Tom Richardson – Insight From An Advanced Level Guitarist

Described as a ‘teen guitar god’ by Total Guitar Magazine, Tom Richardson is an 18 year old fusion inspired guitarist from Lancashire, England. He began playing the guitar at the age of 9 after being inspired by his father’s record collection which featured the likes of Van Halen, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

After having played in several rock and metal bands, he found himself more and more inspired by players such as Guthrie Govan, Alex Hutchings and Tom Quayle.  From then on in he decided he would focus his time on learning more about jazz and fusion as the styles intrigued him greatly and this is still the main focus of his playing today.

Tom has started working on several instrumental tracks, some of which can be found on his YouTube channel. Currently he is studying music at college while also giving guitar tuition. Upon leaving college this year, he plans to continue his studies in London.

Thanks for taking time out to answer our questions!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity!

Are you self-taught or did you learn from a teacher?

When I started learning guitar at the age of nine, my Dad was able to teach me the basics which helped put me in the direction. For the next few years I learnt as much as I could from books, magazines and videos to develop my technique. I soon realised my theory was lacking, so I decided to take up lessons with a local Jazz/Blues guitarist. Now at the age of 18, I do not have a formal teacher but I still use a lot of different learning resources. I have learnt many useful things from Guitar Techniques Magazine as well as a guy called Tom Quayle who publishes great Fusion based lessons on his website. Some great players are entirely self taught but in my opinion a good teacher can definitely save you some time, especially in the first few years of playing.

What made you decide to pick a lefty guitar rather than learning righty?

My first guitar was a right handed 3/4 size nylon string and I naturally picked up the guitar the lefty way. As my dad is a guitar player (right handed) he was able to change the strings over for me and never suggested I learnt to play it right handed, even though the guitar was setup this way. Learning to play right handed never really crossed my mind as even at the very beginning, it felt like I had more control with my right hand on the fretboard as opposed to the other way around.

A lot of our readers are fiercely proud of being left handed, are you the same?

Yeah, I don’t really think it’s a bad thing. Especially when there is and have been many great musicians who are left handed such as Hendrix and Beethoven. It is thought that left handed people are more creative too when it comes to the arts so it’s definitely not something you should feel ashamed of in this day and age and I can definitely say I don’t!

Do you ever wish you had learned right handed instead?

There have been times where I’ve thought about it such as when you finish reading a review of a great guitar and have been staring at the same photo for 5 minutes then you realise it doesn’t come in left handed, that’s annoying! Likewise finding a guitar on the second hand market isn’t easy. I’ve read interviews of left handers who play right handed with the apparent advantage being that your dominant hand is on the fretboard doing the more intricate work but many of them say they have had problems with their picking. If it really made much difference, wouldn’t right handers learn on a left handed guitar so there dominant hand is on the fretboard too?

I’m happy with the way my playing is going now so other than having access to more guitars, I’m pretty happy playing lefty…oh and it’s also usually an excuse not to let someone else have a go on your guitar ;)

How easy/difficult is it to obtain a left handed guitar in the UK?

Living in the UK, most left handed models are available somewhere in the country. Sometimes you might not be able to try them out before you buy and instead have to order online but you can always return it if you don’t like it! Really the only limitation is if the guitar doesn’t come as a lefty model.

What to you is the most frustrating aspect of being a lefty player?

Definitely not being able to have access to the same amount of guitars. I’ve walked into many guitar shops where the only leftys are budget range models meanwhile the right handers get access to top of the range Gibson Les Pauls and Ibanez Jems.

Being a lefty player do you ever get any strange reactions?

Not that I can recall other than being spotted by a non-guitarist when you’re playing your mates Ibanez RG upside down…that can sometimes give you some confused reactions haha

Is there any guitar you wish was available left handed?

I wish there was a wider variety of Ibanez models available. I really like the Prestige S series, they remind me of 80s fusion, but last time I checked they weren’t available in Left Handed.

What is your favorite guitar brand and why?

My favourite guitar brand would be Ibanez as that’s what I’m currently playing one now, an RG1570L to be specific. Before this, I played a standard Strat shape guitar so moving to my Ibanez made it so much easier and enjoyable to play because the playability is so much better with the wide flat neck, deep cutaways, rounded neck joint etc…and the pickups give you more tonal variations as well as the double locking bridge being fun too! Other than Ibanez, I would love to play a guitar by some of the boutique makers. Two of my favourites are Suhr and Jaden Rose, beautiful guitars!

Do you have any plans for your next guitar purchase?

For my next guitar, I’m not really sure on the model but I know it will be a super-strat type guitar. Depending on what I have to spend, I will probably opt for another Ibanez Prestige although if money isn’t a problem it would most likely be a Suhr or Jaden Rose like I mentioned earlier. Hopefully one day…

Could you give us a brief run-down of your equipment setup?

Amp wise I am running a Marshall JVM205H Head through a V30 Loaded 2×12 cab. Prior to this I was using a Peavey 6505. The Marshall suits me a lot better now and it’s a really versatile amp!

I’m not big on effects, I like to keep it simple. Right now on my board are a Dunlop Crybaby, EHX Neo Clone, EHX Memory Boy and a Korg Pitchblack Tuner.

I mainly use Dunlop Jazz III picks and I also have a few picks I was sent from a company called V-Picks, my favourite of theirs is about the same size as a Jazz III but it glows in the dark…very cool! For strings I use Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkys (9-46).

For recording I normally go from the JVM to the desk and use various cab impulses instead of micing the cab which is useful if you need to keep noise levels down or you don’t have much time for tweaking.

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