In The Head Of The Artists Volume 14 - Gary Salmon / Test The Waters - Martin McCann

This episode of In the Head of the Artists is with Gary salmon of Test the Waters!

Nhc's resident guitar geek Martin McCann gets the lowdown on his set up and finds out what he has been using both in the studio and live recently.  

WARNING - this article may be steeped in guitar geekiness, proceed with caution!

Gary has been active in the Scottish music scene for a while now, with an 8year run in Solution and 5 years with the mighty Beltur. He also turns his hand to producing videos as well - including Beltur’s ’up until now’ documentary .

Gas - tell us a bit about role in the band and how you came to be part of it. Also can you give us a glimpse of your musical journey so far.

I currently play lead guitar for TESTtheWATERS, which came about after I departed from Beltur in late 2015.  I was doing session work in late 2016 - then jamming with the singer from my 1st band Solution.  I've known Paul for over 2 decades so it felt great to create together again. In fact it was sounding so good we brought in J.T (former Beltur Drummer) & TESTtheWATERS was born.

I got into music pretty early on about 10 or 11 years old. I remember getting the AC DC album ‘who made who’ and I was hooked.  Really started getting into rock bands and I became a big fan of Gun, Nirvana, Pearl jam but also love Neil Young.  He has had a huge influence on me as a guitar player as well as my idol Richie Sambora.


I remember really starting to play seriously in my early teens and was in a band by the time I was 15 or so. I joined Solution in the 90s - we were all school friends and just wanted to play music together. We recorded 2 studio albums with producer Stuart McLeod called Distorted Truth & Progress Regress and this was basically my apprenticeship in music. Playing with bands like Shed Seven & Glasvegas doing TV and radio it's a great learning experience.

After solution split I was helping out different bands and I got a call from Joe (Beltur front man) and asked if I wanted to come into the studio for a jam. That jam became Beltur and it lasted 5 years.  We did some great festival's in that time, playing some legendary venues like The Cavern Club so that was something I could tick of the bucket list lol. We signed to a London label in 2013 to record our E.P Here's To the Days and going down there to record was pretty cool. After that we recorded some great song's like Breathe & Sober.  I also had an idea to do a documentary and I ended up producing it. This was titled  Beltur -Up Until Now but i wasn't completely thrilled with the finished product. It's always a learning curve.

Probably my favourite release so far was our last single from TESTtheWATERS - ‘Manchildren’.  Working with Chris Marshall (Gerry Cinnemon & Baby Strange producer) was amazing. He's one of the best in the business if you ask me and getting the award winning horror director on board Andy Stewart for the video was awesome.  It sounds and looks great and is one of my proudest achievements.

Tools of the trade - tell us about your favourite guitars, and the one you go to first. What do you like about it above all others. And any close seconds, don't spare the details. And I'm sure there were some that got away, is there any you regret losing for whatever reason?

My go to guitar will always be my 68 reissue Stratocaster. There's never a warmer sounding guitar for me personally. I also love jaguars and played them for over a decade. I always go back to the Stratocaster - though I use humbuckers in it (a j.b junior on the bridge and a 69). I love the fat strat sound.

These go to 11 - what's your choice for amplification and given the chance what would be your ideal rig for live shows or playing at home. Do you need a specific type (heads or combos) or can you make anything work for you? What's your thoughts on the latest amp modeling options - do you think it will retire the old classics?

Amps - I've always adored the fender twin. It was my go to for years - you can never really beat the old valve sound. I love mesa boogie as well - I really liked using them but that often though .

Effects and pedals - the fairy dust sprinkled on the top of most good guitar sounds. What are your current little boxes of tricks?? Is there any effects that have survived on your board over the years? Do you struggle to keep guitar clear in the mix both live and in the studio?

When In the studio I used a lot of love tone pedals early on in recordings.  For my live set up I usually use a boss ds2 turbo distortion, a dd5 digital delay and always a nice chorus pedal. And most certainly a classic cry Baby wah wah - the one pedal I couldn't live without.  All guitar players should use it at least once if they haven't before. I'm a big fan of the ebow for more ballads it's a cool gadget to experiment with.

And finally, which guitarist has caught your ear recently. What inspires you to keep playing and who was your first guitar hero?

At the moment I think the best band out there is Baby Strange. Johnny is a great player and a dear friend - their new extended play e.p is off the chart, just incredible. Guns new record favourite pleasures is one of there best and those guys are in there Twilight years and still rocking. Gerry Cinnemons album is awesome - some really great music been coming out of our city this year.

My inspiration to keep going is my 2 girls Neve & Layla. They are 7 & 5 and are always singing and dancing. Music is a very big thing in our home I think I'll always be doing music somewhere through out my life.

My 1st guitar hero was Richie Sambora who made me pic up that axe all those years ago and the great thing is - you never stop learning !!

Thanks to Gaz for for being a part of the series.

If you want to be featured drop us a line or come see us in the Nhc music shop in the hidden lane.