In The Style of Robert Fripp

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

Welcome to the mother ship. We speak today of one of the main culprits of a very serious crime: the crime of having "forced" the ordinary guitarist to transport kilos and kilos of equipment to their concerts. If last week we talked about Muddy Waters and his ‘primitive stage style’ - using just a cable to plug his guitar into his amplifier - we find ourselves now before the ‘antagonist’ of Muddy Waters, Robert Fripp, a true extraterrestrial who wanted to take his music to another planet. And he got there by modifying his guitars, adding effects, all kinds of controllers and almost every kind of extra that can be imagined to create a kind of ‘spaceship cabin’ in which we can see him in his concerts and with which he creates the sounds and ambiences that we have heard in the wonderful music he has composed throughout his career.    

While it is true that in the early days of his career back in 1969 with the band that made him who he is, King Crimson, he had to ‘make use of what was’, specifically a couple of Gibson Les Paul Customs, one of 57 and another of 59, which had previously passed through the hands of
Steve Marriot it is also true to say that his "space race" has not stopped for a single minute in almost 50 years of experience. This is what makes it quite difficult to distinguish Fripp himself in his concerts from all the equipment that surrounds him: including Korg MIDI controllers in keyboard form, his computer and Apple Ipad, computer towers in rack format (among which the Eventide H8000 and H3500 stand out) and synthesizers to step on like his Roland GR-1 or the US20 Splitter, his Rocktron MIDI Raider and several Boss expression pedals. In short it could be said that the backliner and coach of Robert Fripp must have had to sweat for a while to earn their salary every day putting together such an arsenal for his concerts.

All that equipment is usually connected to what has been his main guitar for more than 20 years, a Fernandes Gold Top Custom, which the brand built for him in 1995. Like with almost all the guitars he uses he has a humbucker pickup installed in addition to the MIDI pickup with which he filters all his processed sounds.

As you can see we are not dealing with a very classic guy in terms of sound, but it has its logic, because as we anticipated at the beginning this man is completely different to Muddy Waters. Additionally, Fripp has never based his music on blues like most of the protagonists of our section. That makes him a very special guitarist, so special that he has spent five decades with a truly cult band like King Crimson and, between album and album, new groupings and formations of his band, this guitarist has been the source of creation of some of the best works of David Bowie, Brian Eno and Talking Heads among many others. This is what it means to be from another planet or, at least, to be in search of that other planet since 1969... And we, meanwhile, can enjoy that search.

Find you own way to the tone of Robert Fripp