Interview with Josef Echter of Draff Krimmy & Apokrypha
Bands: Draff Krimmy, Apokrypha
Websites: www.apokrypha.de, www.myspace.com/apokrypha, www.draffkrimmy.wordpress.com, www.flutteryrecords.com, www.draffkrimmy.bandcamp.com, www.myspace.com/draffkrimmy
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Josef – My first guitar was a Peavey “Falcon Series” Stratocaster. I still have it, but it’s broken.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Josef – Mostly I play a very spartan set-up, just a guitar & an amplifier. That’s it.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Josef – I think you can recognize a guitar player no matter what stuff he’s using. The guitar work comes from the heart & soul & flows from your fingers to your fretboard, which is a kind of connection between you & the audience, so I would say the guitar is the most important part.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Josef – Marshall - it’s loud & reliable.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Josef – My main guitar is an ESP Horizon. It has got a neck through which makes it quite comfortable to play especially when you go up the scales. The Floyd Rose never goes out of tune, so it’s a guitar just for playing & not tuning.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Josef – It would have the classical Stratocaster shape, a Floyd Rose, & humbucker pickups; so it would just look like the main guitar I play.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Josef – I don’t need any pedals, but if
there’s someone who wants to built one for me:
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Josef – Including the broken one I’ve got five guitars.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Josef – My main guitar is hanging on the wall, so that I can pick it up whenever I want to. The others are stored in cases.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Josef – The part the neck lies on should be a little more padded. One of my guitars got some annoying scratches because the wood showed through the padding.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Josef – I’m very open-minded concerning that, a guitar should lie comfortably in your hands. But mostly I end up with a kind of Stratocaster guitar.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Josef – Nothing - anyone want to offer me an endorsement deal?
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Josef – I really like Seymour Duncan pickups, which are installed in my ESP. I upgraded my Fender with some Hotrods, put some jumbo frets on the fretboard & changed the tremolo system.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Josef – Usually I go straight to the store & test the guitars, amplifiers, or whatever by myself.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Josef – Back in time I changed my rig nearly every month. Now I ended up with just a guitar & a Marshall.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Josef – I’m after the tone the song demands & I feel comfortable with. So I don’t change that often.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Josef – Oh, there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to check out. Maybe Schecter guitars or Mesa Boogie Amps or ...
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first guitar that aren’t always there?
Josef – A really qualified sales clerk. They are so rare. What a shame...
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Josef – Dr. Duck’s Axwax is amazing. You can use it for the whole guitar & maybe even drink it. Disappointing are the Elixir Nano Web strings. They say, they last a long life, but what about the great tone they speak of?
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Josef – I don’t like Ibanez guitars. The quality seems to change from guitar to guitar. They once built really reliable axes, but those times are over. My favourite amps are built by Marshall. They always sound like Marshall. Nothing more, nothing less. What you see is what you get.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Josef – Mostly some arpeggios or scales up & down. Nothing special, technical stuff.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Josef – I was eleven years old & started right with an electric guitar.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Josef – Maybe at seventeen? I don’t remember.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Josef – Because a guitar looks pretty cool.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Josef – People should choose an instrument that fits them & not choose the guitar because their neighbour got one.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Josef – The guitar is my way to express myself, so it’s definitely my ally.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Josef – Oh, there are a lot: the guys of Skid Row are great, Slash. But also friends or bandmates inspire me, just like Tristan Visser of Metalforce or Joe Stump.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming their guitar)?
Josef – I heard of guys doing that & it sounds pretty funny. Why don’t they try to get a girlfriend?
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Josef – There’s a scratch on the headstock of my ESP. It got there when I took the guitar out of the case. Very annoying.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Josef – I practice a lot, just like arpeggios, sweeping, alternate picking stuff, tapping, eight finger tapping, ... & all combinations of it.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Josef – I wish I could play guitar all day, but there’s still a job to do; so it’s sometimes just a few minutes a day & another day two or three hours.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Josef – Dunlop Jazz III. They give you the best control over the strings & are not too big.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Josef – I use 10-46 strings. My guitar is tuned down to D, but with the stronger strings they don’t hang loose.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Josef – Right before every gig or studio session. You should always give your best, that means also delivering the best sound.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Josef – Never, even though I hit the strings pretty hard. This can be traced back to the fact I use Graphit All Guitar Lube. It’s amazing.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Josef – Can you focus on just one hand? Your style should only be effected by yourself & not be limited by your hands.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Josef – Once I had the chance to be Annihilator’s guitar tech; so learned a lot about guitars, how they work & how they are set up. But somehow I missed the chance. Bummer! But now I can do all (concerning guitars) on my own.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Josef – I don’t use any special tuning. My guitars are tuned down a whole step so they sound (hopefully) mightier.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Josef – Even though I studied musical theory I guess it’s pretty hard to write down what you feel. If there’s an idea to keep, I record it immediately.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Josef – My first hero was Slash, so my guitar was hanging in the early times very low. After that I appreciated Paul Gilbert very much. But doing all that arpeggio stuff forced me to shorten the strap a little bit & I still stick to it now.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Josef – Breaking my guitar amps. Don’t know how it comes to this. Just kidding! I’m quite satisfied with my playing.
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Josef – Definitely drums.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Josef – Flamenco. Those guys are amazing.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Josef – Getting an endorsement deal.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Josef – It’s something Joe Stump showed me. He taught me how to make use of economy picking while playing scales. Pretty simple, but very effective.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Josef – Stringwinder. It makes changing strings way more easy!
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Josef – As I’ve written before the flamenco guitar style is very impressive.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Josef – I had guitar lessons for six years. When I think back, I just wanted to learn how to play songs by Metallica.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Josef – Having fun while playing guitar. Some guys are too serious.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Josef – Others shall judge that.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Josef – I love it! Can you call a guitar without a Floyd Rose a guitar? Joking aside, tremolo systems are a great invention.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Josef – Just to turn my guitar on or off to avoid noise.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Josef – No, I don’t think so. Music is complete artwork, so everyone in the band should give their best.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Josef – I don’t like used guitars. They become battered by me.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Josef – I think he has been mentioned a lot, but I guess I agree with many others by saying Steve Vai. He has an incredible technique & always tries to break frontiers. The same applies for Buckethead with the difference that he may be crazy. But amazing!
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Josef – Come to the shows, buy the CDs. I need the cash! For the people who are as poor as I am: check out the MySpace pages.
QRD – Anything else?
Josef – Thanks for reading & don’t
take yourself too seriously.