Jon Herington has contributed incredible guitar work to legendary bands and artists over the years. With the likes of Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs and others, Jon’s bluesy guitar riffs have put his stamp on many classic rock and pop songs we’ve grown to love.
In his latest album, Time on My Hands, Jon unleashes blues rock riffs that exemplify his guitar mastery. He sat down to answer some questions with the Six String Soul guitar blog about his guitar playing on this new album, how he gets his signature tone and upcoming tour dates that fans can look forward to.
Having spent much of your time admirably fulfilling guitar duties with Steely Dan, what was your musical inspiration for this solo album?
I wanted to do a record that featured a side of my guitar playing that had never been as well captured on my earlier solo albums. I also wanted to showcase the playing without sacrificing the quality of the songs themselves. In other words, I wanted the songs to stand up by themselves and not just be vehicles for the guitar playing.
Can you tell us about some of the tones you achieved, such as the fuzz tone on the track Shine Shine Shine, and the sitar and flanger tones on Sweet Ginny Rose, in particular?
The fuzz that opens the record was some guitar (I don’t remember which one) through a Keeley Fuzz Head pedal plugged into an old boom box then recorded through an SM-58 into my protools rig. As lo-fi as I could make it.
We have a Gibson ES-446 here at the Six String Soul studio, and are also fans of the CS-336. What about this guitar helps you achieve your desired tones?
It’s a particularly bright and resonant example compared to others of its kind, and that’s why I bought it. It’s comfortable to play, and it will go in a couple of directions sonically so it’s pretty useful to me. It can get surprisingly good jazz guitar tones on the neck pickup, and it has a fat, rich sound on the bridge pickup when I drive an amp hard.
While the Gibson plays a big role in your tone, what else is key to your refined blues tone?
A great amp. I have several, made by Guytron and by Bludotone.
What are some of your techniques to step outside of typical blues guitar patterns and riffs?
I try to play melodies I hear in my head. If I can play “head first” instead of “hands first” I avoid a lot of typical stuff and sound more personal, musically speaking.
How do you use your two amps (two Guytron FVs and a Bludotone Bludo-Drive) for different tones in your live setup?
They are both channel switching amps and typically I set the cleaner channel for a tone I like on the neck pickup, and the dirtier channel for a tone I like on the bridge pickup. On one tour I began to try a head switcher so I could access more tones, and though I liked the flexibility, it seemed a little too complicated: I like to keep the tech stuff pretty simple so I can concentrate on the music.
What’s one piece of gear out that you’d like to see the current boutique builders, or mass production manufacturers, create to help guitarists continue finding tonal inspiration?
I can’t think of one, but I like amps that sound great, are simple to use, and have the pro features I find useful: a great master volume, a good effects loop, and channel switching.
What impressed you most while recording Time on My Hands with the The Jon Herington Band?
The guys have quite an appetite.
When can we expect some upcoming live shows with the Jon Herington Band, and what should your fans look forward to in these performances?
I’m hoping to be able to do some shows with my band in the fall, after my touring with Steely Dan winds down. I hope to be performing a mostly new set of songs, mostly from the new album we’re in the process of recording, so I hope the fans will look forward to that, as well as seeing what shoes Dennis decided to wear.
Guitar Rig Rundown with Jon Herington
Find out more about Jon at www.jonherington.com.