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QRD #68 - Guitarist Interviews XI
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Guitarist Interviews:
Chris Ruffolo
Greg Kozlowski
James Youngjohns
Chandra Shukla
Raine Liimakka
Shane de Leon
Aaron Snow
Lauri Hyvärinen
Rainstick Cowbell
Jasper Stadhouders
Marcus Skinner
David Dobbs
Bonnie Mercer
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Guitarist Interview with Lauri Hyvärinen
April 2014
Lauri Hyvärinen

Name: Lauri Hyvärinen
Bands: Horst Quartet, XXXXXX, Belorukov/Hyvärinen, Rutto & Koivusalo, Verisuoniongelmia
Websites: laurihyvarinen.com,
soundcloud.com/laurihyvarinen, soundcloud.com/belorukov-hyvarinen, soundcloud.com/xxxxxxband

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

Lauri – It is a Yamaha classical guitar. My father bought it for me when I was 11. I still have it & play it from time to time.

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

Lauri – Gibson SG Special into whatever amp there is. Sometimes no pedals, sometimes a volume pedal, Sparkle Drive, Rat, & octave fuzz. Assorted crap: knitting needles, pieces of string, handheld fans, ebow, magnets, chopsticks, etc.

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

Lauri – Guitar.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Lauri – Depends on the gig. If I bring my own amp then it’s either a Music Man 65 watt for loud ones or a ZT Lunchbox or Marshall 1 watt for quiet or small rooms. Music Man sounds beautiful clean & it’s loud. Other two are easy to carry & sound decent.

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

Lauri – Gibson SG Special. It’s light, withstanding, & trusty. We’ve been through a lot.

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

Lauri – A mega loud acoustic guitar.

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

Lauri – It would be as small as possible & have many different kinds of distortion/overdrive/fuzz options & maybe a ring modulator.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Lauri – Six.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Lauri – In cases or gig bags at home or rehearsal place.

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

Lauri – Combined comfortability of gig bags & protection of hardcases.

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

Lauri – Neck & playability are most important, then tone.

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

Lauri – 500-1000 euros. That’s what they usually cost.

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

Lauri – I choose not to customize, there are too many options.

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

Lauri – Quite thoroughly, but sometimes it still doesn’t add up.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Lauri – Lately, I’ve been trying to get rid of most of my equipment.

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

Lauri – I used to change it all the time, but not anymore.

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

Lauri – I’ve been wanting a Gibson ES-330 for some time now. Also a good acoustic guitar would be nice.

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

Lauri – Good tuners & intonation.

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

Lauri – Best must’ve been the Music Man amp. I have had so many bad purchases (& sales), I can’t even count them.

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

Lauri – No specific ones, I just like the ones that work accordingly & are durable.

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

Lauri – “Reflections” by Thelonius Monk.

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

Lauri – I guess I was 9. I played on my father’s guitar. I couldn’t hold down the strings on that guitar.

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

Lauri – I was quite good when I was about 22. Now I’m much worse.

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

Lauri – It’s just something I’ve grown up with.

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

Lauri – It can be, there are so many ways of playing a guitar. I guess it depends on what you want to do.

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

Lauri – Ally.

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

Lauri – Derek Bailey, Marc Ribot, Nick Drake, Joey Santiago, Sonny Sharrock, James Blood Ulmer, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Greg Ginn, Jimi Hendrix, Otomo Yoshihide, Kazuo Imai, Topias Tiheäsalo,

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

Lauri – It’s stupid.

QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?

Lauri – During a show in 2007, I threw a guitar into a wall because the signal was cutting out. The guitar split in two.

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

Lauri – Mostly I just play. Sometimes I learn jazz standards or classical pieces. I might play simple technique exercises or work on new ones.

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

Lauri – I play about 2 hours a day, so that would be 14 hours a week. Maybe I should play less.

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

Lauri – Those little Dunlop jazz ones. My picking technique requires only a very tiny amount of plectrum.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Lauri – 12s or 13s. I like heavy strings. They feel sturdy & solid as a mountain.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Lauri – When I break them.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Lauri – Rarely.

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

Lauri – My strumming hand. I have to augment my fretting hand with different things...

QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?

Lauri – I do it myself. Just to save time & money.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Lauri – Standard, I like to have some limits.

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

Lauri – Tablature with sometimes rhythm symbols added.

QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?

Lauri – Very high.

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

Lauri – Long story.…

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

Lauri – Drums are the foundation of music.

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

Lauri – I really don’t know. I only want to play like only I can.

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

Lauri – Wish I could improvise exactly what I’m thinking.

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

Lauri – I was teaching pinch harmonics to my guitar student the other day. Didn’t know I could do them...

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

Lauri – Handheld fans. Don’t know if they qualify as guitar gadgets...

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

Lauri – Sweep arpeggios or something.

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

Lauri – I took lessons when I was 11-14 years old. I learned some Ritchie Blackmore & Iron Maiden riffs. There was also a strong emphasis on alternate picking & playing legato. I don’t know why.

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

Lauri – To improvise freely.

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

Lauri – Forget everything they know.

QRD – What’s your take on tremolo/vibrato systems?

Lauri – They’re nice, but I haven’t used one in over ten years.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Lauri – When a different color is required.

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

Lauri – Rhythm guitarists are usually better players.

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

Lauri – It can’t be good like that. Bad guitar work in a bad band is good & good guitar work in a bad band is bad. But bad guitar work in a good band might be interesting.

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

Lauri – I don’t want their sweat & filth.

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

Lauri – There are so many! For example Kazuo Imai, Katsuyoshi Kou, Jasper Stadhouders, Topias Tiheäsalo, & Niko Karlsson. They are taking the guitar & music back to their primordial origins, but at the same time their playing is perplexing & cerebral.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Lauri – Live.

QRD – Anything else?

Lauri – “Do it ourselves.” - Jack Wright