“I’ve used 4x12 cabinets and heavy Marshall heads, but it almost felt unnecessary”: Jake Kiszka explains why he only used combo amps on Greta Van Fleet’s last album

Jake Kiszka onstage with his Gibson SG
(Image credit: Sergione Infuso - Corbis / Getty Images)

Greta Van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka has revealed that he only used combo amps in the making of the band’s recent album, Starcatcher – favoring them over the larger head and cabinet setups of some of their past records.

Kiszka is interviewed in the new issue of Guitarist and tells the magazine that the limitation was an intentional decision, rather than the result of circumstance. 

“In terms of amps, there was a blonde Fender Bassman and a Princeton ‘silverface’, both of them vintage,” Kiszka tells Guitarist

“[Plus] a Magnatone Twilighter and a Vox AC30, which I typically have in the studio for most records. But this record was particularly interesting because I limited myself to only using combo amps.”

Kiszka reveals he was loaned some 40 vintage guitars from Chicago Music Exchange – among them, the 4th Gibson ES-335 ever produced – for the Starcatcher sessions, so he clearly had options if he wanted them.

“I think one reason was [embracing] the limitation,” expands Kiszka. “The other was, a lot of the early great records we all love – those sounds came from just a combo. I’ve used 4x12 cabinets and heavy Marshall heads, but it almost felt unnecessary – it just moves so much air, even the lower-wattage stuff.”

The guitarist says that, working alongside their producer Dave Cobb, he also learned a lot about how to record combos, too. 

“It was an objective of mine to make one song radically different from the next,” says Kiszka. 

“Like, you might get to a song’s bridge and it becomes really spatial and outrageous. So it was quite dimensional: I was mic’ing with one up close, one two-foot back, one five-foot back, and then a room mic. And then kinda blending it in… If there’s reverb on the guitar, it’s [usually] the studio room itself at RCA.” 

Despite the access to that incredible vintage guitar haul, Kiszka says he still found a lot of time for his beloved ’61 Gibson Les Paul, notable for its SG-style body format. 

As he told Guitar World last year: “With an SG, I can let out my visceral, animalistic side as a player. That’s difficult for me to attain with anything else.”

To read Kiszka’s full interview, alongside an unmissable cover feature with Pete Townshend and a guided tour through Mark Knopfler’s upcoming guitar auction, head to Magazines Direct and pick up issue 507 of Guitarist.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.

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