They are actually on my next single ‘Ain’t My Problem’ out on August 13th which I feel very honoured to have them featuring. It’s really given me an appreciation for becoming and elder in the blues scene and I feel like a musical uncle to these guys. They saw me playing when they were 10 years old, busking at St. Andrews markets – playing a Saturday afternoon gig. Any of this was occurring before I even had an album out. Which to what those guys have done really inspires me, to hear them play and how authentic they are – they are just really pure spirits and incredibly talented and I have the upmost respect for those guys. They inspire me on a musical level and a success level seeing what they have already achieved.
To answer the question “What inspires you”: To continually learn and continually improve – it sounds like a cliche but the most I thin about it and do it, learning is apart of what it is to be human and perhaps what differentiates up from many animals and what allowed us to evolve and basically when we are not learning we are stagnating and it’s almost the definition of being stuck in a rutt. Learning and imrproving keeps me vital. Sometimes my means of exploration is the guitar.
Which song do you wish you wrote the riff for?
I think Sunshine of your Love by Cream is the perfect riff and wish I wrote it.
What is the best thing about the Melbourne Guitar Show this August?
I’m really looking forward showing off my new Pratley RBJ90 Ash Grunwald signature guitar and I’ll also be at the Yamaha booth, who have always looked after me with earthquakes devices and the line 6 helix which I’ve used a lot over the last few years.
I’ll be having a ball learning from some of the other guitarists around.
Why should people come to your showcase at the Guitar Show?
If they wanna nerd out and want to fiddle with a lot of gear and just love all things guitar. Also come and check out my signature Pratley Guitar it looks gorgeous!
What’s your scene?
The new blues!