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QRD #42 - Guitarist Series
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Guitarist Interviews with:
Ashkelon Sain
Zac Keiller
Eric Muhs
Patrick Vega
Russ Stedman
Bret Hart
Rick Ray
John William Gordon
Evan Peta
Evgeny Zheyda
Dave Halverson
Charles Rice Goff III
Calvin Johnson
Kim Chee
John G Sosnowski
Michael Walton
Annelies Monseré
Eric Quach
Robert Poss
Sarah June
Ted Johnson
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Guitarist Interview with Patrick Vega 
July 2010

Name: Patrick Vega
Bands: Patrick Vega
Websites: www.patrickvega.com - YouTube - Facebook - Twitter
Listen to "Bullets"
Listen to "Novocaine"

QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?

Patrick – Falcon Strat copy. Torino red. Sold it to afford my guitar teacher’s guitar. Now wish I’d still have it. For nostalgic reasons.

QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?

Patrick – Ideal situation: Fender Stratocaster, Pedalboard (Boss Tuner, Cry Baby from Hell Wah, YJM 308 Boost, Digitech Whammy 4, CE-2 Chorus, BF-2 Flanger, MXR 90, Danelectro DanEcho) into (splitter) Peavey 5150 (EVH) & Marshall JCM2000 heads 8 & Marshall Silver Jubilee into two 2*12 Marshall 1936 (stereo).
Indie/Real World/Convenience Situation:
Fender Stratocaster into Line6 X3 Live pedalboard into Marshall JCM2000 head into two 2*12 Marshall 1936 cabs.

QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?

Patrick – Fender Stratocaster.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Patrick – Marshall JCM 2000 DSL. Affordable, flexible, easily replaceable & does the job. 

QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?

Patrick – Fender Stratocaster American Standard, Three Tone Sunburst, Maple Neck, Graphite Saddles, DiMarzio & Fender Custom Shop Pickups, bone nut, floating tremolo. Been with me the longest (since ‘96). Sounds great got real life dings & scratches & is still number one in a harem of Strats & Les Pauls.

QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?

Patrick – Fender Stratocaster American Standard, Available colors: Three Tone Sunburst, Torino Red & Black. Maple Neck only, single ply white pick guard, vintage style saddles, graphite saddles, DiMarzio & Fender Custom Shop ‘69 Pickups, bone nut, new American Standard Vintage Style 2 point tremolo, my logo on the neck plate. Available for: Fitted to my tunings & regular tuning. Strap locks installed. 

QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?

Patrick – Wah-Wah Pedal. Manufactured so you don’t have to turn the pedalboard to actually face the audience when playing it a lot. Ferrari accelerator style with my logo on it. Adjustable sweep & a huge on/off LED, noiseless operating (no squeaking), a power supply/cable jack that can’t brake (hate those thin connectors on the side) & a off/on switch that is weapons grade, light material but sturdy.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Patrick – Like 9 & 2 basses, but I really only use 3 Strats, one Les Paul, & a 4 & 5 string bass for recording. 

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Patrick – Public storage, in the studio, in my apartment & in bed.

QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?

Patrick – Gig Bag: Headstock/string protector so it does not mess up the bag. An actually functioning zipper (right!?), thick & protective but light material, a real protective cushion on the bottom (!!), straps that don’t brake or tear or hurt while carrying & are easily adjustable. Some space to put in stuff. Cool looking = Anti back packing/rucksack style.

QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?

Patrick – The Fender Stratocaster - Made in U.S.A logo. Classic 50’s are fine too. 

QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?

Patrick – Depends on what is “good” which is a matter of taste & perception of all kinds of things mainly experience, playing level, & knowledge.

QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?

Patrick – I have to because of my unusual tunings (my low “E” string which is a “C” is a .56 & the rest is a bit odd too), so needs a nut, neck, saddle & tremolo adjustment.  Other than that depending on the guitar I put in Fender Custom Shop Pick ups or a certain kind of DiMarzio’s. Oh & a strap lock strap, so it doesn’t fall while maneuvering!

QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?

Patrick – Big time, IF I get something new. There’s not much out there except classic stuff that I care about really. I’m happy with my Strats, old Marshalls, first run 5150’s & old cabs (mainly because of the fact that stuff manufactured before like ‘98 is just of much higher quality & actually works). Also some vintage pedals if I find a cool one. Line6 makes good stuff too; which I mainly use out of convenience & for budget reasons.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Patrick – No not really. Only if something brakes.

QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?

Patrick – I definitely like to change based on mood when recording. Basically it’s a schizophonic mix between vintage & modern rock/metal tones. Live it’s the Strat/Marshall combo I lock in to.

QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?

Patrick – Fender Stratocasters, old chorus & analog delay & weird pedals, old Marshalls (Plexi, Jubilee), Fender Twin.

QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?

Patrick – A “Patience ON” switch? I don’t know, that really depends on the player. For a serious player... well he/she finds out real quick on his/her own what’s missing or not. 

QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?

Patrick – Best: Fender Strat, vintage amps. Worst: No, I’m happy, I know what I’m doing & back in the day it was all a learning experience & right for the time/moment, so it’s all good.

QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?

Patrick – It is: Fender, Marshall, Gibson, MXR, Vox, Boss. Everything else is there, but the only true originals & essentials are those mentioned.  All a matter of taste & choice of wood, style, look, playability......... I will not say that I dislike something because I pretty much ONLY like the ones I mentioned which is only my personal taste of course. :)  Like how many religions & saviors does one need?!

QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?

Patrick – G, D, & then an Asus2 for some reason to see if it’s in tune (I wouldn’t have known, but a student told me once I allegedly always do that).

QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?

Patrick – 14.  I really wanted to start with 9 but was told by some “experts” that my parents asked that I had to wait until I was a bit older.....

QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?

Patrick – I’m a work on progress. Death won’t stop that either.

QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?

Patrick – Never had an option.  The guitar chose me.  I had no choice & I can’t NOT play.  It’s all I think about.  24/7.  It’s number one, numero uno.  The most important thing in my life.

QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?

Patrick – I have no answer to that. Whatever works & motivates, is fun & is wanted or chosen by the beginner. Others like me have no choice; there is no alternative.

QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?

Patrick – It’s my voice. I speak, sing, scream with my guitar, I write & play guitar instrumental music. This is how I express my deepest emotions, feelings, anger, love... everything. I really would like to BE a guitar.  :)  (Preferably in Jimi Hendrix’s, Jimmy Page’s, or Eddie Van Halen’s hands)

QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?

Patrick – In the beginning: Satriani, Vai, Malmsteen, & Eddie Van Halen. In general: add to that Hendrix, Page, & classic blues players.

QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?

Patrick – Hey that’s cool, I can relate, it’s like a person, it’s alive, so it’s natural people name it. Even people that have 100’s of guitars mainly have ONE favorite. It’s like your one true love.  :)

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?

Patrick – I’ve been pretty good. Never broke one intentionally - only once smashed one on stage & it was a cheap one out of a pawnshop. I would have a hard time doing that to a Strat... I don’t care one bit about dings & scratches though.  :) As long as it does not affect the playability (i.e. on the neck).

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?

Patrick – Constantly challenge myself, invent new exercises & mainly just play & play & play though. Most importantly: Play loud (different animal), while standing, looking cool & be dead on with intonation & technique, feeling & effects & all. That’s the real deal. Preferably on stage.

QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?

Patrick – As much as I can. Thanks to being DIY (Do  It Yourself) & indie & having a day job & bit of a life as much as I possibly can - it varies.
Would like: 24/7 But make no mistake, everyone & everything has to step aside & make place for my guitar & music. Guitar IS number one/top priority.

QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?

Patrick – My signature picks, made by Steve Clayton. Great shape, great material & it’s got my name on it.  :) I sometimes wear it in a Pickbay guitar Pick Pendant too. Check ‘em out: www.pickbay.com

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Patrick – Oh god. Here we go: I use three different tunings okay; I use standard, drop C & my special tuning (mix between Drop C & open g). So I have three different sets of strings where as the last one (which is my favorite one) is made out of three different sets or packs of singles (sometimes they are hard to find). It’s no accident that made up set; it’s research & experimentation. I finally found it & I had to write it down on a piece of paper for a while so I won’t forget.  :)

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Patrick – Every time before I play a show & before I record. Other than that, I clean them well.  :)

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Patrick – Rarely. I’m pretty good & I bend the hell out of ‘em too. I guess graphite saddles DO work huh.  :)

QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?

Patrick – EVERYTHING. I practiced millions & millions of hours. & still do. & will never stop. But the best stuff always comes from your heart & soul. It’s that special way you hit, bend, fret, pick whatever a note or produce a sound. THAT’s the stuff.

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Patrick – I like having a pro do that. I have enough things to worry about as is. I own set-up & repair books & read about it, but it is still a plan to actually do it. Very much like mixing. Hey the day only has so many hours right?  That’s a thing I envy about real famous players: 24 guitar techs & a runner to get food & stuff (all that normal people, everyday, chores, tech, whatever kind of stuff which is all cutting in my making music time!).

QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?

Patrick – A piece of whatever paper & some kind of pen will do it.

QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?

Patrick – So it looks cool, but is still good for playing some technical stuff. 

QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?

Patrick – I wish I had a switch that makes me un-affected by anything out of my control. Negative vibes, negative or no energy, technical issues, health issues (sick on stage...), band screw-ups... I’m getting better at zoning all that out though.  :) Get completely lost in playing.  :)

QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?

Patrick – Another guitar? Ha-ha I have NO idea. No wait... the drums! Oh yeah, the drums, it’s all rhythm baby. True story too.

QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?

Patrick – For some life is a game for me it’s a war. I’m constantly chasing & improving but am pretty happy at the same time. BUT not satisfied. I’m restless.

QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?

Patrick – The guitar has unlimited goals.  That’s the beauty of it. & that YOU & the people that will read this when it’s published - know my name PRIOR to reading this. There is still time though.  :)

QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?

Patrick – What’s a guitar trick? Shooting an RPG off of it?

QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?

Patrick – Don’t need a gadget when I got a guitar. If I don’t have a guitar, it definitely would be the picture of a guitar. 

QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?

Patrick – Perfect intonation (bendings) in ANY situation. Especially when you have no monitors & play by sight.

QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?

Patrick – A whole lot of ‘em & in different & not so obvious ways too. Answering that question would take a few pages though. 

QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?

Patrick – How to understand stuff, not memorize it. Especially the guitar neck.

QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?

Patrick – Be me. & there only is one me. Unless I’ve been cloned. Then that person would know what to do.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Patrick – I am anti fixed bridge. I need my tremolo floating. Not bog on locking systems either (I tried). It’s what Leo Fender invented with his boys back then. That’s why they didn’t really change it in like 60+ years.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Patrick – Frequently. Especially while jamming. Roll off the highs off the bridge pickup & also adjust middle & neck pickups. You need a functioning guitar for that with non-sterile knobs & pots though (i.e. Fender, Gibson).  :)

QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?

Patrick – Attitude? Ego? Personality? Gets in the way of their drinking arm?  :) I don’t know!

QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?

Patrick – Tough ‘cause if the singer is annoying then you know... everything stands & falls with the singer.  But in some cases, yes. With instrumental stuff, yeah, probably.

QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?

Patrick – Ohhhhhhhhh a Hendrix Strat, an old Van Halen guitar & an old Jimmy Page guitar. Those guitars got some magic on it believe me this.

QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?

Patrick – OK here it comes: ME. ‘Cause it’s instrumental music like it has not been done before. Check it out & you will have to agree. It’s “Where The Guitars Are The Vocals” or “Guitar Instrumental Music Without Giving You Seizures.”  & I put the IN in innovative, too.  :) That’s right, there, I said it. Now check out www.patrickvega.com  :)

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Patrick – On my albums “Freefall Faith Firestorm” (2007, FFF Music) & “8 Bullets” (2009, FFF Music). I am about to finish up a new EP by the way. Shooting for a summer 2010 release! Stay tuned www.patrickvega.com <shameless self promotion>

QRD – Anything else?

Patrick – Check me out, give me & my music a chance &: Support the art you like. Means: Do NOT download it ILLEGALLY. May it be music, photos, articles, software, books. Support the art you like! Without it, this world would be pretty bland.