The followings include my knowledge and some quoted Q&As from the official Journey site, "Back Talk" section, which were kindly answered by Mr. Alan Rosen and Mr. Allen Craft.

Guitars

Q.1 : What kind of guitars Neal uses recently? (as of 2004)

A.1 : Gibson, Fender, and PRS. Gibson has built few Les Paul prototype models for Neal and he's been playing them these days.

Q.2 : What happens to Schon Gutars?

A.2 : Unfortunately, the company does not exist anymore, but Gibson is ready to build his signature model (Les Paul base).

Q.3 : Who built Schon Guitars?

A.3 : Jackson and Larrivee built production models. Gibson, Mr. Leo Knapp, Guild, and Fernandes had built their prototype models for Neal as well.

Q.4 : Is there any way to balance Schon guitar when I use strap? It seems that the neck side is a bit heavy...

A.4 : A wide leather strap (suede back works great), and light weight wooden-feel peg wings (eg, ebonized) may help.

Q.5 : What kind of guitar strings Neal uses these days?

A.5 : Currently Neal uses D'Addario XL 9/42 series (GHS Boomers 9/42 until 2001 and Dean Markley Blue Steel 9/42 until 2000)

Q.6 : What kind of guitar strap Neal uses?

A.6 : Neal has been using Levy's wide leather straps

Q.7 : Does Neal use a strap lock system? If so, what kind?

A.7 : Neal uses the Original StrapLock System by Dunlop

Pickups

Q.1 : What is Neal's favorite pickup? And is there any tweak on it?

A.1 : Gibson's Classic 57, Classic 57 Plus, and Burstbucker are his favorites.
Regarding pickups, Neal swears by Classic 57's or original Gibson H/B's (PAF) in Les Paul's. Although Neal has been putting the occasional FRED in, and I'm sure Neal's guitar tech has tried some others I'm not aware of. Neal has been playing the Les Paul's again. Watch for them next tour, too. The only point I'm making here is that for Neal, we're re-creating sounds that were made on gear that was more primitive than we have today. DON'T fall into the trap of thinking, It's new so it must be better. If the sound is from a Tele through a Vox with a Celestion, Why should you expect to get it from a RickenBacker Through a Twin with a JBL? Neal keeps remarking how he keeps coming back to the basics.


Q.2 : Neal's PRS or Gibson has a Roland pickup in addition to his magnetic pickups. Does he use it for special songs/effects or is it part of his regular guitar tone?

A.2 : The GK-2a Pickup is custom installed for Neal by Gary Brawer. Neal will layer strings and stuff using the GR series of synths as well as the VG series modeled guitar sounds. The synths and VG's are not part of the current stage rig.

Q.3 : A Song like "After The Fall," Neal has his solo with a long sustain. Any special effect?

A.3 : Neal mounted Fernandes' SUSTAINER on most of his Gibson and PRS. Neal turns the switch on when he needs it!

Pedals and Effects

Q.1 : Neal sometimes uses a Boss distortion pedal. Is this in addition to the stock Marshall distortion on the amp, or instead of it?

A.1 : Neal also splits his signal and sends it to other devices and then mixes them back to a stereo amp & speakers. Neal's signal flow is guitar, OD pedal, Wah, Amp, as a starting point.

Q.2 : Has Journey ever used any oddball studio setups kind of like this to get a certain sound? Or, have the PODs, MIDI and such pretty much eliminated the need for such measures?

A.2 : OH YEAH !! PODS and such allow for quick set ups, but by and large, we go for the real tone for the recordings. We re-amp at the drop of a hat if we think it'll give us the tone we're looking for.

Q.3 : Does Neal use any of the Roland V-Guitar technology?

A.3 : OH yeah, he loves that box. It's not on the new CD but we did use it on TBF. If you want to hear some incredible GR-1 and VG-8 sounds, check out Electric World on Higher Octave.

Amps

Q.1 : What kind of amp Neal uses?

A.1 : Neal uses Diezel, Marshall, and Fender amps. But he has tried almost all kind of amplifiers that have been produced!!

Q.2 : At Journey's concert during 2000 and 2001, Neal had his 4 Marshall's cabs and heads on the stage. Does he use all of them? And I noticed that the head located at left was turned off. Any reason?

A.2 : Neal only use two of them and has them set up in dry and wet; dry setting (the second one from right) is for straight and wet setting (the first one from right) is for effects. The second one from left is a backup for the dry setting and the first one from left is a backup for the wet setting and turned off unless it becomes necessary.

Setting

Q.1 : Could you describe a "typical" setup from guitar to amp to PA for Neal?

A.1 : We use Marshall's for guitars, JCM 1000's. Stock, save for the Alien Design PowerSupply Cooling Modification. Jason, Neal's Tech, has refined the prototype to a fully integrated unit, that mounts within the stock amplifier chassis, rendering the modification invisible to the casual observer. Jason also builds custom harness's, using Monster and Belden among other manufacturers for cables, for Neal. He uses X-wire as well. I believe he's still using the Lexicon as the guitar processor with a Dunlop Crybaby and the ubiquitos Boss DS-1. There's a Digital Echoplex for looping. I believe Neal is still configured as Stereo with Dry mono center channel. There is a spare Amp/speaker combo set up as well.

General

Q.1 : His practice routine???

A.1 : Well, let me tell you this, When we had the old studio, Neal would show up about 9:30 am, I would make some espresso, and he would start messing around. In a few minutes , he would have the digital echoplex looping, the drum machine synching and he would be having me roll tape. This would go on ALL day, 7-8 hours easy. A quick break for a sandwich. Picture me standing in front of him, Neal standing there just SHREDDING, and I'm waiting to go get lunch and I want to know what he wants , but I"M NOT going to interrupt THAT! It's a wonder we ate at all. Repeat 5 or 6 days a week and multiply by 35 years and you'll get an idea of why he's so good. ANYONE you can think of as "Great" gets there by practicing above and beyond what ordinary people practice. Talent is involved , sure , but those abilities are only allowed to flourish in an environment of immersion. Ask yourself this, when you start to question your abilities, "Did my audience get it? Did they dance, sing along, pay attention, whatever?" If you can say "Yes", then you ARE good. You have done your job. And to compare yourself with another is a tricky path as well, for somewhere, sometime, SOMEONE ELSE will compare themselves to YOU, in the way you are comparing yourself to another.

Last modified on 11/03/04