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Sevenstring.org Interview: Tom Kopyto
Sevenstring.org's Jerich interviews instrumental shredder Tom Kopyto.
Published by Chris
03-26-2005
Arrow Sevenstring.org Interview: Tom Kopyto

<div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/tk/tk_xlogo2.gif" alt="Tom Kopyto" />
<b>Interview: Tom Kopyto</b>
<font size="1"><i>By: Jerich</i></font>
</div>
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/tk/tk3.jpg" alt="Tom Kopyto" />
<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">Jerich</span>: Tell us about yourself.
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">Tom Kopyto</span>: I'm a solo artist, an instrumental shredder. Michael Angelo's MACE Music released my first instrumental CD in December 1999. I've also appeared on a few compilation CD's, including Lion Music's Tribute to Shawn Lane project. And I have an instructional DVD called "Terror Death Licks" that I did in 2001 with Chops From Hell.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Who do you consider to be your major Influences?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Dimebag Darrell, Jeff Loomis, Derek Taylor, Chris Poland, Chuck Schuldiner, Ty Tabor, Shawn Lane, Paul Gilbert (Racer X era), Alex Skolnick (Testament era), Vito Bratta, Nuno Bettencourt, Reb Beach, George Lynch, Killswitch Engage, Lamb Of God, Shadows Fall.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What instrument did you start on ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: A Harmony start style copy that actually played pretty nice. My amp was a Peavey Rage amp.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Do you consider yourself a Guitar Player or a Musician ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: A musician. I understand "guitar player" to mean someone who just plays guitar for the fun of it, playing their favorite songs and all that. Nothing at all wrong with that. Musicians create.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: How important is ear training for you ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Extremely. Music is an aural art. If the ears aren't trained you're missing an important tool for playing music. Plus, I think it improves the enjoyment of what you listen to when you can hear and really understand what's going on.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Your main guitar is what?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: My favorite 7-string is my old Ibanez UV7BK green dot.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What makes it so special to you?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: That's the first 7-string I ever owned and it's one of the first ever made. The serial number is #88 and the original trem was an Edge 7, not a Lo-pro Edge. I've done a bunch of modifications to it: sanded the body down, replaced all the original electronics with a single HB and single volume, replaced the original trem. The guitar is very comfortable to play and sounds pretty good.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Are you endorsed by anyone?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Curt Mangan Fusion Matched Guitar Strings and DiMarzio. Keeley Electronics has also helped me out with an artist discount, but I don't have a formal endorsement with that company. Not many people know about Curt Mangan strings, but have their own special tone to them that add an aggressive edge and dimension to distorted guitar sounds. Plus they're priced very cheap, and the website offers free shipping. Check them out at curtmangan.com, you'll love them.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I see you too are a Stylus Pick guy! How have they helped you?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Stylus Picks have helped to teach me how important it is to balance only the tip of the pick on the string when playing fast. And they've not only helped with my solo chops, but also fast rhythm playing.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What strings do you use and the Gauges for 7 string?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I play .008 -.038 for the top six and a .050 for the 7th. My strings are Curt Mangan Fusion Matched strings.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Your amps? & Effects used, Yes even Cables, and the tuning(s) you use ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I have an old Fender M-80 head that I run through a Genz Benz G-Flex 212 with stock speakers. My pedalboard has a Boss TU-2, Dunlop Crybaby, Keeley modded Boss MT-2, an Ibanez Tubescreamer and an ISP Decimator noise gate. I also have a Rocktron Gainiac preamp that I use for solos. All cables are DiMarzio. And for picks I like Dunlop Jazz 3's. The red ones, not the black. All my recorded material to date is standard tuned, with the 7th string dropped to A on some songs.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Might you have a secret weapon?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: My secret weapon would be the goofy twitch my upper lip I makes when I'm playing fast and difficult licks. When people are watching me play they get so distracted by the lip that they miss any mistakes I make. [laughs]

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I purchased the Boss MT-2 with the Keeley Mod I seen you used it and I have other Keeley products already. I love the Java Boost, Might you offer up some Settings?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: My MT-2 settings: Level 3:00 Low 2:00 High 1:00 Mids 10:00 Mid freq 11:00 Distortion 3:00 and I'm using the 3rd mode (switch right). I use the pedal this way direct with a BBE Sonic Maximizer and speaker simulation from my Roland VS recorder.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Micing or direct recording?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Everything I've put out to date has been direct. Lately I've been doing four tracks of rhythm guitar: 2 mic'd and 2 direct with the Keeley pedal. I like micing my lead guitars. I use a Shure SM57 right on the speaker grill.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Are you more of a Technique or feel player?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I like to think both. I "feel" everything I play, from quick stuff to slow melodies. Vibrato and bending, the techniques that I feel convey the most emotion in playing, are as important to me as how clean all my shred techniques are. Technique in general is very important to me because I want to be able to play whatever I want, exactly way I want to. I don't think having that attitude necessarily means that you have no feel.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What Kind of music education do you have ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I've done time at Berklee College of Music and at Roosevelt University in Chicago. I've studied jazz and classical theory, jazz and classical ear training and all that good stuff. I should also mention all the Hot Licks/REH videos that I studied and all the lessons out of Guitar World, GFTPM and Guitar Player magazines; that material was just as important to me as college.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Do you give lessons or have Lessons for sale? How can we get them?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I have an instructional DVD called "Terror Death Licks" that's available from the Internet's premier shred guitar site, ChopsFromHell.com. The DVD is 60 minutes long and has about 40 examples of legato, picking and sweep ideas. It's a technique building lesson and has material written specifically for the 7-string. TDL is also available in VHS and CDROM formats. Guitarists from all over the world have purchased it and the feedback has been very positive.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What makes you crazy in the music world today?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: It's crazy how commercial pop stuff is, like you have to hit the chorus of the tune in a certain amount of time and all that. It's also crazy that bands aren't playing all their own parts on their CD's because they can't play their instruments. Or when a pop star says something like, "And on this CD I even wrote a few of the songs myself...I mean, I helped a little with the lyrics..."

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What would be your dream gig?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: A situation where I'm free to play the way I want and write the songs I want and still make tons of money doing it.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: How do you warm up?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I have a set of Chinese massage balls, the ones that chime when you roll them around. I spend 5-10 minutes with those to get the blood flowing and then do some patterns to warm up. The first 4 or 5 alternate picking examples from my "Terror Death Licks" DVD is my warm-up routine.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What is your practice routine like ?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: For technique maintenance, I start the week with an equal amount of time split between 4 groups of material: arpeggios, pentatonic, modal ideas and intervals. I work on one or two ideas from each group; this becomes my assignment for the week.. The next day I only work on two groups, the day after the other two. By this time in the week I usually find some part of the assignment that I really need to work on, so I focus only on that particular idea for the next day. I finish the week alternating between the groups. All this is done with a metronome of course. When I'm recording I focus only on the parts that I'll be recording on that day or the next. If I'm working on new songs, then that becomes the priority. I also transcribe material from my favorite artists the help give me new ideas. Not just solos, but full songs.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What song or riff are you most proud of you have done?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Of my released material, I'll pick "Wicked" off of the Tribute to Shawn Lane project. But I have new quite a bit of new instrumental material that I've been working lately on that I'm the most proud of.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What is more important the Riff or the song?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: To me, they're equally important. What good is a well arranged song with a bunch of lame and boring riffs? Same goes for poorly arranged songs with absolutely killer riffs. The riff is the engine and the song is the car; one is useless without the other.

<img style="padding:20px;" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/tk/tk1.jpg" alt="Tom Kopyto" align="right" />
<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What would be something people would be surprised you listen to?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: People always give me weird looks when I tell them I really like Type O Negative and Machine Head. I think my music choices are predictable. My tastes are pretty much limited to metal and old 80's hard rock, I don't listen to much else. If it has heavy guitar in it I'll give it a listen...no heavy guitar and I'll probably ignore it.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What's your favorite guitar Technique?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I like to tap a lot. Not EVH style stuff, but scales and arpeggios across the strings. That's something that I picked up from Reb Beach, although I think I have my own way of doing it. Mike Romeo also does something similar, but also has a different way of doing it from what I do. And I like to mix in legato with alternate picking so that it sounds like every note is being picked when it actually isn't. I got that from Shawn Lane, Derek Taylor and Paul Gilbert.


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I find your Music to be more Rhythm related do you write them first?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Yes, I like to have a structured song with the coolest rhythm parts I can come up with before thinking about melodies or solos. And writing rhythmic riffs that groove and hit hard is very important to me, it's a skill I'm always trying to get better at. I like my rhythm parts be as interesting as possible.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What Guitar player out there do you think is doing great things on the seven string guitar? Does anyone Really impress you?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Jeff Loomis of Nevermore impresses the hell out of me. Great songs, great riffs and great solos. And Rusty Cooley, he's always pushing the boundaries of what's possible and that's extremely inspiring.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: This interview is being done for a website totally dedicated to the seven string guitar, How do you feel about that?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I think it's a pretty good idea. Many people I come into contact with still don't understand what the deal is with 7-string guitars, so a site devoted to it will hopefully school people on what the instrument is capable of.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: If I put you on a Desert Island with on a cd player what 7 cd's would you have to have?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Dream Theater "Images and Words", Carcass "Heartwork",Chris Poland "Return to Metaloplois", Pantera "Cowboys From Hell", Pantera "Vulgar Display of Power", Lynch Mob "Wicked Sensation" and Racer X "Live Extreme Volume 1"

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What do you have to offer the seven string community as a player?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I like to think that my songwriting style is a bit different from other 7-string instrumental shredders, a little heavier and rooted a little more in metal.

<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/tk/tk2.jpg" alt="Tom Kopyto" />
<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: What appeals to you about the seven string guitar as a guitar of choice for your music?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: The low end punch of the low B works great for riffing, and the ability to think horizontally instead or only vertically for soloing is great. Shred licks and arpeggios fit easier into one or two positions rather than having to do several position shifts.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Have you found out any secrets of the seven string you are willing to tell us?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: It's not really a secret, but one cool aspect of the 7-string is the ability to do scale sequences and arpeggios in octaves using repetitive shapes.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: If you were to improve on the seven string guitars design what would you like to add?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I don't know that I'd add anything, but I'd like to see Steinberger come out with a 7-string model with a graphite neck. It would be interesting to hear the low end of the 7-string with the clarity of sound that graphite has. A 7-string version of the 27 fret Horus model that Caparison has would be awesome. I'd also like to see DiMarzio expand it's 7-string pickup line with 7-string versions of the Humbucker From Hell, X2N, Fast Track 1 and Tone Zone S.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Where do you see Tom Kopyto in say, 10 years?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: 10 years older, hopefully wiser. And definitely a much better musician than I am today.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: Will you be going to ShredFest in NYC this year, or do you do Clinics?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: No shredfest for me. I've done clinics in the past but haven't been involved with that scene for years. Hopefully one day I can hook up with an MI company that has a clinic program.

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">J</span>: I want to thank you tom for this interview you are a hidden talent that people need to check out. Any last words?
<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Well first of all, thank you very much for the compliment. Check out my website - sound clips, links to lesson columns and all that good stuff, it's all posted there. Thank you very much for the opportunity to do this interview, and best of luck.

<div align="center">
<a href="http://www.tomkopyto.com"><span class="ivred">Tom Kopyto - Official Website</span></a></div>
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  #1  
By Digital Black on 03-28-2005, 10:34 PM
I have a few sets of thoses Curt Mangan Strings. Got them back in sept from the owner of a music shop I hang out at ( the cowner was one of the founding members of Warrent BTW). I was gonna review them here but never got around to it. C.M. Was once a rep for Ernie Ball ( or may still be). The string are pretty close in feel and look of EB's, just slightly duller. I wouln't be surprized if they are in fact made on EB machines...
  #2  
By Jerich on 04-04-2005, 08:09 AM
Tom is a killer guitar player and a Knowledgeable guitar player ,I have his DVD "Terror Death Licks",Anybody who is into heavy NEVERMORE Riffs with,Shred guitar that doesn't clogg your speakers with excessive Noodling TOM is for you. Thamks again Tom.
  #3  
By blister7321 on 05-12-2009, 09:39 PM
there is a 7 string X2N
  #4  
By Rick on 05-12-2009, 10:52 PM
This interview is also 4 years old.
  #5  
By mindsmoothieoby on 08-10-2009, 11:10 AM
This is my guitar teacher. That was pretty shocking, to come to this website and then find this here later.
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