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Gregory Regis Ginn (born June 8, 1954) is a guitarist, songwriter and singer. He is best known for being the leader of and primary songwriter for the punk rock band Black Flag, which he founded and led from 1976 to 1986 and 2013 to present.Read More...
Since breaking up Black Flag, Ginn has recorded a few solo albums, and has performed with the bands HOR, Fastgato, The October Faction, Gone, Confront James, EL BAD, Mojack, and he also played bass with Tom Troccoli's Dog. He also owns the South Bay based, independent record label, SST, originally begun as an electronics company called Solid State Transmitters when he was a teenager. He remains very active in music; in a recent interview he states he still performs "about six nights a week." This is similar to how he was with Black Flag; with them he was very strict about practicing and would practice for up to 7 hours a day, 6 days a week according to Henry Rollins.
Ginn's guitar sound is distinctive, often recognizable within a few notes. His guitar tone is typically characterized by a lack of highs and a high amount of mids, which creates a muffled sound. Black Flag singer Henry Rollins has repeatedly compared Ginn's playing not to any other guitarists, but to free jazz saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy. These may initially appear unlikely comparisons, but a closer examination reveals some similarities: Like both saxophonists, Ginn tends towards highly emotive playing and has a thorough grasp of musical harmony, though often choosing to play notes that are technically "incorrect" but which frequently carry a greater visceral impact than "proper" playing. Ginn is an avid jazz fan, stating he generally prefers music by saxophone or piano players.
One review of Black Flag's Slip It In (1984) notes that Ginn's "playing was becoming increasingly avant-garde and exciting. Rather than simply coughing up one clichéd solo after another, he wandered harmolodically up and down the fretboard as a jazz player like Blood Ulmer would, making the material more interesting than what most Black Flag-influenced bands were playing."
Ginn's brother, Raymond Pettibon, is an award-winning artist whose early works have appeared on album artwork for Black Flag and other SST bands; Pettibon also designed the Black Flag logo.
Ginn's nephew, Alex, founded the punk band, 1208.
Ginn is also active in cat-rescue, possessing approximately 30 cats, having reformed Black Flag in September 2003 for a cat rescue benefit.
Ginn made it to 99th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
He has used the pseudonym Dale Nixon on Black Flag's My War and in the bands Confront James, HOR, and El Bad and Fastgato. During the September 2003 reunion concerts, "Dale Nixon", in the form of a computerized bass track with a sombrero, took the stage along side Greg Ginn. The Melvins also use the Dale Nixon pseudonym to credit Dave Grohl on the King Buzzo album.
For a majority of Black Flag's existence, Ginn used a Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite electric guitar, seen in use here. This guitar was stolen on April 16, 1986. This guitar became very very worn out after its intense use. Ginn would play it so hard that sweat (as well as blood) would seep inside the guitar and cause it to short circuit. To fix this problem he soldered the tone and volume knobs into place and installed a waterproof switch.
After his Ampeg was stolen, he switched to using an Ibanez Roadstar II. According to Ginn, he also used an Ibanez Flying V with a Sound City tube amp for a little while. He has said that this Sound City amp was horrible and was the last time he used a tube amp. He has said that he dislikes tube amps because they round off the sound and he wants a sharper tone.
Originally, Ginn used a Peavey Standard Series 260 four channel P.A. Head to create his signature tone. He simply plugged directly into the amplifier and played with the volumes turned up to the point to where the signal being produced was naturally overdriven. This procedure created a rather abrasive sound that he tuned along side of the vocal stylings of each singer of the band. This is the sound you hear on Black Flag's Nervous Breakdown single, up to the album Damaged. Ginn later used a rack mounted Roland SIP-300 guitar preamp along with a QSC power amp until 1985 when he began using a Yamaha PG-1 guitar preamp with the same power amp until switching to a Crest PL400 power amp during their last tour.
The earliest speaker cabinets that he used were probably marshall 4x12's. He used a Sound City 4x12 also. His earliest hand made speaker cabinets were fitted with two Peavey Black Widow 15" speakers. His later speaker cabinets were hand made, and used Electro-Voice speakers. One contained six 12" speakers, and the other with two 15" speakers. He then had two custom built cabinets with two 12" and one 15" speakers each. The type of speakers, being heavy duty and engineered for P.A. use therefore largely contributed to his notably dense guitar tone.
Ginn does not use any effect pedals (every sound he gets is from his amp and guitar).
Currently, he uses a solid state Sansamp Preamp (overdriven) and uses a Macro-Tech Crown Power Amp with "more Wattage than I really need." The power amp drives a custom made 6x12 cabinet.