A minute’s all it takes to see what makes a great guitarist tick. Be­fore he jumped into his limo for the air­port we grabbed a quick chat with that mighty south­ern blues-rock mae­stro,

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Lance Lopez.

South­ern blues-rock mas­ter, Lance Lopez an­swers our gritty Q&A in some style.

GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live with­out?

LL: I love Jim Dun­lop Tor­tex picks. The .73mm yel­low ones. I’ve used them since 1989. When I was a kid I used Fen­der picks when I first be­gan play­ing gui­tar, but couldn’t make them last very long. I met Frank Han­non and Tommy Skeoch from the band Tesla af­ter a con­cert they played in Shreve­port when they were at the height of their ca­reer in the late 80s, and they each gave me a hand­ful of gui­tar picks, which were Tor­tex picks. I’ve used them since. I’ve tried other picks over the years but al­ways went back to the Tor­tex.

GT: If you had to give up all your ped­als but three, what would they be? (And why)

LL: Does a tuner count? Man, I have so many groovy over­drive ped­als so that’s a tough one. I love my old-school Mojo Hand FX Rook Over­drive, Ver­tex Boost and Bogner La Grange; they all have a bit of dif­fer­ent drive which is very cool.

GT: Do you play any other in­stru­ment well enough to do so in a band?

LL: Other than gui­tar I have been play­ing bass a lot lately around Texas & Louisiana with a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent bands. I play bass with a group of kids I am men­tor­ing called Sal­va­tion From Sun­down and I also play bass with my long­time side­kick in Texas, Wes Jeans in his trio. Play­ing bass in the Wes Jeans Trio is very cool be­cause I pro­duced his al­bums and wrote a lot of the ma­te­rial which means I also wrote the bass lines. It’s a very heavy blues-rock power trio so I get to re­ally get into the whole Jack Bruce, Felix Pap­palardi, Tim Bogert, John Paul Jones style of bass play­ing. I usu­ally play a Thun­der­bird Bass which I love be­cause I play Fire­birds. Its a heavy, gnarly sound. My good friend Jor­gen Carls­son (Gov’t Mule bassist) al­ways gives me some great bass tips, so I al­ways kinda fol­lows Jor­gen’s lead.

GT: If a mu­sic chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

LL: I am not a sight reader. It takes me a while to go through and get the piece. I al­ways ad­mire guys that can just sight read and play with feel. Steve Lukather and I have talked about this a lot and I feel like it’s some­thing I could def­i­nitely im­prove on.

GT: Do gui­tar ca­bles re­ally make a dif­fer­ence? What make are yours?

LL: Ab­so­lutely! I am us­ing the Wire­world Ca­bles de­signed by David Salz. They are fan­tas­tic! I am cur­rently us­ing the Wire­world Mi­cro-Eclipse ca­bles. They have Ohno Con­tin­u­ous cast cop­per con­duc­tors with sil­ver plug con­tacts and Com­posilex 2 in­su­la­tion. The most unique thing about these Wire­woca­bles is their DNA Helix con­duc­tor ge­om­e­try which uses the Elec­tro­mag­netic field to push the sig­nal... it’s truly in­cred­i­ble. I’ve never heard any­thing like it.

GT: Is there any­one’s play­ing (past or present) that you’re slightly jeal­ous of?

LL: I ab­so­lutely love David Gris­som down in Austin. I have al­ways wanted to play like David. He has the right amount of ev­ery­thing... rock, blues, coun­try, Amer­i­cana... he never plays too much, never plays too lit­tle and his tone is beyond be­lief. I’ve never re­ally been jeal­ous, more like in awe.

GT: Your stu­dio is burn­ing down: which gui­tar do you sal­vage?

LL: That would be my True His­toric R9 Les Paul the ‘Bar­ton Creek Burst’. Shortly af­ter I went down to Austin and got it from Gib­son, I texted a pic­ture of it to Billy Gib­bons and he replied back, “Don’t let that one get too far out of your sight”! When the Rev­erend speaks you lis­ten (laughs) so I keep it close by at all times.

GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?

LL: I love the Bogner He­lios 100. Its plat­form is based on a 1968 Su­per Lead 100. But it has many of the dif­fer­ent mods that Rein­hold Bogner did for Ed­die Van Halen, Jerry Cantrell, and other great guitarist who love the clas­sic Plexi tone. What I love so much about it is there is a switch on the back to go from JTM-45 to SLP 100. I can use it in a small or a gi­ant hall. Smaller rooms I use a 2x12 cab­i­net loaded with a Vin­tage 30 and Cream­back 65; my 4x12 has two Cream­back 65s and two Cream­back 75s. You asked about ped­als and which ones I could take away... well with the He­lios 100 I don’t need ped­als. I am per­fectly con­tent plug­ging my Les Paul or my Fire­bird straight into the any front and watchin’ it go.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your gui­tars?

LL: I don’t like to fight the gui­tars much any more. When I was a young man I did all that, heavy strings, high ac­tion and all that, but I found it re­ally just ends up hurt­ing your hands in the long run. I Like my ac­tion medium to low. I like to let the gui­tar do some of the work too. On my gui­tars for slide the ac­tion is set very high, ob­vi­ously.

GT: What strings do you use?

LL: I use Ernie Ball Slinky and have for many, many years. My gauges range from 009 to .011 but I mainly use the Su­per Slinky .009s on my main gui­tars. On other gui­tars I use Reg­u­lar Slinky .010s, and on my gui­tars I have set up for slide I use Power Slinky .011s. I love Ernie Ball’s Cobalt strings, but I mainly just use the old-school Slinky sets.

GT: Who was your first in­flu­ence to play the gui­tar?

LL: Elvis Pres­ley and Scotty Moore. My Dad was in the Army with Elvis in Ger­many. They were good friends. When I was three or four years old my Dad showed me footage of the ’68 Come­back Spe­cial where Elvis is in the black leather suit and they are all sit­ting around play­ing gui­tars and telling sto­ries. When I saw that I knew I wanted to be a guitarist for the rest of my life.

GT: What was the first gui­tar you re­ally lusted af­ter?

LL: A 1959 Les Paul! When I was 10 or 11 years old I saw the Led Zep­pelin movie The Song Re­mains The Same, and watch­ing Jimmy Page play that Les Paul was com­pletely floor­ing. I loved the Bursts from the be­gin­ning; it has never changed. I have loved gui­tars of all types, Strats, Te­les, SGs, ev­ery­thing, but I have al­ways loved the Burst more than any­thing.


GT: What was the sin­gle best gig you ever did?

LL: I would have to say the Not­tod­den Blues Fes­ti­val in Nor­way in 2016 was one of the best ever, with Su­per­sonic Blues Ma­chine. We had Billy Gib­bons, Steve Lukather, Wal­ter Trout, and Robben Ford. It was an in­cred­i­ble night.

GT: And your worst play­ing night­mare?

LL: It’s open­ing the show with a gui­tar that is com­pletely out of tune.

GT: What’s the most im­por­tant mu­si­cal les­son you ever learnt?

LL: Al­ways be a great sup­port­ing mu­si­cian and play to make other mu­si­cians sound great. I’ve learned a great mu­si­cian makes any mu­si­cian on­stage with him sound great, es­pe­cially if he is the leader.

GT: Do you still prac­tise?

LL: Ab­so­lutely! All the time. I al­ways love try­ing to cre­ate new riffs or lead pat­terns and work­ing on my tone. I’m al­ways striv­ing to be bet­ter. I never want to be bet­ter than any­one else; I just want to be bet­ter than my­self.

GT: What about a pre-gig warm-up?

LL: If there is time be­fore a show I

like to warm up and prac­tise scales to loosen up. I usu­ally like Pen­ta­tonic pat­terns of de­scend­ing fives and sixes, or as­cend­ing sixes and eights. I al­ways like to make sure the strings are good and stretched and that I’m in tune. I usu­ally keep a Snark on the head­stock un­til it’s time to go out there so I know I am in tune when we hit the first num­ber.

GT: If you could put to­gether a fan­tasy band with you in it, who would the other play­ers be?

LL: Wow I don’t know. I’d love to play with Bad Com­pany - can you ring up Paul Rodgers up and tell him I’d like to give it a go?

GT: Present com­pany ex­cepted (and not­with­stand­ing the stu­pid­ity of the ques­tion!), who’s the great­est guitarist that’s ever lived?

LL: Jimi Hen­drix. Pe­riod. But we all know that! (laughs)

GT: Is there a solo by some­one else you re­ally wish you had played?

LL: Be Care­ful With A Fool by Johnny Win­ter. Johnny was on fire back then with Unc (John Turner, bass) and Tommy (Shan­non, drums). I can re­ally re­late to what Johnny is do­ing there, and I re­ally miss Johnny a lot. That song is what Texas blues-rock is all about.

GT: What’s the solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?

LL: I re­ally love the solo on Down To One Bar from Tell The Truth; it’s more the tone I guess. It’s that big, fat, Les Paul neck pickup tone that I re­ally love about it. We had the Les Paul di­alled into the small Bogner Brix­ton amp with a 2x12 with Green­backs in it. I think it’s some of my best tone I’ve ever recorded.

GT: What would you most like to be re­mem­bered for?

LL: For be­ing a hard work­ing mu­si­cians and try­ing to keep the blues-rock tra­di­tion alive, as well as pass­ing it on to the chil­dren.

GT:What are you and the band up to at the mo­ment?

LL: We are pre­par­ing for some tour­ing in sup­port of the new al­bum, Tell The Truth and look­ing for­ward to get­ting out there and play­ing like we never have be­fore. We look for­ward to see­ing you all out there on the road! For more in­for­ma­tion on Lance, his band, gigs and mer­chan­dise please check him out on Face­book or fol­low him on Twit­ter.


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