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Simon McBride

Simon McBride

Simon McBride

From winning Guitarist of the Year aged 15 and turning pro at 16, to touring with the likes of Don Airey and Ian Gillan, axe-man and vocalist Simon McBride remains one of the most respected and in-demand musicians in the business. He’ll be using his Aston Spirit for vocals on his debut solo album, due for release in late 2019, and also plans to use Spirits for the guitar cabs on the next Don Airey tour.

Don Airey, Ian Gillan
Simon uses:
Nine hour shifts

I got in to music through my dad, he was massively in to classic rock, Black Sabbath were a particular favourite. He always wanted to learn to play guitar so he bought one for himself when I was around 9 years old. He found it hard to play because of an accident he had as a kid, he tore all the tendons in his left hand.

So the guitar was left lying around and when he was out at work, I’d sneak in to his room and pretend to be Joe Satriani! Then I found the little chord book and pretty much taught myself to play. I just took to it very quickly. After a couple of weeks I was playing all the stuff that was in the book. My dad still had no idea that I was learning to play as I wasn’t allowed to touch the guitar.

Then he caught me playing it one day. He saw I could play and encouraged me to play even more. I Just loved playing, I gradually increased my practicing times, the biggest leap I remember, going from twenty to thirty minutes, I think I cried at the time! At the peak, I was practicing for around nine hours a day. I never had much of a life as a kid!

Guitarist of the Year

I just always picked things up really quickly. I started playing when I was around 10 and the year after I was playing on local TV shows, playing Van Halen and Joe Satriani songs, stuff like that. I was kind of this child prodigy, getting invited to play these TV shows. It was never really a decision to be in the music industry, It was more like, this is what I do, it’s all I’ve known, I just play guitar!

My foot in to the industry was through Geoff Whitehorn (If, Bad Company, Procol Harum) At the time he was demonstrating for Marshall amplification. He introduced me to them. From that I met Paul Reed Smith and started doing clinics for them. I was still only 15 at this time, the same year, I won British Guitarist of the year award. All of these things began falling in place.

I got a call from a friend of mine, Aide Mcilduff. He was playing drums for Andrew Strong (Commitments) and they needed a guitarist. I was coming from a different world, playing rock and metal but I thought I’d give it a go. That ended up being my life for the next nine years, playing around the world with Andrew. It was a huge learning curve for me, coming originally from a guitar oriented background, joining a 9 piece band where the guitar forms part of the ensemble and wasn’t the main focus.

Old school

After that I just started writing my own songs, gravitating toward the blues/rock guitar feel, I just wanted to get back in to playing the guitar the way I wanted. I ended up opening a charity festival that Don Airey was putting on. Don loved my playing and asked me to come along and guest on his next album. I ended up joining the band and touring with Don from then on.

Leading on from that, I did a tour with Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) with a 60-70 piece orchestra each night which was really good fun. In fact probably one of my proudest moments. Standing on stage with the guy who wrote ‘Smoke on the Water’ is a pretty special experience. Also playing with Don, He’s so full of energy. He gives every performance 120%! - which also means I have to give it my all, if I don’t he’ll notice!

I’ve been recording my solo album which is now finished and due for release late 2019 through Ear Music/Edel Records. I’m also working on 4 releases on the run up to that, which I’ll be recording in Hamburg.

I’m also working with Don on new material. When we write with Don, it’s a really old school way of working. We all get in a room and just go. It’s quite intense as you have to think on the spot. But it’s a really fun way of working. Don will take that away and come up with the arrangements. After that, we’ll go in and record!

Sounding big

When I’m recording at home, I have a Pro Tools rig and use UA gear. I’m a real gear geek when it comes to guitar pedals and amps. So I’ll run the front end stuff, like drives, distortions in to the amp, then generally I’ll add in the fx and modulation stuff in the box afterwards. If I need to do a session really quickly, I’ll use the Kemper! I do prefer to spend more time mic’ing cabs up and getting a great sound that way though.

For vocals I tend to always reach for the Spirit, straight in to the Apollo and I can always get a great sound without having to play around. I heard about Aston from Don Airey. He was telling me how great the mics were and that I should try some out. I then found out my good friend, Gareth Dunlop was using some too, so I borrowed a Spirit from him and it really suited my voice. It just sounded big! I’ve tried so many mics, and when I plugged this one in I was just like wow, this thing is incredible. It’s very rare that happens for me with a microphone. I instantly fell in love with it.

For live, my gear changes all the time, I tend to use PRS amps and Victory amps and I’m constantly playing around with different pedals. I go out with Don on tour in March – Which I’m planning on taking the Spirit out with me on guitar amps.


Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?

A. I would probably love to be a joiner or something. I’m always fixing stuff around the house. I finished building a wall the other day. My brother in law built my studio though. I’m not that good yet!

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?

A. I don’t like to have gear sitting around that’s not being used all of the time so I tend to get rid of a lot If I’m not using it. So it would be a single mic that I could use for absolutely everything!

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?


Enjoyable, Musical Recording Experience
(Musicial because, when I’m using it, I get something back from it. Like an instrument!)

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?

A. Toto – I’ll be over you. It’s just so simple but you can just feel the emotion.
The guitar solo, it’s only like 3 notes or something but it’s just WOW.


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