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  • LJ DeWitt

The Torch: Series 2 - Issue #5

The Torch is a monthly tech series aimed to please the fascination of amateurs and experts alike. A super duo, a supergroup, and a one soul show! This week, we’re taking a break from metal in favor of some light pop and hard rock flavors, brought to you by the strings of Plastic Rhino, World Gone Cold, and VATTICA.

D&D: How old were you when you got your first guitar? What was your first guitar?

Jack Glazer: It would have been around the time I was entering high school, so about 14 or 15 years old is when I first picked up guitar. My first one ever was an $80 acoustic off of eBay. Neither my parents or myself knew what to look for in one, but we figured at the time it was something to get started on. The string action was so high on that thing, I developed finger strength pretty quick haha.

Alexander Millar: I was about 12 or 13 when I “found” an old acoustic guitar in my parents’ garage and started teaching myself how to play. Once I had proven I really wanted to learn, they bought me the guitar I wanted, which was an electric Fender Strat, the same blue color that Billie Joe Armstrong had.

Mark Anthony: I was 8 or 9 years old when I got my first guitar. My first guitar was a Series 10 and it looked like a really really cheap version of EVH’s Frankenstein.

D&D: For anyone wanting to learn, what would you suggest as a starter guitar?

Jack: After I quickly learned that the guitar was something I wanted to seriously pursue, my next investment was a Yamaha Pacifica. I was always into hard rock/metal, but was still learning material from other genres as well. That particular Yamaha guitar isn’t expensive, has a humbucker for the bridge and two single-coil pickups for the middle and neck positions. The perfect setup for someone that’s learning and still figuring out what sound they’re going for.

Alexander: There’s two ways to go, in my opinion. If you start with an acoustic, you’ll have the benefit of strong fingers later on, but a harder time getting a sound out of it at first. If you start with an electric, you’ll have an easier time getting a sound out of it at first, but you’ll have to work to build up finger strength later. As far as which guitar to use, my answer is whatever one you have access to, whatever you can find or get. There’s no one right answer, just get started!

Mark: This is hard because there is really no wrong answer. If you are a young kid, 12 and younger, I would say to get a smaller scaled guitar. If you’re an adult or teenager, I would get whatever guitar feels good in your hands. It doesn’t matter how much it costs. It matters how it feels in your hands, do you connect with it?

D&D: Through trial and error in your career, what was the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Jack: Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be aware of what people “promise” you. Lookout for your own best interest while not being selfish… I hope that made sense ;-)

Alexander: I’d say to try not to compare your playing ability to others. Yes, of course, we all start out by saying “I want to play as good as X guitar player”, which is a fine goal in the beginning, but what you’re really in search of are your own strengths, your own style. Not everyone can be the best at everything, so finding out where your specialty is in terms of what kind of a player you are is vital.

Mark: One thing I learned is to never take anything for granted or to think “I deserve this.” Soak up every high and low because we don’t know how long our careers will last. The one thing I tell all young artists or guitarists—Do this because you love it. You don’t play music to become a millionaire. I want to feel your passion. Show me and make me a believer.

D&D: What’s the biggest stage nightmare you’ve ever had?

Jack: I think every guitar player has actually experienced this nightmare at least once in their lifetime… Gear decides not to work in the middle of a set. Just as the Bear Grylls meme states: Improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Alexander: For me it’s just simple equipment malfunction, by which I mean something essential to the live show. I can adlib around it but inside I’m always stressing when something like that happens.

Mark: I don’t really have any but if I did, it would be me falling on stage. Which I have done in the past way too many times.

D&D: Current equipment setup for playing live?

Jack: I’ve been sticking with my Blackstar combo amp along with a Line6 Pod-Go for just a few added effects such as delays or pitch shifting. Been thinking about something a wee-bit smaller for the amp, just to make things easier for the venues with lots of stairs.

Alexander: Right now, I’m running my Fender Strat and/or Epiphone through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier head and a Marshall 4x12 cab. Sometimes I’ve also got an assortment of pedals, but that depends on the set/song.

Mark: I’m a big fan of the EVH III guitar heads. That’s my main amp in the studio and live, until I purchased a Fractal Axe FX3. It’s insane how it sounds and the ease of being able to just plug and play makes it really easy for me, especially on fly dates.

D&D: Does your setup differ in the studio? If so, how?

Jack: In studio, I’ve mainly stuck with plugins for guitar. Just make things a lot easier when editing/mixing. Plus it’s just less gear I have to deal with. I use a preamp and fuzz pedals when recording bass directly, however.

Alexander: Not really, although I tweak the tone for a studio environment as opposed to a live one. I also do a combination of real world guitar recording and DI, so I can use various amp/head VSTs.

Mark: It does. My studio setup is an EVH 5150III 50W on the red channel and an EVH 5150III 50W on the blue channel with a mod.

D&D: Best guitar you’ve ever owned?

Jack: I’m loving the heck outta my latest addition to the family. A Tokai Love Rock Les Paul. Made in Japan and plays like a dream. Some argue that it plays just as good as, if not better than, a Gibson. My buddy, Greg Coatez, lended a hand in finding it. Thanks, bud!

Alexander: Each guitar is a tool for a specific sound and purpose. I don’t think of any of them as “best”, just which one is the tool for the job at hand. It’s like trying to compare screwdrivers to hammers. They both have their uses, you know?

Mark: I still own it. It’s my Gibson Les Paul Standard. I put Zakk Wylde EMG 81/85 pickups in it with an Evertune bridge. I will never own a guitar without the Evertune bridge on it. It’s a game changer.

D&D: Worst guitar you’ve ever owned?

Jack: Probably that first acoustic off of eBay that I ever played. I can’t hate on it too much because it was my gateway into the world of guitar, but boy was it rough to play.

Alexander: Any guitar that won’t stay in tune, no matter how much you mess with it. It drives me nuts when something isn’t in tune.

Mark: My first guitar. Series 10.

D&D: Okay, some guitarists act like I’m nuts for asking this one, & others think it’s a totally normal question… Do you name any of your guitars? If so, what’re their names?

Jack: I’ve never really been one to name guitars. I will say that I do have a knack for picking colors that aren’t seen too often. My basses are fire-mist gold and aquamarine green. My Les Pauls are odd shades of yellow/brown, and I have a dark blue one my Uncle Scott built that has chrome parts and is shaped like the grim reaper’s scythe!

Alexander: It’s not nuts at all! Most musicians I know name their instruments. I have a blue Fender Strat modded w/ Seymour Duncan pickups and covered in stickers named Baby, a black Epiphone Les Paul Special II modded w/ Seymour Duncan pickups and a midi-touchpad named Beauty, a black Gretsch Electromatic Jet FT named Sweetheart, and a black Epiphone Acoustic-Electric named Noir.

Mark: Not yet. I keep thinking about it, but I just haven’t pulled the trigger on any names I like.

D&D: Dream guitar to own someday?

Jack: I would love to have either an exact replica of Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat and/or James Hetfield’s black Explorer, just so I can pretend to be them.

Alexander: I’d love to have a Les Paul Special electric and a Martin acoustic.

Mark: I would love to own a 1969 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty.

D&D: What’s the most extreme way a guitar of yours has met their fate?

Jack: Once, when I was demoing ideas in the home studio, my office chair slipped when I was reaching for the acoustic guitar on its stand. It toppled over and the headstock snapped right off. Luckily it was a semi-clean break and I was able to salvage it. My dad was able to reset it.

Alexander: Thankfully, I’ve been able to rescue my guitars so far. Although, one time a studio I was rehearsing at started burning down while me and my band were practicing inside it! Luckily we were located right near the front entrance so we just started throwing all our stuff outside and saved most of it. Very lucky.

Mark: It was during a music video shoot and the other guitarists in my band, The Letter Black, asked if he could use my black PRS Custom 22 10 top for the music video. I said “Sure. I don’t care”. My famous last words. During the shoot there is a part of the song where he spins it behind his back. Well, this time he did it the straps locks came flying off and my beautiful PRS came plummeting to its death as it hit the headstock head-on, shattering it to its demise. If you watch the music video “Hanging On By A Thread”, you’ll see the part in there where he spins it. They cut out the scene where it gets demolished but that’s the cost to rock ‘n’ roll.

D&D: What guitarist(s) had the biggest impact on you?

Jack: Eddie Van Halen has always been my #1. He was the perfect example of tasteful shredding. His melodies and techniques were so unique. There are guitarists out there that “shred” like crazy, but playing a million notes per second isn’t anything you can vibe to. Eddie was one of a kind. RIP.

Alexander: Billie Joe Armstrong, because he seemed like a level I could achieve at the time. He makes playing big chunky chords just as exciting as any solo I’ve ever heard. B.B. King, because he can do with 3 notes what other guitarists need 30 to accomplish. Jimmy Nolen, because he’s able to take what might seem like simple parts at face value, and turn them into incredibly catchy motifs while still being part of a unified rhythm section.

Mark: This is really hard to answer since so many different guitarists and styles have shaped and molded me to where I am today; Zakk Wylde, James Heitfield, Dave Mustang, Kirk Hammett, Marty Friedman, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Head & Munky, Wes Borland, Tom Morello, Slash, Dave Grohl, & Jerry Cantrell, just to name a few.

D&D: Finally, what’s your favorite part of being a guitarist?

Jack: It is so wild that you are able to bash on a set of strings wound tightly against a slab of wood, have that sound amplified and everyone in the vicinity is connected by that sound and the emotion that comes with it. It’s the closest thing to a religious experience I will ever have.

Alexander: I think it’s the fact that you can learn a handful of shapes and instantly know tons of songs because you know their chord progressions. The guitar is an instrument that makes whatever style of music you want to learn accessible really quickly. As a songwriter that is very important to me, because when you’re blessed with inspiration you always wanna try to capture it as quickly as possible, with as little set-up as possible. As long as you can get past the very first month where your fingers hurt, that is!

Mark: There’s something special when you just sit down and create something you’ve never heard before. Either some insane sound or some new riff you know will melt someone’s face off. I personally love playing since my goal is to always make the speakers sound like they are ready to explode.

Promo time:

In Jack’s words: “[Plastic Rhino] put a lot of hard work into recording our most recent album TERMINUS and we couldn’t be more proud of it. Shoutout to Tom Chandler and Ron Geffen for being real-life wizards, minus the pointy hats, to Dave Vandiggity for smacking the drums on the record, and of course my lovely and uber-talented wife Atara for being my spinning top in this Inception world

Love you all ”

VATTICA new single out 02.24.23

World Gone Cold’s debut single drops FRIDAY! (Feb 3) & catch their debut performance at Throwdown At The Campground Fest March 18th

Follow Jack Glazer | Plastic Rhino

Follow Alexander Millar | VATTICA

Follow Mark Anthony | World Gone Cold


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