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QRD #55 - Guitarist Interview Series VI
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about this issue
Guitarist Interviews with:
Mason Jones
Chris Wade
Corbie Hill
Davy Curci
Matt Northrup
Xavier Dubois
Tony Sagger
Rich Bennett
Jonas Munk
Matthew Eyles
Francesco “fuzz” Brasini
Shawn Lawson Freeman
Jacques LaMore
Curran Faris
Sean Fewell
Ryan Scally
Shawn Steven
Sophia Johnson
Mick Barr
Joshua Heinrich
Jim Walker
Jacob Peck
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Shawn Steven
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Shawn Steven
Shawn Steven
Shawn Steven
Shawn Steven
Shawn Steven
Guitarist Interview with Shawn Steven
June 2012
Shawn Steven
Name: Shawn Steven
Bands: The Hague
Websites: www.facebook.com/thehague

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

Shawn – It was a short scale nylon guitar my dad bought for me when I was about six years old & neither my dad or I have any idea what happened to it

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

Shawn – I run a custom built Old Town Music telecaster with Loller pick-ups through a Boss tuner, TC Electronic Nova Delay, Electro Harmonix LPB-1 line boost, Holy Grail reverb, Voodoo Labs SparkleDrive, through a 65 Reissue Twin Reverb.

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

Shawn – Everything has its place at the end of the day but I guess the most emotional attached I am to any of my equipment would be my guitar.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Shawn – The ‘65 Reissue Twin Reverb is great for me because it is extremely simple & runs at just enough wattage that I can drive the tubes just slightly enough with my line boost to get kind of warmer overdriven tones, not to mention the Fender spring reverb tank.

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

Shawn – My main guitar is a custom Tele that I bought from a great music shop in Portland by the name of Old Town Music. It has a bird’s eye maple neck, rosewood fretboard, maple body, Lollers version of the high output Fender Texas Specials.

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

Shawn – It would probably be a Fender Toronado shape with two lipstick pick-ups with a humbucker in the bridge position.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Shawn – 3

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Shawn – At home in hardcases.

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

Shawn – An amp inside!

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

Shawn – High quality electronics & good cuts of wood with no name on the headstock.

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

Shawn – If it feels good to play I believe it’s justifiable to pay somewhere between $200 & $2,000.

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

Shawn – I usually switch out wiring, pick-ups, tuning pegs, that sort of thing.

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

Shawn – I’m usually sold on the first five minutes with guitars, I buy guitar pedals with almost no knowledge, & amps take months.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Shawn – Not so much.

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

Shawn – In the studio I like to experiment, but live it’s comforting to have a solid idea of what I’m going to sound like at least most of the time

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

Shawn – Vintage Gibson ES-335 in Walnut.

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

Shawn – I believe it should have an awkward feeling neck & bad action, builds character ya know?

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

Shawn – My Old Town guitar is the nicest thing I’ve ever owned, I should have never bought that Mexi-tele that I had to sell in Denver for gasoline.…

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

Shawn – I like Fender body shapes a lot.  I’ve never owned a Jackson.

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

Shawn – The 2nd change in Bill Evans “Autumn Leaves.”

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

Shawn – 6-7? Didn’t take it seriously until 12-13.

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

Shawn – Still working on that one. Ha-ha.

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

Shawn – It was always around since a lot of my family played music, so I just naturally gravitated towards it.

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

Shawn – Not so much, my vote would be piano or drums.

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

Shawn – Both depending on the night.

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

Shawn – Lindsey Buckingham, pop punk in general, Yes, hardcore music in 2004.

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

Shawn – It occurs naturally for me, but I can never figure out her name.…

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

Shawn – Scales, jazz songs, drunkenly playing southern rock riffs. Ha-ha.

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

Shawn – About 15 hours a week. I wish I could play as much as I work though.

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

Shawn – Jim Dunlop vinyl .86.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Shawn – D’addario 11s.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Shawn – Once a month.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Shawn – Knock on wood, very very rarely.

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

Shawn – My fretting hand because I do a lot of tapping & hammer-ons.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Shawn – I like standard for the challenge, DADGAD for the drone notes, drop D for up-tempo rock songs, Tennessee tuning for studio overdubs.

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

Shawn – Tablature & my un-educated psychobabble my bandmates have to endure during rehearsal/songwriting.

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

Shawn – Having my thumb in front of the fretboard instead of behind.

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

Shawn – Fundamentally I would say piano.

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

Shawn – Melodic Swedish metal style!

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

Shawn – Consistent arpeggio.

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

Shawn – Bending strings & using the volume knob to impersonate a pedal steel.

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

Shawn – I capo a lot to hit different parts of my vocal range.

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

Shawn – THE BLUES.

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

Shawn – Never.

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

Shawn – Learn what you want to learn first, then focus on fundamentals.

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

Shawn – Quick switching between picking & using a pick while tapping.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?

Shawn – If you know how to use them they can be very cool.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Shawn – Every other song a few times.

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

Shawn – A good lead player can keep rhythm on his own & a rhythm player can compensate for the absence of leads.

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

Shawn – No. Guitar is just one piece of the puzzle.

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

Shawn – Elliott Smith’s Telecaster because it possesses secret musical powers.

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

Shawn – The guitarist from Tera Melos. He shreds guitar while tap dancing on 50 pedals & singing.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Shawn – The song we wrote called “Birthday Suite.”

QRD – Anything else?

Shawn – Rock on brah! Thanks for the read.