Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke discussed Jerry Cantrell’s guitar sound in Alice In Chains in a new Tone Talk interview.
“It’s interesting because I think a lot of people think of me as a rhythm player, but up until Guns N’ Roses, I was always the only guitar player in the band. But, obviously, when I joined and I joined as the rhythm guitar player. And I always was drawn to the rhythm. All the guys I liked – I’m a huge Keith Richards fan. But I think that even guys like Eddie Van Halen, he has an incredible rhythm. Incredible rhythm! Andy Summers from the Police – wow, some of his rhythms are just phenomenal!
And to me, that was always what stuck out as a young guy when I was listening to records and stuff. I was a huge KISS, Ace Frehley fan, those rhythms on those records, it’s like it was part [the late Free guitarist] Paul Kossoff! Of course, lead guitar is important stuff but for me, it was really more about songs when I was a young kid, I don’t know why but I was attracted to songs, and it really wasn’t about a certain guitar player.
It was more about songs, bands, and I just connected with those parts. And you’re right, it’s so overlooked because it’s a different world now. You can make a video of you doing some trick part, and you’re going to get a bunch of views. If you sit there and play rhythm to a song – maybe not so flashy. But that’s kind of the world we live in right now.
I do a lot of production and because I have a live room, we can turn it up here. And I’m always amazed when I’m working with guitar players that aren’t guys that have made a lot of records, they all come in and I got to tell you, nine out of 10 times – all of them have their bass on 10.
And I try to explain to them that when you’re recording, you’re muddying it up. If you just turn it down to five, you can pretty much get the same tone that you have, and you also won’t be competing with the frequency of the bass player.
Because when we’re all listening, you’re all competing for that same space. Let the bass player be the low end. I understand some guys need it – Jerry Cantrell is a perfect example, he’s got that loud stuff. But your bass doesn’t always have to be on 10, you can still get that same sound turning it down low. And I’m talking recording, not talking live.”
He added about Vox amps, “You got to be realistic, if you’re playing Alice in Chains stuff, Vox is not the amp for you. But if it’s classic rock, man, I play my Vox all the time, it’s fantastic. If you’re doing Bad Company and stuff like that, that sounds great through the Vox as well. The Stones – you can do it.” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.