with Tom Lugo of Stellarscope
Name: Tom Lugo
Bands: Stellarscope, Drowning Dreams, ShiShi, Panophonic, Under the Wire, SUPER TOYS, Adrian Lugo
Websites: ShiShi - facebook.com/pages/ShiShi/257449944356585, Under the Wire - facebook.com/pages/Under-The-Wire/188387867971618, Panophonic - facebook.com/pages/Panophonic/33458859528, Stellarscope - facebook.com/pages/Stellarscope/42638364841, Super Toys - facebook.com/pages/Super-Toys/138690299508626, Drowning Dreams - facebook.com/pages/Drowning-Dreams/148280328625653, Adrian Lugo - facebook.com/adrianlugomusic
QRD – What was your first guitar & what happened to it?
Tom – My first guitar was a Gibson All American SG, I sold it back in the late 90s because I was broke. I got a deal out of it, but I always regret selling it. Cest la vie!
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from guitar to effects to amplifier?
Tom – Digitech XP 100, Custom made modulation/wah/whammy pedal, Danelectro modified Fab Tone, Danelectro modified Daddy O, Ibanez modified distortion, Ibanez modified Death Metal distortion, Death by Audio Sonic Annihilator, Death By Audio Tom Lugo signature Sound of God Fuzz, Yamaha Magic Stomp, Boss DD3, Ibanez DE7, Boss Giga Delay, Digitech PDS 1002
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig - guitar, amplifier, or effects?
Tom – The most important part is the effect set up, I can use any guitar or amp & get similar sounds.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Tom – A Rocktron Velocity 2 x 10 amp because it has a great clean sound & it is small so it is easy to transport.
QRD – What’s your main guitar & what are the features that make it such?
Tom – Live I use a Martinez Playmate with modified pickups. For recording purposes I use a variety of them, like an 80s Jazz Master, Epiphone DOT, Epiphone Del Rey, Gibson SG, & more.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Tom – Well, I have a signature Death by Audio pedal made by Oliver Ackerman called the Sound of God, it is a destructive sounding extreme fuzz.
QRD – How many guitars do you own?
Tom – 15 guitars & counting.
QRD – How & where do you store your guitars?
Tom – My guitars are all on stands in my home studio & the Patetico Recordings’ studio.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a guitar?
Tom – Look & sound of the guitar.
QRD – How much do you think a good guitar should cost?
Tom – $100-$400 everything else you would be paying for the brand.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your guitars or just stick with what you get?
Tom – I tend to play around with the pickups & wiring, so I modify them for the most part.
QRD – How thoroughly do you research or test a piece of equipment before buying it?
Tom – I tend to try things before I purchase them, especially since guitar gear is not cheap… LOL.
QRD – Do you change your rig around often?
Tom – I only change my rig when necessary or when something is no longer functional.
QRD – Are you after one particular guitar tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Tom – After many years of experimenting, I think I have my own sound down, so I don’t tend to mess around with it too much.
QRD – What are some guitars, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Tom – To be completely honest, not much anymore. I have so many toys & don’t have a chance to really play with them all.
QRD – What have been the best & worst guitar related purchases you’ve made?
Tom – A sitar pedal… not because of the pedal itself, but because it had to be used with a slide at all times & I suck at playing the slide.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & guitar brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Tom – Death by Audio pedals are my favorite. & Boss pedals, though I mess around with those as well.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a guitar?
Tom – I have never really played any covers, my first song was one that I wrote for my girlfriend at the time.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Tom – I was in my mid 20s, so I started late.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best guitar playing?
Tom – I am still working on it, so I’ll let you know when I get there… ha-ha-ha.
QRD – Why do you think a guitar fits you more so than other instruments?
Tom – I have the ability to texture sound a lot better than any of the other instruments I play.
QRD – Do you think guitar should be people’s first instrument as often as it is?
Tom – Nah, I think learning the piano helps people understand music composition better. Once you have an understanding of it you can pretty much pick up any instrument. Not that I follow that path or anything.
QRD – Do you see your guitar as your ally or adversary in making music?
Tom – An ally, a good friend that is always there for you.
QRD – Who are the guitarists that most influenced your playing & sound?
Tom – My mentor Gardy Perez (from the Puerto Rican shoegaze band Un.Real) was my first influence in psychedelic sounds, then Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmore, Steve Howe, Kevin Shields, Neil Halstead, Nick McCabe, Mark Gardener, & the list goes on.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a guitar & how did you do it?
Tom – My Epiphone Del Rey has a ton of nicks on it after I slammed the guitar against the walls of the House of Blues in Boston after some issues with the soundman.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play guitar & how many hours would you like t
Tom – 4-5 hours a week.
QRD – What type of pick do you use & why?
Tom – Dunlop Nylon medium nylons picks, they are smooth.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Tom – .09s are my preference.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Tom – When they break. :P
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Tom – Every couple of weeks.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Tom – My strumming hand is better. I have broken my fingers several times, so some of them don’t function correctly.
QRD – Do you set-up your guitar yourself or send it to a guitar tech (or not set it up at all) & why?
Tom – I set it up myself, why pay someone else if I know how to do it?
QRD – How high do you hold your guitar when playing (strap length)?
Tom – It hangs low, it’s the punk influence on me.
QRD – What’s a type of guitar playing you wish you could do that you can’t?
Tom – Progressive playing. I have always admired virtuoso guitar players, but I hate them because I can’t get my fingers to move that way.
QRD – What’s a guitar goal you’ve never accomplished?
Tom – Learning to play progressively.
QRD – What’s your favorite guitar gadget (ebow, capo, slide, string cutter, etc)?
Tom – The EBow, it is so sweet.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Tom – Deconstruct the concepts of basic music structure & tons of pedals.
QRD – What’s your take on tremolo systems?
Tom – I have a 60s Ampeg Rocket with built in tremolo, that’s about the only tremolo system I own.
QRD – How often do you adjust your tone knob?
Tom – Between every song.
QRD – If a band has good guitar work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Tom – I don’t think so, a band makes the sound whole
QRD – Who do you think is currently the most innovative guitar player & why?
Tom – Joey Levenson of SPC Eco is to me one of the most innovative guitar players when it comes to sound manipulation, the man is a genius. Joshua Hayward (The Horrors) has been creating some exciting noise over the past couple of years. Oliver Ackerman is the king of fuzz if you ask me.
QRD – Anything else?
Tom – I would like to thank Brian for the Q&A & all of my fans out there. It is great to be doing this for so long & still have people out there interested in hearing what I do. It is truly a blessing! I invite everybody to visit my record label’s page, we release interesting indie rock from all around the globe in addition to the Popnoise Festival shows, festivals, & events. patetico-recordings.com