Posted by: worshipguitarguy | October 3, 2006

An Interview with David May

longing.jpgA few weeks ago, I had the chance to interview David May, a prominent session guitarist in Nashville who has played on albums for ZoeGirl, The Katinas, Stacie Orrico, and the David Crowder Band.  However, Dave’s always had a passion for worship in the local church, and he’s now joined singer Jason Ingram, drummer Matt King, and bassist Jono Brymer to form the worship band The Longing.  Together, they’ve kept a busy schedule this spring, releasing their first album, (a self titled project) and opening for Watermark on their final tour.

In the past few weeks, Dave’s been immersed in sessions for Matt Redman’s upcoming release.  However, he did have a few minutes to sit down and answer a couple questions for Worship Guitar Guy.


WGG: Give us a little background on you. and the Longing. How did you get into playing guitar? How did you get into studio work in Nashville, and touring?

D May: I started playing guitar at the age of nine. I have been playing in Church all of my life. I grew up in Lake Jackson, Tx. We are just a little south from Houston. I grew up with an awareness of music from an early age. I listened to alot of the Christian music that was coming out during the late 80’s and 90’s. I look back on that time as a training ground for what I am currently doing as a session player and a member or the Longing.

People always ask how to get started in music. Everyone has their own path.  Mine started when I met Matt Kearney at a bible study about five years ago. From there I was introduced to some different producers and I started doing sessions. It was through those relationships that I met the Katinas. I spent three years touring around the country and the world with those guys. Now I am a member of a new worship band called the Longing along with working as a session player in town.

WGG: What equipment do you play with? Guitars, Amps, Pedalboard?

D May: My equipment. I currently use a Vox AC-30 Custom Classic with Blue Alnico Speakers and an Orange AD-30 Single Channel Head with an Orange 2X12 Cabinet with (Vintage 30) Celestion Speakers. I use the Vox for the more chimey pretty stuff and the Orange for the more rock stuff. I also have a Fender VibroLux and a little Fender Pro Jr. 

My Guitars include a 59 reissue Les Paul, a reissue 72 Mexican Telecaster that I love with a single coil and a Humbucker in the neck position. I also have a Gretsch Tenessee Rose guitar with a bigsby tremolo bar, and an 85 Tobacco Burst Strat. I don’t use it to much on sessions but I will pull it out for the occasional R&B gig.

My main Acoustic guitar is a James Olson Guitar.

My pedalboard consists of a Ernie Ball volume pedal, a Zvex Fuzz Factory, a Boss Super Overdrive, an Electro Harmonix Memory Man delay, a Line 6 DL-4 Delay and an MM-4 Modulation pedal, a Visual Sound Jekyl and Hyde pedal, and a MXR Phase 90. I also own a(n) (Ibanez) Tube Screamer, a (Voodoo Labs) Sparkle Drive and a Vox Wah Wah. Like most guitarists I have a ton of pedals that are broken or I just don’t use anymore.

WGG: What are your thoughts on modeling technology? Both amp modeling and effect modeling? What are it’s strengths and weaknesses?

D May: I like the Line 6 Stomp boxes but as far as amp modeling goes I think that aspiring guitarists should save their money and buy a Fender Pro Jr. and a few cool pedals instead of wasting their money on an amp that claims to do everything.  I think that Line 6 does a good job on the effects end of things though.

WGG: How do you approach playing worship guitar? What are important principles you believe worship guitarists should remember when playing in a church setting?

D May: For me, worship guitar is something that I am very passionate about. I think the biggest thing about playing in any context is knowing your role in the band. The guitar’s role is to provide the icing on the cake created by the keyboard pad, bass and drums. I always try to think about every note in context with what everyone else is doing. This goes for volume as well. I try to match my volume with the drummer. The reason is because the drummer can’t really turn down. If I am in a situation when I’m playing with a electric drum kit, I will try to see if I can put my amp in another room or something so that I can crank it up a little bit. Tube guitar amplifiers always sound better loud in my opinion.

WGG: Textural/Ambient guitar is a big part of worship music today. How do you approach playing this way, both in tones and technique?

D May: First off, I love that style of playing. I try to take a less is more approach because of the delayed out notes. Honestly, the best way to learn how to play textural/ambient guitar is to listen to the greats. I would recommend any Peter Gabriel, Sigur Ros, Daniel Lanois, U2, and Coldplay albums as a great place to learn. That is the place that I started from.  From there it is all about just turning knobs on your pedals and experimenting with what sounds cool to your ears in the context of listening to the masters.

WGG: What are important things for worship guitarists to remember about gear setup and playing in a small to medium sized church setting?

D May: I think the biggest key to gear setup is also less is more. When I play at Church, I usually bring a small Pedal Train pedal board with a Boss DD-5 Delay, Sparkle drive, Wah Wah and a Boss stomp tuner (TU-2). I also bring my Fender Pro Jr. It is amazing how much the sound guy will like you if you show up with a little amp. It is also a subconsious thing. If they see you showing up with a 50-watt Marshall stack, then they will assume that you are going to blow the Church down with volume. I would recommend a Fender Pro Jr. to anyone. It was my main amp throughout the Katina touring years. We mainly played Church Services and it was easy to get on and off the stage. The last thing I would say is that as Worship guitarists, we are called to a life of service. We are giving of our time and talents to serve the Body of Christ. I think that if we keep that at the forefront everything else will fall into place.


longing_the.gifFor more info on the Longing, look at their website, and their myspace site.  Also, they’ll be on the road this fall playing dates in Brentwood, TN and San Francisco, CA, so if your in those areas, check them out! 



  1. Wow… how on earth did you meet that DMay guy? And can you get me his autograph? 😉

  2. very informative n’ encouraging for worship guitarists…nice!keep goin

  3. Hi,
    I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog 🙂
    Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day 🙂

  4. Come on guys lets be realistic most modelling amps come with in 98% of the tube tone, and with the processing power these things have these days would not be surprised if they are actually better than these so acclaimed 1950 tube fan boy circuits. what has made guitar succesful is it ability to advance with technology. lets face it tube fan boys have pretty retarded guitar amp evolution and have made companies like MArshall, dr z, to name a few very very rich, these companies love it when you market their nonsense, after all they make even more money. cause plainly i don’t understand how someone can swear by a 50 year old amp or reissue, with the shear amount of processing power availabe in computer chips and advanced alogrithms at our disposal. haha its like saying a valve based computer is better than one with a silicon processor, common arguement in the early days of CPU development.

    • Hey nyasha,

      haha… cool statement. I really shows, that you have understood nothing… And that you have probably never worked seriously in the music business as a musician… Man, start comparing in a recording context – and use your ears… btw nice theory about the wealth of Marshall… yes, Line 6 is probably a poor company (LOL)… dream on, dreamer and please don’t continue listening to marketing professionals instead of listening to real amps…

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