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Motörhead’s Phil Campbell says you don’t need expensive gear to do great music

Classic Rock

Motörhead’s Phil Campbell says you don’t need expensive gear to do great music

Ex-Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell talked with Ultimate Guitar and said that to make great music you don’t have to own a expensive gear.


Read the full interview below:

“With Motorhead, I would probably have 10 or 15 different guitars in there. But I would never use a guitar just because it was a big-name guitar. If it was a $70 Walmart Strat and it happened to sound good with a bit of tweaking, I’d use that. We did whatever was good for the sound.”

Motorhead 4 piece

Last time we spoke, we were discussing the LAG brand of guitars which you had been using with Motorhead [They had made him a signature guitar]. Do you still use those?

Yeah I’ve got the original one – the one that the run of signature models was based on. But the signatures have all gone except for the original, which I still have. I’ve got the Jim Marshall one, the tribute one. It’s got a picture of Jim on the front. But yeah, I have loads of LAGs they’re a great company and everything. I’m using some Relish Guitars – they’re made by the Relish Brothers, it’s a Swiss company, and they’re great.

As a common man, I must admit I really enjoy hearing about great records being made with cheap guitars. It gives me a bit of hope.

“If you know what you’re doing, and you string it up right, you can make a great racket on a $30 guitar as long as you’ve got the insight and direction. I don’t know, there are so many makes out there now but I would advise anyone to find something that sounds good to you and go with it. You’ve just got to make sure you have clean strings – wipe your strings after every session.


“Old strings can let down a session badly. We’ve all done it in the past. Sometimes people can’t afford new strings all the time so make sure you take the time to clean them. Spray them with something, hell piss on them – that would probably clean them up a bit. It probably would – if it can get rid of a snakebite or whatever, it should surely clean up some strings.”

What was your first guitar and what were some of the first songs you tried to learn?

“I did have an 8 pound acoustic guitar where the neck had broken off and it was glued on badly. But my first guitar was probably a Columbus Les Paul copy. It cost about 25 pounds in the late 60’s. I don’t remember what songs I tried learning first – probably Hendrix or Gentle Giant or something like that. I tried to learn but failed badly. It may have been ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell – I was in a folk group in school for a while but not for very long.”

British Summer Time 2014 - July 4th

(Photo by Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images)

How did you go about learning songs? Have you ever been a user of tablature?

“No actually I was in the school brass band so I learned treble clef on tenor horn first, then for trumpet, I had headaches playing the trumpet so I went on for a few years after that to play the trombone. So I was reasonable competent on a treble clef for the three brass instruments. I did start notation for the guitar but I don’t know what went wrong but I should have stuck with it. I was a treble clef man for 4-5 years but it wouldn’t make no sense to me now. I’d have to be a scholar and I don’t want to be a scholar anymore.”

Lemmy fire bass

So you’re a believer that one does not need to know music theory in order to make great music. I hear some debate over that very issue sometimes.

“I think that the beauty and the magic of music is that there are no rules, or there shouldn’t be at least. It’s just what happens. It’s how you run with it. If you’re not trying to create beauty, create something that makes a statement. Some of the most incredible players, in my opinion, in the world probably can’t read music. And that’s fine as long as you have a feel for it.

“My personal philosophy is I just close my eyes and hope for the best, really. It’s worked for me for many years. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing on stage when I’m playing. I just pretend I know what I’m doing.”

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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