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Steve Lauer

Steve Lauer

Born August 06, 1961.  Began to play guitar at the age of 17 until 21 with a Ibanez Les Paul copy and a "Neckermann" 20 Watts tube-radio, not a really great amplifier. First started playing songs from Cream, Band of Gypsies, Deep Purple, Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher, Ten Years After, and Pat Travers. I had to learn all of it by myself because I had no teacher.

I began to play guitar again in 1990. The first bands were called "Karakorum", "Steve Lauer Group", and currently: "Steve Lauer and the Brainstorm Guys". We play our own material.

I have known Paul for six years now, and have been playing PRS guitars since 1990. I Live in Lichtenfels, a small town in Bavaria.. (35.000 people).

Interview With Steve Lauer

Forum:  Could you tell our members about your role with PRS in Europe and how that came to be?

Steve:  I`m the clinic-guy for PRS here in Germany since five years now. The story, how I got this job is that I played guitar for four years till the age of 21. Then I went to the Army and flew helicopter as a copilot for eight years. I sold all of my guitar-stuff and played nothing during this time. I only listened to different music. In 1990 a friend of mine came to me and asked, "Do you want to go to the Frankfurter Musikmesse with me? You played guitar years ago."   I went with him and saw Geoff Whitehorn (guitarist for Roger Chapman, Paul Rogers, Pete Townsend and others) doing a clinic for Marshall. After his show I went to him and said (Really!), "Geoff, you are playing very well, but I didn`t play guitar for eight years now and most of the stuff you played, I think I can do too."   Geoff said, "O.K. guys, come in again, there is somebody who wants to play for us."   I took his guitar and played Alvin Lee`s beginning of "Going Home". He then said, "O.K., if that`s true, that you have no guitar at home, you have to buy one, and play again!"  I bought my First PRS in blue, Signature 441 and began to practice again (more the modern styles). Three years later I went to Paul in Frankfurt and said, "Paul, I would like to do the clinics for PRS here in Germany and Luxemburg." He looked a little bit.. you know.. but then he said, "Put your guitar in this amp and play". Two weeks later I got a phone call from Peter Wolf, the German distributor (Now Export Manager PRS, USA) and since that time I`ve been doing the clinics for Paul and his guitars. I played in sessions together with Jerry Donahue, Noel Redding, Ant Glynn and did a short session with T.M. Stevens and a lot of famous musicians here in Germany.

Forum: You have an impressive website and magazine. Could you tell us a bit about them?

Steve: Yes, of course!  A lot of people called me through the phone to answer questions about PRS and guitar playing (I`m doing a lot of speedpicking, like Frank Gambale in a mix with Jimi or Robin Trower blues-stuff). A lot of hours passed by every day in the evening with these phone calls (One guy in the club has 64 PRS!!!). So, I thought it would be good to found a club for the interested guys and make a magazine every twelve weeks. Paul was very happy about it. The first time in the beginning of the club I had to do everything all alone... write, photos, get money for printing the magazine, mailing, phone calls....but now more people are working together with each other and helping me. One does the photos and the German distributor does the mailing for me in Germany. I cannot earn money with it, but it is a lot of fun to talk to the same crazy PRS-people all over the world. And we talk Fender, Gibson or Ibanez or others. Nobody has a Fanzine like PRS has. It is getting better and better with the time....I need about 120 hours for one magazine...(I hope you like it...)

Forum: Tell us a bit about your guitars.

Steve:  I own the following guitars: My very special PRS is the Dragon II, #30 in Amber. I changed the pickup setting to a three-way toggle with McCarty`s, like Paul did with his. I like the fat-neck very much. I`m not a fan of small and thin necks. With this guitar I can make the sound of a good single coil on the neck position, sounding like Jimi (on my last CD you can hear that sound). Then I have a Private-Stock Santana in Violin Amber Sunburst with fat and deep stripes, made by Joe Knaggs with a Brazilian Rosewood neck, and also changed the switching like on a McCarty (splitted Santana PU`s), and no inlays between the pickups. It sounds huge, too, but not so single-coil like. Then I have one of two Swamp Ash`s (the other one belongs to Ralph Perucci from The Dragons) with set-in-neck, also done by Joe Knaggs, with a one-piece body and a unbelievable birdseye neck with Paua birds. This was a present from Paul (He is great!!!) two years ago, because of my supporting PRS here in Europe. Then I have the Signature #168, 1987 in vintage yellow, with the best Quilt top I have ever seen (It`s the truth!!!). Paul said to me about this guitar, "Why did I sell it, can you tell me, this?" Then I have the last built Artist II, #432, Quilt, in Dark Cherry sunburst, and a EG III with three Fralin`s in three-tone sunburst. Also I have a special made guitar from a guy here in Germany, who does all the repair work for PRS. He is a friend of Paul, named Nik Huber. He puts the same woods like PRS in his guitars, but I wanted a special strat-like guitar with three Joe Barden single coils. I`ll send you a pic...It looks a little bit like a Pensa Suhr (only better).

Forum:  How are PRS instruments viewed in Europe?

Steve:  A lot of people are interested in them but most guitar-players don't have enough money to buy one. The market for PRS' has increased very much in the last few years. People are waiting till they have the money. PRS Guitars are the best instruments (electric guitars) at the moment in the world, I think.. The quality, sound, looking... Everything is great.. Paul is a genius..isn`t he? 

Forum: Who have been some of the bigger influences in your development as a guitarist? 

Steve:  First: Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, Ritchie Blackmore, Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Second : Frank Gambale, Steve Lukather, Jon Finn from Berklee College, and Andy Timmons.

Forum:  What music captivates you when you play it?

Steve: The very best songs for me to shut my eyes while playing (and fly away) are: Voodoo Child, Too Rolling Stoned from Trower and some stuff from Toto and The Locotomys.  I also like the second song from the last Jon Finn album very much. Steve Morse is a very good player, but too complicated to listen to for most guitar players.

Forum: Can you tell us a bit about the equipment you play through?

Steve:  I was playing a Mesa-Boogie MK IV for seven years. I sold it after I got a new PRS HG-70 Top with a Prototype 4/12 Box from PRS one year ago. It sounds like I want it to. Nobody ever said, That`s a transistor, isn`t it?"  Then the sound goes through a Dunlop Cry Baby Wah-Wah and nothing else... that`s enough . The rest comes from my heart and the fingers...and the PRS. I got this amp and the box for 800$!!!! The amp was new, but nobody was interested in at the dealer for years. Now everybody who knows me is searching for a PRS Amp to get one.

Forum: Tell us about the things you're currently doing in music.

Steve:  At the moment I`m working on a CD with one of the best bass studio-players here in Germany, named Frank Itt, along with a very good drummer named George G.  It is a little bit of funk-blues-rock stuff, with a little bit of Wah-Wah in three songs. I just finished a clinic-tour through Germany and Luxemburg (To allow me to pay my Santana). My last CD was recorded in my living-room.  Now I`m working in a good studio and the sound will be better. There are only about 50 pieces from my last CD to buy and then it is sold out.

Forum:  What is the European music scene like right now?

Steve: You know, a lot of people are sitting in front of the computer. Here in Europe it is very very very hard to be played on a Radio-station. Everything is dictated by the radio-chiefs. No chance for good guitar-music...Techno, Techno, Techno...No guitar solos wanted. Some of the older guys (like me - I`m 38 now) are looking for 70`s and 80`s Rock music, but the younger boys want only guys like Satriani, Vai or Malmsteen. But, they have to practice, and that`s the problem. To make music with a computer is much easier. A lot of "Bands" can get $1000 to $2000 for sitting in front of a sequencer for two hours and pretending as if they are playing a guitar. Most of the stars here in Germany are over 40 now (The old guitar-scene). They are living from their success from years ago. But like always in life, everything repeats. I think Blues will never die. New bands come and`s a hard business. MTV shows shit all the time.

Forum: You have done some recording. Tell us about your recording techniques and what you do to get the sound you want.

Steve: That`s very simple for me: I put my guitar in and play through a POD. A lot of people, saying this and that about their equipment, are doing that. It`s fast and good enough. We don't have ADAT`s to record with. If I had more money, I would go in a good studio to get the best sound, but I'm not rich... Sound comes from the instrument and from the fingers (I believe).

Forum: What do you see in your future as a musician?

Steve:  I hope that everybody in the Forum will buy my CDs (Joke!!!!). No, I want to do the clinics for PRS in the next years as at the moment, record some CDs with different people, and have fun while playing guitar. It`s the best to hold my brain free and to be satisfied. In my "normal" life I`m owner of a home for old and sick people, but playing music is all I want to really do. But I`m too old now. Wanted are only guys in the age group of 18 to 25. That`s the way it is. Mike Varney said the same in one of the last German magazines. He is searching for a young and good looking guy....I`m not qualified in that area!