I started when I was 11 years old so I’ve been playing the guitar around 23 years in total.
What was your first session gig and how did you land it?
My first ‘Pop’ session for an artist who had been in the top 10 was with Lucie Silvas and it
was an acoustic performance on a Dutch TV show. The session came about by doing a lot
of gigs with unsigned artists around London, which led on to me playing guitar for Lucie’s
sister Mia. Lucie was stuck for a guitarist for these particular TV shows and had seen me
perform with her sister a few times, so asked if I would be interested in playing for her.
Can you describe what a typical working week involves for you?
Each week is always so different for me and thats one of the things I enjoy about this line
of work. A typical week will usually involve, some lessons via Skype or I’m head of guitar
at a University in South Wales, I also would be doing some sort of recording, at a studio or
from home via my Online session service, and normally a few gigs which could be
anything from West End theatre, a pop gig or a wedding with my function band.
Is the majority of your work live sessions or studio and do you prefer one over the other?
Over the last year I’ve been playing guitar for Jessie J and it has been pretty much full time
touring. I would say the majority of the work I do is live sessions at the moment. I like both,
for different reasons. Pop work is great, as I get to see the world and play music in front of
thousands of people. I enjoy studio sessions/online recording because I’ll get to be
creative, come up with parts, experiment with sounds etc Plus its a great sense of
achievement listening back to recordings you’ve played on.
How important is sight reading in session playing?
If you want to do TV sessions, theatre work and film sessions then reading is essential!
For studio sessions this varies but normally will require a mix of reading and ear. For pop
sessions you don’t have to read music however it has come in handy for me on a few
occasions. I would always recommend everyone learn to read music if you want a
sustainable career in the music business.
How long do you usually have to prepare for a gig?
This all depends on what gig it’s for but I always try to be over prepared for everything I do.
When I started Jessie J, I had the music two weeks in advance but had to go straight in on
a gig with no rehearsal. For this, I listened to the set everywhere I could, in the car, around
the house etc and spent as much time playing through as I could. I also needed to spend a
few days programming all the sounds to match what the previous guitarist had done.
What does your practice routine consist of?
Unfortunately I don’t get time to practice as much these days as I used to when I was
younger but I always work on my technique, to ensure that I’m not getting messy. I also
play over backing tracks of different styles from Rock to Jazz to Country to make sure I
remain musical rounded. I always do a bit of reading to keep on top of it if the gigs I’m
doing at the time don’t involve any reading. As I spend a lot of time traveling I always make
sure I’m listening to music, different styles, as this can sometimes be as important as
Has there been a favourite moment in your career so far?
I’ve been really lucky to have some really memorable moments in my career so far, but I
couldn’t pick one. Here’s a few: Glastonbury Pyramid stage with Tinie Tempah, NYE ball
drop Times Square with Jessie J, O2 arena with Tinie Tempah, anytime I come home and
play in the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff is always special to me as I grew up watching
Can you tell me about your live setup, which guitars/amps/pedals do you use the most?
This is different depending on what I’m doing. For Jessie J, I use a Deluxe Strat fitted with
Bare Knuckle pickups and a Les Paul plus 2 acoustics. For amps, I use the Kemper
Profiler with a Voodoo Lab ground control pro.
For other gigs, I’ll use Fender or Mesa Boogie amps, usually with a Strat or a Tele. Then I
have a medium sized board with a gigrig G2, Strymon Timeline and Mobius, plus a few
different drive pedals(normally a TS808 and OCD), a compressor(Ego by wampler),
wah(cry baby) and a tuner. I will always find out what is neeeded for each session and
bring the appropriate equipment,
Who are your biggest musical influences?
There are so many, I started out with Jimi Hendrix as my Dad would always play his
records around the house. Musical influences are mainly guitarists (see question below).In
my first few years of guitar I loved classic rock bands and blues and moved more into
heavier stuff such as Dream Theatre and Extreme as I got into my late teens. I discovered
Jazz in college, George Benson and Wes Montgomery, which has helped my playing
loads. These days, I really like a wide variety of stuff!
Which guitarists have influenced your playing?
Again, loads of different people for different styles. Hendrix, Clapton, Paul Gilbert, Nuno
Bettencourt, John Petrucci, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Brad Paisley, Robben
Ford, BB King, Greg Howe to name a few...Theres a long list! lol!
Have you any advice for guitarists wanting to start session work?
Learn how to read
Start gigging all styles of music
Turn up on time
Bring the correct gear
Don’t be a dick!
Have you got any news about upcoming projects, song releases or tours you'd like to share?
I’m currently working on an album which is a slow process due to work commitments. I am
also putting together lesson packages soon to be available through my website
www.ryanhaberfield.com and through instagram www.instagram.com/ryanguitarhabs
If anyone is interested in Skype lessons or online recording get in touch!
Thanks to Ryan for taking the time to do this interview, please comment and share below.
Links for Ryan Haberfield