Session Guitar: Another Day in the Studio
I thought I would do another blog about a typical day in the studio. I'll be describing, in very quick detail, all of my thoughts, actions and concerns on making it through the day.
I start every day practicing — at least two hours. Especially since I'm trying to start a new career as a guitarist as opposed to a studio guitarist. It seems most of my time in the studio these days is spent playing very simple parts or having my hand on a mouse! That's not a good way to keep your chops up, or more importantly, to grow musically!
That is priority number 1.
I look at my schedule, check my email and Facebook to see who has sent in a project or who needs to discuss a project. I'll get my day in order and line up any phone calls or Skype calls and get to work.
Two country songs are in need of solos and ear candy. Earlier, I had done the basic tracks with acoustic guitars, and now the vocals have been added. I like to hear the vocals before soloing; it's always nice to know the song's emotion. That way, if it's a hatred thing, I can solo nasty! Or if it's a love song, I can be sweet and tender.
My guitar choice for country is a no-brainer — the Line 6 JTV-89! Why not a Tele or a Les Paul? Both seem to be typical country/pop guitars today. Here's why: I don't own a Tele! I never found one I liked to play. But I love my JTV. It feels like a hot rod, models a Tele perfectly, and I can actually play it well. I choose that for my solos. For the different parts, I just switch the dial to the Les Paul model on the Variax. No time wasted! The Les Paul is my favorite model on the JTV — position 5. I use it for sweet extra lines to float through the pre-chorus and choruses.
After listening back, I realize both songs can benefit from a bit of Rickenbacker-like 12-string chimey strums. Simple. Switch to the 12-string Rick model, transpose the key using the virtual capo, use a different voicing to add this color to the second verse and bridges. By the way, I used my Line 6 DT-25 into a 2x12 Laney cabinet. I chose "amp 1" for the cleaner sounds and "amp 4" for the dirty lead sounds, adjusting the gain and tone to suit, all done in less than two hours.
Next I take these songs and do a rough mix of each to send out. I also include end-to-end WAV files in 44.1-24-bit stereo waves of each track. I send them affected and dry. I NEVER send direct guitar parts for someone else to decide what sound to use. I know this has become a standard industry practice, but what the fuck? I mean they hire us for our playing and our style, and a big part of that is my sound. It is my voice! I am in complete disagreement with this and would turn down the work before I let another person re-amp or remodel my playing and turn it into garbage. Yes, this has happened to me. Never again. I'll lose the money and future work before I do. Just say no!
My next job is to play a metal solo on a dance track! I just knew I'd need my Ibanez RG 2550. The main reason? The whammy bar. I knew this solo, by its very nature, would be a caricature of a metal solo, so all the typical elements needed to be represented. I'm not a metal player, but in my world, I know I can be anything for 16 bars.
For the amp, I chose the HD500 Line 6 floor board. I love the dual amp modeling and the Treadplate models are over- the-top with sustain and tone when combined with almost any one of the distortion boxes included. I like to set it up with a Tube Screamer or Tube Drive. This solo takes me some time: three hours. I want it to be aggressive and melodic. I literally setup six tracks for the solo! I know that there is no way I am going to be able to do all the different styles in one shot. Maybe after it is done I could relearn it and play it again, but why bother? It's done. I play a few bars till I am happy, then move on to a new track. When I am happy I cross fade the end of one into the other. It is seemless and I sound like a god. But I am not a guitar god! I am a studio guitarist.
After the solo is completed I go and double some lines and harmonize a few others. Repeat the ritual of doing a rough mix. Then doing the dry and effected wave files to be sent out. I use DropBox or HighTail for my transfers.
Enough for one day. It's time to work on my music again. Summer is almost here, so I'll be putting up a new song — "Simmer" — on my website. If you get a chance, take a listen. Many of the same elements used in this blog were used on that song.
Till next time …
Ron Zabrocki is a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. Says Ron: "I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just thought everyone started that way. I could sight read anything within a few years, and that helped me become a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could find and had some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played several jingle sessions (and have written a few along the way). I’ve “ghosted” for a few people who shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I get the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.
You Might Also Like...
11 hours 58 min ago
16 hours 38 min ago
Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown, Round 1: JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Vs. JDF2 Fuzz Face Distortion17 hours 8 min ago
17 hours 9 min ago
17 hours 47 min ago
18 hours 35 min ago
19 hours 33 min ago
In the Magazine
Most Commented Articles
GUITAR WORLD ON FACEBOOK
Guitar World on Twitter
- 1 of 89