Zach discusses his incredible guitar collection and influences
Lead guitarist Zach LoPresti of Out Of The Beardspace endured what every guitar player fears: the theft of his favorite instrument. During a gig in Philadelphia, the band’s van was breached and both Zach’s Parker Fly Delux and Loudo Imperium were heisted. Zach and Pete Brown (the luthier who custom made the Imperium) put the word out to the guitar cosmos via the internet, to pawn shops all over the East Coast, and to the police, and after days of anxious anticipation, the axes were found and returned intact. Zach credits the camaraderie of the guitar clan with the miracle, “… like the community just kind of woke up…and within maybe three days…the guitars had passed hands a couple of times and they got back to me…completely unscathed…”
Zach’s 2008 Parker Fly Delux is a rare item indeed. The company is out of business and no Parker models are currently in production, “It’s hard to find the parts, hard to find the proper fret wire…we are constantly on the lookout for spare parts; we just buy them and store them because I put my guitars through a lot of work, so they need a lot of attention.” In fact, the Parker was in the shop on the day of this interview and Zach could not demonstrate why he loves the instrument so much. The standard Delux has two DiMarzio humbuckers and a piezo pickup in the bridge. It is a 24 fret instrument and weighs only 4.5 pounds, “Yeah, it’s great.”
About his other premiere guitar, the Loudo Imperium, Zach cannot say enough good things, “The Imperium is very, very versatile. It’s easy to play. It has a (bridge) humbucker and two single coils. I have a five-way selector and then I have a switch, so in a way I have ten pickup selections available to me.” He is very impressed with Pete Brown’s creation and within weeks, LoPresti expects production to start on a custom 7-string version of the Imperium, called the Khyber, which Brown and Loudo are producing for him, “A sleeker model of the Imperium for a little more ‘shredability’ if you will…”
The need for a seven string became apparent to LoPresti over some years, and he presently plays on a borrowed seven string Ibanez until the Khyber is delivered, “My other band, Gnarbot, is more on the darker, heavier, more progressive side of things than Beardspace. I found myself wanting to tune the dropped D a lot…and it would be cool to go lower… I need the playablility a six string has, the range that a six string has on the high side, but also get the lows in…I’m so anxious for him (Brown) to get that in my hands because I’m gonna use it a lot…”
Zach is also playing a “temporary” American Strat while his American Stratocaster, is presently having a Floyd Rose bridge installed. That guitar has an interesting aspect to it: it has guitar icon Robin Trower’s signature in two places- one on the arm and one on the headstock. At the time of purchase, “…the guitar was completely unusable…two of the pickups were broken…so, we took it to Pete…” The luthier put in Kinman Woodstock single coil pups, new locking tuners, new electronics, yet, LoPresti, “still didn’t love it.” Brown then suggested putting new frets on, “And sure enough, I loved it after that. It had a vibe to it…it was right for Nik Greeley and the Operators (another LoPresti ensemble), and for a lot of scenarios it’s often the right guitar.”
Not surprisingly, Zach also works with a Telecaster (MIM). He bought it used and musters it mostly in the studio, “Yeah, I use this thing a lot nowadays. It’s not amazing. It could probably, at this point, use some new frets…maybe new pickups…but I love the Tele sound for a lot of things, especially for recording…that twang… it’s sharp. It really gets the job done.” Zach used it for one song on the Beardspace EP session that the band just finished and was very happy with the result, “I love how it sounds.” It’s interesting to understand, too, that despite the very classy guitars LoPresti owns, he is not snobbish about brand names, “There’s a lot you can get by just how you play a guitar. Pedals aside, the specific guitar aside, the amp aside…if you sound good, it’s tied to you sounding good. Like they say, ‘the tone is in the fingers,’ and at the end of the day, it’s on me to play the guitar well; it doesn’t matter what guitar you’re playing.”
There are videos also showing LoPresti with a Les Paul. Asked about it, he reported Pete Brown had just finished re-fretting it. “I wasn’t that into Les Pauls- I thought they were corny…everyone plays them.” But at a local Guitar Center he saw one that caught his eye because it had a “a really cool paint job called ‘antique burst’. I picked it up, I tried it and it was just one of those things where it clicked instantly…like I need this guitar!” Besides the new frets, LoPresti has ordered up new potentiometer pots and tuners and promises, “It will be back in action.”
The semi-hollow Zach uses for his bands is a D’Angelico Excel similar to the one used by his teammate Jeremy Savo; the difference is LoPresti’s piece has the stock Seymour Duncan humbuckers in them. “I wanted a guitar like this for a while…a semi-hollow body for the more jazzy stuff that I get into sometimes…I love this thing, I use it a lot…it’s got a nice, thick, warm sound when I want it, but it also punches through in a certain way.” He pointed out that the variable single coil/ humbucker pots that come standard give him the extra flexibility on tones which works well with all his bands.
Zach relies on two primary gigging amps - the Rivera Quiana sporting twin twelves and the Rivera Clubster 45 which carries a single ten. He admits the Quiana needs a ton of work- in fact, it no longer has a grill, but he relies heavily on it and it’s his go-to amp for shows, “It’s just sick, it sounds so good!” But his attention seems more drawn in the direction of amp simulation and plugging directly into a studio’s or a venue’s sound system, “Amp simulation technology has come so far…and I’m doing a lot of studio recording…and there is a company called Neural DSP which basically makes boutique amp simulators…they are so good. I own four of them…and I might be one of these guys that’s in the future not lugging around a tube amp to every gig but is using one of these floor things that just sounds incredible and replaces a tube amp and has way more options.” (Zach has pre-ordered Neural’s Quad Cortex model).
On influences, LoPresti cites his ‘go to’ player as John McLaughlin, but notes his tastes and styles have changed so much over the years that even a partial list of his heroes reads like a Who’s Who of premier guitarists: Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Jeff Beck, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Eddie Van Halen, Oz Noy, David Gilmour, Mike Keneally, and Robert Fripp. And in a touching tribute, he adds to the roster, “A lot of local players. My friends and peers are really great musicians. There’s a lot of great musicians around who inspire the hell out of me…and hopefully vice-versa.” No doubt about that.
Zach on his Loudo Imperium and bandmate Sam Gutman - Call and Response.