with Shawn Steven
Name: Shawn Steven
Bands: The Hague
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.