Hey, please introduce yourself!
Why hello there, I’m John Sanders. I live in Hawthorn, Melbourne, and have been playing the guitar for (gets calculator to find out exactly) about 38 years. I now get to play music full-time through hosting a YouTube channel called Doug Steele, which has a whole lot of metal and shred guitar lessons. I also play in a progressive thrash band called Alarum.
How’d you get into playing guitar? …who inspired you?
I picked up the guitar at about the same time I started buying KISS albums. My mom’s boyfriend had this really old cheap guitar called a Guyatone. He taught me a D Major chord and showed me how to play ‘Wipe Out’. That was the extent of my lessons back then. As a kid I was listening to KISS, Cheap Trick, Boston, Queen. Good rock radio for the mid to late 70’s. In my early teens I got right into Van Halen, and would try to work out Ed’s solos by slowing down my record player manually. It would drop the pitch, but at least I’d know the order of the notes. Those years really developed my ear. Today the dude I’m into most is Brandon Ellis from The Black Dahlia Murder. He burns, and his vibrato is insane.
What bands have you been listening to over the last few years?(Please plug your own band too!)
I’m definitely a metal fan, you’ll usually find me listening to Meshuggah, Revocation and Strapping Young Lad. More recently, I’ve been getting into Jinjer and, as I said, the Black Dahlia Murder. I also think Poppy is an artist that's really interesting.
I’m not just all about metal, though; my musical tastes vary from moment to moment. If I want something to motivate me, I’ll get into UK drum and bass; artists like Chase & Status and London Elektricity are awesome!
When I’m writing for my band, Alarum, I draw inspiration from lots of different artists and styles such as Frank Zappa, Mike Patton, Latin jazz, and of course, metal.
Finally, I really dig the classical dudes too, I particularly like watching people play Paganini and watching them shred.
What guitars & gear do you have right now?
I mainly use Ibanez guitars. My favourite ones that I have right now are the Universe 7 strings. I love them because the action is really low, so It's much easier to play faster. I also repainted the green dot to loch ness green.
Another few of my favourite guitars are the custom-built EVH guitars I have obtained over the years. I have a bumblebee in 6-string and 7-string, the star, and currently, I am building a Frankenverse from scratch. This is a mash-up of an Ibanez universe and EVH Frankenstrat. I love the freedom of creating new guitars that no one else has. Choosing each part and customising the sound.
What kind of amps and effects do you use?
I use a Fender G-Dec for my YouTube channel that I bought from Coleman's music in 2011! It's such a trusty little workhorse. For a small amp it really has a lot of power and is easy to take wherever I go to film.
For rehearsals and gigs where I need a fuller sound, I run my Line 6 Helix Lite through a Carvin 100 watt power amp then into an Engl Cab. I’ve had this cab for nearly 20 years, wow, I can’t believe it! The great thing is when I play live, the soundman can get direct input right from the Helix. Sounds HUGE!!
What sort of gear do you still want?
This is such a crazy question to ask any guitar player because there will always be more gear we want!!! So I’m just going to tell you my dream set-up. I’d love to have an Ibanez 7-string J Custom and 4 Mesa Boogie stacks! Apart from that, I’m slowly building up gear for a home studio to record my own music from home, the next purchase will be the Superior Drummer program. As well as a bass. … And a keyboard. Yeah, it goes on, hahaha.
Any advice for someone just picking up the guitar?
Take your time! There’s no rush to having fun, and it should be fun, for the most part. Also, don’t think you’re going to whip out some of the harder techniques after 6 months of playing. Everything takes time. Use a metronome, jam with a drummer friend (or backing tracks) when you can, and vibrato with purpose!!