Currently one of the Pacific Northwest’s busiest and most well respected guitarists, Tim Lerch is a member of the legendary Northwest Gypsy Jazz Group, Pearl Django, as well as the Tim Lerch Jamie Findlay Duo. In between gigs with PD and Jamie, Tim tries to play as many solo guitar performance as he can fit into the schedule. He was gracious enough to submit himself to our infamous 7 Questions – read on to learn more about him!
The tagline on your website is Taste, Tone and Telecasters. You have a signature Mike Lull guitar that’s based on a Tele. Is that your ideal type of guitar for the work you most like to do?
These days I’m not playing telecasters quite as much as I used to. With Pearl Django, I play an Archtop made by either Linda Manzer or Steve Andersen; both are lovely guitars. I really like the Mike Lull Tele and play it whenever that sound and feel is what I’m looking for, but my favorites are a couple of Fender custom shop Nocasters that I’ve been playing for many years. Ultimately, I just play whatever type of guitar fits the musical situation that I find myself in but I think I sound most like myself when I play a Tele.
What’s a typical working day look like for you?
There is no real typical day since I do so many things, usually though I try and spend a couple of hours in the morning getting my hands on the guitar and reminding myself what my musical direction and goals are and freely exploring sounds that I’m hearing that day. Then if there’s any music I have to learn or brush up on for a gig I’ll do that. If i have a writing project I’ll procrastinate and muse about it till the last minute and then frantically write something. A couple of days a week I teach either in person or more lately online. I also try to spend some time every day writing some material down either for individual students or for a course I might be working on for TrueFire or something like that. And then of course there’s gigs which usually happen in the evenings. With Pearl Django we play usually two or three concerts a week then I often augment that with a solo gig or a duo with my friend Jamie Findlay.
What current work/releases are you most excited about?
Well, Pearl Django just put out a new record called Simplicity and it’s getting some good traction. I just read a jazz radio station report and it’s being played on many stations and more are being added everyday, so that’s very encouraging. TrueFire just released my brand new course called Solo Jazz Pathways – Harmonic Improv and it’s doing well and being well received. I was just back at the TrueFire studios a couple of weeks ago and shot two more courses, which will be coming out in the next few months. I also just redid my website and now there’s a lot of new things being offered there as well.
What does the ideal amplifier offer you?
I suppose my main consideration would be sonic clarity and a round, rich tonal quality, but I don’t like it to sound sterile or clinical. Having been primarily a tube amplifier player, I like a little bloom on the note and just a little bit of sag so that the notes sing without being spiky. I’m also a stickler for chords ringing very clearly with good string to string separation. I’m not crazy about chords getting blurry in the middle. These days portability and light weight is also a pretty important consideration.
How did you come to be involved with Henriksen Amplifiers?
When I joined Pearl Django, the sound they wanted from me was an Archtop with an electric/acoustic quality. The guys in the band all used small amps and I had mostly larger fender type amps. I needed a nice light, good sounding amplifier with a flexible EQ to get the sound I was after. A friend of mine, the late Michael Biller, suggested I come over to his shop to try a few Amps – I played everything he had in the shop and I really liked the Bud the best so I bought one and I am very pleased with it. The Bud has a great deal of flexibility in terms of using microphones combined with pick ups, etc., and it sounds great. I can line out to the PA if I need to in a larger room. All in all it’s just a very flexible, good sounding and efficient piece of gear. I also use a Forte when I want something a bit bigger and louder for outdoor things. I am also interested in the Bud 10. Peter and the guys at Henriksen have been very helpful and kind to me. I like how supportive they are to artists and how much they love the music.
If you could play in a duet with any musician, living or not, who would that be and what kind of music would you play?
I’ve always had a fantasy to play with Charlie Parker who is my all-time hero. Julie London would be a favorite. You know, one night Barney would call me up and say “hey man you want to play with Miss London?” – that would be a gas! As far as contemporary people, I think it would be really great to accompany Norah Jones on some standards, I love the way she sings. And I am also very captivated with Julian Lage. I think he’s a wonderful player and very inventive and full of joy. I think we would have a blast together. But in general I really love to play so I could keep saying peoples’ names for hours. There are so many people I admire that I would love to play with, not to mention the wonderful folks I get to play with already!
Outside of music, what interests do you enjoy spending time on?
Is there something outside of Music? Hmm, I’ll have to look into that sometime!