Chunky, weighty and extraordinarily articulate, Mark Tremonti’s electric guitar tone on the new Alter Bridge album, Pawns & Kings, is nothing short of sublime.
His tone can be largely attributed to his high-output humbucker-loaded PRS Tremonti signature guitar, and an accompanying array of guitar amps, including his signature PRS MT100, its baby brother, the MT15, a Cornford RK100, an Omega Ampworks Granophyre and two high-class Dumbles.
But as he explains in the November issue of Total Guitar, one of the most significant components of his sound came from a far cheaper part of his rig: his choice of guitar pick.
In fact, Tremonti reveals that he embarked on a quest to “try every pick ever made” – though we’re not sure if such a feat is even possible – in order to see if a change could help improve his tone and playing.
“[The pick is] the thing that you’re interacting most with on your guitar,” he muses, justifying his ambitious experiment. “It’s how you touch the guitar, so it’s important.”
Though he doesn’t dive into much detail on how many different guitar picks he went through in search of the perfect one, he reveals he has new favorites in Dunlop’s 1mm and 1.35mm Flow picks, which reside on the heavier side of the spectrum and feature beveled edges to minimize drag, along with a pointed tip for extra attack.
“It made a huge difference,” Tremonti says. “Now I can’t look back.”
Tremonti is widely touted as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, but as he explains, he placed more emphasis on being a songwriter than a lead guitar player during the making of Pawns & Kings.
“After being known as a guitar player for so many years, I always feel pressure, like I have to live up to something,” he explains. “Being a writer excites me way more than being a lead guitar player.”
He continues: “If I just spent my time sitting down, one hundred percent trying to be an excellent guitar player, you might hear a very different, more technically proficient guitar player, but I’d much rather create songs.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Tremonti’s Alter Bridge co-guitarist and frontman Myles Kennedy reveals how he used his PRS Tele-style model – custom-built for him by “Paul and the Gang” at PRS to harness the sound of a selection of vintage Telecasters he played during the sessions for his latest solo album, The Ides of March – for nearly all of his playing on Pawns & Kings.
“I have a real fondness for those early Telecasters, so you always wonder if there’s a way you can combine elements with a more contemporary approach in something that would be very versatile,” Kennedy says. “It’s like a P-90 meets an old Blackguard-era Telecaster sound.”
On why he opted to use the guitar for the majority of his guitar parts on the album, Kennedy adds: “It cuts – it’s all there. It’s got its own place, especially with Mark who’s using humbuckers. It helped distinguish the sound.”
Read the full interview with Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy in the November issue of Total Guitar, available now via Magazines Direct.