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The Better Shredder

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Laist saw studio guitarist and sometime Supertramp member Carl Verheyen at Anaheim gear shop Tone Merchants this weekend. He was playing to a small audience of 80 devoted fanatics in Tone Merchants' miniscule concert room. We were front and center, close enough to see the sweat on his T-shirt and to take in every move he made on his vintage Strat.

We'd heard Verheyen's work on any number of famous national jingles, but it was reading his book, Studio City,
that made us care enough to go to the concert. Studio City is made up of columns that Verheyen wrote over a year for a national guitar magazine. Verheyen talks about the rigors and surprises of life as a gigging guitarist for hire - everything from being asked to sightread lute and sitar music to that unfortunate wah pedal that always breaks in the middle of the crucial session.
It was an inspiring read for any artist working for survival as well as fame.

Verheyen was using four heads: a Fender Twin, a Vox AC30, and not one but two Marshall Plexis. He also had an enormous pedalboard. He even had the chutzpah to sing while shredding. But what impressed us more than his luscious gear was his technical agility. The two instrumentals (inspired, as he informed the crowd, by bagpipe music and by a donkey chasing his son respectively), especially where Carl faced off with nothing but a naked acoustic, proved his worth as a musician more than all the expensive vintage amplifiers in the world.

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We've seen our share of shredders, but what sets Verheyen apart from the pack is his cheery rapport with the crowd. He has a smile on his face throughout the most difficult passages, and his enjoyment of what he does makes him really fun to watch. If you love great guitar players, check out Verheyen's next gig at Boulevard Music in Culver City on the 12th.