It’s also a bummer that someone with such formidable audio-production chops—Ronson’s vast resume includes co-producing Lou Reed’s breakout Transformer album, playing the signature acoustic-guitar riff on John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane,” and producing one of Morrissey’s heaviest albums, Your Arsenal—never spoke much about his studio process. Part of the reason may be that Ronson was a “just do it” type, rather than someone who intellectualized the task at hand.
“The thing with guitar sounds is that I really like to wrestle with them,” Ronson said in 1990. “Sometimes, the sound isn’t quite right, so you have to beat the thing, and that reflects in the way you play. But that feels real to me. And I don’t use many effects, because then you never just get down to playing the guitar.”
It is known that, at various times, Ronson used a ’68 Les Paul (with the finish stripped off), a Telecaster, a 200-watt Marshall Major (nicknamed “The Pig”), a Vox Tonebender, a Music Man combo, and Mesa/Boogie amps, and employed a Crybaby wah to achieve his signature nasal and soaring tone.
“The wah was his sound,” said Ziggy Stardust producer Ken Scott. “He’d find a position he liked, and he’d just leave it there. It worked perfectly.”
Ronson’s approach to crafting solos and riffs betrayed his “producer’s head,” as he thought about the guitar’s effect on the whole song, rather than focusing on his parts.
“Rather than just sort of endlessly play away, I always try to find a reason for what I’m playing,” he said. “I play a lot of simple things in the interest of being direct. If you get fancy and cluttered, it’s hard for people to pick up on—you’re baffling them with science. So I try to look for good hook lines on the guitar—George Harrison-style solos that you can whistle as you walk down the street. People should always remember the guitar lines in a song.”
Composing something memorable for each recording, however, was often a tortuous process.
“Mick’s whole thing was slow and beautiful,” says Ronson collaborator Ian Hunter. “He wasn’t really even a rock player—he was classically trained. Sometimes, he would listen to a track for about an hour without touching his guitar. Then, we’d go through this awful hour where he’d be getting the thing together. He’d form the whole solo completely in his head, and then it would slowly emerge through his fingers. But about the time when I’d be ready to give up and leave, he’d play this absolutely amazing line.”
Providence Releases Bass FX Console BFX-1
James Jamerson Owned and Played 1961 Fender Bass Up For Auction
Fender Issues Statement on Use of Rosewood on Basses
Video: Presonus Studio One 3.5 Update Adds Major Features
This Week in Free Stuff: Reverb, Delay & EQ Plug-ins
Korg Announces MicroKorg Limited Edition Platinum Model for 15th Anniversary
Master Class: Korg minilogue and monologue
TALENT SCOUT - James Francies
The Keys to Snarky Puppy's Success
Dan Auerbach Premieres “Waiting On a Song” Music Video
Are These the Top 10 Guitar Harmonies of All Time?
Watch Steve Vai Perform Led Zeppelin Classics with Zepparella
KLANG:fabrik Gets Inside The Heads Of Linkin Park
L-Acoustics ARCS WiFo Finds Favor With DC/Baltimore-Area Churches
Sully Meets the Challenges for RHCP with Rat Sound and L-Acoustics
Laura Clapp and Paul Riario Demo Blue Microphones’ SL Series
Five Underrated Led Zeppelin Guitar Riffs—and How to Play Them
Paul Gilbert Discusses Mr. Big's New Album and His Improving Improvisational Skills
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470