Lonnie was gracious enough to grant me this interview right after he came off tour, so I personally want to thank him for that. I'm far from a journalist guys, but hopefully everybody will dig this one.
1. So how long have you been involved with guitars Lonnie?
My first experience learning to play was about 29 years ago. Approx. 4 yearslater I started to take it somewhat seriously. From day one I was taking themapart and trying to figure out how they worked. I eventually started to takeapart amps and pedals, then switchers and midi pedals etc. Hasn't ended andstill rip things apart!! I have found a way to keep it a hobby when at home forenjoyment and learning. Studied some electronics over the years as well. Alotof this development was long before all the info on the internet etc. It was a'figure it out on your own' situation and I loved every minute of it.
2. Of all the gear you've had over the years, what would be your most prizedpiece of equipment?
1967 Marshall plexi 50w head and a 1966 Marshall 4x12 with greenback 20's (not25's). Killer amp. Also a pair of Lexicon PCM 42 delay's.
3. Describe a typical day on tour: pre show, during the show, and post show.
This is going to be a long answer, hope no one minds.. There is no typical daybut I'll try to present it that way. Its also slightly different for each band. Generally I get up at 7:30am ish. If we have driven overnight to the next gigmy first mission is get off the bus and find a shower in the arena. Veryimportant start!Generally I don't have to start working until approx. 11am however. The extracouple hours I create for myself here gives me time to contact suppliers forparts etc. when needed, so thats the time where I catch up on e-mails and phonecalls. On the VH tour our stage manager knew I was in the building earlyeveryday and we used that to our advantage by directing the band gear from thetractor trailer to the necessary location. That allowed it to be in place forthe other backline guys when they arrived. Its all about teamwork. There are acouple other things I did at this point that were specific to Ed's setup becauseit was specific to the stage layout. This doesn't apply to every tour. Forexample: running his loom under the stage while the carps are building set stuffon top of the stage. Next up is guiding the band gear onto the stage and getting it into positionwith the local hands.This is where things move at a faster pace with wiring the rig etc. Your tryingto get it done efficiently/quickly yet properly to get to the maintenance aspectas soon as you can. Next you generally try to get the guitars restrung, batteries changed,necessary cleaning etc. as soon as you can. Now it starts to get interesting because its different everyday. Themaintenance can entail anything and generally you never really know what willcome up. It can be anything from intonating a guitar to changing a speaker tochanging damaged guitar parts to fixing a broken cable, or re-setting up thegain structure of a section of the rig, or re-programming some patches that theplayer mentioned were not quite right the night before, or replacing a brokenswitch or led on the pedalboard. Sometimes it can get more specific likereplacing a relay in a switcher, or a dc to dc converter in a patchbox etc. Thiskind of stuff depends on the techs level of knowledge or experience. Some sendit out to be repaired. Like I said, its different everyday. Next up is playing the rig for a bit and dialing the amps a little so itsounds right in the room and try to keep it in the ballpark of what the playeris looking for. At this point we do line check which is basically the audio guysmaking sure they are receiving everything at front-of-house. Sometimes ifsomething is not sounding right to them we work together to figure it out. Oncethis is out of the way you get back to your maintenance program. Hopefully youhave time to hit catering for a quick lunch about now. Sometimes, depending on the gig of course, I get into modding some of the gearand that can be alot of fun. It really depends on the player and your timeschedule. This is not a required part of being a guitar tech
but I really enjoyworking with the player in this way. Its great when you can make something soundalot better and of course its all about getting the player in a zone that helikes. With Ed we didn't get into that too much because he pretty much wants hisgear the way it is as long as its consistent. I had some fun doing a few modsfor one of our opening acts (Jonas). Their guitar player (Cory)and I werechatting one day and that lead to modding his old Marshall and Tube Screamer
forhim. He was really happy with the results and that was a fun way to get some ofthat creative side out. Generally its getting close to sound-check at this point so you spend the lastbit of time making sure the guitars are tuned and all the small details are inplace to make the player feel comfortable. Sound-check is different for every band. Some don't do it at all, some keep itshort and some are as long as a show. Alot of it is the band working with themonitor people to make sure everything sounds right on stage. This is also thetime when the player will point out if they want something adjusted a littledifferently and this can be anything from the guitar to a processor to an amp.Again, you never really know. Once sound-check is over you try to bang off asmuch of the changes that came up in sound-check as you can. Dinner!!!!!! Another important part of the day and a little bit of time to getaway from the job hopefully. Then I head back to my tech world and finish uplast minute things. Usually I have about an hour or a half hour here plus thetime during the opening act. Changeover is next and its very fast paced. This entails placing pedal-boardsand connecting them, putting down set-lists etc. and testing all gear again.Hopefully no problems come up here because if it does you have a VERY short timeto deal with it. This is where the pressure starts and you have to know how todeal with whatever comes up very quickly. Most times its cool but every once inawhile you get a curve ball. Its VERY important to get it solved quick so theplayer doesn't have to be involved in anyway. Its important to keep theirmindset as positive as possible. Showtime!!! In short we tune guitars and hand them to the player when neededand solve any problems that might come up. On some gigs its more involved. Forexample: I might do all the patch changes so the player can concentrate onplaying. Depends on the tour. Ed does his own switching.Its important to stay focused because you never know what will happen during theshow. It can be as simple as a broken string to an amp go down. The idea ofcourse is to work hard during the day so nothing will happen during the show butanything can come at anytime. How do you predict a fan landing on a pedalboardand messing things up? You can't and it doesn't happen often but I have dealtwith it!!! If you have a rig with alot going on (ie: several amps. hundreds of feet ofcabling, many pedals etc. and your signal goes out it can be anywhere. Youreally have to know what your doing to take that on and come up smiling.Showtime is when you (and the player) really find out what your about. Its a fixit right now kind of situation but its VERY important to keep calm while dealingwith it. If your freaking out its hard to give the player a sense of confidence. Ed throws some curveballs at you during some shows as well. For example: therewere several times when his amp was not quite reacting the way he wanted.Generally that comes down to tube gain structure. I changed alot of tubes DURINGthe show. The first time he asked this of me I was thinking "umm right now Ed"?So I swap them out and pull out my meter and start biasing the amp. Ed says"what are ya doin' ?". "Biasing your amp Ed". He responds with "Just crank itman!" This is pretty unusual but it keeps you on your toes and it kept itinteresting. I had alot of tubes on hand and was ready for it after that! Shows over!! This is the fastest pace of the day. The idea is to work withlocal hands and get all the gear you are responsible for packed as fast as youpossibly can but in a way that is safe to the people around you and not damagethe gear. Alot of this stuff is very heavy and people can get hurt. The reasonwhy we have to move so fast here really comes down to "time is money". Next up is getting the band gear to the trucks and making sure it goes in in theright order. Backline(band gear) are first in the trucks. If we take too long wehold every dept. up. The longer we take the longer everyone takes and thattranslates into local labour costs. The pace is crazy but it can be fun.Everyday on VH the drum tech and I had a fun challenge going on to see who couldpack up faster. It kept it fun and gave us something to rib each other about.At this point we are basically done. Next I find a quick shower and get on-lineto pick up e-mails. Maybe I'm receiving a package of parts tomorrow and I needto know what to expect. Its also a good time to e-mail my sister and tell her Imiss her.Now I head back to the bus and try to relax a bit. Sometimes hard to do with thequick pace of the show and loadout. Next is sleep!!!! Then its 7:30am and I wakeup in another city and do it all over again!!For those who like to count: By the time I get back to the bus at night itsusually 12:30am ish. Thats a long day!!!!