with Jasper Stadhouders
Name: Jasper Stadhouders
Bands: Cactus Truck, Spinifex, Stadhouders/Govaert/De Joode, Field/Stadhouders
Websites: jasperstadhouders.com, cactustruck.com, spinifexmusic.nl, cactustruck.bandcamp.com,
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Jasper – My first guitar was a child’s size acoustic nylon guitar which I got when I was 6. Actually I have no idea what happened to it.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Jasper – My main guitar is a Fender Telecaster (American Deluxe series). I always plug directly into the amp. No effect pedals.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Jasper – My guitar.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Jasper – I have two main amplifiers. Very often I’m the only amplified instrumentalist in the groups I play in, so I’m often struggling with either being too loud or too soft. But I found a 1994 Fender Pro Junior a few years ago & that’s the perfect amp for acoustic situations. When I do play in louder bands I use my ENGL Thunder 50 Reverb. It works very well, cuts through, is loud, & has a nice crunch to it.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Jasper – Fender American Deluxe Telecaster. I had the pickups, electronic scheme, & bridge changed to the old school 50s Telecaster style.
QRD – If you had a signature guitar, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Jasper – Probably would look like a Telecaster. Maybe I’d add a whammy bar or Bigsby bar to it. & perhaps I’d have the pickups go straight to the outputs without pot meters in between.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Jasper – 5 guitars. 1 bass guitar. 1 cuatro.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Jasper – Usually in my bedroom. Or in the closet.
QRD – What do you wish guitar cases had that they usually don’t?
Jasper – I almost always use gig bags. Zippers should definitely be improved...
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Jasper – It has to sound good! & it has to be strong, because I like to play really really hard on it. It also has to have a big dynamic range.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Jasper – I paid around €1200 for my Telecaster if I remember correctly. But probably you can get a good guitar for €500-€800.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Jasper – I occasionally have adjustments made.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Jasper – Not really. I pretty much know & feel instantly if a piece of equipment suits my needs.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Jasper – No.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Jasper – I know how I want to sound. Don’t change it around.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Jasper – I like Telecasters. I love playing acoustic guitar. I play a Taylor. A decent one, nothing special though. Would love to get an old Gibson or Epiphone semi-acoustic guitar. & a resonator. & a banjo. Wouldn’t mind getting a Fender Precision Bass. Although I’m quite satisfied with my Rickenbacker bass. I like Fender Deluxe Reverb amps. Ampegs too. Bassmans too.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Jasper – In soundchecks playing on an amp which isn’t mine, I usually play very loud right away to see how I can get the crunch out of the amp. I want the sound to be clean when I attack the strings quietly, but I want it to have a bit of distortion when I attack the strings hard.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Jasper – 6.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Jasper – Probably right before I die I’ll level up to my best playing.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Jasper – Just because I’ve played guitar for as long as I can remember.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Jasper – Depends on the period. I have had periods where I hated guitar & I hated the fact that I was a guitarist. But I’ve found a way to have the instrument be my ally & I fucking love the guitar actually. But that stuff goes up & down.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Jasper – Hmmm. I actually don’t listen so much to guitarists. When I tried to find the guitar sound that I have now, I basically tried to sound like Albert Ayler. Guitarists that did help me find my sound are Jimi Hendrix (no doubt still my favourite guitarist ever), Terrie Ex & Andy Moor (from The Ex, one of the greatest bands ever), Arto Lindsay (especially early DNA stuff), Zoot Horn Rollo, Derek Bailey, Tetuzi Akiyama, Sonny Sharrock, Bill Frisell. Probably I could add more names, but I’ll stop here.
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing guitars is natural or silly (e.g. naming guitars)?
Jasper – Pretty silly. But whatever, let people call their guitars however they want to.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Jasper – Phew. I’ve been beating the shit out of my Telecaster for years now. Lots of metal objects in between the strings. Lead pipes. The frets are really really damaged, but somehow I can still play on them. The body lost a lot of the paint job, because I beat it often with metal sticks. I try to use the entire instrument when I play. Not just the strings.
A few months ago I was playing a gig in Brussels & I used an old second hand Hofner electric guitar which has a whammy bar. I was pulling on it so hard that at one point all 6 strings broke & the bridge fell on the ground... It sounded real nice actually! & luckily the other guitarist in the band lended me his second guitar, on which I broke three strings. So 9 strings in one gig. Probably my record ha-ha.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Jasper – It’s been way too long since I’ve really practiced...
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like to?
Jasper – I don’t play too much at home. I just play when I play gigs & when I have rehearsals. Luckily I’m playing gigs all the time so I feel like my playing is always developing. I would like to have a space though where I can practice & rehearse at whatever volume whenever I want to. But it’s very hard to find a place like that in Amsterdam unfortunately...
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Jasper – I stopped using picks a long time ago. I always use a coin now, usually a quarter US dollar.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Jasper – PL018, PL020, PL024, NW044, NW052, NW064. I use such heavy strings to get the most sound out of the guitar I possibly can. I really try to approach it as an acoustic instrument. All the dynamics I do physically.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Jasper – Only when they break.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Jasper – Very often.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Jasper – They go hand in hand.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Jasper – I set it up myself. I like having a really high action so the strings can vibrate as much as possible.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Jasper – I tune my Telecaster a whole step down (D G C F A D) & sometimes I do a drop C. With such heavy gauge & action the tension on the strings was simply to high for standard tuning. On my other guitars I use standard tuning.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Jasper – Sheet music. I always write by hand.
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Jasper – The guitar hangs a little above my waist.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Jasper – It’s pretty hard to avoid certain motoric movements & gestures...
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s guitar playing?
Jasper – Basically any other instrument is good to play. Just to get a feel for what it’s like to bow a note on the violin, blow a note on the trumpet or clarinet, hit a cymbal or a drum, touch a key. It helps a lot in understanding music & the problems other instrumentalists run in to.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Jasper – I wish I took classical guitar more seriously when I was younger & at conservatory.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Jasper – Make it sound like a saxophone.
QRD – What’s the last guitar trick you learned?
Jasper – I recently broke my left wrist, but I didn’t want to give up playing. So I ended up playing gigs for 1 month with my right arm. Was doing a lot more prepared guitar. I picked up a bunch of stones from the city beach in Nice, France. & scraping them along the strings, they start singing really high complex overtones. I was very surprised! I also used a mic or cymbal stand as a slide. Works pretty well, it looks a little awkward though, having to hold it steady between my legs. Also used my feet on the guitar, works well with muting & scraping the strings along the pickups.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (Ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Jasper – I use the slide a lot. & those stones. & a lead pipe. & a handmade bow by Japanese/American percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani.
QRD – What’s a guitar technique you’d like to master, but haven’t?
Jasper – Classical fingerpicking.
QRD – Did you ever take guitar lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Jasper – My dad’s profession is guitar teacher. He was my teacher from age 6 to 15. At 15 I went to conservatory in Amsterdam while still in high school in Tilburg, my hometown. Then moved to Amsterdam at 17 & did a 4 year jazz guitar bachelor education. I had my last guitar lesson at age 21. I learned a whole lot! Overall I’ve been very lucky with the guitar teachers I’ve had & I owe my dad eternal debt for what he taught me.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a guitar lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a guitar teacher?
Jasper – Encourage improvisation. It’s the easiest, quickest, & most direct way to find out how you want the guitar to sound.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Jasper – Play really hard I guess...?
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo/vibrato systems?
Jasper – Ah, when I play on an amp which has a system like that, I might use it every now & then. I like seeing the amp as an instrument on it’s own.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Jasper – I always have both potmeters completely open. I’m thinking about having the pickups soldered straight to the output, I’ve heard from friends that the signal will be stronger then.
QRD – What do you see as the difference between lead guitar & rhythm guitar players?
Jasper – In my music, there is no difference. In improvised music, all players & instruments are equal.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Jasper – Sure.
QRD – What famous musician’s guitar would you like to own & why?
Jasper – Would be nice to own Jimi Hendrix’s Strat.
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Jasper – Phew that’s a really hard one... I really love what Nick Millevoi (from Philadelphia) is doing. Ken Aldcroft (from Toronto) is also fantastic I think.
QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?
Jasper – At concerts. I play very physical & most of the sounds you hear you can “see” as well.
QRD – Anything else?
Jasper – No. Thanks!