INTERVIEW: Steve Stevens

Photo: Hristo Shindow

Steve Stevens is about to hit Australia for a clinic tour (an earlier scheduled tour was cancelled when Allans Billy Hyde went under – don’t worry, they’ve been bought by new owners now, but that’s another story). Stevens will be showcasing the latest and greatest gear from Roland and BOSS, including the Roland G-5 VG Stratocaster and Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer, as well as offering insights into guitar playing and generally sharing his decades of knowledge and experience. I Heart Guitar caught up with Stevens to talk clinics, gear and his new project with Sebastian Bach.

I Heart Guitar has two tickets to give away in Melbourne and two in Brisbane. Enter by emailing iheartguitarblog AT gmail dot com with STEVENS in the subject line and answer this question: which 80s rocker did Stevens work with in 1993?

Every clinic is different: what can we expect from yours?

Well Roland are bringing me to Australia, and I’ll be demoing the new GR-55 as well as their new G-5  which is made by Fender, and also their Virtual Guitar, the VG Guitar. Regardless of the whole electronics side of it, the guitars themselves are really great. You’re going to get a great Fender Stratocaster, to begin with, and all the other stuff is like an added bonus. I’ve found that touring with it I end up carrying a lot less guitars with me because one guitar can replicate a 12-string, a Dobro and all these other things. So it’s been really handy for me.

g-5-3st_front_gal

That technology has really come of age recently. I remember trying some stuff about 20 years ago that was cool for the time, but you look back on it and it’s like “…Oh.”

Yeah. I was actually the first person to bring the GR-700 into the States. I was in Japan to do press for Rebel Yell and they brought me up to this very secretive room at Roland and they had the GR-700 there. I convinced them to let me bring it with me because we were getting ready to do the Flesh For Fantasy video. That was like the first guitar synthesiser I had from them. Read More …

Steve Stevens Oz Clinic Tour

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Aaah! Great to hear that Steve Stevens has salvaged his cancelled Australian clinic tour (which was mothballed when Allans Billy Hyde went under – don’t worry, they’ve been bought by new owners now, but that’s another story). Stevens will be showcasing the latest and greatest gear from Roland and BOSS, including the Roland G-5 VG Stratocaster and Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer, as well as offering insights into guitar playing and cool-being.

2013 AUSSIE CLINIC & CONVERSATION TOUR 

Presented by Roland in association with Ellaways Music, Better Music, World of Music & Big Music 

Brisbane: Thursday 21 March (Buy)

Canberra: Friday 22 March (Buy)

Melbourne: Saturday 23 March (Buy)

Sydney: Monday 25 March (Buy)

Press Release:

Steve Stevens is one of the most gifted and original guitarists to emerge from the 80s music scene.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Stevens first picked up the guitar at age seven. Immersing himself in the great early 70s Brit guitar heroes like Beck, Page and Clapton, Steve would eventually became an avid prog-rock fan. Post his graduation from the highly prestigious LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, Stevens hooked up with Generation X singer Billy Idol. Idol and Stevens released the smash hit albums Billy Idol, Rebel Yell and Whiplash Smile. Stevens co-wrote the hits ‘Rebel Yell,’ ‘Eyes without a Face’ and ‘Flesh for Fantasy.’  Read More …

Steve Stevens Roland demo webcast

Here’s something cool that is bound to at least partially cheer up some of us Aussies who were bummed out that Steve Stevens’ planned Australian clinic tour was cancelled: he’ll be broadcasting his first hands-on public demo of Roland’s V-Guitar series of products at Guitar Center via GuitarTV. The event takes place at 7pm Pacific time on November 8 – click here to figure out what time that is if you’re in a different time zone.
I’ll be tuning in. Can’t wait to check this out. I messed around with the Roland GR-55 for about half an hour a while ago and utterly fell in love with it.
Here’s the press release.
STEVE STEVENS ROLAND V-GUITAR EXPERIENCE 
Live Broadcast From Guitar Center Hollywood

WHAT: Roland Corporation U.S. and Guitar Center bring guitar legend Steve Stevens to Hollywood for his first hands-on public demonstration of Roland’s innovative V-Guitar series of products. Roland will also be giving away a Powered by Roland G-5 Strat® autographed by Steve Stevens.

WHO: Steve Stevens is perhaps best known for his nearly 30-year association with ‘80s icon Billy Idol and his pyrotechnic playing on Idol tracks such as “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face.” Additionally, Stevens boasts an impressive resumé of achievements as both a solo artist and sideman, working with a diverse range of artists, including such greats as Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Vince Neil and many others. In 1986, his contributions to the Top Gun soundtrack earned Stevens a GRAMMY® Award. Join Roland, Guitar Center and Steve Stevens for an evening of insight, discussion and live performance.

WHEN: THURSDAY, November 8, 2012 – 7:00 P.M.*
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Steve Stevens V-Guitar demonstrations
7:30 – 8:00 p.m. Q&A with Steve Stevens followed by autograph session

*GuitarTV.com will broadcast the event live beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST.

WHERE:
Guitar Center #110
7425 W. Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90046
http://stores.guitarcenter.com/Hollywood

FEATURE: Cool Guitars They Don’t Make Any More, Part 3


Charvel Surfcaster

The Charvel Surfcaster debuted in 1992 and at the time it was a bit of an anachronism. A little too early to cash in on the grunge-inspired attraction to vintage designs, and a little too late for the kind of clean-toned, ‘The Cure’ type tones it excelled at, the Surfcaster’s most notable user was probably Anthrax’s Scott Ian, who used one for the clean tones in the track ‘Black Lodge’ from The Sound Of White Noise and was pictured with one on the cover of a 1993 edition of Guitar World. These semi-hollow, lipstick pickup-toting axes never quite got the respect they deserved, although those who did buy them evidently loved them because it’s quite rare to see them on the used market. When you do find them, expect to pay around USD$1,000. The Surfcaster design lived on until 2005, by which time it had been shifted to sister company Jackson, with production moved from Japan to India. Personally I’d love to see Surfcasters return to regular production under Charvel.

CLICK HERE to see Charvel Surfcaster guitars on eBay.

Yamaha SGV

I love these retro designs. The SGV series was probably a bit to wild for most players, with its slight upside-down melted Rickenbacker bass look and unconventional whammy bridge which worked great when you gave it a little TLC but was maybe a little too high maintenance for some. The SGV-800 (and the more upscale SGV-1200) had a pair of P90-style single coils which were fat and growly. The SGV-700 (and lower-priced little buddy the SGV-300) rocked a smaller single coil and a very unique humbucker. The retro/modern look wasn’t lost on Meegs from Coal Chamber, who used a black custom shop SGV with twin humbuckers, a fixed bridge, drop-tuning lever on the low E string, and number-shaped fretboard position markers, Jason Becker-style. You can find SGVs on eBay and in pawnshops pretty regularly and while they were underappreciated in their day, a little set-up know-how makes them a bargain well worth seeking out today.

CLICK HERE to see Yamaha guitars on eBay.

Washburn Steve Stevens

These models were advertised somewhat heavily in the guitar magazines when Stevens was a member of Motley Crue singer Vince Neil’s solo band circa 1993. I remember seeing the truss rod adjustment at the base of the neck, as well as the 2-humbucker, 1 volume, 1 tone control layout and thinking “Dude’s trying to make a Strat-style guitar out of an Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halen.” Funnily enough, by the time the Vince Neil tour rolled around, Stevens was playing… Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halens. There were three versions of Washburn’s Steve Stevens signature guitar: two Chicago custom shop-built models (the SS80 and SS100) and the Korean-made SS40. The SS100 had a white front with a Frankenstein graphic and black back and sides, while the SS80 was solid black. Pickups were a set of slanted Seymour Duncan JBs, and the body wood was poplar. Check out this old-school Washburn advertisement.

CLICK HERE to see Yamaha SGV guitars on eBay.

Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster

Tommy Emmanuel is well known for his amazing acoustic playing, but those who started following Tommy’s career in recent years might be surprised to know he once had a signature Fender Telecaster. Very similar in design to Fender’s Nashville Telecaster, this Mexico-made axe was made exclusively for the Australian market, and it added a Strat-style middle single coil to the traditional Telecaster layout. It also had a six saddle bridge with old-school saddles (not those big flat ones like you see on Deluxe series Fenders), and a blue finish which recalled, without directly copying, Tommy’s blue Fender Custom Shop Telecaster, which had three black Bartolini single coils and white body binding. Tommy’s main Telecaster squeeze though was a gorgeous 66 Custom, also with Bartolonis. See that one here. (Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster photo from the Fendertalk forums).

CLICK HERE to see Tommy Emmanuel stuff on eBay.

Ibanez Steve Lukather (SL1010SL)

Steve Lukather’s current Ernie Ball Music Man signature is so kickass a guitar that it’s easy to forget that in the early-mid 80s he had a signature Ibanez. Part of the Roadstar II series, Luke’s model featured a carved birdseye maple top on a basswood body, a maple neck with ebony fretboard, two Ibanez humbuckers (a Super 58 in the neck and an SL Special – essentially an overwound Super 58 – in the bridge position), 22 frets, subtle cross inlays, coil splitting performed via the volume and tone pots, and the much-maligned Pro Rock’r bridge, which had a locking nut and fine tuners but wasn’t as stable as Ibanez’s later Edge series models.

CLICK HERE to see Ibanez Steve Lukather guitars on eBay.

Futher reading:

Cool guitars they don’t make any more
Cool guitars they don’t make any more 2
Cool guitars they don’t make any more 4

NAMM 2009: New Godins at NAMM

For quite a while I’ve felt that Godin guitars are one of the best kept secrets in the guitar world. It seems they’ve always been in music stores, but with the exception of John McLaughlin and Steve Stevens, you never really see them in the hands of too many players.

I think that might change in 2009 with the expansion of the company’s Redline range. Previously only available as a fixed bridge model with a single EMG 81 humbucker in the form of the Redline 1, the line will be beefed up with three new models, the Redline 2, 3 and HB.

The Redline 2 features a super fast 24-fret rock maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, silver leaf maple body and 2 active EMG humbuckers (neck: EMG-85 / bridge: EMG-81).

The Redline 3 is also loaded with active EMG humbuckers and is available with a maple or rosewood 22-fret fingerboard and a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge.

The Redline HB fmodel eatures a rock maple neck with 22-fret rosewood fingerboard and Godin design GHN-1 and GHB-1 humbuckers.

All of these models will be available in various colours and flame tops.

Visually, the Redline series kinda reminds me of ESP’s Jon Donais (Shadows Fall) models, and that’s good news for players who like the general vibe of Donais’ ESPs, but don’t want to play a signature guitar, and might want the option of a Floyd Rose.