***The following appeared in the February 2018 issue of Guitar Player***
If you’ve patrolled YouTube for cool gear demos, you’ve likely come across Pete Thorn, who is one of the video-sharing website’s most prolific product reviewers.
But the tone-obsessed guitarist has also done studio sessions and/or worked stages with Chris Cornell, Courtney Love, Pink, Alicia Keys, Melissa Etheridge, and others.
If anyone knows how to “give good tone” it’s Thorn, and here he reveals his must-have session gear…
Which guitars and amps typically see duty during a Thorn session?
Sometimes, I like to use Floyd Rose-equipped guitars, and I’ll reach for my EVH Wolfgang or Suhr Classic S when I need a locking trem.
The Suhr Reactive Load has transformed the way I work. It loads the amp down to line level, so you can safely use it without a speaker cabinet. I take the line out to a mic preamp or recording interface, and I mainly use Impulse Responses from Celestion and Ownhammer to add speaker and mic simulations in my computer. Not having to deal with blaring loud cabs, and getting quality miked sounds immediately and repeatably is a huge help.
I also have a Line 6 Helix hooked up to a Kemper Profiler so I can run the Helix effects in front of, and after, the Kemper amp profiles. Additionally, I can choose the Helix amps if I like one of those for a part.
It’s really a pretty slick setup. I just got a Fractal AX8, and I’ve been messing with it a bit, too.
I see all of these things as tools, and they all have their advantages and strengths. I love amps, and I always will, but sometimes the practical thing to do is to use a modeler, and the results can be quite good.
What about pedals?
What mindset should you bring to the studio to help artists achieve their creative goals?
You have to be intuitive and flexible. Be confident, but don’t let your ego get in the way.
Always be ready to try something else, both musically and tonally. Don’t get flustered if the artist doesn’t like something you suggest or play. Just try something else. They’ll appreciate your flexibility and easy-going attitude.
What sorts of challenges should a session guitarist be on the lookout for in the studio?
Air conditioning or heaters turning on and off can be a pain, because they create tuning instability. If you feel the temperature change, always retune.
Ground loops and noises can be issues, so it’s good to have at least one guitar with noiseless pickups, as well as an Ebtech Hum Eliminator or a Palmer Isolation Transformer on hand.
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