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Chatting with the Pros: Doug Doppler PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 February 2008 18:21
doug_doppler_web.jpgBy Ronny North - GJD Contributor
It's a great honor to interview Doug Doppler. If any of you caught the most recent Michael Schenker tour, you probably got a chance to see Doug open up the show. Doug is keeping the Instrumental Guitar scene alive and well today. And he is the person who convinced me to start my instrumental project. Besides being a great person that I can always count on for solid advice, he's a Favored Nations recording artist, a great player, gifted clinician, columnist, and guitar teacher who's released two guitar instructional DVDs.


Ronny North: Tell us about your early bands.

Doug Doppler: In my early youth I actually sang a lot including a small solo role with the San Francisco Opera Company. Then it was all ruined by Rock and Roll. In 8th grade I had a band with rotating members called The Cobalt Blasters. I still have a tape around somewhere - me singing terribly while playing my Fender Jaguar into an Electro-Harmonix "Little Muff" through an old record player with a self-contained amp and speaker. That "rig" was loud enough to generate a call or ten from the neighbors, and when I found the cassette I was really glad to have documented that era of my playing. Kimosabe was kind of a dance funk thing I did during the mid-80s and was a lot of fun. Played a few of local gigs with a Bay Area band called the Freaky Executives who sadly signed with Warner Bros. and never released a disc. Fast forward to the late 80s and there was Kaptain Krunch, who as you might imagine played metal - on the poppy side. Actually the songs were good enough to generate a few rejection letters from major labels, who usually wouldn't reply at all.

R.N.: What made you start playing instrumental music?

D.D.: Before I met Satch I listened to a lot of Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and of course Jeff Beck. Our mutual love for instrumental music was one of the things that was a real point of connection between Joe and myself. I got his number from a friend and left a message at the store where Joe taught, and when he called back we talked for a half an hour about our various influences. Instrumental music has long been a love of mine, and it's been great to travel and have people be so receptive to the music I'm making.

R.N.: I recently saw you when you opened for Michael Schenker on his most recent tour. What was that like? You really seemed to be getting a great response from his crowd during your set.

D.D. Thanks! It was an amazing experience. I love to play live and as an instrumental act, as we both know Ronny, you and I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than getting on a tour - especially with some like Michael. I've had some really great opportunities, and this was certainly one of them. Playing to a bunch of guitar fanatics is always a great deal of fun as you know they appreciate the instrument. The audiences were great, and I had an amazing time being on the road with Michael playing to a different audience in a different city every night. One of my other favorite things about that tour was is how much I got to practice. I had an M-Audio Black Box and set of Harmon/Kardon speakers in our van, which I managed to power via the cigarette adapter. We also played some great venues (like the Key Club in Hollywood) that make for great shows. I've played at the Key Club a couple of times there and they are just on it, and it makes playing there a great experience.

R.N.: On that lead in, tell us about your live rig - guitars, amps, effects, strings and picks.

D.D.: I am using an Ibanez S7320 7-String set up with GHS boomers (9-52) and DiMarzio pickups. For picks I've used Dunlop 1mm tortex for over 20 years. Just before the Schenker tour I picked up a Marshal JVM head and I have to say it is the best amp I've ever played for rock. Brutally loud and aggressive for abinet company called Dragoon, and they sent over 4 2x12 cabinets for me to use on the tour. I've always preferred 4x12 cabinets, but with Dragoon, hearing is believing. The top cabs are loaded with Vintage 30s and the bottom cabs have Century Moderns in them. The combipower chords, but still soars at the top of the neck for longer notes. I have a Rocktron XPression delay in the loop that I keep set at 503 ms as I recall - just for some ambient delay. When I was in Italy I hooked up with an amazing speaker cnation makes for a perfect blend both on stage and front of house.

R.N.: I know that you've re-signed to Steve Vai s Favored Nations Record Label and have put out a couple of CD s through them. Tell us how you got on the label and what it s like working with Steve.

D.D.: Being on Favored Nations has been another amazing opportunity. It has opened a lot of doors, and has given me access to markets all over the world. I've known Steve since I at GIT. Before I left for school Joe gave me his number and I got to know him during that time. Fast forward 20 years, Joe sent a copy of my disc over to Steve and that's how the whole thing fell in place. Joe has been amazing in so many ways! Working with Steve is great as well. I was his tech for a few shows during my GIT days, so there is history - all of it good. Being on a label owned by an instrumentalist, built for instrumentals is a perfect home for this side of my playing. I've really been blessed in that relationship.

R.N.: I know that you have written instructional columns for a few of the guitar magazines and that you have put out a couple of instructional DVDs. Can you tell us about what got you into teaching guitar, your DVDs, and where you can get them?

D.D.: Sure! When I came back from GIT, Joe was getting ready to go out on the road with the Greg Kihn band and asked me to take over teaching for him at the store while he was gone. When he came back we alternated teaching days until Surfing really took off. I taught privately for 20 years, and retired from private instruction when my work on Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s moved into full swing. It was time for me to move on from that phase of my career, but I remain an avid music educator via Ibanez clinics, workshops, and my Guitar 411 DVD series. "Diatonic Theory and Harmony" was the first title, and really cover just about everything a guitar player needs to know about chords, scales, and the theory that drives the whole thing. It also includes with a companion audio CD with stylistically diverse jam tracks for each of the chord groups - and with Atma Anur on drums! "Whammy Bar Mojo" as far as I know is the only DVD specifically for learning how to really master bar technique. Both DVDs are available at http://www.Guitar411.com - thanks for asking!

R.N.: Tell us what you have planned for 2008.

D.D.: I recently upgraded my studio and have been writing and recording a lot. I've had my Digi 002 for a while, but I got a new Mac Pro, Avalon M5 mic pre, and a UAD 1e plug-ins card, and I've been writing and recording like mad. I am involved with Christian music both at Christian City Church San Francisco (where I play every Sunday when I'm home), and as a presenter at workshops here in the U.S. and abroad. Christian music is not just hymns and there is some great stuff out there - I love working with worship teams helping them develop their skill levels. There is a singer named Sam Crayne at my home Church who is just amazing. Sings great, but is also one of my favorite people. I would love nothing more than to do a disc with him in 2008. Much of the music I'm writing is for that project, and it is very contemporary and guitar driven. At the very least I'm having a great time in the studio and really learning a lot as I continue to grow in the studio both as a player and as a producer.

In January I'm off to Break Forth, Canada's largest praise and worship event where I'm both presenting workshops and hosting my first ever guitar night for them. Pretty exciting - the Canadians love guitar and they love to rock!

In February or so, I'm supposed to start work again for WaveGroup Sound. They hired me to play in six track on Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, and it was a good fit for everyone. In the studio I am pretty meticulous, and for songs like Extreme's "Play with Me" that paid off. The solo on that song is filled with 16th notes played at 200+ bpm - double tracked! I'm fortunate that I've had enough experience in the studio to get a piece of music like that up to production standards and like anything else it requires some practice to get there. The team WaveGroup Sound is amazing and they are just a pleasure to work with. I'm excited to start work on the next projects with them.

I will of course be on the lookout for another tour in 2008, and expect to continue my work internationally doing workshops and Ibanez clinics. It's a lot of fun, and is a great opportunity to give something back to players who might not have had a chance to study with someone like Satch.

R.N.: Any last words or advice for our readers?

D.D.: One of the things I stress when I'm giving clinics is get to know yourself as a musician by recording yourself. There is nothing more valuable than being able to hear yourself develop and grow. That means you should document your ideas and develop them. Most everyone has their own computer now and there has never been a better time to get into recording, even if it is just to develop your songs. The M-Audio Black Box is a great gateway into the world of Pro-Tools. I take mine with me EVERYWHERE I go and jam with the track from my disc - in Pro Tools M-Powered in my hotel room. One of the prerequisites for the Guitar Hero gig was having a working knowledge of Pro Tools. The worlds of music and computers have collided and tomorrow's musician is a digital one - don't miss the wave. If you have a MySpace page you should have YOUR OWN music on it. Some places I've been, musicians have really not wanted to embrace technology, and there will be a whole generation of young musicians who will be developing their studio skillset while people are waking up to the digital reality. Don't be asleep on your job as a musician. My first disc was cut entirely in pro studios for a LOT of money. For Nu Instrumetal we cut the drums at our rehearsal space and I recorded virtually all the guitars and bass at my home studio. There are a lot of program choices out there, I'm a Pro Tools guy, and very happy to be. I recently bought a DVD training series called "Secrets of the Pros", and I've been woodshedding my engineering chops and know how in the studio, and my next discs will reflect that in a serious way. Not everyone has talent as a producer or engineer, but you can still benefit as a songwriter by crafting your arrangements and as a guitar player by working on double tracking and developing your sound. Embrace the home studio and you're musical world will only benefit from it. And, don't be discouraged if your first recordings don't turn out as you'd like - my first overdubs sounded terrible - I was almost so uninspired that I stopped, and am I glad I didn't! Cheers!!!

To find out more about Doug check out his website www.dougdoppler.com
 
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