Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 | Page 54


Juno Award-winning flamenco guitarist
CM : Walk me through your current live rig and tell me how your live and studio setups differ .
Cook : I recently went through a massive shift . After years of running my guitar through a computer , I think 15-20 years — I had different audio interfaces and a computer and multiple channels , and I was mixing different microphones over the years , and trying to create the sound of a nylon-string guitar because for some reason , I think the worst guitar to amplify is a nylon-string guitar ; the technology just never sounded close to what a guitar actually sounds like . If the number of days where I spent a whole day working on my guitar tone , trying to come up with something that sounded right , I feel like it ’ s added up to five years of my life gone , just doing that . I was always jealous of electric players . Because , you buy a multi-effect unit and it ’ s got the Eddie Van Halen ’ s sound and it ’ s got the Stevie Ray Vaughan ; you can sound like your heroes instantly out of the box . And with me , you can ’ t even sound like your instrument , let alone your hero . So , it ’ s always been kind of tough . And then , last year , I was on tour in California and this guy approached me with a new pickup system that sounded really good on his guitar , and I decided I was
going to get a new guitar and install it . And it would be completely starting my guitar tone from scratch . I used my new rig for the first time , which was no suitcase full of gear , converters , or pedals . I have a beautiful guitar , a Conde Hermanos which is kind of like the Stradivarius of flamenco guitars . For three generations , this family have made the best flamenco guitars played by like Paco de Lucia and all the great Spanish masters . I ordered a custom-made guitar from this guy last summer . And he finished it for me around December . And then I installed the pickups and worked on it for about three months . And now it ’ s remarkable . It sounds like a beautiful guitar with a microphone in front of it , except at ridiculously loud volume . My life has changed in the last six months .
CM : How did you get interested in the guitar and what was your learning style and training ?
Cook : We moved to Canada when I was about three or four , and I just wanted to play the guitar , and my mom started trying to find a teacher for me . And she was asking , and people were saying no , no , don ’ t give him lessons until he ’ s 13 . He ’ s too young . My first teacher actually was a flamenco teacher . And then I switched to classical as I got better . And I studied that until I was about 13 and then I quit and went to the dark side , started playing rock and jazz and whatever else , in bands and stuff in high school , and then after high school , I