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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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Shane de Leon
Guitarist Interview with Shane de Leon
May 2014
Shane de Leon
Name: Shane de Leon
Bands: Miss Massive Snowflake
Websites: missmassivesnowflake.com, northpolerecords.com

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

Shane – My first guitar was a nylon string acoustic that I bought at Trade Up Music in Portland & still play. My first electric was an Ibanez Artcore hollow body that I still use everyday.

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

Shane – Ibanez Artcore to Boss tuner to Rat pedal to POG to Boss digital delay to volume pedal to Peavey Classic 50.

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

Shane – I guess my guitar, but I don’t fetishize any of it. The song is most important for me & I can play it on anything.

QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?

Shane – Peavey Classic 50. It is the only one I ever had. Got a good deal on it.

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

Shane – Ibanez Artcore hollow body. It’s my first & only electric guitar. I like hollow bodies for feedback purposes & cause I am a giant & they are big.

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

Shane – Wider neck, hollow body, strong enough to get bent & beaten without going out of tune.

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

Shane – Don’t know.

QRD – How many guitars do you own?

Shane – 1 acoustic nylon string & 1 electric.

QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?

Shane – Wherever I am. Been touring a lot, so in the case in the van.

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

Shane – More place for cables.

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

Shane – I put better tuners on it. I am rough on my guitar so I doubt I’ll ever get anything to nice.

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

Shane – I asked Sam Humans at Trade Up Music in Portland which guitar was the best one for my budget. $150 for my acoustic & $400 for my electric. He picked them both out for me.

QRD – Do you change your rig around often?

Shane – Nope.

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

Shane – I just rock with what I got.

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

Shane – A loop pedal & a fuzz currently.

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

Shane – I love both my guitars.

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

Shane – E chord or A barre chord

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

Shane – 35.

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

Shane – Not yet.

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

Shane – You can be wasted & still play music. I played trumpet for a long time & you kinda always gotta be on your game & ready.  I can lay on my back & have a great time with guitar.

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

Shane – I think that people should learn to listen to what the other people they are playing with are doing first, regardless of instrument.

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

Shane – Ally.

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

Shane – Not sure.  I love Marc Ribot, Jimi Hendrix, & Johnny Cash; but really I am just a songwriter who uses a guitar to express my ideas.

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

Shane – I don’t really name anything.

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

Shane – Broke some volume/tone knobs & put scratches in my guitar by rubbing it on my amp making feedback.

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

Shane – I just play songs & fool around.

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

Shane – I play at least an hour & up to 3.  I’d like to play at least 3 a day.

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

Shane – I don’t use a pick because I always lost them.

QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?

Shane – 11.  It was recommended to me when I started & I never changed.

QRD – How often do you change strings?

Shane – Not enough.  When they break.  Twice a year.

QRD – How often do you break strings?

Shane – Every 20 shows or so.

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

Shane – I am still getting my style down.  I don’t think either are there yet.

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

Shane – I take it in after every tour to Fretworks in Portland.  I beat the shit out of it & I just feel guilty for it.  Kinda like a day spa for my guitar & I figure they will tell me if it is past the point of no return & time for a new Artcore.  Hasn’t happened yet.

QRD – What tunings do you use & why?

Shane – Regular.  Still have plenty of songs to write with it.

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

Shane – Recording.

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

Shane – Middle of my torso.

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

Shane – I wish I used my pinky more.

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

Shane – Flamenco.

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

Shane – Reading music quickly.

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

Shane – Shredding scales.

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

Shane – No.

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

Shane – Feedback.

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

Shane – Be a songwriter first & just make the sounds behind it to fit the song.

QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?

Shane – They are on 10 all the time

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

Shane – I take it as a whole.  I like good songs no matter what the style or ability.

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

Shane – Rainstick Cowbell.  He just is a crazy motherfucker doing weird ass shit.  Bill Horist has always been an inspiration.

QRD – Where can people hear your best guitar work?

Shane – On my new album called So Sweet out on North Pole Records.

QRD – Anything else?

Shane – I love playing guitar, but still consider myself mainly a songwriter who uses the guitar to convey my ideas.  I know lots of chords & just kinda hack away until they fit into a song.  I abstain from most gear talk because I don’t know much about it.  I think most people just need to have a vision & not try to cop someone else’s shit or force themselves into genres.  Be creative & express what you personally have.

Other QRD interviews with Shane:
Label owner interview with Shane de Leon of Northpole Records (November 2010)

Father's Day Interview with Shane Sauers of Miss Massive Snowflake (May 2007)
Rollerball interview (July 2004)