Allan Holdsworth gone

Started by mchad, April 16, 2017, 04:14:42 PM

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From Allan Holdsworth archives, Facebook user group:
Allan Holdsworth Archives From 1997: He uses Rocktron Intellifexes and a Roland VG-8 guitar system to process his guitar signals.

Over the years, Holdsworth has evolved a very specific approach to recording his guitar: "I always mic the cabinet for lead sounds, but for clean sounds, I go DI a lot of times. I just take a stereo) output straight off the rig and onto two channels of the tape machine. I don't run it through the board or anything."

Of those clean sounds, the guitarist estimates that he uses the Roland VG-8, "for 75 percent of the chordal things I do." Unlike the Synth Axe, the VG-8 doesn't ensnare Holdsworth in the mire of MIDI. It doesn't work by triggering external synth modules, but performs physical modeling on signals derived directly from string vibrations.

"It's just like an extension of the guitar," Holdsworth elaborates. "You're not dealing with any modules where you have to figure out how to control the envelopes and all that stuff. Instead, you can manipulate the input from a single pickup guitar like I use and make it sound like a three-pickup Strat or two single coils or an acoustic guitar."

Because he's highly sensitive to string drag (inhibition of string vibration caused by the magnetic pull of pickups), Holdsworth is a staunch believer in guitars with just one pickup. He finds the VG-8 allows him to achieve multiple pickup tones without compromising the responsiveness of his instrument.

"It just adds all these extra colors that are guitar-based. And there are no time delay problems that I can perceive. It's like using an EQ or a phase shifter. If I mix the VG-8 signal with a straight signal, it'll be synchronous. And since I use two stereo amp setups, I can send the straight signal to one rig and the VG-8 patch to the other rig, which really sounds good."
And from another interview:
Allan Holdsworth Archives By 2003, it was gone: What about the VG-8? You're not using that anymore?
No. I sold it out of desperation. But I would have liked to have kept it 'cause it was a useful tool. I actually liked it a lot. I thought it was a really great thing.


Yeah, his financial situation was rather sad.  I believe due to an unscupulous manager/business type.  I would have given him one of my VG units if I'd known the guy just because he of all people SHOULD have had that gear.

I learned too with Allan's story that an incredible musician with stupendous technique with unbelievable compositional skill can still get ripped off my weaselly record company guys. 
My music projects online at

GK Devices:  Roland VG-99, Boss GP-10, Boss SY-1000.



What an extensive and encyclopedic work. Absolutely exceptional!!


I've watched part of the video and it's an astounding effort.  The amount of sheer time involved must have been astronomical.

In other AH related studies Brett Stine (of the band Haji's Kitchen if you remember them on Shrapnel records) has written a book and performed the examples for Messiaen Études Vol.1 -

The examples sound very AH - he indicates that AH seemed to use all but mode 5.  Listening to the examples, it's another work where years must have gone into it.

My music projects online at

GK Devices:  Roland VG-99, Boss GP-10, Boss SY-1000.



Somehow, I'm just seeing this thread now... Gah!
I can't recall if I first heard Allan Holdsworth on One of a Kind (Bruford), UK (K) or Enigmatic Ocean (Jean-Luc Ponty) but I vividly recall hearing him and thinking... great, time to sell all my guitars!

I met him the first time when he played the Roxy with Bruford's band and that confirmed my initial thoughts, this guy was from a different species. Only spoke a few words with him, but I remember thinking he was super smart and WAY too humble. Dave Stewart actually crashed at my place the night before the show... but I digress.

I was also at the Roxy when he played in 1982. By then, he had made a name for himself and it seemed like every "serious" player I knew of was there. I knew Eddy VanHalen and he was there - we chatted a bit and I recall him effusively praising Allan). But my most vivid recollection of that night - as written about by Byron Fry above - was the total silence in the crowd after he finished. There were a lot of mouths hanging open and stunned disbelief permeated the place.   

In the late 70s, I was fortunate to work for Jean-Luc Ponty. We had a falling out in 1980 but became friends again in early 82. I was at the studio when Allan was recording his solo on In Spite of it All on Individual Choice. I was amazed (and most flattered) that he had remembered meeting me at the Roxy during the Bruford show. We chatted a bit and he was - as always - a really lovely guy.

I tried to see him every time he was in town after that, usually at the Baked Potato.

It's a truly sad commentary on the music business that he wasn't better known as the amazing talent that he was.
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Quote from: jassy on April 12, 2022, 05:23:23 PMWhat an extensive and encyclopedic work. Absolutely exceptional!!

Have been working through this material - the depth here is truly staggering. What I find most remarkable is not that it is such a comprehensive analysis of Holdsworth's style but that within here are some truly unique insights to understanding the fretboard - I doubt I will ever sound even slightly like Holdsworth but I have made more progress on understanding the guitar in a few months of working through this than anything I have done in the last 20 years