Polyphia’s Tim Henson Speaks Up on What Guitar Really Is for Him: ’A Means to an End’

In a new video published by Ernie Ball, Polyphia guitarist Tim Henson discussed various instrument-related topics. Among other things, Tim reflected on how guitar to him is just “a means to an end” — more of a vessel for artistic expression rather than a goal in itself. He explained (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“Guitar playing, to me, is more of a means to an end; the end being the creation of music. The guitar is a tool to execute my ideas and bring them to life.

“If I was good at any other instrument, I’d be playing that instrument, but I’m only good at guitar [laughs], so that’s the one I use. It’s more of a vehicle than anything for just the expression.”

He also added:

“And I don’t really care about progressing the instrument or pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. That’s more of a byproduct that happens from me just wanting to make stuff and trying to figure out how it’s going to work.”

Another thing that Tim reflected on is how he enjoys working with guest musicians outside of Polyphia. The band’s latest record “Remember That You Will Die” features Steve Vai, Deftones singer Chino Moreno, and even hip-hop artists like $not and Lil West. Discussing this aspect of Polyphia’s work, Tim said:

“When it comes to collaborating with people outside of the band, I have so many ideas that I want to do, so many things I want to make. And it’s just nice to be able to get in a room with someone you’ve never even met before.”

“Making music is such an intimate thing. And you really have to be somewhat vulnerable. To open up, to let it come out, with someone you just met. And sometimes the vibe is really sick, and sometimes it’s not…”

“But sometimes, you get really cool stuff out of it and end up making a bunch of dope shit. My favorite thing is leaving the studio and just [be] like, ‘Damn, I made some dope shit today. That’s my favorite feeling in the world.”

Polyphia - Playing God (Official Music Video)

Looking back at the “means to an end” part about the guitars, it’s interesting to note that Tim Henson is not the only modern guitar player with this stance. In a last year’s interview with Ultimate Guitar, Devin Townsend discussed his new album “Lightwork,” explaining answering a question about how the guitar wasn’t the central point of the album, but rather just one of the elements. He explained:

“Well, I never think that the guitar is anything other than a means to an end. When I was a kid, I very much did. I was obsessed with guitar like I’m sure you were and everybody else. That’s all I did.

“And I was good, and I think I still am good. I learned enough, and I gained enough proficiency at the instrument that I got to the point where I could do whatever I wanted to do.

"Call Of The Void" - Official Promo Video

“I could play whatever ideas that I had. And, honestly, the ideas that I have just don’t include a lot of the technique that I learned.

“So, although I still practice, and I still do solos and everything, when I write, I never really think, ‘Oh, this doesn’t have enough guitar’ or ‘This is too much guitar.’ It’s just ‘Does it need guitar there or not?’ If so, I’ve got the capacity to do whatever is asked.

“If you look at a record like ‘Lightwork,’ there’s pretty subtle guitar on this album. But then, if you go back to an album like ‘Deconstruction,’ it’s just constant guitar.

“And I would say that the only criteria that I use for each composition is ‘What does it need?’ And sometimes, it doesn’t need any guitar. And sometimes it needs nothing but. There’s no real formula there.”

Photo: Delusion23 (Polyphia – Manchester, UK – 6 February 2019)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.