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Scott answers your questions - round 2.22 - 4/6/11

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

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Scott answers your questions - round 2.22 - 4/6/11 Reply with quote

Hi Scott,

So I'm using the EWS in the effects loop of my HRD and when I A/B the tone with it out of the loop and with it in the loop with EWS turned all the way up, the tone is a little more quiet (and maybe a bit duller) with the EWS. I'm using regular 10 foot guitar cables for the effects loop. Is this normal?

Thank you!

It's normal, but it's the cable's fault more than the EWS. Turn the EWS all the way up and put it in the loop with two 6 inch cables - compare that to nothing in the loop. Now, put a 20 foot cable by itself in the loop and compare that with nothing in the loop. With my amp, I don't hear much of a difference with the EWS, but I hear a difference with the cable. Any gear you put in the FX loop with long cables will affect the tone, and it's why some guys hate FX loops - they float their effects with a wet/dry rig. Being more of a high gain player, I actually like what the long cables do - they roll off high frequencies above 10k which I don't like anyway, making the tone smoother and less harsh on the top end.

Hi Scott
I'm thinking to buy your Suhr signature guitar and i read in the specs that the neck profile shape is .800-.880. I think is too thin for a neck and i was thought that for a moment you are a vintage guy you would prefer a fatter neck like the old strats. Does you personal guitar has this shape or it has a fatter one?

My neck is a D shape. It doesn't have less wood than the traditional C shape - the wood is in a different place. The C shape is fatter from the fretboard to the back of the neck, but has less wood on the sides. The D shape is thinner, but has more wood on the sides. I doubt if there's much of a difference in tone - just order the neck that feels the most comfortable.

Hey, Scott, how's it going?

Is there a frequency band you particularly despise when recording
guitar in a band with keyboards? Do you like a particularly big cut
on any range? I've checked, and you've previously talked only
about boosting some freq's to make the sound bigger or fatter.

I don't like boosting or cutting frequencies on my main track - I prefer to record flat and leave it alone. The only time I feel I need post EQ is when I'm layering. Sometimes I cut a few db of 1k from a rhythm guitar part if I want it to sit behind a solo, or if I'm doubling something I take out some 100 to 250k from one of the parts so it doesn't get muddy. Radically EQ'ing the amp to make it sound different usually just makes it sound bad. It's better to record a good amp sound and then use the board EQ to make it sit where it should in the mix.

I'm currently doing some overdubs on the new Tribal Tech album, and finding that my usual strat/Marshall/4x12 tone doesn't work as well with keyboards as it does in a trio, because the low bass from both instruments is in the same register. My Suhr with the humbucker seems to work better for some things, or single coils with my Bandmaster which has less bass than the Marshall or SH-100.

Also, what breed of dog would you suggest for a small-medium apartment?
A heartfelt thanks for your time.

I'm not an expert, but these people are - you can answer their questions and they pick out a good dog for your situation.

Hi Scott,

On a Jimmy Bruno video he say that when you play over altered chords you shouldn't use altered scales because you will "cancel each other" and when playing over non altered chords you should use an altered scale to create tension.

Taking in consideration that, you can play whatever you want has long it sound good. What is your take on this?


Sounds like a load of crap to me. What else would you play on an altered chord other than an altered scale? The purpose of the chord is to create tension in the first place, so the scale should fit the chord. Nothing wrong with a few out notes here and there, like the MA7 or natural 9, but those are passing tones - the majority of notes should fit the chord. Using the altered scale on non altered chords makes more sense, to get outside and create some tension, like on a one chord vamp. OK, that's as close as I like to get to teaching without being paid for it. 20 dollars please.

Hi Scott,
af all the sounds you had my favorite is the lee jackson mesa 2 90 combination.
Could you tell me:
1) Was your lee jackson preamp customized for you or was a standard model?
2) Did you use a booster with it or just the distortion preamp?
3) Do you remember how did you set it, volume, distortion, treble et expecially the 5 way mid shift pot?

Thanks a lot

It was a standard model, and I didn't use pedals back then, just the distortion from the preamp. I don't remember all the settings, but I always had the bass off, and I liked mid position 3 the most.

The tour dates seem to indicate you were in Japan when this
terrible earthquake happened! Are you OK Scott?

I posted that we're all OK. I'm pretty sure that if we had been at the club when the earthquake hit, even if we had been safe, the rest of the tour would have been cancelled, because we wouldn't have been able to make it out of Sendai. The drive from Sendai to Tokyo was longer than the flight from LA to Asia, and the only reason we made it to Tokyo is because we were 30 miles south of Sendai when it happened. When I watch what's going on there now, it's mind blowing because we didn't see any of that, and we were so close to it. I'm keeping in touch daily with friends in Japan, and I hope they recover from this soon.

Hi Scott,
I really love your playing on Rob Whitlock's albums. The solo you played on 'At Freedom Chicken Dance' is one of my all time favorites and seems to have an amazing spontaneous energy about it. He gathered an incredible collection of players for those albums.

Just wondered if you feel any different about your playing when doing a session such as this - are you less critical of your playing on other people's records than you are about your own recordings?

Hope to see you play around L.A. again soon.

Actually I've never heard that record. Of course Rob sent it to me but I never listened to it. Hearing myself play is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard, regardless of who's session it is.

I have been a long time fan and this is my first time post a question. I first want to thank you for answering everyone's questions over the years, I just recently finished going through the archives and I didn't really want it to end. I just love hearing good advice and stories from a guitar player I admire so much.

I saw you play recently at Alvas with Travis and again at LAMA with Rufus and Andy, both shows were amazing. It had been at least three or so years since I had seen your Trio, very spectacular!

Thanks for the kind words - I liked the show at LAMA very much. Alva's was only our second gig with Travis - he and Alan sounded like they knew the music better than I did. I booked the two LA gigs as a warm up for the Asia tour, after not playing the trio music for awhile. Those kind of shows aren't my favorite - I feel like I had a good gig if I just mange to play the right notes. We just finished playing in Asia, and wow, what a difference a tour makes! On the road, the music becomes effortless and it's all about creativity. We'll play in LA again when we get back from Europe in May.

And thanks for the PXD5 settings, their patches suck, yours sounds huge and pretty natural.

Yeah, when I listen to the factory programs on the PXD5, as much as I love the box, I'm pretty confused. There are some cool FX type patches, but for a normal guitar tone, the factory programs don't do it for me. I've had a chance to tweak quite a few amp modeling boxes - of all of them, the PXD5 has the most usable tones for what I do, which amazes me since it's the cheapest of the bunch. When I listen to how fat and musical mine sounds, I can't help but wonder why they didn't get close to that tone on at least one of the factory programs. What I hear is an extreme effort to make all the patches sound really different from each other, and mission accomplished there, but if you want to make it sound close to a real amp, you have to program it yourself.


1. Have you ever tried Raw Vintage saddles or springs? Do you just the saddles that come stock on the Fender 6 screw? What's your experience with string buzz caused by spurs in the saddles? I'm left handed and I find every few months my high E starts to buzz and I have to take it in.

I haven't tried Raw Vintage saddles - I'm happy with the stock Fender ones. I haven't had any problems with them.

2. I know people have asked many many bridge questions... I have another. I have two Suhr Classics both with Gotoh 510 two post bridge. Have you tried this at all, It replaced the 1055, has bigger posts, and a push/screw in arm.

No, I'm only familiar with the 1088. Two post bridges sound fine, but not vintage. The traditional 6 screw bridge gives the guitar much more bass, and it's one of the reasons my Suhr guitars sound like old vintage strats.

3. I have Kinman Broadcaster pups in my Suhr T, I think they sound amazing but I don't like how close to the strings they are supposed to be. The bridge pup doesnt bother me but I pic hard sometimes and it hits the neck pup cover, scrapping away the chrome and making lame slap and buzz noises. Did you ever experience any of this with either your AvN's or the 2.2's?

I've always used the same pickup in all three positions, and I balance the volume with the pickup heights. My neck pickup is pretty low, so a string would never hit it. These are my measurements for strat pickup heights, from the pickup cover to the middle of the string:

Bridge pickup to high E string 3/32"
Bridge pickup to low E string 5/32"
Middle pickup to high E string 6/32"
Middle pickup to low E string 8/32"
Neck pickup to high E string 7/32"
Neck pickup to low E string 9/32"

Same measurements on the Tele for neck and bridge.

I was thinking about trying the Virtual Vintage 54 in my T neck position but if it has to be the same height I'm not interested. I'm almost considering a backplate on the T. What do you think?

In my opinion, any good sounding single coil pickup + the Suhr backplate will sound better than noiseless pickups.

Scott what is your opinion of this guy and straight ahead bebop playing like this?

He sounds pretty Pat Martino influenced. I like straight ahead jazz, but I don't want to sound like a traditional player. Back when I was working with Zawinul, I was practicing on my bebop vocabulary - if Joe heard me play those kind of licks, he'd actually get angry. He'd say "never play anything like that in my band - it sounds like Charlie Christian!" Joe played straight bebop all through his career until Weather Report, and I guess he'd had enough of it and didn't want to hear that type of playing anymore. I played a solo on Little Rootie Tootie on the Black Water album that nailed every chord and was really musical, though bebop sounding. Joe came in and made me erase it. The solo on the record is what I played after he yelled at me to not play all the changes and play more blues.

My favorite jazz guitarists are guys like Scofield, Metheny, Rosenwinkel - they play very melodically and use modern lines, rhythmic phrasing and don't sound like players from an older era. That being said, I'm not as hard core as Joe - I like hearing the older jazz vocabulary too.

Hi Scott.

Can you give us some tips about recording ?

I've been using only one sm57 in front of the amp (dead center) with some decent results, but maybe there's more to learn, so I'm asking.

Thnx for the insights

That's pretty much what I do too. Check the Index - there's a whole section about recording.

Hi scott!
Recently I bought this amazing guitar:
How many do you sign in a year? Do you remember something particular about this guitar?
Is very well made and i think I'll stay with it for the rest of my life....

Glad you like it! I sign about ten a year. I don't have a way of knowing which particular guitar you bought, but I usually play the ones I sign just to see if they're different than mine, and they're always exactly the same. I could never say that when I was at Ibanez.

.... but I am a real pain in the ass so.....
Don't you think that the nut is a little bit too high? I notice that playing on the first fret is a little bit hard and the intonation all over the neck isn't so perfect and I heard from a guitar tech that if the nut was made more low the guitar would be more playable and more in tune all over the neck..... What do you think? There's a particular reason for having the nut so high? Maybe for the use of the vibrato bar (i'm guessin'.....)?
I am talking about minimal difference.... the guitar sound REALLY fantastic!
Thanks a lot for brought your guitars experience to this amazing guys at Suhr!


I agree, I think their nuts are too high (such sophisticated humor…) They use tusq, and even though it's a hard material, eventually it wears down. They make it high simply so it'll last longer. I hate high action at the nut, so I always have them make mine as low as possible. The down side is, after about a year I need a new nut, but I only live an hour away from the factory. Your guitar tech is right - low action at the nut will make the guitar intonate better, plus make it more comfortable to play. If he knows what he's doing, have him lower the nut for you - it won't last as long, but putting in a new nut once a year is no big deal. That being said, screwing up the nut can cause serious problems like going out of tune, buzzing, etc, so make sure you have it done by a qualified tech. We've all seen guitars with a piece of cardboard under the nut because some knucklehead filed a groove too deep. That totally ruins the sound of the guitar, so like I said - a qualified tech.

Hello Scott.

Which pedals work best when trying to get Plexi-crunch out of a totally clean amp?

Thanks a lot.

There isn't any particular pedal that'll give you good distortion from a totally clean amp. Pedals always sound thin when there's no help from the amp. An RC Booster or COT 50 will get you the amount of gain you need, but the tone will sound brittle if you don't combine the pedal with at least a little amp distortion.

Hi Scott I've seen your performances in 20 march in Jakarta, which is one of the greatest moment in my life because i have oportunity to seeing my most favourite musician in the whole world,

i've got some questions for you :

1)did you satisfied with your tone in that night? because i think your tone that night is perfect as perfect as your CD, no wonder you're so picky with your tone

I remember liking my tone that night, which was surprising because they couldn't find the Greenback cabinets I wanted. I was playing through the usual Marshall 1960 cabs, which have the 75 watt speakers. I don't like those at all, but for some reason they sounded OK to me that night. Maybe because the stage monitors at the club were really good.

2)in 19 march you did perform in Singapore, and the other band in that show is featuring Indra Lesmana from Indonesia,did you jamming with him? or you've seen his performances in that night?

I didn't get to see much of his performance because we were at dinner, but he jammed with us at the end - he's a great player.

3)i've heard your playing on track "The Chicken" in Rob Whitlock Project (which feature Michael Brecker also), i know you've been saying that you overdubed your playing playing on that recording, but... man, for me your playing and your tone is the PERFECT MATCH with Brecker Playing and Tone. I mean i've heard Michael Brecker recording wih Metheny, Stern, Scofield which is great too but I thing their tone is not as matching with Brecker Sound comparing with Your tone when playing with Brecker. Did you have had involve with another project with Michael Brecker?

No, but I wish - he was such an incredible musician.

4)In Your Melodic Phrasing video,why did you choose "Raindrops" by Burt Bacharach when you give example of playing with right rhythm and wrong note? is that just coincidence or it is one of your pop favourite song? if so, did you like other bacharach song like "Close To You"?

Pop isn't really my thing, but I have great respect for Bacharach and Paul McCartney, and anyone who comes up with great, memorable tunes. It's extremely difficult to do! I picked Raindrops because I was just trying to think of songs with easy melodies that everyone knows.

So you started playing an SG, went to an LP, and wound up playing a strat... At what point did you start thinking about getting good tone? Was there a specific thing that inspired your quest?

My first teachers were recordings of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jimi Hendrix. Back then I didn't know how to get good tone, but I definitely knew my tone wasn't as good as theirs. Improving my tone was aways an obsession with me. I learned early on that some guitarists don't care about it that much - they play with a crappy sounding amp, get horrible tone and still do their thing with no problem. In a way I wish I could be like that - it sure would make life easier. If my tone isn't happening, I have a pretty hard time playing anything decent, and it's always been like that for me. In the beginning I just copied my heros, playing through a 50 or 100 watt plexi Marshall, a distortion pedal, and a 4x12 with Greenback speakers, but I had bad luck with Marshalls - they kept blowing up. I didn't know good techs back then, so I gave up on Marshalls (bad, bad, move) which led me into a huge experimental phase for about 20 years… Ampegs, Peaveys, Fender combos with reverb that went nuts when the drummer hit his bass drum, and finally the stereo fad, which included preamps, power amps, and racks that weighed more than me. If you want a laugh from some of my clueless attempts to get good tone, check out The funny thing is, about 10 years ago I ditched all the high tech gear for the same rig I had when I was 18. The only difference is, now my Marshalls work - no disrespect intended because I love old Marshalls, but my Suhr is much more roadworthy.

I'm still haunted by the low points of my tonal career. I was at a club in Jakarta a few weeks ago with our drummer Alan Hertz, who's also a great engineer. The people at the club knew I was there, so in an effort to be nice, they put on the VTT album. Alan and I just looked at each other and said, this is no doubt the worst sounding album ever recorded. I hadn't heard it since the day it was mastered, but I remember swearing to myself on that day that I'd never again put my name on anything that sounds that terrible. I don't take full responsibility since it was recorded and mixed in a bad studio with bad gear, but the guitar tone was my fault, mainly because of a terrible speaker cabinet and an even worse recording room. After that experience, I became incredibly anal about tone, mainly so I'd never embarrass myself like that again. VTT2 was recorded in a good studio, and I used my regular 4x12 Greenbacks cabinet. Unlike VTT, it's a professional sounding album.

Even Mike Landau jokes about some of the tones he recorded in the 80's - I don't know one guitarist who's happy with everything he's recorded. I don't listen to my own records, but if i did, I think I'd probably be OK with about 50% of the tones and 20% of the notes. I think the tones on Rocket Science and Well To The Bone are pretty good - those records were recorded with a plexi Marshall, Dumble Bandmaster, Suhr amps and guitars, and Greenbacks. The tones I'm getting now make me happy and inspire me to play better - when I hear my tone on stage I feel like I'm 18 again.

Hello Scott,

You are one of my favorite guitar players and musicians, and I hope to see you again in Greece some time in the future (I have travelled 3 times from my island Crete to see you perfofming in Athens and Thessaloniki, and those were some of the most pleasant weekend trips of my life so far). Just some questions for you:

1) You mention a lot of great names when you talk about music, tone, phrasing etc, with whom you have played together or sat and discussed tone with. My question is, do you consider any of your fellow guitar players (such as Landau, Holdsworth) friends of yours, or the whole thing starts and finishes in the musical connection and admiration between you and these guys? I mean, do you hang out with any of those guys, do you keep any close friendship with anyone?

I live pretty far away from Mike and Allan, but I do consider them friends outside the music business. It's easy to be a hermit in LA - with a 7 year old and two puppies, I don't leave the house much when I'm in town. I hang out with Kinsey the most, mainly at our favorite restaurant Gyu-kaku.

2) From what I can recall, you or one of the other 3 guys of Tribal Tech (I think it was you) had said that "you were more fun than Spinal Tap on the road"... Well, from my little experience as part of the audience of your trio shows, I bet you were right... Do you feel there is a special connection between you and those 3 incredible musicians? Both musical and personal? And does the same thing happen with the guys that form your trio nowadays?

The music connection in Tribal Tech is very strong - that comes from playing together for many years. We were always a composition band, so I realize that a portion of our fans didn't like the jamming direction we took on Thick and Rocket Science, but from my point of view, this way of creating music is our claim to fame when it comes to originality. Jamming in the studio is nothing new - many musicians have done it before, starting with Miles Davis's Bitches Brew and all the imitations since. But Tribal Tech added a new twist by overdubbing and creating compositions from the raw jams. To my knowledge, no one did that before. It's a lot of fun to compose over music which was created by purely jamming - there's an organic quality to it which isn't as pre-conceived as playing a composition written by one person. I still enjoy playing "arrangements", but a whole night or album of it starts to feel like top 40 to me, so I'm glad we changed our direction and I hope Willis keeps coming to visit so we can make more records.

Kirk and Willis have a special thing when they play together, maybe because they've played together since college, so I can totally understand why fans of great rhythm sections love Tribal Tech. They come up with fresh sounding grooves on the spot, and Kinsey is a genius at creating amazing harmony as he improvises. On the new album, we recorded over 30 jams and it was really hard to pick 10, because we could've used any of it as a good starting point. This record has more harmony than the previous two, so it sounds like a combination of the jamming and compositional versions of the band. It would have been done by now, but both Kinsey and I have been touring a lot.

Personally, I've been lucky to play with musicians who are a lot of fun on the road, with only a few exceptions. The recent tour in Asia was my first tour with Travis and Alan together. They're a ruling rhythm section and we had a great time hanging out - I'm hoping for many tours to come with those guys. I feel the same about Jeff Berlin and Dennis Chambers, so I'm one lucky guitar player.

3) I'm still uncertain about some things regarding your live tone, and mainly your use of the SE-70. You obviously use it for your delay in each song (and the Holdsworth multitap delay stuff you play too), but do you use other SE-70 algorithms when you play live?

Yes, pitch shift, ring mod, all the usual stuff. There's a great step-phaser that I used on the beginning of Party At Kinsey's and Nairobe Express.
Take this Devil Boy version above for example... What exactly are you using here? Is it only the Arion Chorus, one of your overdrives, the SE-70, and your guitar and amp, or is there anything else? And do you play just a regular delay patch on the SE-70 here?

Thanks a lot for your time.

Two overdrives - the RC Booster on the tune and SD-9 on the blues solo to the end. The delay patch is 450ms with just a little feedback, and 6k high end roll-off to make it sound more like tape echo. The only thing you didn't mention is the super important Suhr mixer. Without it, the SE-70 would completely ruin the tone because it's a piece of crap. I feel a rant coming on….


OK I'm done.

Hi Scott.
Have u ever had some problems with the SD9 being a little mid-scooped ?

No, I like where the mid is on that pedal. It's difficult to talk about gear unless you compare it to other gear. Yes, the SD-9 is scooped if you compare it to a Tube Screamer which has tons of mid and no bass. One of the reasons I like the SD-9 is because it's one of the few pedals that doesn't take away bass, so it feels like a smoother version of amp distortion. Of the three pedals I use the most, the Fulltone PlimSoul is the most scooped, the Klon Centaur is the least scooped, and the SD-9 is in the middle.

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