60 SECO NDS with…
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. Before he jumped into his limo for the airport we grabbed a quick chat with Lance Lopez of Supersonic Blues Machine
GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live without?
LL: I have used Dunlop .73 MM Tortex picks, the yellow ones, since 1988 when I was just starting to play guitar. I have tried a lot of different ones but I always came back to the yellow Tortex picks. I love the way they feel and I love the tone, and it takes me a while to wear them down
GT: If you had to give up all but three pedals, what would they be?
LL: I would have to have my Big Joe Stomp Box Co. Johnny Winter Texas Screamer, Big Joe B-304 Analog delay and a Korg Pitchblack Tuner.
GT: Do you play another instrument well enough to be in a band, and have you ever done it?
LL: Other than guitar I play bass, drums and keyboards. I have played both drums and bass on different gigs and actually played all the instruments on my 2007 album Higher Ground.
GT: If a music chart were put in front of you, could you read it?
LL: I do really good with chord charts, but notes take me a minute.
GT: Do guitar cables really make a difference? What make are yours?
LL: Absolutely! I work with a company in Austin, Texas called Sabre Cable and they usually use Mogami cable and Neutrik connectors made in Germany. I also use Mogami Gold cables as well as Monster Cables. They all sound different, and I always try to use a very heavy gauge wire for my speaker cables.
GT: Is there anyone’s playing (past or present) that you’re jealous of?
LL: All of the upside-down left-handed players like Eric Gales, Doyle Bramhall II and Albert King because they can do bends that right-handed players can’t do by pulling the strings down.
GT: Your house or studio is burning down: which guitar do you salvage, and why?
LL: That would maybe have to be ‘Big Red, my heritage cherry Gibson Explorer 120 with Burstbucker Pro pickups in it and ‘Sugar’, my classic white Gibson Flying V that my guitar tech in Dallas, Spencer Deaton, hand wound a custom set of PAFs for. I would have to grab them both!
GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?
LL: That would be my Bogner Helios 100, or my Mojave Ampworks Scorpion and about five different Marshalls. Everything I play is based on the old Holy Grail, Jim Marshall design, which is kind of strange, because most other Texas Blues guys are all into Blackface or Tweed Fender amps. I have always used Marshall amps or amps based on Marshalls.
GT: What kind of action do you have on your guitars?
LL: Medium to low. I don’t like to fight with the guitars. Back when I was younger and played mostly Strats, I would set the action to fight it. But Billy Gibbons played my Strat years ago and said: “Man, you are working way too hard!”
GT: What strings do you use?
LL: Ernie Ball Cobalt Slinkys or Regular Slinkys 10-46. I love them and always have. Slinkys are the best strings in the world. Iconic guitarist for decades have built empires with Ernie Ball strings on their guitars. I love the Cobalt Slinkys because of how responsive and powerful they sound.
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
LL: Jimi Hendrix
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
LL: Jimmy Page’s #1 1959 Les Paul. When I was young boy, I would watch the movie The Song Remains The Same all the time and would dream of playing Jimmy Page’s Les Paul.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
LL: Using my emotions, good or bad, and putting them into my playing, making it really authentic. Therefore, if it’s old blues or not, you will feel the blues in the music.
GT: Present company excepted, who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
LL: Past, Jimi Hendrix. Present, Eric Gales.
GT: Is there a solo you really wish you had played?
LL: Machine Gun from the Band Of Gypsy’s album or Albert King’s Angel Of Mercy.
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
LL: That every night when I went out to perform I put everything I had into the performance and inspired other young guitarists to carry on what I was doing.
GT: What are you up to?
LL: Supersonic Blues machine have just released our debut album, West Of Flushing South Of Frisco on Provogue and I am very proud of it. I am in a band with the greatest drummer in the world (Kenny Aronoff) and the best bass player I know (Fabrizio Grossi), and then all of my favourite guitarists and close friends – Billy Gibbons, Eric Gales, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes and Robben Ford – were involved, so I am pretty happy with that! (laughs).
When I was young I would dream of playing Jimmy Page’s Les Paul
Lance Lopez: rare Texan bluesman who plays Gibson and Marshall