Steve Lukather Explains Why Expensive Gear Won’t Make You a Better Guitar Player, Reveals One Valuable Guitar He Owns

To point out how the essence of one’s tone lies in their hands, Steve Lukather explained that there’s no magic piece of gear that will make any guitar player better. The Toto guitarist recently discussed this in an interview with Guitar World where he pointed out that great guitars and amps sure help but that they mean nothing in the hands of an inadequate guitar player.

The topic came up when he was asked whether he’d use “a really good guitar and a budget guitar amp or a cheap guitar and a high-end guitar amp.” He replied:

“Here’s a really good answer: there’s no magic guitar, no magic amp, there’s just magic people. I’ve played Eddie Van Halen’s guitars, Jeff Beck’s guitars, and I sound like me.”

Steve Lukather - All Forevers Must End (Official Audio)

“A great guitar and a great amp? Sure, that helps. How could it not? But if you give a 1959 Les Paul to a 10-year-old kid that can’t play it’s not gonna make him sound like Gary Moore. You know what I mean?”

During the interview, Lukather also shared a few details behind his rig by explaining:

“Two Bogner Helios run stereo just for some stereo delays and reverb. I put in the Gurus Echosex before the reverb that goes into the loop, which is this beautiful delayed chamber sound, still keeping your regular tone – you know, not buried in goo.”

Steve Lukather - Burning Bridges (Official Audio)

“I like a little goo, but I don’t want to be buried in it. I just got a couple of TC delay pedals. Hand-wired Jam pedals, a Rodenberg customised distortion box [Steve has a signature Rodenberg SL-OD pedal], a Bombastortion – Jeff Kollman’s overdrive pedal is killer, especially when you’re on high gain, you can get a little extra oomph out of it. I love it.”

“What else is on there? The Strymon [Lex] Leslie simulator and the Strymon reverb. A Jam wah-wah, I have a TC chorus and a TC long stereo delay. Also, I got a Uni-Vibe and I use my Music Man guitars – and that’s it.”

During the chat, Steve also discussed some of the great instruments that he has in his collection. When asked about “the most incredible find or bargain,” he brought up a 12-string guitar that he owns that’s of historical importance:

“It’s a treasured part of my collection, a Vox Teardrop 12-string like Brian Jones had. It has all the fuzz tones and all the stuff on, a palm wah-wah with the tremolo bar.”

The Rolling Stones Live on the TAMI Show 1964 (Brian Jones Plays His VOX Teardrop Guitar)

“It’s very strange and very rare and sought after. Tom Petty was buying a whole ton of them – those guys love all that stuff, you know? I bought it for 200 bucks, 35 years ago.”

Although rare, these old Vox guitars from the 1960s aren’t incredibly expensive. However, if we’re talking about an instrument previously owned by The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones, then the price is in a completely different territory. Lukather continued:

“God knows what it’s worth. Not only was it a great deal, but it’s such a weird one-off guitar with very unique sounds. It’s got that kind of ‘[(Can’t Get No)] Satisfaction fuzz tone sound on it.”

Rig of the Week # 17: 1968 Vox Starstream XII w/ 1960s Magnatone M10 Demo

“I don’t really go out collecting any more. I’ve got a lot of friends who do – Joe Bonamassa, who’s one of the greats of all time and a dear friend of mine. I mean, his house smells like an old Les Paul case!”

Up next, Lukather was also asked about any potential “buyer’s remorse” experiences when it comes to guitars. However, for Lukather, there seems to be more of “seller’s remorse” stories instead. As he offered:

“I’ve bought things that I thought I was gonna like more than I did or use more than I did, but I’d sell them or keep them. I have a few seller’s remorse [stories]. I had a ’58 Goldtop that I sold. I mean, I bought it for a couple of grand and somebody offered me $50,000 for it. And this was, like, 20 years ago, my daughter was going to college.”

STEVE LUKATHER solos

“I said, ‘Well, I haven’t played it in a long time,’ not thinking about the history that I had with that guitar. And I sold it to this Japanese guy for 50 grand, and I just took care of my daughter’s college for a year. 

“And then I had a 1960 Les Paul with a thin neck, like Jimmy Page’s, which I liked, but it didn’t sound anywhere near as good as my ’59 ’Burst. I didn’t play it for, like, 20 years. I figured if I didn’t play it for 20 years, I could get rid of it.”

“It was a great investment – what I paid for it and what I sold it for were like, okay, but then I’m going, ‘Why am I selling this?’ So I stopped doing that.”

Steve Lukather - When I See You Again (Official Lyric Video)

As of this moment, Steve Lukather is promoting his new record “Bridges.” Making it his ninth full-length solo album, it features a total of eight songs. On his official website, Lukather said of this album:

“I see it as a bridge between my solo music and Toto Music. The fact that Joseph Williams, David Paich and I wrote most of the record, and the fact I invited many of the old ToTo gang to come and play, co-writers like Randy Goodrum and Stan Lynch brings all this together.”

“It also proves that most of my old pals and I are still great friends, and I wanted to do a record ‘in the style of,’ as Toto will never record another studio album. This is as close as we will get.”

Steve Lukather - Run To Me (Official Music Video)

“We still love writing and creating and recording together, and we will no doubt continue to work with each other on our respective solo works. It’s complicated, and at the age I am now, I do NOT wish to do anything complicated.”

Photo: Gianni Guerra (Toto (114861761))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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