A passion for guitars

By Daria Gałązka

We all have passions; we are all interested in something. But not everyone is ready to set up their life around their passion. No matter what age you are, where you are from, who you are, or what may interest you, this guy is a great example of dedication, love and passion for the biggest part of his life – music. Patryk “Krupi” Krupiński not only has the biggest guitar collection I have ever seen in my whole 21 years on this planet, but he also does his own custom guitars, his love for music is visible from 10 miles away, and, personally, he impresses me a lot with his engagement with what he loves the most. Take a quick look at what he’s got to offer!

Daria Gałązka: How did it all start? Where does all this love for guitars come from?

Krupi: First of all, I was born to a family, where music was always present. My father used to listen to a lot of rock, Polish punk stuff, in general he was the man who spread music around my whole hometown and my home. My mother wasn’t really into music at all. She wouldn’t really care. So, my father was the person who planted the music seed in my heart.

Daria Gałązka: Your father listening to rock, punk must have had a huge influence on you later on. Don’t you think?

Krupi: Not only my father. In primary school I met a guy who was into more of the reggae stuff, like Bob Marley. I remember that one day he got from his parents an electric guitar. It pushed him to more of rocky jams, Guns N’ Roses, Slash, etc., and I enjoyed it with him. As I didn’t have my own guitar at that moment I would take his and play a bit on it simple tunes  —“Sweet Child O’Mine” for example. At that time, I decided that I needed my own guitar. Me and my father went to a local music store and bought my first acoustic guitar.

Daria Gałązka: Do you remember the model of that guitar?

Krupi: It was Yamaha F310. A typical beginner friendly one. It was beautiful and surprisingly it sounded incredible. Later on I compared it to some cheaper ones and more expensive, and the result was that my Yamaha was a very good bang for the buck. After that I got more into heavier stuff, where my friend stayed at his Slash tunes. I left him and approached the dark side, where Metallica was my first band to meet.

Daria Gałazka: Meet, but in what context? Did you meet them in person or just got introduced to their music?

Krupi: Found out about their music. Firstly, I saw “Nothing Else Matters” music video on YouTube, and really liked it. The thing that made me fall in love with that band was that white guitar, which was James Hetfield’s iconic Explorer guitar. Years after, I bought it, Hetfield being the reason of my purchase.  That guitar just looks insane, sounds insane and I had to have it.

Daria Gałązka: So that was the main bargaining chip of that purchase?

Krupi: Yes, the sound and the look. It looked so futuristic, so aggressive, the shape… just amazing. That guitar honestly shocked me.

Daria Gałązka: It’s very eye-catching. Very interesting looking.

Krupi: Absolutely. At the beginning I wasn’t much into the shapes, how it looked, but I guess, that guitar changed my perspective of how I perceive them right now.

Daria Gałązka: So, your musical roots. When you were younger, for example, 10 years old –did you listen to anything specific? Were you already influenced by your dad, or just a regular 10-year-old kind of musical ignorant.

Krupi: When I was younger, the only source of music really was my dad. He would never listen to metal, he hated it, to be honest. But at that time I was already playing piano, so, naturally, I was interested in how to play some notes and would eventually expand my horizons. Everything I ever learnt to play I learnt it by ear. Even later, any song that would seem to be interesting on YouTube – I would learn by ear. So, when I came across “Nothing Else Matters” I quickly learnt how to play it on piano by ear.

Daria Gałązka: Oh wow, that’s great. You’re a man of many passions. You play, you do custom guitars, you collect guitars, your collection is huge by the way, also I’ve seen some guitar covers on your Instagram page, you have a huge collection of CD’s, I assume. So, is there anything else you are interested in guitar-wise or music-wise?

Krupi: Not really. Some time ago I was very interested in bodybuilding. While training I enjoyed heavier music, heavier riffs, because they would give me more energy during sessions.  Because of me listening to heavier stuff during my trainings, I discovered more metal bands – Pantera, Slayer. Those two bands helped me to get into the very heavy sounds, also Metallica’s more thrash metal sounding songs, which, beforehand, I wouldn’t find pleasure in listening to. During that time I fell in love with the Black Album, Master of Puppets, even Death Magnetic.

Daria Gałązka: But did you go that far with bodybuilding as you did with guitars?

Krupi: No. I had to have a back surgery because one of my trainings went wrong and I injured myself. I laid in hospital for three months and since that time I couldn’t train as hard as I wanted, so I decided to give up on that passion. Now that things are getting better, I am planning to get back to the gym and continue my journey. I feel like music helped me to get back to my motivation and doing what I love. Absolutely did.

Daria Gałązka: How do you find the time, the money, I assume guitars are very expensive, to do all the things you do?

Krupi: I’m still young, I’m only 23 years old, but still try to make my own money. In the past I worked in Norway, Scotland, and got many jobs in Poland as well. Also, I used to sell music gear like headphones, speakers, etc., just before I got into the guitar world.

Daria Gałązka: So, basically you started out in retail, selling not instruments yet, but smaller music equipment.

Krupi: Yes, pretty much.

Daria Gałązka: What about the time? Doing all of it must be very time-consuming.

Krupi: I’m a weekend student, as well, so from Monday to Friday I have time for guitars and work. I work very hard to maintain my studies and work in a full-time job. Sometimes it’s hard to find time in the evening when I’m back home from work to find the time to customize guitars, to come up with the ideas, etc. But I think that if you want something you can do it.

Daria Gałązka: Motivation is the most important part here, in my opinion. If you’re a student, you must find the time to study, also the time to somehow earn money, which is not easy. It’s very telling about you that you are able to find the time, motivation, to invest in your hobbies and unleash your inner artist. That’s amazing of you.

Krupi: Thanks.

Daria Gałązka: Moving to your customs. Do you customize guitars just for yourself?

Krupi: Not really. Actually, some days ago, a guy from Bydgoszcz sent me his guitar, which he bought off Thomman website. A Chapman MLV Pro Modern lunar, very solid one, worth 5,000 zł. After he saw photos of my original Bloody custom guitar, he sent his Chapman to me and asked to recustomize it for him. He basically wanted the blood painted look. Yesterday, I painted it white and, in the next few days, I will make it look just like the customer wanted. He wanted to have “Help me please” written in fake blood, so the guitar will look quite scary. This guy is my first client who handed me his own guitar, but, in the past, I’ve sold many, many guitars I customized. It’s the first time I’m actually doing something for somebody’s order.

Daria Gałązka: That’s really great. In the future, expanding your custom shop could be an amazing experience and maybe even a great source of income. Have you thought about turning it into a full-time job? What kind of challenges might there be?

Krupi:  Though I’m set to my goal, I know how this business works in Poland, and turning it into a full-time job is impossible for now. I’ve seen many pictures from guys living in the US, Norway, who are doing customs. The difference is that they have lots of great luthiers, ESP custom shops around them, and for me living in a place where customs are not that popular would be impossible to make a living out of it. And for my plans for the future – I don’t know, I’m still a young guy, so we will see.

Daria Gałązka: OK, totally understand. How does the process of customizing a guitar look like? What do you do exactly? Do you buy some cheap-ass, punky ones and customize them or build everything from scratch?

Krupi: I’ve never built a guitar from scratch.

Daria Gałazka: So, you’ve never built the body of the guitar?

Krupi: No. I buy bodies with a neck, then I sit at my desk and try to figure out how I want it to look, sound. I’m thinking what kind of a pickup should I get, or maybe two pickups, what about the switches, what color of the knob should be the best, what color I should repaint the whole body, what about the neck and the inlays, the headstock, which tuners, etc. Basically, I get a plan for the whole sound and look of the finished product.

Daria Gałązka: In other words, you just buy something cheap, not great quality, and look at the guitar, think what might be working to make it sound incredible and look amazing. Really, just make it as iconic as Hetfield’s ESP Explorers, and then you make it happen. But is there anyone helping you during the process or is it just you?

Krupi: All the stuff I’m doing I do on my own, but sometimes my girlfriend helps me with paints. She was the one who came up with the idea of blood painted look. Back to Hetfield’s Explorers – my very first electric guitar was the white Explorer, very iconic looking, EMG pickups, black hardware, just amusing. Further answering your last question about the process  I just come up with the idea, buy pickups, and all the other electronics and everything I use to customize a guitar is high end, the best quality like EMG pickups, Grover’s tuners. I want my guitars to sound great, play great and look iconic.

Daria Gałązka: To build a whole guitar from a piece of wood must be very exhausting, time consuming, money consuming and must require a lot of knowledge. So even if you pass that moment and just buy it ready means you still must be very talented because I don’t think it’s realistic to come up with an idea one day that I will pick up a hobby of customizing guitars, and next day actually doing it. That’s amazing and congrats to you!

Krupi: Yes, I’m not experienced in building guitars, but, yes, in order to do that you need a lot of space, skills, machines, time, really good wood. I think I got a really artistic soul and my job there is to make the guitar sound and look amazing. I’m not the guy who wants to glue the guitar, cut the wood, etc.

Daria Gałązka: Understood. How much time does it take to do a full custom?

Krupi: I’d say for every guitar one month is completely enough, but it depends really. If someone wants to customize just his pickguard, that would be from one to two weeks; when someone wants to customize the whole thing, it will take a month time long or even more, just like in the case of the Chapman I’m doing now.

Daria Gałązka: OK. Let’s say, I’d buy the iconic Kill ‘Em All Gibson looking Electra Flying V from the ‘80s, the one James Hetfield used to play on and I would give it to you to customize it the way I want, would you be able to change a Gibson Flying V into Electra Flying V?

Krupi:  My answer is, why not? But remember to buy the Gibson in faded cherry finish, because the original Electra Flying V, the one Hetfield has was in cherry, and when he bought it, he painted it white. Now you can see a bit or cherry color under the paint, and to make it look like the original one, you shouldn’t buy the white version. A friend of mine actually got an Electra from 1970-something and it was in cherry.

Daria Gałązka: You’ve mentioned that your girlfriend sometimes helps you with the lacquers. How do you and she get all the knowledge?

Krupi: She was one of the best makeup artists, so she’s got a lot of creative ideas. She also knows how to make stage blood, fake blood, look really realistic, really good. Fake blood is the main theme of the original Krupi guitar, which I’ve just finished yesterday.

Daria Gałązka: What about you? How do you get all the knowledge? You must know electronics, and what would work great with what, etc.?

Krupi: It has been my passion for the past 10 years or so. I gain knowledge from magazines, YouTube, bands, also my dad is the guy who knows everything about the electronics. So, if I have a problem, I just call him and together we try to solve the problem. It was very interesting for me to get to know everything about the wiring, pickups, etc. Now when I look inside a guitar, I don’t have a problem with anything, but, at the beginning, it was a nightmare.

Daria Gałązka: Are there many people like you out there or is it a rare craft?

Krupi: I think what I do is pretty rare in this country. In my town, Białystok, I know only one guy who is a luther; he does fret leveling, simple stuff. But he’s not doing what I do. But no matter how many of us are there, no one does customs the same way. Every guitar is different, every artist is different, and that’s amazing.

Daria Gałązka: Do you think that YouTube is a great source of this kind of knowledge?

Krupi: Absolutely, YouTube is a great place to learn. I think learning notes, etc., from a video rather than a picture is way easier.

Daria Gałązka: Yes, I agree. You actually see it, hear it, not just stare into a picture. OK, are you doing any customs right now besides the Chapman one? And how much can a customized guitar of yours cost?

Krupi: Yes, I’m doing 4 guitars right now, all of which are going to be the blood theme. Two of them are Vs, one of them is a Stratocaster and the last one is a Les Paul.

Daria Gałązka: Is that all? When we were talking on Messenger you mentioned you were working on Hetfield’s Ken Lawrence and also Kirk Hammett’s Ouija Black one. How’s that going?

Krupi: These ones have to wait ‘till I finish the four other  ones. I’m hoping to finish them in around two-three weeks. One of them is going to be sold, another one I’m sending back to my client, and the other two I’m going to keep. When you buy a cheap, plain body, you need to invest in better quality electronics to make it really good. With all of that, all the paints and other stuff, other material, $400 is a good price. That’s the price I offered my client. I also use EMG pickups, everything high-end , so that’s something rare. But, also, it depends on what materials you want to be used – if we’re talking metal, that’d be more expensive than plastic, etc. When I was doing the Iron Cross guitar, my friend told me that he would be able to cut it from metal for just a bottle of Jack Daniels, so it’s also important to have people who are ready to give you a helping hand when you need it. In general, it depends, it’s hard to tell before actually doing the custom.

Daria Gałązka: But are we talking about thousands of dollars or hundreds?

Krupi: No, we’re talking about hundreds, absolutely. I’m not a professional, I can’t expect that much money.

Daria Gałązka: Do you have a band of your own, or have you ever been in one?

Krupi: I had been in one before, but it was just for fun. Right before starting  my college. I met a few guys, we were playing some covers of bands like Ghost, Metallica.

Daria Gałązka: So that was just a cover band?

Krupi: Yes, you can say it was a cover band. But when I moved to another town, the band stopped existing.  We aren’t in touch with each other, sadly. When you’re in college, have afull-time job and moved toplaces, I’m telling you, you don’t have time for a band. The only time when I got to play is in front of my computer really.

Daria Gałązka: Do you write anything on your own?

Krupi: Yes, sometimes. But I’ve never been a fan of showing it or recording it, sharing with my friends. When I do something creative, I just keep it to myself.

Daria Gałązka: Do you think that playing can improve our understanding of the instrument, or is it completely the opposite way?

Krupi: It absolutely helps to understand how an instrument works. I’ve played piano for five years and I think the guitar is the easier one to understand. Though, it may seem different because the piano has all the keys and you need to push them, etc., and the guitar has just strings and frets – it’s way easier for me to play the guitar.

Daria Gałązka: While scrolling through your Instagram profile, I’ve noticed that you also go to concerts. What’s the most memorable one you’ve ever been to?

Krupi: I’m a big fan of music, as you can see. I’ve seen Metallica once, in 2014, and Ghost three times. But the most memorable one has to be Ghost show in Warsaw. The band which was supporting them, I don’t remember their name, finished their set, then Ghost came to perform; they absolutely blew my mind. After the show, I went to the place where you can buy band merch; the guy who was sitting there was wearing a Ghost Crew hat, and I took a selfie with him because he seemed to be cool. After a few years, when the identities of Ghost’s members were released to the public, I found out that the guy I took the selfie with is one of their guitarists. That was great.

Daria Gałązka: Are there any plans for the upcoming year? This year, we all know, we’re not going anywhere, but  maybe next year.

Krupi: I don’t know yet. But if Metallica or Ghost comes to Poland next year, I’m buying tickets right away.

Daria Gałązka: Metallica will be having their 40th anniversary next year, so I’m sure they will be coming back to Poland, maybe not in 2021 yet, but for sure in 2022. I hope we will be able to meet in two years’ time.

Krupi: Yes, why not!

Daria Gałazka: Do you think that going to concerts helps to better understand the instrument? When you go to a show you can just look at the guitarists, or bassist, as in my example, watch how they place their fingers, in what position they are on the fret, etc. 

Krupi: That’s very helpful. When I want to learn how to play a song, the first thing I do, I just listen to it a hundred times. If there is a part of the song which I can’t figure out how to play, I go to YouTube and look for a live video, and I look at the guitarist, how he’s moving his hand, where it is on the fret.

Daria Gałązka: So, you don’t use any tabs or anything that would be pre-prepared by other people?

Krupi: No. I’m very ambitious about playing, so I always stay with the statement that learning by ear is the best option.

Daria Gałązka: OK, that’s impressive. I wouldn’t know how to play anything without the tabs, I’m still a beginner.  Lately, I’ve mastered “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters” on bass, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to do that without looking at Jason Newsted and his playing. When you see the creator of the song perform it live, you are sure that it’s supposed to be played like that, and when you learn something just from a tab that is written by someone else, you know it could be a completely different story.

Krupi: Absolutely, totally agree.

Daria Gałązka: After all, you need to have knowledge of how to operate the instrument. Do you have any degree in anything related to music besides the piano? Do you play anything else besides guitar and piano?

Krupi: No, I don’t play on anything else. I played bass in the past, but I would include it with a guitar. I sold all of my basses, though. I was attending a piano course for five years. It did really help me to understand how an instrument really works, how to glue it all to play really good.

Daria Gałązka: So, you don’t have any specific degree?

Krupi: No. Funny thing is that I’ve been learning how to play the piano for five years, but still can’t read the notes. Even on my exam, the teacher knew that I can’t read them, so I learnt the song by ear and passed it.

Daria Gałązka: Your collection is huge, at least from what I’ve seen on Instagram. How many guitars do you have at the moment?

Krupi: Including all the guitars that I am working on right now, that would be 24 or 25 in total.

Daria Gałązka: Twenty-five GUITARS? That’s a lot. How do you find the space to keep them all?

Krupi: Well, I’ve got some guitars at my hometown, I keep some in my flat, and got the rest at my girlfriend’s home. That’s the way to have the space for all of them.

Daria Gałązka: OK, that explains something. Do you have any special security or anything to prevent them from getting stolen or damaged? Temperature and humidity can have influence on the wood, etc.

Krupi:  No, to be honest, I don’t have any special place to store them. I‘ve had my white Explorer for eight years, I play it every day, I throw it on my couch, etc., and nothing really happens, it never needed any work. I got special cases for the guitars, which you can close. Each one of them stores eight guitars in the same line. It saves space and makes the guitars be stored in a safer place.

Daria Gałązka: Do you have an idol, someone who you look up to when you take a guitar and start to play?

Krupi: James Hetfield, he was the guy who inspired me to play all the riffs, learn how to play with downpicking technique and everything. He’s the guy who inspires me to pick up a guitar, the master.

Daria Gałązka: Last one. Any advice for people who are tired of their professional life and would like to start a journey like yours?

Krupi: Defining yourself, your personal style, hobbies, is the key. Nobody showed me how to do what I do; I learnt it all by myself. Practice, practice, and practice is very important.

Daria Gałązka: But do you think that being motivated, driven by the love for music, wanting to become who your idol is, like I always joke around that I’m the next James Hetfield, Jason Newsted, Cliff Burton, or Mike Starr, isn’t even more important?

Krupi:  Yes, absolutely! You cannot get bored, you need to still feel motivated. And when you finally achieve what you wanted is the best feeling in the world!

If you haven’t got enough of Krupi, here is where you can find him:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kruupi.riffs/?hl=pl

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kruupi.guitars/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdhyR1bZSg8jPskI5ctgykQ