Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 26
Outlaw Twang, Rockabilly Swagger
ountry music icon Dwight Yoakam
employs one of the hardest-working
bands on the road today. A quintet including
Yoakam, they're keeping alive the outlaw edge
of the genre's past. With a take-no-prisoners
approach, axe-man Eugene Edwards delivers a
barrage of tasty licks spiced by the occasional
Pete Townsend windmill while wearing a smile
night after night.
"There's no trickery up there; what you
see is what you get," Edwards explains. "It's a
relatively lean machine when you count bodies,
therefore, being adaptable is really important.
You have to be willing to pitch in and sing
harmony or grab a mandolin or a banjo and
take the responsibility of helping Dwight do
his catalog for his audience."
Edwards accepted that responsibility in 2012.
"Dwight was mixing his 3 Pears record and
his previous guitar player, Eddie Perez, was
going back to the Mavericks. My friend, Brian
Whelan, was Dwight's utility player at the
time and with live dates coming up, they were
hoping to find somebody quickly and quietly;
Dwight asked Brian if he knew somebody. So
I went to the studio and talked to Dwight and
there was a couple guitars lying around. We
played some old Lefty Frizzell tunes, some
Merle, some rockabilly stuff and one or two
of Dwight's songs, then he said, 'The first gig's
in a couple weeks. We'll get you anything you
need to get ready.'"
When taking the stage, they prefer to keep it
"all Tele if possible," Edwards said. "My number one guitar is a Fender Custom Shop 1960
reissue in Tobacco Sunburst. It has a rosewood
fretboard, which is a preference of mine when
playing Dwight's material, and it's very similar
to what Pete [Anderson] played with Dwight
early on. Then, there's a black '90s American
Standard that we put a Bigsby on and updated
with a Mastery bridge. We needed something
- Johnny Zapp
Eugene Edwards: Emily Joyce.
for songs like 'A Thousand Miles Miles From
Nowhere' or 'This Time' specifically, where
Pete was using a Strat with a lot of the vibrato
bar. There's also a blond Telecaster of Dwight's
from the early '70s, strung with .13s with a
wound G that I use in the portion of the show
devoted to Merle Haggard. That music's so
bold; you're playing voicings that have the
major third on top, which is so much of what
makes that Bakersfield thing so badass, so we
take measures to make sure that we do it with
the respect it deserves, and the heavy strings
help with that. I also use a red Epiphone Dwight
Trash Casino and a white one with .13s and a
wound G. We track a lot with Casinos and we
like heavy-gauge strings and the wound G for
tone and stability of intonation."
True to the music and his predecessors,
Edwards also incorporates a B-bender.
"The main riff in 'Blame the Vain' had a
B-bender lick played by Keith Gattis. Dwight
asked me, 'You ever use a B-bender?' I said
'No,' and he said, 'I've got one. Take it home
and get used to it.'
"The story is that Gene Parsons himself made
this one for Dwight and it's the original Clarence White version, so it's a double-wide Tele
with that huge rod going through. If Dwight
has an idea for a song or we're thinking about
what the lead guitar should be doing, the bender
ends up being a real go-to."
To deliver his tone, Edwards primarily runs
a pair of Fender Deluxe reissues and minimal
"Our amp guru, Bob Dixon, hot-rods them,
taking the power tube out of stage one, sending
all the juice to stage two and making them really aggressive. Then there's a blackface Super
Reverb reissue and a late-'90s, British-made
Vox AC30 and the Voodoo Lab Amp Selector
to switch in by foot.
"My pedalboard sits back by the amps - that's
how little I'm operating it. On constantly is
a Wampler Talent Booster for a bit of boost
so the Deluxes will cut through. I never pop
down on a guitar; it's on 10 the whole time.
So, being able to rely on touch for dynamics
is huge, and that pedal is really helpful with
that. I also use a Wampler Faux Analog Echo
Delay and that's on all the time except for 'A
Thousand Miles,' where I switch to an MXR
Carbon Copy Analog Delay. For tremolo, I use
the Danelectro Tuna Melt, and then there's
an EP Booster I use when playing the Casino
through the Super.
"In the studio I don't use pedals; it's guitars
straight into amps. If we want slap-back, we'll
use an actual tape machine or an echo chamber.
Everything is the real deal. It's tremendous."