Friday, October 19, 2007

German Shauss interview - The Lightspeeder speaks

German born guitar virtuoso German Schauss has pushed the boundaries of rock guitar music through his architecturally epic music structure and lush soundscapes. He combines ideas of modern instrumental rock guitar music with influences of old masters Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.

After graduating magna cum laude from the world renowned Berklee College of Music, German immersed himself in the Boston music scene. This led him to play guitar for several big music productions and he subsequently played concerts all around the world with his solo band and other projects. He quickly gained a reputation for his remarkable solo guitar and compositional skills for which he was asked to teach at Berklee College of Music, write articles for MelBay and develop an advanced Rock Guitar course on “Shredding Techniques” for the National Guitar Workshop’s online school “”

German is an endorser of Parker Guitars, Randall Amplifiers, DiMarzio, DR Strings Maxon, Rocktron and Morley, for whom he plays clinics and concerts at international music fair and trade shows such as Musikmesse Frankfurt, the NAMM Show, and other shows around the world. He has also been awarded in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007, the ASCAP Plu$ Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

German lives now in Los Angeles where he is busy teaching, performing, and promoting his new CD release “The Lightspeeder.”

Let’s find out how he does the things he does, and why.

What steps have you taken to forge a career in the music industry?
The music industry can be a very tricky thing. It is important to have the right education but also to have an identity as a musician or artist. I studied music from an early age, went to music school and all that, but the most important thing in my opinion is your artistic qualities and also your character. I have worked on many projects to build up my career. I am an actively performing guitarist, composer, guitar instructor and author. I am also an Endorsee and Clinician for Parker Guitars, Laney Amplifiers, Dimarzio Pickups, Maxon Pedals, Rocktron, and DR Strings. The American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), has awarded me the Plu$ Award for writers and composers in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. I have written instructional articles and online interactive video lessons for MelBay Publications and NGW’s “WorkshopLive” on Modern Rock Guitar Soloing, taught guitar at Berklee College of Music and other national and international music schools, wrote and recorded music with my original band, and toured with many bands nationally and internationally.

What advice do you have for people looking to get into the music industry?
To get started in the industry, you need exposure, exposure, exposure. Find an outlet, like the internet and try to promote yourself. You can use networking platforms such as Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Sonicbids.... the list goes on. I started in the late 90’s with I made a lot of connections and sold my music to a great, attentive audience.

What are the pressures in the industry and how do you cope with them?
In my opinion, the music industry is very similar to other industries. It’s about image and marketability. Of course people will judge you on your artistic and musical qualities, but this can be very personal and sometimes even hurtful. You have to develop a thick skin to cope with all the trash talking and bad mouthing. But remember, people that do that usually don’t really have anything to contribute. They are mostly jealous or have some other personal issue or vendetta. Don’t be discouraged, keep working on yourself and your artistry. On the other hand if you are working as a studio musician or side man, you need to have the right image, clothing, haircut.... in order to get the job playing guitar for Jessica Simpson or other high profile, mainstream recording artists. So you always have to keep up with fashion :)

During your formative years, what sort of practice regime did you have?
I love practising and working on new ideas. I am very disciplined when it comes to practising. I usually practised 1 hour before I left for school when I was 15 to 19 and when I came back another couple of hours, learning scales, arps, theory.... and of course learning songs of my favourite guitar players. I was and am very organised when it comes to practising.

What advice do you have for beginner and intermediate players who are trying to achieve a highly advanced level of playing?
Be patient and try to learn as much as you can from all types of teachers, styles and music. There is so much music to learn that you will always find something that can spark your imagination and creativity.

What gear do you use and (more importantly) why?
I use Parker Guitars with DiMarzio Pickups. These are the best guitars ever made, high quality and wonderful tones and playability. For amps I use the Laney TT Series and I am also using the Lionheart series by Laney. Awesome tone and amps!! As for effects I am using the Rocktron Xpression unit, a Maxon OD 808, Morley Power Wah/ Volume, Digitech Whammy pedal and DR Strings “Hi Beam LTR 9”.

What parts of your playing reflects your personality and self expression most accurately?
That is a hard question. I strive for a balance between chops, melody and composition. Sometimes, I play too much, but I always try to keep everything balanced.

What are you trying to achieve compositionally?
Composing music is not an easy thing to do. I get my inspirations from everywhere, but translating them into sound is a different problem. It takes time when I work on a piece, sometimes I work on 2 or 3 simultaneously. I write different parts like strings, drums, or keys and tie those parts with my guitar, sometimes I start from the guitar part or I write out some lines that I will superimpose or integrate into new ideas. I like to “paint a picture” with my music, some times it’s kinda cheesy but I like it. I also use constant structure and serial techniques to add more dissonance to my music.

Talk about the process of recording your album. Are there any tips and trick that you could pass on? How did you choose the other instrumentalists (if you did)?
Recording my album was not an easy thing to do. Thankfully, I had great musicians and other artist help me. I was very fortunate to have such a support. I basically recorded and wrote all the music in between teaching and playing gigs. I teach about 40 students per week and work on a lot of other projects, so sometimes it is really hard to find the time or energy to start working on my music. I used Dp 4.12 and Logic 7 to record my stuff. I used a live drummer for “The Awakening” but during the tracking session my drummer and keyboard player moved home to NY and I had to send files and have them play separately, which worked for the keyboard but not for the drums, so I programmed most of the drums with Drumkit form Hell. When the tacking was finished, I did some overdubs and started mixing. It was then mixed further and mastered by 2 friends of mine in Germany, who run a professional Recording studio and they wanted to mix it for me. I also had a friend of mine design my album artwork which helped a lot and saved a lot of money. Once I had all the material together I sent it to Diskmakers to have it replicated. After that I sent a copy and the necessary paperwork to the Copyright office and registered all the titles with ASCAP and other Performing Rights Organisations. This took some time but, it is very important that all the legal stuff is taken care of, so that you can earn money and your art is protected.

If the readers want to get in touch with you, what is your website and e-mail address?
Please feel free to visit my website at or for more inforation or for questions email me at