Sam Broussard wailing on a Tele equipped with a Hipshot Trilogy bridge
that lets him instantly
retune each string to one of three preset pitches.
Photo by Jan Boney
Sam Broussard, who hails from
Lafayette, Louisiana, has one
of the most distinctive guitar styles
I’ve ever heard. His hybrid mix of
Cajun, funk, and slide, mingled
with use of multiple tunings and
a big, meaty tone, blew me away
when I first saw him perform
with the Grammy-nominated
band Steve Riley and the Mamou
Playboys. Since then, I’ve become
friends with Broussard, and I’d
like to take this opportunity to
share an interview I recently did
with him so he can share with you
some of the knowledge and sonic
wisdom he has gleaned from his
years of touring and session work.
How many years have you been
playing out on the road?
Since 1970—so around 41 years.
Did you have to ask? [Laughs
So, by now, you must have used
about every amp on the planet.
Sure, the most common ones.
You can’t fly amps. You can fly
a head, but it’s expensive—and
it’ll take some serious knocks. In
the early days, when everyone
was driving everywhere, you
could use what you owned if it
fit in the bus or van. These days,
it’s backline amps supplied by
the venue. This can be anything,
literally, but mostly it’s Fender
Twins. Once I had to play
through an acoustic guitar amp.
What is your desert-island
That would be a Fender DeVille
4x10, which I finally bought.
It’s voiced well, has a good dirty
channel, and the clean channel
is great for steelish slide. I just
love 4x10s. They always sound
good with a Telecaster—in all
What made you become a
I’m a traditionalist about guitars,
and I appreciate the Tele’s
limited options. If you can’t do
it well on a Tele, then you can’t
do it. As Brad Paisley said, it’s a
baseball bat with strings.
Have you been playing a Tele
since you started going on
No. I’ve followed the trends,
playing Gibsons, Strats, Yamahas,
and so on—all the classics, like
ES-335s. I had a goldtop Les
Paul I sold for $400—shoot me!
Which guitars do you take
A 1970 Telecaster and, for slide,
a ’90s Mexican-made Tele with
Fralin pickups. The ’90s has a
Hipshot Trilogy bridge, which
lets me change tunings on the fly
using 3-position levers on every
string. Sonny Landreth turned
me on to that. The acoustic I
take out is a fabulous rosewood
Bourgeois Vintage D that has a
surprisingly natural sound with
an L.R. Baggs Element undersaddle
pickup. My preamp is either a
D-TAR Solstice or a Radial JDI.
What tunings do you use?
Primarily open G and open D,
as well as open F, which is just
G down a whole step. I also use
some variations, like D over
G—a tuning I can quickly get
onstage using the Trilogy.
What does your live rig
When we fly, it’s pedals only. I
bring a Barber LTD overdrive
for my ’70 Tele, a Demeter
F.O.D. for heavy slide, an Xotic
RC Booster for both guitars,
and two Boss compressors—one
for the electrics and the other to
boost my acoustic. The idea is to
have many gain options, since I
might get a Twin, which I can’t
turn up enough to sound manly.
Do you use the same amp setup
in the studio?
No. My studio gear is similar,
but not exactly the same. In my
home studio, I use a Ceriatone HRM driving
a 4x10 cab. I record into Apple
Logic 9 through an Apogee
Ensemble with Manley outboard
gear. I’m using a Royer R-121 mic
into a Groove Tubes Vipre preamp.
For some clean tones, I actually
prefer amp simulators, and
sometimes I use an old Roland
VG-8 for steel effects and other
tones that are impossible otherwise.
For recording the acoustic,
I use two old Neumann KM54s
through a LaChapell preamp
and Manley Variable Mu limiter/
compressor. It’s a killer chain.
What pedals do you use in
I have a preference for Barber distortion
pedals—they sound natural
and are voiced well. The Jetter
GS3 is good, and the Lovepedal
ProValve is really nasty on 1. Also,
I like Keeley and Boss compressors.
I don’t use delays or reverb.
What are some of the records
you’ve played on?
The Mamou Playboys have two
Grammy nods, and there’ve been
nods for other records that have
come out of the South Louisiana
French culture, like the Zozo
Sisters with Linda Rondstadt
and Ann Savoy. I’m on a couple
of records by our dearly departed
Bobby Charles. I’m not on any
other major records except for
some Michael Martin Murphey
vinyl in the late ’70s. “Wildfire”
was a big song. Mostly I tour.
The A-team sessions have eluded
me—I’m not squeaky-clean
enough as a player.
How do you translate what you
do live into the studio?
I like it when I have enough
time to compose my part,
because my strength is inventiveness.
If there’s no time, I stay
in the safety zone and go for
elegant touch, because that’ll be
the only thing that differentiates
you. It’s not the melodic lines—
because too many producers
want what they’ve already heard.
I call that hamburger.
So what is next on your plate?
I’m doing an album with my old
band Silverman and one with
Jean Arceneaux, our best Cajun
French lyricist. And there’s a
Texas blues trio with Johnny
Nicholas and David Greely. I’m
doing solo shows, as well—and,
of course, still going out on the
road with the Playboys.
engineer and mixer who
has worked with artists
ranging from Al Di
Meola to David Bowie.
A life-long guitarist, he’s
also the author of Pro Tools Surround
and composes for the
likes of Fox NFL, Discovery Channel,
Nickelodeon, and HBO.