Session Guitar: A "James Taylor Meets Slash" Project? Just Another Week in the Studio!


It is Monday morning as I am writing this blog. I was looking over my work load for the week, and I realized you might be interested in seeing what this week holds for me.

As a session guy, I never really know what to expect. I have to be prepared to play as many styles as possible. And this week I will definitely have to call upon my experience to make this happen! Here are my thoughts on gear and how to tackle this week in heaven or hell. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out!

The first song on my list needs to be played in a modernized, 1940s, big-band style. Basic chord/melody/vocal charts have been supplied. For this, I will need old-school comping skills and modern groove playing, along with touches of ear candy. I might actually be miking up an amp with a ribbon mic for the comping, and I might use my 1949 L7, just for the vibe. Other than that, well, you know me — Line 6 HD500 all the way!

Next on my list is a song for a certain singing "soprano." Not the opera kind. The TV kind. His song is, now get this, in an oldies/country/Christian style! When I think along those lines, I'm certain the JTV-89 will come into play in the Tele mode. And I choose this guitar for the best reason of all: I have never found a Telecaster I liked to play. The Line 6 does a killer job modeling it, and I get to have the sound but played on a comfy neck. Heaven.

Next are two more country songs, so my setup will remain the same. However, I am certain to be adding acoustic guitar. I love my old Alvarez and am really loving some old Beyer mics with some Summit leveling amps. TLA-50's. Magic boxes. Probably through an SSL Alpha pre to keep thinks bright and open.

The next song is from a new client, and it seriously interests me. I have no real idea what the track will be like, but the description is this: Slash meets James Taylor! (Notice my picture of my Slash-meets-Taylor monster!) How do you say no to that? Will there be a Les Paul hanging from my neck? You bet! I doubt my Marshall will be mic'd, though. I have my own custom HD500 sounds that clients are extremely happy with. Sorry I haven't posted them. No time. But dual treadplates are my guilty pleasure.

There also are two straight pop-rock songs, preparations for a future vocal pop production and arrangements for a jazz guitar/vocal with possible trio or quartet project. This is actually a light work week.

I'm easing up on the sessions because I must also make time to complete my next ("solo") guitar offering by September. This is particularly challenging because I want the songs to be cinematic! (And yes, I am expecting them to be used in various forms of media.) I always thought movie music sounded better sonically than the typical radio, for lack of a better term, or popular music. I am trying to attain that quality from my humble, yet well-equipped home studio! (And let's not forget to make time for studio maintenance!)

Add a few showers, some practice time, exercise and sleep ... and there's my week. How's yours looking?

Till next time …

Ron Zabrocki on Ron Zabrocki: I’m a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just believed everyone started that way! I could pretty much sight read anything within a few years, and that aided me in becoming a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could and was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played many jingle sessions, and even now I not only play them but have written a few. I’ve “ghosted” for a few people that shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I got the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.

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