Send a Message to Juan Vega

Jazz That Breathes...

Hitting the 'Real Book' at Buster's, So. Pasadena, CA


My names Juan Vega. Thanks for visiting my web page! I live in Eagle Rock, CA, USA, and have been playing guitar for more than 30 years (!) I was born in Cuba, and came to the States when I was 6 years old. I started playing guitar when I was around 13 years old; my first guitar was one of those plastic jobs that Sears sold back in those days. Towards the end of my high school years, I was able to put together a usable electric rig, and I began playing in earnest, with Top-40 cover and Latin-rock bands (mostly Santana stuff). I consider myself primarily self-taught as a guitarist, although I did study briefly with Jimmy Wyble while I was in college (at Immaculate Heart College in L.A), and I also took one semester of classical guitar instruction with a fine player named Richard Pattie.

Stylistically, I regard myself primarily a straight-ahead jazz guitarist, but I enjoy playing blues, funk, Latin, and even rock tunes if the opportunity presents itself. I play pretty regularly with my trio, which is composed of my friends Ron Javorsky on bass, and Kurt Medlin on drums. We've been playing for over 4 years now, & have a fine musical rapport between us. Both Ron & Kurt are great players, & we usually don't rehearse; we do lots of 'Real Book' material, & 'arrange' it on the stand. Id like to think that I have my own voice on the guitar, but honestly speaking, I feel I have a ways to go before I can make that claim with a straight face. Hey, thats what keeps people playing, right?

Feel free to send an Email or a message; I'd enjoy corresponding with musicians that have similar, or even completely different musical perspectives.

Equipment, etc.

I have the usual bunch of stuff (instruments and accessories) that guitarists tend to accumulate over the years, but lately Ive been using my Epiphone Howard Roberts model guitar for the most part. The Howard can be a tough instrument to control, as it has a tendency to feed back, but I enjoy the look and feel of it, and it sounds really nice as well. I've installed a Kent Armstrong pickup on the guitar, and I'm really pleased with the difference it's made. The stock Epi pickup had a rather 'harsh' sound, and the KA has rounded out the sound of my guitar nicely. I also use my Epi Sheraton II quite a bit too; its a great guitar, and sounds well in all musical settings. (Im surprised that more players dont investigate the Sheraton II, since it does everything a Gibson ES-335 does, at a fraction of the price.) I used to use a bunch of stomp boxes (compressor, delay, distortion, chorus, etc) when I played, but for the past 4 years or so, its just been guitar, cord, and the amp. My main amp is a Roland Cube 60 Ive had for more than 20 years. Its compact, light, sounds great, has plenty of power for what I need, and the only attention its ever needed was to have one of the jacks replaced. I also have a Peavey Special 112 that rarely leaves the house, but which has a great clean tone, should I need 160W RMS. The Howard is strung with either flat-wound or half-round strings with the .012 on top (usually DAddarios). My other guitars have either an .010 or .011 on top, but Im thinking of moving everything over to the heavier gauge; the heavier strings sound better, & help build strength in the fingers. I make my own picks; they're super-heavy, & ground to fit the old Fender 'jazz' picks that they don't make any more.

Musical Influences

  • Miles Davis - the master of space and innovation
  • Thelonious Monk - a truly unique musical genius
  • Joe Farrell - an under-appreciated musician who died way too soon

Favorite Recordings

  • Marc Ribot, 'Rootless Cosmopolitans'
  • Steve Khan, 'Let's Call This'
  • Miles Davis, 'Kind of Blue'