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Scott answers your questions - round 2.31 - 12/30/12 *** NEW

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Joined: 14 May 2004
Posts: 278
Location: Boulder, CO

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:33 pm    Post subject: Scott answers your questions - round 2.31 - 12/30/12 *** NEW Reply with quote

I know how you like short guitar cables. what about speaker cable going to your cab? Are you also particular about the brand, length? Sometimes I have to run a 10 feet speaker cable in my home studio ,just because of space issues, so I thought about your preference for short cables.

If the cable is 10 gauge and under 10 feet long, you might not hear a difference in brands. I use Mogami Marshall Sound Runner 10 gauge cable for everything. For stage, my cables are just long enough to get from the amp to a cabinet with the jack on the bottom, because I get those on the road sometimes when renting cabinets. In the studio, it's about 20 feet.

Scott do you transcribe outside of jazz idiom? i mean blues, rock, funk etc?
if yes, what was the last lick or tune or artist which you transcribed?
do you use a transription software?

I transcribe anything I like. A couple months ago I was transcribing Kirk Fletcher with my students and we all learned some killer blues licks. I don't use any special software - I just do it the old fashioned way, a few notes at a time.

Hi Scott.

Just got the HBC record and I must say that it is one of your best albums so far. Your tone is just MINDBLOWING! I think it's even better than on X. Jeff and Dennis are also simply genious on it.


What guitar did you use on footprints?

It's a Line 6 Variax - the jazz box model at the neck pickup position, through an 18 watt Badger.

You mentioned in the previous round that you had used z vex fuzz factory on mysterious traveler. How do you set it to get that crazy tone?

These settings might not work exactly because each Fuzz Factory is different, but start here:

volume 11 o'clock, gate off, comp 10 to 11 o'clock (that's the important one, as it determines the cut-off of the note. It needs to be adjusted so that the pedal doesn't make noise when you're not playing, but turning it too far the other way will choke the note too much), drive all the way up, stability almost all the way up (but I have another Fuzz Factory which sounds the same when this knob is at 3 o'clock, so like I said, the settings vary on each pedal).

Also you said something about an upcoming tour with Tribal Tech. Could you share some more details?

We're touring Asia in March, and Europe in the summer. I'll post the tour dates for March on my web site soon.

Thanks again for the show in Poland last week. You guys were on fire that night! Hope you will come back soon.
Best Regards!

That was a fun show!

Hello scott
Have you heard of david bray and his work on plexi modding etc? if yes what you think of that?

Check the Index under AMPS.

Also do you possibly know how to get in contact with kerry wright? seems there's no site to get in contact with him. most likely gonna do some international business with him so i need some info on that. If you can help that'd be really great.
Thanks a lot

I talked to Kerry - he only handles shipping in the US. For overseas sales, you need to go through Dave Phillips at LA Sound Design. His number is (818) 845-8663.

Hey Scott,

It was great meeting you and seeing you play at Paradox, Tilburg, The Netherlands! I also enjoyed chatting to you about gear.

I've received one of the new Creamback speakers and I like them very much. Did you receive them already and how do you like them?
I'll probably replace the G12H30 I've got it combined with since I find the highs of the G12H30 too shrill compared to the Creamback.
Best regards,

The Creambacks sound great, but this is what I thought when I A/B'd them to Greenbacks. The regular Greenbacks are a little more scooped and vintage sounding compared to the Creambacks, which have more emphasis on the mids. The Greenbacks are more full range with a lower frequency in the bass, which is why I like them more - in the mix, notes sound bigger with the Greenbacks, and since I play trio most of the time, I want the guitar to sound huge. The strong point of the Creambacks is that they definitely sound creamier in the mids. Actually, a good comparison for switching from Greenbacks to Creambacks would be switching from single coils to humbuckers, which gives you the same kind of result - less bottom but a creamier midrange. I played some notes with my humbucker guitars through the Greenbacks, and it sounded pretty close to Creambacks with single coils, so I plan on continuing to use the Greenbacks and if I want a creamier tone with less bass, I'll use a guitar with a humbucker.

Hey Scott, heard you had some amp troubles at the gig in Mumbai. Sorry I couldn't make it, I had a gig in Bangalore the same night. Just letting you know - you're more than welcome to borrow my OD100 Classic+ the next time you're here. Tell Sandy he can find me through Sunny or Pozy. Come back soon! - Warren.

Thanks Warren, the problem wasn't with the amp, but with the speaker cabinet. Sandy and and his crew made a cabinet for me a couple years ago which was a copy of my 8 ohm open back Kerry Wright cabinet. Sandy assumed that the cab I was using that night was the same one, but some knucklehead got it and changed the wiring - it caused the amp to shut down because of an ohms mismatch. That didn't happen at soundcheck because the amp wasn't being pushed like at the gig. When I checked the wiring of the cabinet after the show, I saw that it was wired completely wrong, for any intended purpose. I learned a big lesson that night - don't assume anything. I had plenty of time before the show to check the wiring and fix it, so I was very pissed off at myself for not doing it.

In Belarus, the amps they rented had major problems. Because of those two incidents and a few on the previous tour, we've changed the amp section of the rider from being polite, to being extremely un-polite. I never wanted to present a diva-style rider to promoters, but due to ridiculous overweight prices, I can't afford to bring my amp on the road anymore. Rented gear has turned a few shows into disasters and I don't want to put up with it anymore. Most of the promoters we work with are very nice people, but they have to understand that all the hospitality and nice restaurants in the world don't mean anything if the show sucks. If you're on the road renting gear, I suggest this approach:


Two 16 Ohm 4x12 Marshall straight cabinets. NO SLANT CABINETS!! Proper ohms and wiring must be checked by a technician. NO CABINETS RE-WIRED BY THIRD PARTIES!!

Both cabinets MUST have Greenback or Vintage 30 speakers. NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!


Two Marshall DSL 100 watt heads, in perfect working condition.

BOTH HEADS MUST BE THOROUGHLY CHECKED BY A QUALIFIED AMP TECHNICIAN!! Some of our shows have been ruined by blown up amps coming from unprofessional rental companies. You are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for making sure that your rental company provides you with amps in good condition. ANY AMP GIVEN TO US IN IMPROPER WORKING CONDITION WILL NOT BE USED.


The rest of the rider is in normal font, so this section really sticks out - hopefully there won't be anymore problems in the future. If we start having problems with the bass and drum gear we'll do the whole rider like this, or just call up each promoter and threaten his family…

Hi Scott, there's a video on youtube with you and Steve Trovato playing a blues together. I hope you like the video as much as I do, it's so great the way you play, thanks for being such a big inspiration everytime you play!!
Can you tell us something about the Tele you play? Is it yours? It seems to me that it has 3 single coil, am I wrong? Which pickup are they? The crunch sound comes from the SD9 with the Fender hot rod deluxe?
Thanks a lot

I haven't seen the video but that's not my guitar, it's Steve's. I'm pretty sure the pedal was a Tube Screamer.

Hello Scott,

Longtime admirer of your work (as well as Willis’ and Kinsey’s. BTW, when’s Covington’s first record coming out?).

ha ha

Saw TT during your Reality Check tour at some bar near Albany, NY. The venue's sound was subpar but it was great to see the band. The next time you guys toured around the Albany, NY area, you wisely chose The Van Dyck. Better sound and more intimate setting.

That's a great sounding room - I love playing there.

Anyway, great news that TT will tour! I'm sure I speak for most of the fans that it would be appreciated if you guys did a live TT dvd/cd package (maybe throw in a t-shirt and some signed memento). Obviously, you guys are one of the great fusion bands and not to have an official live recording is a shame.

Live recordings are difficult - it's rare when both the sound quality is good, and we like the performance.

I enjoy some of TTs more atmospheric / slower pieces like Song Holy Hall (spine tingling playing BTW), You May Remember Me, and Sojlevska. Any story behind what inspired Song Holy Hall?

All those songs started out as jams with no pre-written material, so there wasn't any particular inspiration other than the fun of making music.

As far as HBC, love your interpretation of Mysterious Traveler. Studio version is fine but I'm partial to a live version I witnessed at the Iridium in NYC in October '11. On that version of the tune, I loved how after stating the theme, you let the reverb wash over Clark's drums and Berlin's bass. Then, with the fuzz effect engaged you throw down a guitar shout to kick off an awesome solo. As the song concluded, you let the reverb fade and commented "that's quality reverb."

Sounds like I had too much to drink!

On the studio version of Stratus, a subtle Scofield influence comes through. Speaking of influence, who do you look to for inspiration for your straight ahead jazz playing as on the studio version of Footprints?

I know which lick you mean and it is a little Scofield-ish. Anytime I hear blues licks played in the pocket, not rubato like most blues players, I think of Sco. He was one of my first influences when I started to learn jazz. On Footprints, I used a traditional jazz tone which is unusual for me, though I did it on the Reality Check album too. The modern jazz guitarists I listen to who use that type of tone are Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, and many more.

Finally, as with my TT question above, any chance for a live HBC dvd/cd? Especially when you have quality recordings like this...
Thank you very much for your contributions to music and all the best to you and your family.


That's a good example of a decent recording, but except for that tune which we allowed them to post, we weren't happy with the rest of the show. We're pretty self-critical.

Hi Scott! I really appreciate you taking time to answer all of these questions.
I really think any serious guitar player should at least take a look at this message board.
A few questions if you don't mind.

The one thing about your old Tribal Tech albums that I miss a lot is your funk clean sound (On Dr. Hee for example).
Are you just uninterested in that sound or is it impossible to do those scratchy funk comping things with your current rig?

I can easily get those tones, and even better now since I use mostly single coils. Back in those days I'd usually spilt a humbucker to get those tones and in my opinion they sound a bit thin. It's just because I haven't been writing many funk tunes - that will change on the new solo record because Alan & Travis love funk and I want to write music that they enjoy playing.

The problem I find with a distorted guitar sound is that its anything but subtle.
I could improvise over a quick fusion song and some slow jazz ballads with a distorted guitar sound,
but the problem lies in those subtle but quick jazz standards.
They're really hard to play because I have to play fast and sound each note perfectly.
On fusion stuff its no problem because some of the bad stuff gets covered by other band members.
Do you have any tips on this?

Obviously the louder the guitar is in the mix, the more you hear the nasty, hairy part of the distortion. Cymbals can help cover it up, but you'll get a smoother tone if you turn your guitar down to 8 or 9 and pick softer. When playing fast with high gain, picking a lot doesn't sound as good as playing legato in my opinion. Also, the tone is greatly affected by which of the two basic ways you record your guitar - one is putting the mic in the paper of the speaker and turning the guitars' tone all the way up. This is the more traditional way - the sound is smooth with not much hair, but it also sounds small, even when using big strings. The other way is putting the mic closer to the cone and turning the tone down on the guitar, which is how I usually record. It's not quite as smooth sounding, but the tone is much fatter and more horn like - better for playing jazz lines.

I'm really interested on chord voicings using an overdriven guitar.
Some chords just work while others are so bad, they make you not want to play for a while.
Do you have any tips/general guidelines to make chord voicings that work?



I've learned a lot from players like John Scofield who use a semi-distorted tone when playing jazz. Big voicings with lots of notes are usually overkill, and cause the music to sound heavy and clunky. I use a lot of two and three note voicings, sometimes spread in wide intervals, to give the sound of the chord but keep the feel of the music light.

Hey Scott:

I've got a guitar that is pretty much a Les Paul style guitar. Set neck, maple top etc not sure if the body wood is alder or mahogany. I know you like SD Jazz pickups in the neck and so do I, REALLY clear sounding... I'm in a band where we are playing lots of older types of music so I need a bridge pickup that can handle a really wide variety of styles. I know what you mean about single coils though, they are MUCH more 3D than humbuckers but in this case I need/want humbuckers. I LOVE the DSV pickup I have in my other guitar but I'm not sure it's the best choice for what I need it to do. I don't play Extreme Metal but lots of classic rock, heavy rock, jazz, blues, some fusion,etc

Thanks for ANY input. I did look in the index and it looks like you like Suhr's SSV or Duncan's 59 in the bridge.. I was thinking maybe a Jeff Bevk or Pearly Gates maybe...?

All the best...

Seymour Duncan's favorite combination on a Les Paul is an SH-2 Jazz in the neck and a JB in the bridge. He ought to know, right? The JB is a little too high output for what I do but I've tried them and they're great sounding pickups.


PS I know you like open back cabinets can't someone make a cabinet with a removable back? Seems kind of a no-brainer to me.

Seems like a good idea to me. If you remove the whole back, it's a different tone than a cab with a hole in the middle, so it should be a removable partition. That being said, if a slant cabinet shows up as a rental (which should never happen - see rider above), the first thing I do is take the back off - makes it sound way better. Even when I get straight cabs, I usually take the back off one of them. The drummers I play with hate closed back cabs because they can't hear me as well and have to put more guitar in their monitors.

Hello, Scott.

The HBC and Tribal Tech albums are excellent. Some of your best work. Does playing with Dennis Chambers cause you to fundamentally alter your approach?

Not fundamentally - a loud heavy metal drummer might cause that kind of a change. Dennis plays at a medium volume, grooves really strong behind solos, and plays very musically. That's what I look for in any jazz/fusion drummer. However, what he does with all the poly-rhythms is frankly way beyond anything I can understand, but he usually saves that stuff for his drum solos so it only affects me when I'm trying to play a repeating line under him. We asked Dennis if there's anything we should do to be able to follow him, and he said "no, the best thing you can do is not listen to me", so Jeff and I just watch each other's foot tapping - then at least we're together. I told Dennis that my rhythmic sophistication is about on the level of Kool And The Gang, so don't expect me to be able to keep my place when you start throwing down. He just laughs, and I know it's comedy for him when I get lost. Both Jeff and I have turned around with that look on our faces like "did we come in right?", and D is just grinning and shaking his head "no". But there are other nights when we hang in there and nail it - then we look at him and smile.

Hi Scott.
Couple questions for you:
Why do you power your effects with batteries instead of using a power supply?

Because carbon batteries make distortion pedals sound better, and there's no hum which happens sometimes with power supplies. Alkaline batteries will make some pedals sound even worse than power supplies, especially pedals with germanium transistors. It's not a subtile thing - you can easily hear how much better distortion pedals sound with carbon batteries.

Do you use still Providence Anadime Chorus? Do you use it in studio or do you also tour with it?

I don't use it much. I like the Strymon Ola chorus more. I only have room for one chorus on my pedal board, so I use the Arion - it's more compatible with distortion than my other choruses.

I think you mentioned before that you had cut some wood out of your guitar so the bar can go lower. How low does it go now? Did you do it yourself or had somebody do it for you? How much did you cut?
Many thanks for taking the time and answering all the questions!
Best regards!

I like the bridge adjusted so I can bend up a major 3rd on the G string with the bar. I also like to be able to bend the A string down an octave, but that can't happen with the back of the bridge up so high, so I take out a little bit of wood behind the bottom of the block - not much, just about 1/8". I can't do it myself, someone at Suhr does it for me.

Hi Scott,
i saw that you tried the vemuram jan ray,
could you tell us what do you think about it?
Jan ray vs. klon centaur and rc booster?witch one do you like more?
thanks a lot


The Klon is for high gain - not a good boost pedal in my opinion. The Jan Ray, RC Booster, and Lovepedal COT-50 are my favorite boost pedals. The COT is the most scooped, the RC is in the middle, and the Jan Ray has the most mid. The RC into the Marshall is my favorite for the style I play, and the COT is also good for a more vintage sound. I like the Jan Ray the most in my Fender amps, though it sounds good in the Marshall too, especially if I want a tone that's more aggressive and cuts through the mix.

Hey Scott!

Did you get the chance to try the Suhr Riot pedal? What do you think?

I have an SD9 but tried the Riot lately and was very impressed.

All the best,

The Riot doesn't work for my style. It's a great sounding pedal if you keep the tone controls on the guitar high. I roll the tone down to about 4 on the treble pickup, and at that point a lot of distortion pedals start sounding woofy, including the Riot. I use pedals pedals which remain focused with the guitar tone rolled down, like the Maxon SD-9, Fulltone PlimSoul (especially the newer version) and the Klon Centaur.

Hello Scott.

Do you have any experience on NOS tubes? They are very expensive but people say that the quality of materials and work was way better back in the day and therefore those older tubes sound superior and last much longer compared to currently made tubes. What is your opinion, are they worth the money for a working musician?

Thanks a lot again.

I have no experience comparing different brands of tubes, so I asked John Suhr. He said that most modern amp manufacturers don't build their amps using NOS tubes, so if you put them in a newer amp, you could have unpredictable results - they could make your amp sound better or worse. John uses JJ power tubes, and also for the preamp tube in position one, because that's apparently the most important slot and JJ tubes are less likely to be microphonic than Chinese tubes, which he uses in the rest of the preamp. The Chinese tubes are from ARS.

Hi Scott, on the HBC record did you use the Plimsoul only for lead or other distortion pedals like the SD9?

I used the PlimSoul on all the solos except for Mysterious Traveller, which is the Fuzz Factory. I used the SD-9 on a lot of the backing tracks, especially when using the neck pickup. On Stratus I used the new version of the PlimSoul, which is the only one he sells now. It has a little less bass than the previous version, but it's smoother sounding and I like it more.

Which amp/guitar/pickup/pedal combination did you use for that jazz clean sound on Footprints?
Thanks a lot

Answered above.

Since the first time I saw you live w/ TT in the 90s, it seems that you always have this ability to really "get into it", digging into the groove, moving your whole body with your playing. How do you find the stamina? Do you find it difficult on your off days? I think this way of playing contribute to you sounding very rhythmic and dynamically exciting.

Thanks - my only explanation is that I really try to turn off the analytical left brain when I play and just go for the emotional and creative side of what I'm doing. All I'm concerned about when I play is phrasing and tone - hopefully I've worked on the notes for long enough that I'll hit the right ones. I know I can be pretty animated when I play, which is good comedy for the audience.

Hi Scott,

So grateful for spending some of your time to satisfy your fans' crazy needs once more... thank you for that!

1) I just saw that Tribal Tech are about to hit the road again... and that's some serious news! If you consider a European tour in the future, please please please visit Greece... unfortunately I was too young to know you and jazz fusion in general the last time you played here, so, it would simply be a dream come true for me.

I'm not involved in the booking, but I'd love to play in Greece with Tribal Tech. I just played there in October with Dennis & Jeff so it may be too early to come back in summer, but we'll see what happens.

2) Have you ever played your songs from "Tore Down House" and "Well To The Bone" live with Thelma Houston? If yes, then how would you describe the experience?

Unfortunately I never had the chance to play live gigs with her. She was interested in touring with us, but when I talked to her manager about it, I found out that she's WAY out of our price range. Anyway it was amazing to work with her in the studio - almost everything she does is a first take. She's incredibly talented, and also one of the nicest people I've ever met.

3) How do you handle the hiss coming from your amp and your gain pedals when playing live and when recording in the studio? Are the "volume" and "tone" knobs on your guitar enough for taking care of business?

I've never had much of a problem with that - my gear is pretty quiet even with my high gain pedal turned on. I keep the volume all the way up on my SD-9, and turn up the gain on the amp up just enough to do what I need. Turning the volume of the pedal down and the amp gain up is much noisier.

4) When your play loudly in your place, are the dogs near you? Can they stand the volume?

It's bad enough torturing humans with my music - I would never torture my dogs. The room where I mic the cabinet has no windows and is always locked so no one wanders in there and goes deaf. In my studio I monitor at a medium volume which the dogs could handle, but they hate my music. They only like 50's big band swing.

Have a nice Christmas time!

Scott thanks a lot for your time.
What would you consider ideal speakers for clean open warm tone? Maybe compliment low mids or bass. Plexi amp, running 60-90 watts, 2 speaker cab.
What speakers would support finely high volume cleans and not break up or lose tone?
Thank you

My favorite high wattage speakers are Celestion Heritage 65's, which sound very close to Greenbacks. Another choice would be Creambacks, but the 16 ohm version isn't available yet, which would be best for a 2x12 cab. See above for more info on Creambacks.

Hi Scott,

Will the Vemuram Jan Ray replace your RC booster?

No, the RC works better for me on stage.

Also, once again, what is your current best solution to get your big Marshall tone in an apartment friendly volume

100 watt amps sound terrible when turned down to really soft volumes. Your best bet is to get an 18 watt Badger. I have an EQ setting using the Waves VEQ4 which makes the Badger sound so much like a 100 watt Marshall that I doubt if you could hear the difference when listening in the tracks.
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