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I did this interview a few months ago and I’m just posting it now. I worked with Ryan while I was at The Artery Foundation and watched him blossom into a dude that knew what he wanted and watched him go after it.

Ryan Neff gif

Who are you endorsed by and what models/products do you use?
Fender, Jackson, Groove Tubes, GHS Strings, Darkglass Electronics, Seymour Duncan
I play 2 American custom shop Jacksons, while I also have these in my arsenal:
A Fender Deluxe Active American P Bass, a Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass, a Fender pawn shop bass, Fender aerodyne jazz bass, and Jackson John Campbell basses
I use Fender 8×10 Pro Series Cabinets, and Fender 8×10 Neo Cabinets, Fender tb1200 head, Fender Bassman 300 Head
Darkglass B7k, and B3k

What was your first endorsement? Which is your longest? Which took the most work/patience to get?
GHS and Fender are my first personal endorsements, we started working together in 2009, and are my longest standing partnerships.

Any recent changes in your set up in the last year or so? What sparked that change?
Mainly the switch to my custom basses. I wanted an instrument built specifically for me, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Awesome basses!

What’s your favorite piece of gear?
Gotta be the Jackson basses again. 2 of a kind, made just for me! Can’t get much better in my book!

What are some things you’ve learned about equipment that you have learned while touring and tinkering with your setup that you could relay to bands that don’t have your experience?  How do you make sure everything’s humming day in and day out?
Your rig is only as reliable as you. If you treat it harshly it will break. And that goes for every single piece. I broken bass necks, melted down heads, busted DI inputs on pedals, you name it and it’s been broken in the past 4 years by me. The main thing I’ve learned is a little bit of daily maintenance goes a long way! For instance on the Disarm the Decent tour that MMI just completed this summer I ran my own rig as usual, no techs or anything. Changed my own strings, plugged my own gear in, and did a line check upon setup each day to make sure my tone was exactly where I wanted it both on stage and out front, as well as taking a look at my pedal board and basses daily to check for any problems. I’ve come to realize if you let anything slide it will just turn into a compound problem later making for an embarrassing moment for me and a bummer moment for anyone watching me.

Does a Ryan Neff sound exist?
I like to think so. The basses I had built were made to my exact specifications down to customized electronics and controls that fit my playing style. I’m a payer who enjoys holding the group together both on and off stage. I have an aggressive playing style and a very specific tone. I’m a cranky cranky boy when I’m forced to use gear that I do not approve of, but on the road you just gotta make due sometimes!

Say a kid has a crappy combo amp, a crappy bass, his last $600 and he’s talented and in a band with some heat that might kick him out if he doesn’t upgrade equipment.  What could he spend $600 on (new, used, pedals, cables, etc.) to sound gangster and perhaps keep him in the band?
THE BEAUTY OF THE INTERNET! There is always someone out there who is hard up and needs to toss out some equipment for quick cash. I know all about the shit gear local band scenario. At one point I was lugging a Peavey CS800 Power amp around that weighed as much as an Ampeg SVT Classic head, and was just slaving it with a sansamp into a beat up Ampeg 6×10 that sounded as thin as a pencil. When MMI did its first tours I had an “Ampeg” 8×10 that I just called the “Fampeg” because I realized it wasn’t even authentic. That stuff is all fixable though! Now that I understand the magic of the DI I know that I can actually rock an entire show with my Darkglass pedals, getting all of my tone and using no cabinets at all. On the Bullet For My Valentine run I did that every single night. The Darkglass pedals will set you back around $200 each I believe. Well worth it if you are trying to create a tone a little different from the usual Tech 21 Sansamp (another great buy if you are looking).

You’re a great brand ambassador.  How has your ability to market yourself helped you to get companies to take you on?
The music industry is like any other job you could have in the sense that you are able to achieve things based upon your ability to work with others and help them further their goals while helping yourself. You can be hard headed and work against people, disliking people and certain companies because your friends didn’t like their rep or the service but I’ve never seen it that way. I think each individual relationship is different and there is a positive that can be found in any partnership. The coolest being a friendship. Some of my favorite people I’ve met so far in my career are sponsor reps.

Do you receive feedback as to how the band’s success might translate into gear sales? Say, one of your endorsers mentions that kids are gravitating towards something you guys use.
That’s not usually something we would see or hear. I would think it’s more of a reward system. If the company thinks you are killing it and representing the brand well you may be their guy for the next ad, or when they drop a hot new product and they need player opinions you may be the guy to who they say: ” Would you like to rock this for us and tell us what you think?”, and what can be cooler than that for a gear head!?

Any motivation for youngsters who want to be where you are who are maybe struggling with money or band troubles but have a huge heart and talent to back it.
I went into debt by the time I was 19. I went to college twice, dropped out twice, you name it and I messed it up. I kept my head in the game, and I played it with a sense of “it could always be worse” and I think that got me through the tough times. The music industry is a tough one but it really does reward talented players who have a good head on their shoulders and a big heart. If you wanna shred, go shred!

 

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