Each month in 2021, we will be featuring a member of the worldwide Gretsch community as our spotlight “featured player” of the month!
Our featured guitar player for November is . . . Tyler Ray!
Tyler Ray lives in Cleveland, Ohio holding down guitar duties for Guy Snowdon and the Citizens! The Citizens are a rock ‘n’ roll band in Cleveland that plays original music written by band leader Guy Snowdon. Guy hailed from Birmingham, England, before he moved to Cleveland with his family.
The Citizens combine classic British and American sounds and influences into a new and refreshing experience. Playing venues such as The Music Box Supper Club, Beachland Ballroom, and the Rialto Theatre, the Citizens bring you soaring highs and a rollicking experience throughout their performances, all riding along the back of Gretsch guitars! Their first album, One, is on presale now until its release on November 19!
We asked Tyler . . .
How old were you when you knew you were interested in becoming a musician?
I was probably 15 when I realized that I actually wanted to pursue making music as a lifestyle.
Why did you choose Gretsch?
I chose a Gretsch when I turned 16 because I was listening to AC/DC and The Beatles. I love Malcolm Young riffs, and I played like George Harrison. I picked a Double Jet out for my birthday in early 2008. I traded it in store for a Pro Jet a few months later.
What Gretsch gear do you currently use?
I use my 2016 6118 and 2005 6122, along with the Pro Jet that looks more like a Penguin these days, daily. The 6118 always draws questions and looks alike, over the color and the sound. You can’t beat the stock Hi Sensitive’s clarity and body, it does everything, no embellishing on my part. My next investment will either be a vintage 6117 or a new 6128.
Which musicians were the biggest influence on you and why?
My biggest influences for musicianship include the song writing of Tom Petty, the tone of Malcolm Young, and the rockabilly and blues experimentations of George Harrison.
How did you adjust and stay musical during the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the Pandemic of 2020, music opportunities did not cease because bars and restaurants closed. The three band leaders I collaborated with worked incredibly hard to build and maintain the most varied relationships in the entertainment industry of Cleveland. Bars closed, we played outside. Social Distancing was an issue, we found private studios for high-quality live streams. Some bands and artists chose to stay home because they felt it was the right thing to do for themselves, and myself and the three bands I worked with in 2020 took up the call. Essentially, I lasted on perseverance, and never saying no.
2021 has slowed down quite a bit after gigging three to four days a week, and I’ve now begun to focus more on recording and rehearsing, the opposite of what most did in 2020. Had I not been able to work with Apostle Jones, Kahrin Spear, and Guy Snowdon and the Citizens throughout navigating this new world, I would not be the “Gretsch Guitar Guy” I’m known as in Cleveland today!