Paul Sidoti

A Top Nashville Touring Guitarist Talks BOSS and Roland Gear

Paul Sidoti

Photo: Ash Newell

Cleveland-born guitarist Paul Sidoti first showed his budding musical prowess at the age of three by strumming a plastic toy guitar along to Elton John’s “Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting.” Not long after that, when his hands were barely big enough to get around the neck, he got his first guitar and has been playing ever since. Before landing his current gig in 2007 as the touring guitarist for one of Nashville’s biggest stars, Paul toured as bassist for Gary Lewis and the Playboys from 1993 to 1999, and then worked as guitarist/keyboardist on The Raspberries’ critically acclaimed reunion tour from 2004 to 2007. We caught up with Paul during a recent tour stop in Los Angeles to talk about his career and the BOSS and Roland gear he uses on stage and in the studio.

You’re an accomplished guitar player touring all over the world, but you’re also a multi-instrumentalist. Tell me a little about that.

I started out on guitar at the age of five, and at the age of 12 I picked up the saxophone. I played that in concert, symphonic, and marching bands. When I was 15, I got really serious about music and the instrument that fascinated me was piano. There was a grand piano on stage in our high school auditorium, and everyday I’d sit there and play something. I found middle C on the keyboard and just applied what I knew on guitar. One of my biggest inspirations was David Foster. He was the one that I listened to that I got most of my inspiration from. I picked up double bass in orchestra my senior year, played bass touring with Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and also picked up drums when I was 21.

You’ve also said that KISS, the Eagles, Van Halen, AC/DC, and the Beatles as some of your musical influences. Rock seems to be the common thread there.

Oh, absolutely.

So how did you get involved with country music?

I moved to Nashville in the fall of 2000, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I started meeting some players around town who were borderline country/rock players. But one of them in particular helped me get my first real pedalboard/amp combination together. Prior to that, I played through a half-stack/4x12 with a BOSS ME-6 mainly as a delay/boost pedal. Being a newbie in Nashville, I realized I was in a whole new world. Guitarists had pedalboards that resembled spaceships with all these stompboxes on them. It looked like they were doing tap dances and it was so foreign to me, but he explained that this is how most guitar players’ rigs looked.

As far as getting involved in country, I never really went down there saying, “I want to be a country artist or I want to be playing country music.” I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to get the call.

You have a really long list of Roland and BOSS products that you currently use and have used live and in the studio. Let’s start off with BOSS pedals—tell us a little bit about those products that you’re using.

When I first started using BOSS products, it was great because they were inexpensive for a starting guitar player on a budget, but pro enough for big-name artists to use. You can put together a really nice palette of sounds. I’ve always used BOSS tuners, overdrive/distortion, the compressor/sustainer, super chorus, digital delay, EQ, noise suppressor. You could literally fill an entire pedalboard with BOSS products alone and sound fantastic.

You also have a Roland GR-55 guitar synth. How do you use that?

I use that primarily in the studio to create different sounds. What’s nice about it is with the Roland/Fender Strat guitar, it tracks so nice and it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a guitar synth. They’re so accurate and easy to play. You have a full range of BOSS stompboxes [inside the GR-55] as well. The synth sounds are really amazing, ranging from pianos to flutes to full-on brass sections.

So you use a Roland GC-1 GK-Ready Stratocaster to control the GR-55?

Correct.

That works out nice.

It sure does. And what’s cool is you can blend the two. If you wanted to play a gig with it, you could still have all your regular guitar sounds and then switch into a synth sound if you wanted as well.

That is handy—the Roland V-Guitar Strats, like you said, are 100 percent Stratocasters and also 100 percent V-Guitars.

And great guitars as well. I feel comfortable playing it on any gig.

You’ve also made a lot of music with Roland keyboards in the studio. Tell us a little bit about that.

It goes back to when I was 15 and my parents took out a loan for a Roland JX-8P. That was my first synth, and I fell in love with the sounds instantly because they had a big fat analog sound to them. I also started messing around with programming. I didn't really read manuals; I had the PG-800 that went with [the JX-8P], so I just started turning knobs and created my own sounds. Later on I purchased a D-50, JD-800, and MKS-20 and P-330 piano modules. Roland always seemed to come out with the greatest sounding keyboards, and they’re user-friendly. They were bright enough to cover digital, but I really loved the warm analog pad and string sounds, the really signature Roland stuff.

What would you say to the guitar players out there that aspire to making a living in music?

Just practice, work hard, and never be afraid to say no to a gig. You never know where it's going to lead. I would say in today’s world with social media and the Internet, you can get your music heard a lot easier. Always go with your instincts and do it from the heart. The important thing is to do what you love to do. Some artists like to play in a coffeehouse, some aspire to be on the big stage. Give it 100 percent and keep a great attitude.