Magazine article Guitar Player

Tim Reynolds: On the Joy of Solo Acoustic and His Duo with Dave Matthews

Magazine article Guitar Player

Tim Reynolds: On the Joy of Solo Acoustic and His Duo with Dave Matthews

Article excerpt

TIM REYNOLDS IS A MULTI-FACETED MAESTRO WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY understanding of what to play when in a given situation. He spends his electric string time ripping in his progressive power trio TR3, and playing lead for the Dave Matthews Band. Reynolds finds balance doing acoustic-duo gigs under the simple moniker Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, and, as an accomplished solo artist with an extensive recording catalogue, including 2017's stylistically adventurous That Way [Beam On].

GP caught Reynolds doing the duo with Matthews twice in 2017. Once last spring on the main stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and again near the end of the year participating in the Band Together Bay Area benefit for Northern California fire victims at San Francisco's AT&T Park, along with Dead & Company, Metallica, and more.

When he plays with Matthews, Reynolds is the ultimate color man, tackling tricky lead turns, providing sure support, and occasionally adding atmospheric effects. In solo mode, unlike a lot of modern players that try to cover a slew of parts all at once, Reynolds deftly picks and chooses what he does or doesn't play. He's confident enough to play melodies and lead breaks stark naked without harmonic or rhythmic support.

How do you approach playing an acoustic gig in a stadium on a bill loaded with electric acts?

For a long time, I'd push it and play louder in big venues. But that's self-defeating, because, at some point, you can't play any louder, and you realize, "I'm getting worn out here." You eventually learn to play soft as a general rule, and let the dynamic intensity come wherever it will during the journey of a song, or the development of a jam. It's definitely weird to play in-between five acts of sonic boom, but it's also cool to be the contrast.

How do you achieve the pulsating sound for one of Matthews' most enduring songs, "Satellite"?

I do it with a volume swell, so you don't hear the initial attack, and a little bit of delay. I learned that years ago by mimicking the way Jeff Beck uses his Strat's volume knob, but I use an Ernie Ball volume pedal when I play acoustic. The trick is learning how to hit the note at the right time when you swell so there's an even flow and the rhythmic bounce of the echo is consistent. That's hard to define, but you eventually learn how to feel the note beginning as you depress the volume pedal, and how get the echo time right. I use a BOSS DD-5, and I've learned how to eyeball the dials like a clock to find tempos that work with certain songs. Luckily, one of the default timing modes produces the perfect medium-tempo delay for "Satellite" when I turn Delay Time all the way to the right.

During a show, I'll occasionally hear this trippy, wildly effected spectral sound. What is that?

That's the DD-5. In fact, the main reason I dig that pedal so much is that it's the only delay in the DD series with reverse pitch shifting. You can pitch-shift down or up an octave on a DD-5, and it's the coolest effect, because once you're in reverse and pitch-shifted, it's not a guitar sound anymore. The most fun thing to do is start high, and then pitch-shift down to a super-low drone. I only use reverse when I go for big, droning bass notes, but you can also start playing weird notes down low, and then pitch-shift up to produce a wild, crazy sound.

What else is in your acoustic rig?

On recent solo gigs, I've been incorporating a Strymon Big Sky. It's an awesome-sounding reverb with simple controls. I'm much better twisting knobs than I am at programming. I always use a Fishman Aura at the end of my signal chain to get a miked-acoustic sound directly from the onboard pickup of my Martin.

Do you always play the same Martin?

I actually have two D-35s. I got the first one in 1995, and I cracked it trying to do all that fancy drumming on it. I'm a closet drummer--I'm nuts about Bill Bruford--but when I damaged the guitar, I realized I should stop doing that percussive thing. …

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