Grinding Gears with Chris Meck

  

 

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Grinding Gears with Chris Meck

 

It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

For our newest feature, Grinding Gearswe first sit down with guitar extraordinaire Chris Meck, who has been a mainstay in the Kansas City music scene for years. He and his lovely wife Abigail Henderson have been writing music together in The Gaslights, Atlantic Fadeout, and currently, their duo Tiny Horse. Chris, with Abby, is also a co-founder of the Midwest Music Foundation.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Chris Meck: Guitar-wise, I use two guitars that are Fender designs but that I made. I don't like current production guitars, so I hunt parts online until I find just the right body, and just the right neck, with just the right finish and the pickups that I like best, etc. So I have a Stratocaster and an Esquire (a one-pickup Telecaster) that are "Meckocasters". I also have a '50s era Supro lapsteel that I screetch around on, and it all goes into my heavily modified '72 Fender Deluxe Reverb. Oh, and pedals. I use a lot of pedals. Analogman Sunface fuzz, modified tubescreamer, a modified Rat and a modified Line 6 DL4 delay mostly.

  

The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Chris: It's all very touch-responsive and full-frequency reproduction is there. I like a balanced sound so that I can manipulate things with my hands to get different sounds.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Chris: Old school, deconstructed.

  

The Deli: How was the process of finding your right equipment to achieve your sound? 

Chris: That's a good question. I don't think it's ever really "achieved." The process is the point. I'm always tinkering, looking for improvements. I'm always going to sound like me, both the good and the bad, but am seeking the best version of that I can put forward.

The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Chris: Tiny Horse, mostly. Getting our recording studio up and running.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Chris: Just guitar. a tiny bit of lap steel. I'm just learning, really.

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Chris: In KC, Marco Pascolini, Jimmy Nace and Mike Alexander come to mind. Overall, I really like Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams and Marianne Faithful), Bo Ramsey, Buddy Miller. I pretty much want to be Buddy Miller when I grow up. When I was just learning, it was the Jimmy's (Hendrix and Page). Keith Richards. Hubert Sumlin. early Clapton. The usual.

     

 

     

 

     

 

The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Chris: I'm pretty much there. If I had slightly smaller and slightly larger versions of my amp with the same sound for varied size gigs I'd be a little happier, I guess. I'd like to build a Jazzmaster and a Jaguar just so i had the full set of bastardized Fender designs.

The Deli:

 Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Chris: Because I'm very specific about my gear, I shop online a lot. If I go to a music store, it's usually Midwestern Musical Co. For strings and stuff like that. Maybe a nice Jaykco guitar strap.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Chris: recordBar. It used to be Davey's, but I don't really feel as at home there these days. Crossroads is cool.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Chris: Almost all of it already is. :)

You can see Chris in action this Sunday at recordBar at the Sonic Spectrum Dealer's Choice tribute show. He and Abby will be playing as Tiny Horse with a crew of friends. They'll be playing several selections handpicked by Sonic Spectrum host Robert Moore. You can also frequently spot Chris running sound at local venues across KC, and doing a damn fine job of it.

-Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She looks extremely angry at all times, even when you might not think so.

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Chris Meck

 

 
 
Tiny Horse