The career of a guitar tech can be very rewarding, especially if that person gets a reputation for doing top quality work. In this interview, Alejandro Corredor shares some of his experience with LoveToKnow readers.
Meet Alejandro Corredor
Alejandro Corredor is the owner of A.C. Touring and Production Services. He also works as a stage manager and sound engineer and works both in the studio and on tour with some of the top names in extreme metal. Raised on the classic sounds of bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, he later became interested in the heavier sounds of hardcore punk (D.R.I., Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags) as well as extreme metal bands (Napalm Death, Paradise Lost, and At The Gates). He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Information About Being a Guitar Tech
Love to Know (LTK): Alejandro, what exactly does a guitar tech do?
Alejandro Corredor (AC): A guitar tech's work varies depending on the situation. Whether it's a national tour or an international tour with fly-out dates, the size of the tour and the slot the band you're working for has on the bill comes into account because it determines the amount of gear and tools you can carry with you. In most cases, a guitar tech is responsible for all aspects of guitar/bass maintenance, including:
- Re-soldering pick-ups or pots
- Replacing electronics or hardware
- Cleaning and polishing
- Maintaining amplifiers
- Changing tubes and re-biasing them
- Checking cables and making sure pedals and effects have enough power for the show
- Checking wireless systems for working frequencies and power as well
You also need to make sure the artists you are working for are comfortable on stage, have plenty of whatever they drink during the show, ha e enough guitar picks that are easily accessible, and so on.
LTK: What are some common problems that your clients come to you with?
AC: It's usually guitars that are hard to set-up or difficult to intonate. Other common problems include a nut that is not slotted correctly for the string gauge they use, noisy pots or electronics, or they want to try new pickups but are not sure which brand/model to use. That sort of thing.
LTK: If someone wanted to be a guitar tech, how would he or she get into that? Is there any special training or credentials that are required?
AC: It helps if you have worked with high profile artists of the genre you are mostly involved with. For me, this is the heavy stuff. That gives a prospective client some peace of mind when hiring you for the first time. It really helps if you are a player yourself and can talk to the artist in "musician" terms. You might want to train yourself in electronics; that way you are able to perform most amp repairs, check ground problems, etc. If you want to go all the way, having a background in sound engineering helps to set up monitor mixes, check for standing waves and acoustic anomalies in a venue. In the event the monitors or FOH engineer can't make a particular tour, you can step up to the plate!
LTK: How do you go about getting clients, in particular high profile clients?
AC: After you've done a couple high profile tours, word of mouth and having good references will usually help you get your foot in a lot more doors. If you did a good job, the artist or band can recommend you to their peers and you can be doing this frequently. After I did tours with bands like Carcass, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Suffocation and Brujeria, I found it easier to get any tech or sound job out there.
LTK: What are job prospects like for aspiring guitar techs? Are there a lot of jobs, or is it difficult to get into the field?
AC: You might want to start helping your friends in local bands. After that, you might get called when an out of town band rolls in looking for a tech or a sound guy. If the local promoter/agent can recommend you, you're in business!
LTK: What personality traits help a person in the field of guitar tech?
AC: Beside your technical abilities, it really helps if you are an easy-going person, reliable and can behave during a long tour. The road can be a tough environment, and some people might break after long periods of time away from home. So, proving to be a road dog definitely helps!
Many thanks to Alejandro Corredor for his time and to Julieta Randall for putting LTK in contact with Mr. Corredor. If you'd like to learn more, the best thing you can do is contact other guitar techs in your area and ask if you can observe their work. After all, experience is the best teacher of all.