AARON MORELAND plays fat-ass riffs, runs, and slide assaults sans bass on Moreland & Arbuckle’s Flood [Telarc]. To get that girth and grittiness he used a 1960 Oahu Tonemaster combo recorded in the same room with the harp amp and drums, and a Blue Pepper tube head through a Marshall 4x12 cab in an iso booth to maintain definition. “As the only stringed instrument it’s essential that I get the biggest sound I can,” explains Moreland. “On guitars tuned in open D or open G, I use strings gauged .014, .018, .024 unwound, .028, .038, and .048, with high action—and on guitars in standard tuning I use .012-.056 gauge sets. I prefer moderately heavy Dunlop steel slides, and I avoid pedals because they drain my tone.” In addition to various Gibsons and Fenders, Moreland plays a 4-string cigar-box guitar with an actual bass string routed to a separate amp.
“To get a thick sound, I use my thumb for bass lines or rhythm chunks that carry the tune, while my other fingers play rhythm flourishes and melodies. My thumb plays simple downstrokes—chunk, chunk, chunk—or more complex patterns on the bottom two strings, while I play upstroke patterns with my fingers, and downstroke patterns with the backs of my fingers. Then, I just drop in a little slide here and there for country blues or Chicago blues-type sounds. This rolling technique is super cool and effective once you get the hang of it.”