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Home > Local Interviews > Dante Wehe
Columbus guitarist set to compete in Sam Ash
"The Best in Shred" national finals contest
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For The Fans, By The Fans.  Look Beyond The Mainstream.
Written By Neil Shumate
Published: January 11, 2011
California, get ready.

Columbus guitarist Dante Wehe is competing as a national
finalist at the Sam Ash “Best in Shred” contest on Weds.,
Jan. 12 in Cerritos, Calif. near Los Angeles. The winner will
perform live on stage with guitarist Steve Vai and win $20,000
in personalized guitar gear.

Wehe shredded his way through the Sam Ash store final’s
elimination round, then dominated the store finals to compete
in the regional contest held last month in Burbank, Ill.

“When they announced that I won I was just like ‘wow, this is
unbelievable, why did I win?’ I just didn’t understand,” said
Wehe, guitarist of Shadowbox Live’s house band BillWho?.
Winning regionals for creativity, a judge later told Wehe that
he was the most original compared to the seven competitors.

“I’m one of those guitar players when I listen to myself it’s like
‘eh, it’s kinda okay,’ but listening to the other people there it
was like, ‘wow, you guys are amazing and I can’t believe I’m
competing with people like you,’” said Wehe, 20.
Wehe was certain that Eric Potapenko of Cleveland would win the regional contest because his
structure and tone matched Steve Vai’s style.

“Steve Vai is one of my idols and I was just amazed by it,” Wehe said. “Steve Vai doesn’t want Steve
Vai playing with Steve Vai though.” They wanted somebody different.

In the final round Wehe said he will likely perform with a PRS 24-fret custom USA. Quite a step up from
the first guitar he ever played at the age of 14.

“My first guitar was an off-brand name. It had two letters on it and they don’t make those electric guitars
anymore,” Wehe said. “It said KG or something. It was seventy-five bucks from Sam Ash.”

Wehe first dappled in music when he was 13-years-old after his dad introduced him to piano and guitar.

“He showed me some easy stuff on piano that I picked up really fast, and I messed around with three
songs for like a year and a half,” Wehe said. “When my dad got a new guitar he showed me some
easy songs on it and I took off from there.”

Wehe recalled practicing The Nightcrawler’s “Little Black Egg” every day.

“I didn’t take it serious at first just noodleing around,” he said. “One day I started getting better and
better and I said, ‘This is really fun and I want to do this.’”

Before joining BillWho?, Wehe was a member of a prog-rock band called Twisted Hills during his
sophomore year in high school.

Wehe said his technique is all self-taught, but he credits Columbus teacher Jeff McCargish for
expanding his skills and encouraging musical endeavors.
Audio: Interview B-sides
“I’ve had guitar teachers, like I’d go to two lessons and
stop because I couldn’t afford it,” Wehe said. “In high
school I went to Fort Hayes Career Center for music
and the teacher [McCargish] was a guitar player and
he showed me a lot of jazz stuff and theory.”

This year Wehe said he will continue with Shadowbox
and he also plans to work on a new project.

“I’m not looking to be in any other band at all. I’ve been
making myself a better guitar player, that’s why I
haven’t been joining any bands,” Wehe said. “I’ll be
working on original stuff with Matt Hahn [BillWho?] and
focus on technique and practicing to get better and
better.”
The Best In Shred contest finalists will attend the annual NAMM (National Association of Music
Merchants) Show while in California. Wehe said the contest winner will also perform at the conference.

“I’m just happy I get to go there, I’ve always wanted to go,” Wehe said.

Thinking about his success in the contest, Wehe made some thanks:
“Number one thanks to Jeff McCargish, my teacher at Fort Hayes. He’s still with me trying to show me
everything he can. Always trying to make me the best guitar player I can be and giving me advice on
everything. I’d like to thank Matt Hahn from Shadowbox’s band.  And I thank Sam Ash for hosting the
event. It made me sit down and write something really good. It inspired me to do it.”

Wehe plans to keep the same performance of his five-minute winning solo for the final round, but with a
few additions and tweaks.

“The structure is all the same, but I changed up a few little licks here and there,” he said. “I think I got it
set now to something that’s really competeable with all the other guys. I’m real proud of it."
Dante Wehe performs in BillWho? All photos submitted.
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Out Of The Blue Publications
Wehe's winning regional solo