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more... ArtistsGuitaristsJazzDecember 2010Jimmy Herring

Jimmy Herring: Triple-T Threat

Jimmy Herring: Triple-T Threat

Backed by a trio of cabs—including a Leslie, two Hard Trucker 2x12s, and a Tone Tubby 4x12—Herring burns through another solo. Photo by Colin Vereen
Jimmy Herring’s Gearbox
When it comes to his rig, Jimmy Herring likes to keep it simple. If he needs a certain tone for a song, he is more likely to switch guitars than to add an extra pedal or amp. According to his tech, Joel Byron, the signal chain is pretty straight-ahead. “The signal comes out of the guitar, through the volume pedal, and directly into the Fuchs Tripledrive,” Byron says. “Then it goes from the effects loop of the Fuchs into a Radial Switchbone, which splits the signal between a Fractal Axe-Fx Ultra unit and a Fuchs Verbrator tube reverb we keep in a drawer.”

From the Verbrator, Herring’s signal goes to the effects return on a Fuchs Clean Machine and then into a Leslie cab. Meanwhile, the stereo outputs from the Fractal Axe-Fx Ultra are routed to one a Mesa/Boogie Simul-Class 2:Ninety stereo tube power amp, which powers two Hard Trucker 2x12 cabs.

Herring likes to be able to mix both a dry and wet sound on the fly, depending on the tune he is playing. “The main Tripledrive is totally dry through the green Tone Tubby cab,” says Byron. “He controls the reverb from the Fractal unit with a second volume pedal. The wet mix comes out of the Hard Truckers cabs and he adds the Leslie in by hitting the Both switch on the Radial Switchbone. All of the distortion comes from the different channels on the amps—Jimmy doesn’t use any overdrive or distortion pedals.”

Jerry Jones Baritone, Fender Relic Tele with Lollar pickups, Warmoth semihollow Strat-style with a Seymour Duncan ’59 in the neck and a Rio Grande BBQ Bucker in the bridge (tuned to drop-D for “Shut up and Drive”), Fender Strat with Lollar Imperials, Baker b3 with Lollar Imperials and a coil-tap switch, Fender Strat with Vintage Noiseless single-coils, sunburst Fender Strat with Seymour Duncan ’59 pickups
Amps and Cabs
Fuchs Tripledrive Supreme 100-watt head through a Tone Tubby 4x12 cab (Herring also brings a spare Tripledrive), Fuchs Clean Machine through a Leslie G27 cab, Mesa/Boogie Simul-Class 2:Ninety stereo tube power amp (Herring brings a backup of this, too) through two Hard Trucker 2x12 cabs
Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx Ultra controlled by a Rockman MIDIPEDAL, two Ernie Ball volume pedals
Strings and Picks
D’Addario (gauged .010–.046), V-Pick (Large Pointed)
Planet Waves cables, Radial Tonebone JX-2 Pro Switchbone AB-Y switcher, Boss TU-2 tuner pedal

Along with Widespread Panic drummer Todd Nance (right ), Herring holds down the groove
with his army of Fuchs amps. Photo by Colin Vereen

Producer John Keane on Getting Herring's
Tones on Dirty Side Down

John Keane is the unofficial seventh member of Widespread Panic. Since meeting the band in the mid ’80s, he has gone on to engineer and produce five of their studio albums, in addition to joining them on tour to play guitar and pedal steel. He has also worked with such marquee artists as REM and the Indigo Girls, and with each project his reputation and sonic touch become more impactful.

Keane describes how knowing a band like Widespread Panic for so long, really helps in the studio. “I have established a rapport with them—there is a certain amount of trust there. They are familiar with my methods, and I am familiar with theirs. It makes it a lot easier to get things rolling quickly in the studio.” And the proof is in the pudding: On Dirty Side Down, Keane pulled some of the best tones and performances out of the band since their Space Wrangler debut.

Keane recorded all the guitars through a DI and mic’d the amps. “I use these Demeter direct boxes that have tubes in them so they don’t load down the guitar pickup. I usually go straight from the guitar into one of those and record that to a track in Pro Tools,” Keane says. “I record the direct signal, and I usually don’t listen to it—I just want to make sure it’s clean. Later on in the mixing stage, if I think the amp is too dirty or too clean and I want to use a different sound, I will take the direct guitar signal and feed it into another amp and re-record it onto another track.”

While on tour with Panic, Keane let Herring try out his favorite guitar—a Tele that Herring latched onto and used for most of the Dirty Side Down sessions. “It’s a guitar that I traded some studio time for about 15 or 20 years ago. It’s an inexpensive Japanese Tele. When I first got it, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do anything with it. All the electronics in it were terrible.” After a few upgrades, it became a go-to axe. “I went ahead and pulled all the electronics out of it—all the pots and switches—and replaced them. I put a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder in the bridge and another Seymour Duncan pickup in the neck position. I put a 5-way switch in, which is what is recommended to get all the tonal possibilities out of the Quarter Pounder. It’s real fat and dark sounding, kinda like a P-90. But it also has a tap position that sounds more like a regular Tele pickup. After I did that to it and got it refretted, it became my favorite guitar.”
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