It’s no secret that John Petrucci is an amazing guitarist, and definitely deserves all the praise he gets. But have you ever thought about what goes on behind-the-scenes for his live shows? Guitar tech Maddi Schieferstein is John’s go-to for all things guitar-related, and has been with Dream Theater since 2009. You may have seen him on interviews like this where he walks through parts of John’s rig and live setup, but the fans have simply wanted to hear more from Maddi. That’s why the blog at the Music Man website has now began to feature a brand new series, straight from the mouth of Maddi, called Maddi’s Corner. Oh yes, we gonna nerd right out.
From working for artists from Deep Purple to Pat Travers, Maddi’s been in the industry for well over 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge to share. So not only does Maddi’s Corner feature loads of great stories from a great storyteller, but also a ton of hands-on information right from the source. In this first edition, Maddi talks about how he got started in the business, and how he ended up working with the one and only John Petrucci. Below are a few excerpts.
“Most of you may know me as John Petrucci’s guitar tech. John is of course the guitarist extraordinaire of Dream Theater. I first got to know John back in 1998 when I was working for Deep Purple. Dream Theater were one of the support acts on that tour along with Emerson Lake & Palmer. I have been a fan of Dream Theater since I first heard Images and Words. I have always been a huge gearhead and John was always known for having a massive amount of gear. I remember I would purposely walk by his rig everyday on that tour and try to map out how it was all connected, I was so impressed that on each show of that tour I would sit at the front of house during their set. That was a fun tour for me.”
“While working for Pat [Travers], we ended up playing a noon slot on a festival in Scandinavia called Sweden Rock Festival. Some of you may have heard of this festival or even attended it at some point. It is one of the premier summer festivals to play. Back then it was much smaller that it is today. The day we played, Black Sabbath (during the Tony Iommi, Tony Martin, Neil Murry and Cozy Powell incarnation) were headlining. While I was setting up in the morning, one of the crew guys for them and I started chatting. He was a nice guy called Charlie. Turns out we both lived in Orlando, Florida. By the end of the night I was taking on the entire Sabbath crew in a drinking contest to which I lost, but held in there till the bitter end. To be young again…”
He also throws in a few useful guitar tech tips here and there, which for this week revolve around tremelo and floating bridges. Bridges like these can be a pain in the hiney if you’re unfamiliar with setting them up, so we sure are glad Maddi is here to drop some knowledge.
“I see lots of people on the Ernie Ball forum talking about the floating tremolo bridge on the guitar leaning forward or pulling back after a string change. The first thing I would look at is if the same gauge of strings was used. If you put heavier strings on, the bridge will start to lean forward (the back of the bridge will be above the guitar top). The same for lighter strings, but in the inverse, the bridge will pull back into the body. To adjust this, you need to adjust the spring claw in the tremolo cavity. This might sound daunting if you have not done this, but believe me, it is not.”
There’s a ton of useful information here to learn from, and Maddi does a great job of going in-depth with these different topics. Whether you want to hear more fantastical tales of Mr. Petrucci or learn how to setup your guitar, Maddi’s pretty much got you covered. To read the entire blog post from Maddi’s Corner, head here and enjoy the ride!