Interview with John Trubee
Name: John Trubee
Bands: Ugly Janitors of America, Zoogz
Rift, Debt of Nature, Lozenge, Nude Women Blistex
Websites: Google my name
QRD – What was your first guitar &
what happened to it?
John – It was a nylon string acoustic
my Mom bought me for $40 from Ferrari’s Music Center in Princeton, NJ in
1970. It was lost or thrown out after my parents divorced & sold
our old family home. I was long gone by then.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar
to effects to amplifier?
John – 2004 Mexican Sunburst Maple Neck
Stratocaster into 2 Dynacomp compressors into “The Weapon” by DigiTech
(used infrequently to add a bottom octave) into a Peavey digital effect
unit for a cathedral reverb, then into a small Ibanez practice amp.
QRD – What’s the most important part of
your rig ‘ guitar, amplifier, or effects?
John – The guitar, of course. Those compressors
boost to sustain the naturally thin, trebly Strat sound which otherwise
decays too quickly for my taste.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier &
John – The Ibanez. I own 2 Ibanez small
amps, a Fender Deluxe Reverb, & a bigger Peavey amp. I will only
use the bigger amps when I play live, which is very rarely.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what
are the features that make it such?
John – The 2004 Mexican Strat. I carried
around a 1972 Strat for years & was glued to it forever, but the newer
Strat has lower action & a better tone & feel, so I use that more
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what
would it look like & what would some of its features be?
John – I dunno. I just like to play what
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what
would it be & what would some of its features be?
John – Would like to get multiple effects
like wah, Leslie effect, & reverb & echo effects.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
John – Four. The two Strats that I mentioned,
a black Telecaster with Maple Fingerboard, & a 12-string acoustic Takamine.
QRD – How & where do you store your
John – Why let the thieves know?
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had
that they usually don’t?
John – Tons of free cash to make my life
QRD – What features do you look for when
buying a guitar?
John – How it feels & sounds to me.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar
John – Supply & demand. Whatever the
market demands & supplies. I cannot impose my infantile wishes upon
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your
guitars or just stick with what you get?
John – I have so little free time to fuss
with things. I am happy to have a few hours on my days off to play guitar.
Forget fussing with & fetishing them!
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or
test a piece of equipment before buying it?
John – I play it & use it. If it meets
my needs, I buy it.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
John – Nope.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar
tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a
John – I lock into one, vary the pick-up
combos & how I pluck the stings to change the timbre.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, &
pedals you particularly lust after?
John – Mesa Boogie Amp. Les Paul guitar,
SG, Rickenbacker electric 12-string.
QRD – What do you think are some important
features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
John – Good action, good strings. When
I bought my first Strat it took a year for a guitar teacher to let me know
I had incredibly thick, dull sounding, flatwound strings on it used more
for jazz guitars. I promptly put some Ernie Ball Super Slinkies on it &
it played much, much better.
QRD – What have been the best & worst
guitar related purchases you’ve made?
John – I bought a Peavey amp I was stuck
with for years as a teenager with no money. It buzzed horribly & had
an electrical short problem with it. Also had a crappy tone.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, &
guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
John – I hated those Kustom Transitor
amps with that damn padding all over them. They sounded like shit. We stuck
with them in a teenage band until we upgraded.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when
you pick up a guitar?
John – Warm-up exercises of my own invention.
QRD – How old were you when you started
John – 13.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled
up to your best guitar playing?
John – I have not yet achieved it, I have
so far to go, & I learn new things every day & am humbled by all
I must yet learn.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you
more so than other instruments?
John – Because I got into rock music in
a big way at 13. Guitar is the main rock instrument. I learned to appreciate
other types over music over the years.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s
first instrument as often as it is?
John – I don’t care either way. People
ought to do what makes them happy. I’m not God.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally
or adversary in making music?
John – Ally!
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most
influenced your playing & sound?
John – Clapton, Hendrix, Zappa. The biggies.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing
their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
John – If BB King wants to name his guitar
Lucille, who am I to tell him he can’t? I can’t anthropomorphize my guitar
because I have a hard enough time even anthropomorphizing people!
QRD – What’s the most physical damage
you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
John – One time (young & stupid) I
ignorantly shaved the frets on my Strat with a metal file to get the action
lower. It screwed up the harmonics, the action, & certain notes wouldn’t
sound or just buzzed. I committed a guitar atrocity! Thankfully I had a
pro fix it.
QRD – What do you do to practice other
than simply playing?
John – I invent songs by trying different
chord patters & melodies against each other. I use the guitar to compose.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play
guitar & how many hours would you like to?
John – Long afternoons on my days off.
Would prefer 24/7. The reality of earning a living gets in the way.
QRD – What type of pick do you use &
John – A small, heavy, teardrop-shaped
Jazz style pick made by Fender. I love the pointy tip - let’s me scrape
& create harmonics & color the tone with a lot of versatility.
I hate & cannot & will not use soft picks.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use &
John – Light to medium light gauge steel
QRD – How often do you change strings?
John – Whenever they need it. If the sound
is dull, I can see the fret grooves in the strings, etc.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
John – Sporadically, mainly the higher
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient,
your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
John – Both do their jobs.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself
or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
John – I am not some rich rock star. I
set up all the stuff myself.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
John – Standard tuning. Time does not
permit me to experiment with esoteric tunings.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music,
or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
John – Prefer sheet music, just read the
notes on the staves plus chord symbols.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar
when playing (strap length)?
John – Medium. I don’t get that slung
low crap. How can they play with any proficiency like that?
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing
you wish you could break?
John – Being more disciplined in learning
actual songs to expand my repertoire. I go off on tangents to develop musical
ideas all the time.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do
you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
John – Electric bass.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you
wish you could do that you can’t?
John – Flamenco & classical.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never
John – Learn to play pedal steel. I have
to buy one first!
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you
John – Well, I call them techniques. Working
on a hand tremelo thing.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget
(ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
John – No gadgets, just my hands on the
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like
to master, but haven’t?
John – Learning more obscure chord forms
that I rarely use.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons
& if so, what did you learn from them?
John – I learned the basics from teachers,
pointers on practicing, making the pieces musical.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a
guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar
John – Dunno.
QRD – What’s something someone would have
to do to emulate your style?
John – Lots of extreme vibratos, hitting
the strings hard with a lot of passion - almost overplaying. All of life’s
frustrations come out on the guitar.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
John – You mean those electronic tremelos
in Fender amps or vibrato arms on guitars? Tremelo on amps has a use; someone
show me a vibrato arm on a guitar that doesn’t screw the string intonation
& I might consider using it!
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone
John – Keep on high treble all the time.
My high frequencies in my ears are gone, sadly.
QRD – What do you see as the difference
between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
John – I play both. One of them gets more
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can
you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
John – Nope.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would
you like to own & why?
John – Brownie - held captive in that glass
case in the museum in Seattle. Because the Layla album blew my mind at
QRD – Who do you think is currently the
most innovative guitar player & why?
John – Steve Vai. I also am amazed by
Pat Metheny’s mechanical orchestra he connected to his guitar.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar
John – I will play live around Santa Rosa
& San Francisco (& other locales if anyone will have me) sometime
before hell freezes over.
QRD – Anything else?
John – If you want my band for live gigs,
dead gigs, & have opportunities & cool stuff I miss by being a
self-willed hermit, here’s my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org