John Shaw

John Shaw John is a Florence, AL native who has been living and working in Nashville, TN for a decade. He has had the pleasure of appearing and working with producers and artists such as J. Hall, Ashley Monroe, Josh Turner, Sarah Darling, Todd Snider, Kristen Kelly, Morgan Frazier, James Otto, and many more.
John is currently touring as lead guitarist for multi-platinum country artist Josh Turner.

How did you get started playing guitar?
I actually got started via an 8th grade music appreciation class. It was a requirement to learn a couple of songs on guitar for the class, and I totally fell in love with it. I got my first “real” guitar that following Christmas, and it was off to the races. From there, I can credit my parents, a few great teachers, and then my uncle was a huge influence. He got me listening to all the right stuff and kind of developed my ear for tones and getting the right sounds. After I was firmly down that rabbit hole, I had the bug so bad there was no turning back.

Tell us about your current gigs/tour?
I tour full time with MCA recording artist Josh Turner. That winds up being a relatively full schedule, but still leaves time for other things. When I’m home I do some session and production work, fill in with other artists both in town and on the road (schedule permitting), and do a last Monday of the month residency in town with a classic country revival outfit called Orangutwang.

How did you hear about VINTAGE Guitars?
I actually just walked right up to the booth at Summer NAMM in 2014. Anything Tele-flavored usually catches my eye, and I saw that there were a ton of T-style variants in the VINTAGE booth. From there, I met Rick Taylor and we started talking about what my needs were on the road and what I’d like to be using.

What do you like most about our guitars?
I have several “golden era” instruments that don’t tour, so I’m a stickler for vintage tone. These guitars grab all the important aspects of that tone and don’t compromise, but add a few modern improvements.
For example, I’m using the V52 on the road. It incorporates all the essentials from a vintage design (for example: the solid-steel bridgeplate is a nice touch that really preserves the tone), but also some modern conveniences such as compensated saddles. The comp’d saddles allow me to use the guitar for alternate tunings without worrying about intonation issues. I’m actually going all the way to drop C# (drop-D intervals, but the whole guitar 1/2 step down) with it on Josh’s new single “Hometown Girl”, and that would never be possible on a normal T style guitar without the compensated bridge.
I was also super impressed with the neck pickup on the V52. It is very bold and clear, and super useable with a ton of output, more so than in a lot of T-style guitars. It allows you to grab a lot of those more S-style neck pickup sounds that are often muted and woofy on a T-style. This lends a versatility that I really appreciate, and allows me to use it on a wide range of material.

Any advice for players just getting started?
Listening is so important, and I don’t think it’s stressed enough these days. Just be a sponge and figure out what you like. Tones, playing, approach, everything. I was the guy who drove around with the case logic binder with 250 CDs in it in my front seat in high school, always trying to pick up something new. I guess people do that sort of thing on their phone now, but it’s important to take as much in as you can and spend time with it.

Other than that, play with people better than you and get your butt kicked. Then acknowledge what happened and learn from it. I feel like I’m still doing that to this day in a place like Nashville. But if it weren’t for my friends and mentors who were better than me early on, I wouldn’t have been nearly as motivated to learn and grow.

I feel like that’s something they’ve got really figured out in the bluegrass tradition. You could stumble into a jam with a legend or some old cat that’s been playing for 50 years any minute at a festival, and it’s like “OK, hold on while I pick my ego up off the floor”. But less so in Country, Blues, Rock, etc. There’s just not the venue for it. But there can be, you’ve just got to seek out those avenues to learn.

The second you think you know it all, you’re in trouble. So never quit learning and growing.