When Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti teamed up to release Alter Bridge’s most recent album, Pawns & Kings, earlier this year, it brought with it an array of characteristically infectious electric guitar riffs – the heaviest of which, it was recently revealed, were actually written by Kennedy.
One of the standout riffs for which Kennedy was responsible can be heard on Fable of the Silent Son – which, at eight minutes 22 seconds, is officially the band’s longest song, and was inspired by a baritone guitar once owned by a late jazz rock legend.
Speaking to Guitarist, Kennedy revealed Fable of the Silent Son was influenced by one of Walter Becker’s old Alembic Orion guitars, with the Alter Bridge maestro explaining he purchased the late Steely Dan member’s guitar at auction three years ago.
“True story: I’m a massive Steely Dan fan, and when Walter Becker passed away I bought one of his Alembic [Orion] baritone guitars at an auction [in 2019],” he revealed. “That was what inspired that sludgy riff in the first half of that song when I was demoing it.”
However, Kennedy went on to admit the Alembic Orion in question can’t actually be heard on the record – as it turns out, Kennedy was far too precious about it, and didn’t want to take it out of his own studio to fly with it.
The auction that hosted the Alembic Orion took place on October 18 and 19, 2019, and held by Julien’s Auctions. The two-day event saw the sale of over 600 guitars and 400 amps, and fetched a total sum of $3.3 million.
As such, it’s likely the baritone Kennedy bought was the 1995 Alembic Orion guitar that was eventually snapped up for $3,200 after a relatively tame bidding war on October 18, 2019. The guitar itself, which had an estimated price of $2,000, features a walnut, bubinga, maple and ebony construction, and sports two Alembic HG pickups.
Fable of the Silent Son also featured Tremonti’s own guitar, which was tuned “way down in A or A#”, with the Creed guitarist labeling the track as having “one of the lowest tunings we’ve ever done”.
“It was by far the hardest song, at least for me, to put together,” Kennedy concurred. “There’s at least, jeez, three time-changes in there – it always keeps you guessing.”
According to Kennedy, Becker’s Alembic Orion baritone wasn’t the only influential guitar to inspire the proceedings of Pawns & Kings – he also used his unique Telecaster-shaped PRS model, which was first spotted live in June this year.
And, in his most recent conversation with Guitarist, Kennedy expanded on his fondness for the design: “I love guitars with a story. I also really love Blackguards, Broadcasters, Nocasters and the first two or three years of those Telecasters were amazing.
“So I somehow convinced [PRS] to build this creature for me and I love it. It sounds great. It’s all over this record: 80 percent of the rhythms are that guitar, and all of the solos. It has a single-coil tonality, but, to me, it’s almost like a really aggressive P-90. It complements Mark’s humbuckers really well.”
To read the full interview with Alter Bridge, and to explore the best guitar gear of 2022, head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Guitarist.