Lisa Reed: Guitar Geek Extraordinaire

Photo by Adam Kennedy
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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 19 – Spring 2022

UK-based musician Lisa Reed is no stranger to frustration; being self-taught at the beginning of her musical journey, she understands how difficult finding information on a small budget can be. However, Reed was able to turn her frustration into inspiration; she became a thorough communicator and effective teacher for students worldwide. This is especially evident in her first book, Guitar Geeks Set Up Guide: Basic Set Up and Maintenance for Electric Guitars, an all-encompassing manual that every guitar player should have. In addition to teaching, Reed is a skilled musician that can be found playing live shows, recording sessions, weddings, and more. We recently chatted down with Reed to geek out about guitar.

What inspired you to start playing guitar?
Growing up with my family, I often heard country, rock ‘n’ roll, and rockabilly music because that’s what my dad listened to, but my sister always played boy band music by groups such as Boy Zone, Westlife, and Take That. Around 13 to 14 years old, I decided I wanted to find music that I liked, that I listened to because I wanted to, and not because that’s what other people played. I typed in YouTube a band I knew I liked; that band was Bon Jovi. I was completely amazed by Richie Sambora and fell in love with his playing — he also looked awesome in the ‘80s, so I guess that helped with the influence too! From that point on, I came across other bands and started to become motivated and influenced by players such as George Lynch and John Sykes.

Photo by Adam Kennedy

How has your tone evolved over time?
To be honest, I am never completely happy with my tone. I am always very critical, so when I think I have it really good, I am always second-guessing myself! I guess this also comes down to what gear I have used as well. Over time I decided to upgrade the pickups in some of my guitars to have more punch. I am currently endorsed by GuitarHeads and have their pickups in two of my Jackson guitars. Their pickups give me great sustain, and I really like the kick they have.  

What gear are you currently using, and why?
I mostly use my Jackson and Schecter guitars. I call my red Jackson ‘Sherry,’ and she is my favorite! Sounds great with her active pickups, and her finish is stunning. I love that she has a neck-through instead of a bolt-on; it just feels nicer and smoother. I also have a blue Schecter (not yet named), which I also love. I have been thinking about changing the current pickups in my Schecter to some GuitarHeads pickups as well.   

I have really scaled down my rig in the fact that I use HeadRush. It is basically an amp and pedalboard all in one, which I love because it is small, compact, and light to take to gigs! The HeadRush Gigboard has a range of different amp models and pedals, so I can really dial in what sound I want. It can even manipulate the sound of different mics and cabs, which is also awesome. It also has a built-in tuner, which is handy. On my board, I also have a Jim Dunlop JC95 Jerry Cantrell Cry Baby Wah pedal, which sounds amazing.  

For session work and my own recordings, I actually use the amp models in Logic Pro. I find I prefer their metal tones to their cleans, though.  

What inspired you to write your own guitar setup guide?
Well, my dad’s thing is cars; he loves them, drives them, restores them, and fixes them. I thought to myself, ‘me needing to take my guitar to a setup guy is like my dad taking his car to a garage,’ which would never happen! Basically, I wanted to become self-sufficient with guitars the same way my dad is with cars, so I studied a lot and tried things out.  

When I was learning and starting to understand everything, I realized there were a lot of people giving their opinion on things and stating them as if they were facts. They often gave bad advice too, which I hated. I decided to write a book that gave people as much knowledge as possible in an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide. I also decided to educate people on different products and methods, so they could decide for themselves what they would use. Give people the facts, the knowledge, and the understanding, and let them decide what products and methods to use; that’s the best way to go! 

The book also includes videos that are accessible via the QR code inside. As a guitar teacher, I understand that people learn in different ways. Sometimes people struggle with learning purely from the written word, so the videos are there for people to view and learn from.  

Did you write the book in any particular order?
I wrote the book in the order that you would do a setup. We look into different string gauges and brands, and then we look at how to string different guitars. From here, I go into detail on how to adjust your truss rod, alter your action, and correct your intonation. Different guitars have different parts, so in each chapter, I have a section for different styles of guitar such as Stratocasters, Les Pauls, and guitars with double locking systems. For some jobs, there are different methods, tools, and products, so I have gone into detail on these to give people the best understanding possible!  

Later in the book, I explain how to maintain your guitar by means of fret polishing, cleaning your fretboard, and polishing the body of your guitar. Towards the end of the book, I talk about how to carry out small fixes such as fixing loose sockets, loose tuners, and how to clean dirty connections for pots and selector switches. 

What other musical projects are you currently focused on?
I am currently focusing on improving my singing. My friend, Alan Ross (guitarist for Blitzkrieg), is an amazing singer. He is essentially my vocal coach; he shows me different vocal exercises and also listens to my recordings and gives me tips on how to improve them.  

I am in a function band right now, but I am forming another band with Alan that is more 1970s rock-based. We have a great lineup so far, so at the minute, it is just the case of getting together and having some rehearsals. I like variety when it comes to playing live; it keeps me on my toes and is more interesting! 

What advice do you have for other players?
I think it’s really important to learn different styles of music. If you stick to just one genre, then you risk getting bored after a while, it might take you years, but you will probably end up bored at some point! A lot of players will normally take a break from playing when this happens, but when this has happened to me, I simply learn songs I love that are from a different genre to the one I have been previously playing.

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Alex Windsor is a passionate musician and educator with over 15 years of experience. While she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Jazz Studies (Bass), she has also extensively studied rock, blues, and classical guitar. She currently serves as the Educational Affairs Specialist for Guitar Center Lessons. Alex can be found regularly performing around the greater Los Angeles area.