Anyone that has ever met or watched Greg Koch play knows just how majestically insane he is when it comes to music. Both Dan & Mick have admired him for years, but what happens when the “Sasquatch of six-string savagery” stops by to see the guys during his U.K. tour?
This week on TPS, Dan & Mick interview the gargantuan Wildwood Guitars icon on his signature guitar, amplifier, and pedal, as well as the music industry and how the industry changed his life. Fighting moments of sidesplitting laughter, can the guys get through the interview without falling off of their stools?
The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Being in the industry for quite some time Greg Koch has worked with numerous companies and bands, yet his attitude for the industry itself has never changed. “The great thing about Greg Koch” Mick explains, “is the second he opens his mouth or plays the guitar a large smile beams across the face.” Due to his command over the guitar and his unique, recognizable tone Greg brings a refreshing attitude to guitar playing every time he picks up the instrument.
Starting in 1994 when Don Johnson of Fender found him during one of his shows at a Milwaukee bar, Greg has since worked for a myriad of guitar companies. For this reason alone his face, tone, and signature jokes and wisecracking nature are immediately distinguishable. Since working for Fender, Greg has also worked for Hal Leonard and Wildwood Guitars, as well as being a representative for Fishman Electronics, Reverend Guitars, and Koch Amplifiers.
The Reverend GristleMaster
After playing dozens and dozens of guitars, Greg is the most comfortable behind his favorite ’53 and ’55 Telecasters, but he always felt there was room for unconventional improvements. “Hey, what if we made a ManCaster?”Greg retorted. Being a very tall individual, the normal-spec Telecaster always felt a bit small, so for his Reverend signature they enlarged the body by three percent, as well as added a 10-14” compound radius neck with medium-jumbo frets. He also has his signature Fishman Fluence pickups gracing the ice blue guitar, which are famous for being authentic, noiseless pickups that perform like standard passive pickups.
“Fishman helped me create the three things I was looking for in a noiseless pickup: a discreet look, be a preference rather than a necessity, and be able to boost itself without an added preamp,” Greg explains. This way he doesn’t lose any of the character of his favorite pickups with the added benefit of noiseless technology. They also have 300 hours of playing on one charge, which adds even more usability to his rig.
The Koch Greg Signature Amp and Pedal
Seemingly a match made in guitar heaven, the collaboration between Koch Amp and the man himself happened naturally. “It was at Music Mesa 2012 where I was at the Fishman booth, happened to run into Koch Amps and snap a picture by a stack of their amps, and then the Internet ran rampant,” Greg clarifies. His signature amplifier started out as a standard TwinTone III amplifier, which has EL34 tubes and three channels. Next, Greg loves the tone of the Fender Vibrolux, so to emulate that tone they built his signature with two 10” speakers. Finally, Greg requested that a foot-switchable OTS (Output Tube Saturation), a harmonic vibrato, and a three-channel reverb was added into the amplifier, bringing a whacky second control panel to grace the top of the amp.
“All the fun stuff is up top,” Greg states. He wanted his amp to be the go-to piece of gear for all of his shows, just enough to cut through the other instruments and let the guitar “actually be a guitar and do its thing.”
When Greg can’t bring along the Greg Combo signature amplifier, he helped create the Gristle King, a clean boost pedal currently being built by Fishman. “This can be added to any amplifier and get that same cut and sharpness that the Greg Combo provides,” Dan adds.
With the technical stuff of the show out of the way, Dan & Mick take turns jamming out among Greg’s band, creating mystical musical tomfoolery along the way. Mick ends the show with the best way to explain the experience that is Greg Koch: “Come here for fun and end up getting a philosophy lesson.”
If you’ve been living under a rock and need to experience Greg Koch in his natural habitat, or if you need a good laugh/want more information on the Mr. Kochery be sure to check out www.gregkoch.com as well as Wildwood Guitar’s YouTube channel.
TPS Episode Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Reverend Greg Koch Signature GristleMaster in Blucifer Blue/Wow Red, ’63 Fender Custom Shop Telecaster, ’61 Fender Stratocaster, ’58 Gibson Memphis ES-335
Pedals: TheGigRig Three2One, Gristle King, Keeley D&M Drive, Kingsley Maiden Tube Preamp, Jam Pedals Ripply Fall, Boss DD-200, Catalinbread Topanga Reverb, Polytune 3 Mini, TheGigRig G2
Amps: Koch Amps The Greg Signature 212/Jensen Falcon C10-40, Matchless HC-30 w/Hughes & Kettner Vintage 212/Celestion ^12M Greenback