Only King Forever

live album recording_blakeney_071913_cs_0027

Hello, everyone. I thought I’d write about the gear I used, as well how I got some of the sounds on the new record.

Here’s a gear rundown:
Guitars:
Revelator S-Type
Revelator Jag style
Fender ’52 reissue Telecaster
TMG Gatton
Jerry Jones Shorty (mando-guitar)

Amps:
Badcat Stella w/ 2×12 cabinet
Matchless Chieftain 2×12 combo

Pedal Board:
Dunlop Wah, MXR Dyna Comp, Ibanez Handwired TS808, Ibanez TS-10, JHS Superbolt, JHS Morning Glory, BJFE Honeybee, Electro Harmonix Micro Pog, Boss Super Shifter, Cusack Tap-a-whirl, Analogman Chorus, Boss DM-2, Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man w/ Tap Tempo, Strymon Timeline, Boss RV-5

Here’s a not-so-brief summary of the gear and thought process behind what I played on each song.

ONLY KING FOREVER
This song was really fun to play. Lot’s of noise and shoegaze guitar sounds. Which, you know, I’m a pretty big fan of. I used my Old Black Strat (that’s what I call it, Old Black Strat) and basically turned everything up for the hook on the intro/turn around parts. I had my Memory Man set on the verge of mayhem, into a simple shorter delay on the Strymon Timeline into my reverb. The reverb was set pretty wet, but just for the hook. With all that going on you have to make sure you don’t lose the note definition. To make it cut through I was using my TS808 with the gain at 50% into my honey bee set to give me a more overdrive tone. I kept that sound for the verses when I came back in with the hook part, but I just used the TS808 so I could be a little more subtle with it. Then the choruses for the high part I played I was using the TS808/Honeybee combo into a simple quarter note delay on the Timeline. No reverb on that part, because I wanted to have the high part cut through more and the delay not to fall apart. It adds a different dynamic that way, especially with 3 guitar players playing different parts at the same time. Then on the bridge I turned the Memory Man back on, turned the feedback up and made as much noise as I possibly could. Fun times.

GLORY IS YOURS
This was one of the songs we had been playing in church for a while before the record. I had some parts written for it already, but when we were in pre-production for the record I wanted something different to sort of break out of the normal guitar range. So I grabbed my Jerry Jones mando-guitar. It’s a 12 string octave guitar. I just played simple rhythm guitar and doubled the hook on the turn arounds. I used a little reverb and delay to widen it a little bit and my Dyna Comp just to push it a little. It gave the song a nice little jangle.

I WILL LOOK UP
This song was all about dynamics and simple parts and tones. I grabbed Old Black Strat ( OBS from now on) for this song. I love strats. Anyways, for the intro I was playing a single note line and using a filter to sweep up and down while playing it to make it go from a normal tone to a really muted sounding tone. Then I just had a simple quarter note delay (sidenote: my main delays are always set to dotted 8th but I rarely use them for that. I typically tap a 1/4, 1/8 or something else. Not sure why I don’t just make 1/4 note presets…) and a modulated reverb with the TS808’s gain turned all the way down. On the high part on the choruses I turned the gain on the TS808 up to about half way and stacked the Superbolt with it. For the bridge I went back to just the TS808 and used a wah pedal for the lead line. Then when the drums come back in big I kicked on the Superbolt and jumped the octave on the lead part. It was fun using a wah.

GRACE SO GLORIOUS
This was a slow build. OBS, light overdrive and a Memory Man/DD20/RV5 combo. Slide and picking around some chord inversions in the middle octave range (Joey was playing rhythm so I didn’t want to muddy up his parts and Lance was playing the lead stuff so I didn’t want to fight what he was playing). That’s sort of a good approach when you are playing in a big band; Thinking about what octave range you are in and how to rhythmically compliment the other guitars. A lot of times it’s just going to be finding a pattern with just a couple of notes and staying consistent with it. Making it an actual part and not random is key. Then after the bridge I came in with a high lead line, just using a little reverb and the DMM (i don’t know bpms. it’s usually just spontaneous/on the fly. whatever sounds right) at a medium length delay to widen it and make it nice and spacious.

THE LOVE OF JESUS
This was another one where i was basically just playing atmospheric, vibey stuff. Taking it to vibe town, so to speak. Again, with Joey playing big rhythm parts and Lance doing the fast picking lines, I needed to stay out of the way. So just simple inversions and things of that nature with a washy, but still present sound. Not too busy. Simple!

LAST WORD
This is a good song! I broke the slide out on this one. I used my 52′ reissue Telecaster and a metal slide to make it really cut through. That guitar is probably my favorite guitar to play slide on. I wanted it to sound like a laser. I know that doesn’t make sense. Anyways, I kept it simple on the verses and just kind of droned on the 1 chord. On the Choruses, I slid back and forth from the 4 to 1 chords, but making it really big and dramatic sounding by sliding pretty fast and stoping kind of abruptly on the chord. It’s a cool layer for Lance to play the picking part over. When you’re using the right delay/overdrive sound it kind of makes it sound really urgent. Like waves crashing or a 747 flying by. That’s the way it sounds to me anyways. I was stacking the TS808 and Morning Glory for that and the bridge, where I was playing the single note, bendy sounding part.

MIGHTY WARRIOR
I used my Revelator Jaguar-style guitar on this one. It’s got a cool, hollow tone that works really cool with a more overdriven sound. For the whole song, I think it was my TS808 and Honeybee. I was going for sort of a retro, cranked low wattage amp tone. I come in at the top playing diamonds with a pretty fast tremolo. Then on the choruses i’m just playing a high rhythm part. I think I was just playing one note the whole time. probably the 1… Then I play the riff on the turn arounds with the same sound. The bridge was just a high strummy rhythm part that follows the vocal melody. I switch from the Honeybee to the Superbolt for that. Just to clean it up and make it a little more chimey. Easy.

I WILL SING
I used the Jaguar on this song too. I come in at the top, fading in really washy with the fast picking high chord inversions. I was looking for it to sound like an extra vocal part. One of the tricky things with using reverb is not losing the actual guitar. If it gets too washed out it just muddies up everything. You lose the presence. One way I’ve found that helps is to crank the effect but turn the mix knob down. So it’s got the wash but your guitar can sit on top. That gives the illusion but you can still cut through. On the verses, I backed the reverb down and switched to a single delay for the picking part I played that sort of goes around the vocal. Then for the Choruses I am playing a high driving part that kind of enforces the vocal. I love finding parts that support the vocal with a similar melody but maybe moves through the notes a little differently. It adds a contrast but it’s still familiar so it doesn’t distract from the vocal.

EVERLASTING FATHER
’52 Reissue, ceramic slide and a Memory Man. Lot’s of swells and pedal steel bends. Just filling up a little space and staying out of the way. I found a couple parts to double London’s melody. Then I just build with the drums. One thing I’ve learned with the big ambient sounds is that it’s more about a having good sustaining guitar than an endless delay. If you have a nice pushed, sustaining guitar it affects the delay in subtle ways that you can’t get if you don’t have the sustain and are relying on delay and reverb to give you sustain. Just a thought…

BLESSED ASSURANCE
I LOVE this song. We playing this song on Easter last year and it was such a powerful moment for our church. I was so glad we put it on the record. This is another slow building song that really requires a lot of delicacy from everyone. I stayed on my ’52 reissue and droned chords and single notes. Often times letting them sort of bleed into other chords to make it kind of messy. Staying out of the way of the piano and vocal is important on a song like this. I had the timeline on a long quarter note delay and the memory man set to another long delay (I don’t like them to be at the same tempo, so I don’t worry about tempo on the DMM) and some reverb. And the TS808 with the gain all the way down. As the song starts building, I start doubling the melody with the piano and vocal. I slowly start turning the gain up on the TS808 (always turning knobs with my feet while I’m playing). Then when the drums start to really build I stacked my Morning Glory with the TS808. Then Lance and I are playing the melody together (with Lance playing the harmony). Then I think we both just went crazy at the end.

GREAT AND MIGHTY KING
We reworked this song for the record. It used to be more piano driven and happy and ballady (I just made that word up) and we went in a little more of a moody, vibey direction for the recording. Which I like. So, for this song I wanted a little more of a round sound for the intro. So I used O.B.S. and used the middle pickup. I added a little verb and made a preset on the Timeline that was pretty present for the first 3 or 4 repeats. Then just an old Ibanez TS-10 set for a light overdrive. For the solo I used a Boss Super Shifter pedal to get pitch shifting, whammy pedal type of thing and my Boss DM-2. I’d turn it on right as the note shifted up to the harmony and it would oscillate real crazy for a second then I turned it off and repeated the process.

UNTO YOUR NAME
I used my TMG Gatton for this song. The intro was just a light delay from the DM-2 and my Honeybee for the overdrive. Just a pretty, clean, raw sound on the middle position (both pickups on together). I played super soft on the intro part too, which gives it a different, hollow type of tone. Kept a similar sound for the verses and choruses but switched to the bridge pickup and kicked on the Superbolt to brighten it and push it a little more. For the big outro section I switched to a wider longer delay with my TS-10 and Superbolt to get that big chimey sound.

RAISED TO LIFE
This is my favorite song. Back to O.B.S. and playing really soft using a plate reverb and a real subtle delay. A lot of times I’m controlling a lot of the dynamics with just my right hand and how hard or soft i’m picking the strings. I’m always leaving room, volume wise so I can be as sensitive to the song as possible. That way I’m in control and not relying on volume knobs and pedals to raise the dynamics. On the choruses, I added the Superbolt into the mix and used a bit of a longer delay. I play a driving part under the vocal, but switch up my strumming to match the vocal melody on specific parts. It’s that interaction with the driving 16th note thing then switching to 1/4 notes for a second that mixes it up and adds a little interest. In my opinion anyways. It’s a way to let a part of the music breathe. It’s allowing your guitar to disappear for a moment that adds the power when you do come back in. For the bridge melody I started off with just the TS808 and the gain down (I am always turning the gain up and down with my foot while I’m playing) and turned it up slowly as it builds. Then when the drums come in strong I turn on the Superbolt and keep building it. At the end when it goes down to just the drums I let my delays keep going, oscillating into the distance…

 

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11 comments

  1. awesome. this, and the previous u2 post, are such a blessing. so helpful to go beyond the gear and get to the theory and nitty gritty on how you’re getting some of these amazing tones and parts. thank you.

  2. Hey James,

    When it comes to the amps, did it come down to the sound techs just mixing between the two? Or did you have some input on which amp was more feature for each track?

  3. Great insight James. Thanks for all the details. The fun part is next…taking the music of EC and performing the same song, but making it our own in that special little way that churches do. You guys rock!

  4. Hey James, awesome read. I had a question. You mentioned for OKF you used the reverb really wet. Are you just turning up the rv5? I have one as well and notice that is more of a level than a wet percentage. Anyways, just curious! Thanks again!

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