JASON FALKNER IS REVERED IN THE
pop-rock world as a guy with a seemingly endless
supply of catchy hooks and cool tones.
Here he reveals how he employs some of
those guitar sounds.
You seem to use different guitar tones in an
almost orchestral sense, the way a conductor
might use violins, cellos, or brass. Describe some
tones and when you might call on them.
I do try to create most of my recorded textures
with my various guitars, amps, effects,
and mic techniques before I pursue other
instruments. I love those damn guitars that
much. My favorite guitar tone is straight into
my Supro 88T 2x12 combo without any effects
at all. It’s the most intense, dark, sludgy distorted
tone. It kills me every time with my
early ’70s Tele Custom, because the bridge
pickup is fairly bright and it pairs up really
well with a darker-sounding tube amp like
the Supro. I also use a 1966 Fender Super
Reverb quite a bit for more chime. It sounds
amazing with a vibrato pedal. I’ll use that
amp with my ’67 Hagstrom 12-string for a
very aggressive ’60s 12-string tone. Those
amps are really underrated in my opinion.
The four 10" speakers have a really cool
depth of tone and quad image, and they are
freaking loud! I also love small, low-wattage
amps. I have several, but one of my faves is a
really rare ’60s Guyatone 1x12 that sounds
very pissed off, like a Vox AC15 but nastier.
I love having something like that driving the
tune and then more esoteric sounds coming
in and out of the arrangement.
How would you say your approach to guitar
tones changed from Jellyfish to the Grays to
your solo records?
When we made the Jellyfish record, I was
21 years old and I didn’t know that much
about layering guitars. Even though that was
the sound that was always in my head, I didn’t
have any experience with multitracking at
that point. We also made a concerted effort
to leave lots of space in the arrangements,
so many of those guitar performances are
one pass with no overdubs. I had two amps
set up and an A/B box. I would perform the
rhythm guitar and when the solo came up I
would stomp on the A/B box. Then an AC30
that was about to explode would be kicked
on, and I’d do the solo on the same track.
It’s a pretty exciting way to record. After
that experience, I wanted to make a record
with all the little voices and noises I hear in
my head. That was Ro Sham Bo by the Grays,
which was a complete kitchen-sink record
where every idea was recorded and usually
used in the final mix. I think we got some
incredible sounds on that album. Then, on
my first solo record, I really started to get
into a philosophy where every sonically amazing
tone should have a counterpart lo-fi or
crappy tone so that you can really appreciate
both ends of the spectrum. I still work like
that. If a recording only has the most beautiful
tones on every instrument it leaves me
a bit cold. Same with some of the über lo-fi
things. I like a mix of both on my recordings.
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