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November 25, 2015

Scott Henderson Interview 2015 Vibe Station

I recently did an interview with the amazing Scott Henderson, and it turned out great! Check it out below. Huge thanks to Scott for taking the time - he really gives back to his fans in terms of advice and interviews.

If you don't know who Scott is, shame on you. He has been a huge influence on me, and on thousands of guitarists worldwide. His body of work with Tribal Tech, Vital Tech Tones, and keyboard legends Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea earned him numerous #1 Jazz Guitarist accolades from the big guitar magazines early in his career, and he has continued to evolve ever since. His ability to blend blues, rock, jazz and funk into his own otherwordly style of playing has made him into one of the most respected musicians on electric guitar today.

Scott grew up in Florida listening to the rock, blues, funk, and soul of the 1960s and 1970s. Then he discovered jazz, and ground-breakers such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. A move to Los Angeles after college led to his playing with such luminaries as Jean Luc Ponty, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea Electric Band.

Scott Henderson continues to tour the world with his trio and with HBC, the "cover band" with Dennis Chambers and Jeff Berlin. He also teaches at the famous Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, California. He has, at this point, recorded on more than two dozen albums, including ten with Tribal Tech, and five solo albums, including his killer new 2015 release, Vibe Station. I had the opportunity to chat with Scott about his new album, as well as guitar-centric topics that I hope you will find interesting.

Interview October 2015

Hey Scott, thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

No problem man, doing interviews is always very helpful.

First of all, I apologize in advance for the questions you’ve probably heard a million times before!

Don’t worry about it - I’m used to it. There are questions everybody asks, but they’re valid questions, so you gotta ask them.

I have to say the new album Vibe Station is killer, man! In terms of playing, composing and tone, it’s absolutely fantastic. I personally think that these are some of best tones I’ve ever heard you record.

Thank you! Well, there are some reasons for that. You know, I’ve been a part of this home recording thing for a long time, and it’s slowly progressed from ADAT to digital home computer recording, and this is the first album I’ve ever recorded at 96kHz. That’s one of the reasons why it sounds so good. I couldn’t do it before, because I didn’t have the computer hardware for it. Now I’m kind of updated into the modern world, so I have these good tools to work with, and that’s a big part of it. 96kHz sounds much clearer and open than 48kHz, and that includes guitar tone. But really, everything just sounds better - the drums - everything. Another big reason is that our drummer Alan Hertz is one of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with. He dialed in the drum sounds so well, it’s just unbelievable. He actually recorded the drum EQ right into the computer on the basic tracks, so I had the chance to play with drum tracks which sounded finished - that’s a first for me. Also, Joe Gastwirt, the mastering engineer, ran the whole project to half-inch tape before he mastered it, and tape is just magic. It smoothes out all the nasty digital spikes, which can happen with even the best digital gear. The tape just makes it warm, smooth and sweet. So that’s why the album sounds better than anything I’ve recorded before, except for a few of the old Tribal Tech albums which were recorded to tape, but unfortunately my tone wasn’t very good back then (laughing).

How did you approach the recording in the studio?

We tracked everything live, and I kept as much as I could keep from the basic tracks, but it’s never what I want it to be. I’ve never been in a studio that could completely isolate a cranked 100 watt Marshall from the drum mics, so I had to turn the amp down to 2 so I’d be able to overdub. There was lot of interplay on the basic tracks, because we’d just come home from playing the music on a tour, so I had to go back sometimes and learn things I played on the basic tracks - just to record them again for better tone. I get better tone at my home studio, where I can crank it up loud and have everything already dialed in. I did keep a lot of stuff from the basic tracks, but anything that I wanted to sound really fat, I had to record again.

What did you use for guitars and amps?

I used my Suhr guitars for most of the album, mainly my favorite one which has a roasted neck and body. I’m not sure that’s the reason it’s my favorite, but it has the fattest tone to my ears. I used a few others on some tracks because they sound different - they have different pickups. The main guitar has Mike Landau pickups, and the others have V60’s, which are a little bit more scooped and they stay out of the way of the other sound. I also used a Les Paul on some slide stuff, and I used my Suhr Tele on the country tune “Dew What?”. I used a Jerry Jones electric sitar on “Manic Carpet”, and a baritone to double a few bass parts. The main amps were a '71 Marshall, and a Fender Bandmaster - both modified by John Suhr. I ran those into a 4x12 cabinet made by Kerry Wright, who in my opinion makes the best sounding cabinets in the world. The speakers are Celestion Greenbacks. The only microphone I used was a Shure 57. The mic preamp is a BAE 1073.

You have some very interesting tones happening on this album. Can you tell us about that swirly, fuzzy sound at the beginning of “Sphinx”?

That’s a Waves plug-in called MondoMod, it sort of turns everything around 180 degrees, like a sweep filter chorus kind of thing. A lot of the tones on the album come from plug-ins, usually Waves, although I used EchoBoy from Soundtoys quite a bit. I love that plug-in, because it doesn’t just do echos, it does a lot of weird sound effects and it’s got hundreds of really nice sounds. I used the Lexicon reverb bundle for about 10 different reverb sounds. I used a lot crazy plugins, and a lot of crazy pedals too. I’m always checking gear out and I make a trip to the music store almost weekly to learn what’s new. I’m definitely a geek.

On Sphinx there's also some Octavia, Arion Chorus (going from slow to fast as I was feeding back on a note), and the main solo is with a Klon Centaur. Unfortunately that’s a pricy pedal - it shouldn’t be. They’re selling for like 1800 bucks and I got mine for 300 dollars. I hope the re-issues sound good, because no one should have to pay 1800 dollars for a pedal.

Did you use the Strymon Lex pedal on this record (I thought I heard it somewhere)?

Yes, on Church of Xotic Dance. All those little organ sounds are the Strymon Lex. It’s a great pedal.

Fuzz Factory on Festival of Ghosts? Great solo you are playing there!

Thanks, yeah, Fuzz Factory there. It’s kind of a funny solo, because the changes are pretty and the solo is melodic, but it sounds like it’s being played by Satan because of the pedal. It could be a happy jazz solo if it wasn’t for that tone.

One of my favorite tunes on the record is Calhoun. I think that solo is amazing. Incredible flow.

Oh thanks. I did practice those changes a lot. I mean, they’re pretty easy changes, but sometimes the easiest changes are the hardest ones to be inventive over. I’ve played so many bad solos on the gig on that tune, so I knew I had to come up a lot more vocabulary for the record. So I really delved into those changes a lot, and I found some more interesting things to play in the studio. Now I have a lot more to say on that tune than I did before. The more you get into a tune, the more you find all the little intricacies of the progression and the best leading tones from chord to chord, and just generally increase your vocabulary of motifs that you can play over the changes.

When I listen to your solo on Calhoun, it’s like an endless flow of great ideas.

Well, on a good night maybe! But believe me, there are nights when I run out of ideas, or just space out and forget the changes. Sometimes I come up with extraordinary ideas that I want to remember, but it’s hard to decide whether to remember them and repeat them, because in a way that's not really jazz anymore. But at the same time, I want to deliver the best concert possible. So, I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to learn all the best things that I’ve played, because it’s not really the way to improvise. When you’re improvising, you should be playing what you’re playing because of what you just played before, not because you want to stick a good lick in there, especially if it sounds out of context. On the album I recorded at least 10 solos, and then picked the best one. If there was a bad phrase or something I didn’t like, I replaced it with a phrase from one of the other solos, but it’s always hard to find one that fits. Still, I’d rather do that than punch in because my time never feels right when I do that. So, that’s the kind of luxury you have in the studio, and I don’t care if purists have a problem with it. I’m making a movie. If you want theatre, you can buy my Live album. That’s what concerts are for. I want my albums to be the best they can possibly be, not just a slice of my everyday playing with all the horrid mistakes. If that means multiple takes to get something right, I don’t have a problem with that.

By the way, for the clean guitar tone that starts Calhoun, what amp is that? It sounds amazing.

That’s a Fender Bandmaster with an Xotic RC Booster, and my main Suhr guitar. Then for the solo, I used another pedal, called the R1, made RJ Amps in Holland. He gave it to me when I was there with the trio, and it has a 12AX7 tube in it. It fit that solo and I think it’s a really nice pedal.

Do you have a certain process you follow when you write tunes?

Actually, no. I don’t think I want to have a repeating process, because I’m afraid the songs might sound too similar. The only process that seems consistent is that I seem to be writing more in real time, rather than sitting there trying to come up with ideas. I’ll write a drum groove, loop it and then just improvise over it. A lot of my best melodies come from just jamming, or even singing into a microphone. Singing rhythms and shapes, or playing my guitar in time with the drum groove. If you listen to music in real time, it sort of makes sense to try and compose in real time. Then when it eventually gets down to “is it going to be this chord or that chord”, I have to slow the process down, because I don’t have instant access to all the harmony in my head. I hear stuff, but that doesn’t mean I can instantly play what I hear all the time. It’s sort of like reading - I can read, but I can’t sight read. I have to go into the other process of writing, which is the process of elimination. You know, you try this and you try that and you go “no, I don’t like that”. I always have to throw a lot of stuff away, but I'm just patient with myself because I know that sooner or later something good will happen. I’m just persistent enough to wait for it.

Your songs often have many different parts in them.

Yeah, sometimes I think I end up writing too much. There are times when I have to take out stuff, like “that’s a nice part, but it doesn’t really fit the tune, so let’s save it for another tune down the road”. Sometimes I have to wait until it’s finished and listen to it for awhile to decide whether it makes sense. In fact, I distinctly remember that I was writing Festival of Ghosts and Calhoun at the same time, as one song. Later they somehow got split up into two different songs. They’re both in 3/4 time, around the same tempo.

How do you come up with names for your songs?

Oh I don’t know, I just listen to them until they remind me of something.

What’s the story behind the cow sounds on Dew Wut?

I just thought it was funny, because I needed a transition from Festival of Ghosts to Dew Wut? and I had an idea that the birds chirping at the end of the tune could morph into barn yard sounds to fit the country tune. It’s actually a true story about a friend of mine who’s from the south, and his wife actually did ask him for a divorce, and he answered, “Dew Wut?”, haha.

Do you ever sample real sounds for these animal sounds or just use some online audio library?

Online audio library.

You have a really cool and angry solo tone on The Covered Head.

Yeah, that’s one of those Trombetta Robotone pedals. It’s actually meant to sound like a trombone. I don’t know if actually sounds like a trombone but it definitely has a weird, kind of fluttery type of sound down low. The cool thing is that when your pick attack is soft or medium, it sounds like a regular distortion pedal, but the harder you pick, the more of that crazy sound comes out. It’s a very dynamic pedal and I really like it.

When I first heard your solo on that tune, I was listening in my car, and I thought my speakers were blown.

Yeah, I know it sounds like your speakers are blowing up, I know, haha! It’s such a great pedal, it really is, and vintage sounding. I love it. I don’t use it live, because I don’t have any more room on my little pedal board. The pedal I use the most live is the RC Booster. It cleans up really nice for chords. I use the Maxon SD-9 when I want to play more legato, more like a horn. Then I have the Fuzz Factory for some crazy fuzz tones, and then the Octafuzz and a Chorus. That’s about all I can carry around.

You’ve been using the Fulltone Octafuzz for a long time, right?

Yeah, to my ears it’s the warmest sounding Octavia clone out there. Many companies say they’re copying the old Tychobre Octavia that Hendrix used. I don’t find that’s true, because I borrowed an original one from a friend, and it was nice and warm sounding. The copies usually sound a lot brighter. I think Fulltone did the best job of copying that pedal. If it’s too bright, that tone will cut your head off.

How do you feel the album has been received so far?

Very well! It’s doing better than my last 2 albums put together, so I’m really happy about it.

We had some complaints about HBC being a cover record, but it is what it is. I don’t have time to write for that band, and neither does Jeff. He’s writing for his own band, and I’m writing for mine. Besides, I like playing covers. It’s fun to play other people’s songs, especially the ones I grew up listening to. There was some idiot who gave HBC a one star review on Amazon simply because it’s a cover record, but jazz musicians have been playing standards they didn’t write since forever. One guy on there replied to the bad review, saying it’s like going into a sushi restaurant and complaining about the fish being raw.

The sound of your new album is better than the sound on the HBC record.

Well, you can blame Scott Kinsey for that one. He’s not a bad engineer, but his mastering is a joke. He records everything a 44.1 because his bullshit mastering software can’t dither down from higher sample rates. He should record at 96k and leave mastering to professionals.

When it comes to effects and gear in relation to composing, do they inspire you to come up with certain compositional ideas?

Yes, sometimes. It really depends. Every tune is different. Sometimes an effect will actually inspire you to get ideas for a song, but other times you don’t really have time to think about that stuff, because you’re too busy jamming, and the tone of the guitar is enough. But then again, if the guitar tone is clean, you’ll come up with different parts than if the guitar tone is dirty. So sound definitely affects musical ideas, there’s no doubt about that, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be pedals or effects, it could be just the sound of the guitar. I’m sure if I was writing on a hollow body I’d write completely different than writing on a Strat.

Yeah, as an example, the sitar used on Manic Carpet, did you have it in mind before you started writing the tune?

No, I wrote the song thinking I was going to use an Octavia, but I already did that on Sphinx, so I had to come up with something else. So I had the sitar just sitting there and I wondered if it would have the balls to cut it. Electric sitars can sound really cheesy, thin and grating on the ears, but I lucked out because I plugged it directly into the Bandmaster and it sounded really fat and warm. I had to mess with the tone controls on the guitar a bit of course, because that thing is bright enough to do ear damage.

Absolutely - one thing that sticks out when you listen to this album is the wide variety of sounds.

Yeah, maybe that’s from the influence of Joe Zawinul. Sonic variation was Joe’s thing, and he was so great at it. I really love listening to those Weather Report albums where the sounds come at you from all different directions. Joe gave me bits of advice, and one of them was to always have things on the record that are very low in the mix. The listener might hear them on the 10th listen. Ambient sounds. You may not really hear it when you’re listening, but it’s there. One day you might listen on a different speaker system that emphasizes that frequency and you go “oh I never heard that before”. I love that kind of stuff.

For composing and generating ideas, what do you think of pre-made drum grooves from companies like Toontrack? With tools like these, there are tons of grooves in different styles and tempos that are easy to find and build upon.

I make my own grooves on a keyboard but pre-made grooves could be an option for me in the future - I’ll check out Toontrack. Thanks!

There are a few books out there with transcriptions of your songs. Have you looked at these transcriptions to see if they are indeed accurate? I can imagine that it could be hard for the transcriber to know what exactly what voicings you use, especially with volume swells that have delay and chorus, for example.

If you mean my official books from Hal Leonard or Alfred Publishing, the chords are correct because they got them from me - they weren’t transcribed. However the solos were transcribed and I’m much too lazy to go through that stuff to see if it’s correct.

When you are composing chord progressions, do you develop them on your guitar or on a keyboard? I'm wondering how to get better at finding chords that work together nicely like they do in your tunes and on the Tribal Tech tunes.

I always write on guitar - I’m not good enough on keyboards.

Have you experienced any hearing loss from playing music for many years?

What???

No, luckily, my ears are really healthy. I don’t know how, because after playing with Tribal Tech, that really shouldn’t be. That was like the loudest band ever. It was very hard to play in that band sometimes. My ears would ring after a show. I guess I lucked out - no permanent damage.

When you are layering guitars on a tune, do you have any of those layers defined in your mind when you are laying down the initial tracks with the trio?

No, I have no idea. When I record the music, it’s basically playing live. I end up with a recording that’s exactly the same as if we were playing on stage. All the layering comes later. It’s actually not all about sounds either, it’s also about coming up with compositional ideas. I’m writing new notes which aren’t in the original composition. So, it’s sort of like half composition and half sonic layering. I have to be careful not to put in so much that the song suffers on stage. The listener shouldn’t miss those sounds to the point that the music sounds empty without them. Hopefully they don’t mind that every single part isn’t there.

Do you have any tips for recording great guitar tones?

Well, a lot of the tone really is in your fingers, and I’m not bragging when I say that, but it really is. I’ve gone to see some of my favorite guitar players, and they’ve played just about every amp you could think of. For instance, when I go see Mike Landau, I’ve seen him play just about every amp and every guitar there is, and it still sounds like Mike. It’s in his hands. I remember one thing that made me laugh. John Suhr was on the phone with a dealer, and the dealer asked John “what does the Riot pedal sound like?”. John said, “well it sounds like whoever’s playing it”. I was like, yeah John, nice sales job there! But what he’s saying is totally true. A lot of it is in your hands, but of course it helps to have great gear. You can’t go wrong with a '71 Marshall, and a Kerry Wright cabinet. I have an Apogee Rosetta and the A/D conversion is very important.

I do pay attention in great detail to every single element in the signal chain. Starting from the strings and pickups, the potentiometers in the guitar, a very short cable going into the pedal, the right kind of speaker cable (I use Mogami Marshall Sound Runner), a great converter and mic preamp. Each of those details may seem small but when you put it all together, that combination of gear defines your tone.

I’ve also gotten a lot of good advice from knowledgeable people. That’s why I like to give advice to people on my message board, because I believe in paying back what people have done for me. Mike Landau and other people have been totally unselfish in sharing their tone secrets with me so that I didn't waste a bunch of money on bad gear, because there’s so much out there that’s bullshit.

When you are working on layering and composition and mixing, do you ask your band members for input?

I did get some suggestions from friends, like Bruce Forman. I remember he said I shouldn’t comp through the whole solo on Calhoun, maybe just the second half of it, and I thought yeah, that’s a great idea. Then Alan had some good suggestions when he came over to mix. He’d hear a sound and say “that sounds really fat, and it’s getting in the way of the sound that you want people to really pay attention to”. So he would suggest scooping it out a bit and get it a little bit more “under the mix”. You can still hear it, but it’s not taking people’s attention away from the part that’s the most important. That’s why I love working with Alan, because he’s such a great engineer and he sometimes hears those things that I miss.

Do you find it’s hard to avoid repeating things from the past that you’ve already recorded?

I don’t know. I may not be the right person to ask because I can’t give an objective opinion about it. I think every player has a vocabulary, and you always end up repeating a certain part of it. Hopefully it’s not too much. I often see on websites - “here’s a Scott Henderson lick”, and I listen to it and I go “oh God, I do play that a lot”. I play it so much that it’s actually been tagged a “Scott Henderson lick”. You can’t reinvent yourself on a daily basis, I mean your fingers are going to make the same kind of movements as they do every day, and your job as a musician is to try and add different kinds of movements, lines and creative ideas so that you can expand your vocabulary.

When you’re on tour, you're hearing yourself play every night and it’s impossible to be inventive enough that you become a different guitar player every night. I’m sure I’m playing some stuff on Vibe Station that you can find on many of my other albums. Maybe they’re played with a different rhythm, or maybe I started the lick in a different part of a measure, or with a different tone, who knows. If you listen to John Coltrane’s Giant Steps solo and the alternate take, they’re completely different solos, but if you put a microscope up to them, you can hear a lot of the same licks in the solos. They’re very short licks, and the kind that everybody has in their vocabulary. It’s how those small ideas are rhythmically cut and pasted into larger phrases that makes you who you are as an improvisor.

Yeah it absolutely makes sense. That applies to the style of grooves too, right?

That’s one of the hardest things for me. After having 80 or so songs out there, I’m trying my best not to repeat myself too much. It’s hard. I’ve written songs in just about every groove I can think of, and it’s always hard to come up with grooves that are different than what I’ve used before. I think I’ve done a pretty good job on Vibe Station, because I’ve come up with some pretty unique ones which I don’t feel I’ve repeated so often. But the next album will be harder! It gets harder every time.

Do you have any advice for blues & rock players who want to play some more sophisticated ideas over chord changes, but haven’t studied jazz much?

Well, all of that stuff is just about learning the different tools for playing through chord changes. You can find that through a private teacher, and there are videos out there. I just did a video on how to play blues and insert some stuff from the jazz vocabulary. A lot of people are buying it and enjoying it. I think the video turned out really good. Not because I played all that good, but it’s laid out in a very easy to understand way. I know how to break things down to make it easy to understand for the student. I’m a very down to earth teacher, and I’m not showing off in my teaching. I’m actually explaining, from a very basic level, how to do things. I’ve seen many teaching videos where all the teacher does is show off. They’re not teaching anything. So you buy a really good video or get a good private teacher and learn those tools. The reason I can play jazz, rock and blues in a convincing way is simply because I’m old. I’ve played funk, rock, blues, jazz, and so on - a lot. I grew up playing blues and rock. Then I was in an all black group for seven years, playing nothing but James Brown, Kool and the Gang, Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire. Then I got into jazz and did nothing but study standards and all the jazz greats for many, many years. It comes down to putting in the work. A lot of transcribing, just like learning a new language.

So, my recent video lessons are at MyMusicMasterClass.com and it’s run by Adam Small. He’s got some really great jazz guitar teachers on there, but he didn’t have much on blues, so that’s why I wanted to do that. There are elements of jazz in my lessons, but it’s mainly about playing blues. There seems to be a lot of rock and blues players who do want to add some more color to their playing, without necessarily going into playing Stella By Starlight. That includes myself - I never wanted to be straight-ahead jazz player. I never bought a hollow-body and I know very few standards. I’ve just never been that interested in being a traditional jazz musician. I’m more about writing original music and doing my own thing, whatever that is, but I really respect the guys who can play standards in a million different ways. I love traditional jazz guitar, I just chose not be a traditional jazz guitarist.

We’re thinking about doing a video about gear and tone. I don’t think anyone’s done that yet. It’s sort of a mystery to many musicians, like it was to me when I was younger. Just because you know what gear people used, it doesn’t mean you know how to dial it in, and that’s much more important. I’ve been around enough engineers to see how it works, and I’ve experimented on enough of my own guitar recordings that I’ve gotten pretty good at micing up an amp, like getting different tones by changing the mic placement and using the room. I’ve done a lot of analyzing, like putting on a Deep Purple album and trying to get as close as I can to Richie Blackmore’s tone. I’d set the amp differently and put the mic in a completely different place in order to get his tone, compared to my tone, but I like to know how he did it. If I want to get that kind of tone, I know where to start. It’s interesting to me, it’s my hobby. A lot of guitar players leave it up to the engineer to take care of their tone, and aren’t that involved in the process - they just hope the engineer is good at recording guitars. I’m my own engineer when it comes to my guitar, but It didn’t start out that way. My first teacher was Ronnie Montrose. He was the producer of Jeff Berlin’s album Champion. I worked with him for almost a week, learning how to mic up an amp, going through a bunch of different microphones until we found the tone that I liked. I learned so much - he was really great and generous with his knowledge.

Getting good tone with your gear is also subjective. If I do a video on tone, I can’t just show how I get my tone, because not everyone will want that. I’ll have to be a lot more global and show how to set up your gear to get different types of tones. Something like, “if you want to get a tone like Stevie Ray Vaughan, you go for this”, or “if you want to get a tone like Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth or Ritchie Blackmore, you go more for this”. It has to be a broad video, and not just geared towards people who want to copy my tone, because that wouldn’t really be much use in the marketplace. So I would probably do at least ten completely different examples of set ups. I would need a bunch of different amps, guitars, microphones, and effects. It would be a seriously ambitious project, but I think it would be fun.

When it comes to jazz improvisation, what’s your thoughts on scale/chord relationships, compared to embellishing chords and focus on the melody instead of thinking about scales so much?

I think both approaches are valid. Learning the scale positions in a horizontal way is helpful when learning where a line lays the best on the neck, and where it swings the best. On the other hand, a study of intervals, up and down the neck in a vertical way, is very good for creating melodies and motifs. Learning the intervals and the chord tones is very important, like a piano player would. The guitar is like looking at five pianos, and it’s difficult, because it’s a harder instrument. It’s five times harder than a piano because we have five different arrangements of notes, whereas the piano only has one. It’s a more difficult instrument to learn where the notes are. I find a lot of guitar players are just lazy. Because of the symmetry of the neck, it’s easy to just slide one chord up to a different location, without actually knowing what notes are in the chord. In comparison, a horn player or piano player know each individual note in the chord. Guitar players often think they don’t have to know that, for some reason. If you want to play over chord changes, these are things you have to know. Otherwise, it’s like trying to be an airline pilot without knowing what those little knobs do.

If you want to play rock and blues, you don’t need to know these things, but if you want to play over chord changes, you do. You need to learn the key signatures, and where the notes are on each individual string. I tend to play more melodically when I play vertically up and down the neck, than when I play horizontally in one position. But it’s OK to use both approaches. I find the schools tend to teach scales more, which leaves some jazz players wondering why their playing doesn’t sound strong. That’s usually because they didn’t learn the correct way to play jazz, which is the “pianistic approach” of playing chord tones, rather than scales. You really need to learn what’s happening on each string.

Do you have any ideas on what you want to do for your next album?

I don’t know what that’s going to be yet. For the moment, I’m just concentrating on touring and playing the best I can. When I get home in November, I’ll have to start thinking hard about what I want to do next.

Do you do any studio recordings for other people?

Not a lot. My studio work mainly comes from people sending me stuff via email. They usually want me to record some guitar tracks, play a solo and send it to them. They can be in China, Europe or wherever so I usually never even meet them. I don’t do a lot “real” studio work. That’s kind of dominated by the real pros in LA. Nobody calls me for Chevrolet commercials... haha!

Anything new and cool you’ve discovered when it comes to music you listen to?

Well probably guys you already know. Let’s see, James Muller, Paul Pieper, for example. There are so many good players out there. YouTube is a good source to hear good people you’ve never heard before. I think it’s amazing to see these young guys that sound so great. I feel like, oh god when I was that age I was lucky to get through Brown Sugar without messing it up! These guys must have started playing jazz when they were like two years old, haha.

Oz Noy is a great and inventive player, I’m sure you’ve heard him?

Yeah, Oz is great. We actually play together a lot. When he’s teaching at Musician’s Institute, I usually do a double open counseling session with him. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot from him, he’s a great player. I really like his concept of making music, really good. Another amazing player is Bruce Forman. He’s one of the most musical jazz players I know. Larry Koonse is another guy who’s awesome. I guess there’s going to be a new Holdsworth album, which is very exciting. There hasn’t been one in a long time, so it will be interesting to see what he’s doing. I’m a fan of his, I’ve always loved his playing. He’s a very inventive guy.

Will you be at NAMM in Anaheim in January?

Yes, I’ll go this year, for Xotic, because my new signature RC Booster just came out. It has two gain stages and really improves the chords when turning down the guitar. I’m looking forward to using it on the next tour!

Thanks for the Interview, Scott!

No problem, thanks!

Thanks for reading the interview. This is the 3rd interview I have done with Scott. You may also be interested in reading the first interview here, and the second interview here - they are well worth reading .

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Posted by Robert Renman on November 25, 2015

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