This is one of my favorite songs to play live. I remember the first time I heard John play this lick ... I was caught. For these parts, we played around a lot with panning. Not having drums on this track was a huge part of the groove, so separating the guitar tones on each side helped me feel the full stereo effect of what’s going on.
I used my Custom Shop Strat on this too, along with the Dumble Overdrive preset in the Kemper. We ended up reversing some of the lead guitar parts in the solo behind the actual lead part. This yields a really cool, spacey effect that complements the reverb you hear on the guitar itself.
“Stop This Train”
This was the only song we released ahead of The Continuum Project album. It originally came out on my March 2017 EP, Worth the Wait. Lyrically, this is such a special song to me. I remember when recording each piece of this song, everything just seemed to fall into place. There is a healthy amount of reverb on the vocal and acoustics. I ended up adding a ganjo, which helped fill the hole left by the lack of drums, and I even put a rain stick in the background—it just seemed to fit.
“Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”
This is my favorite song off of Continuum. I have been covering it for years, but this was one of the hardest songs for me to record. I couldn’t get the guitars to sit right. I went through so many tones in the Kemper. I tried a Two-Rock, a Matchless, a Vox AC30, and a Dr. Z Z-Wreck, but ended up landing back at a Two-Rock Studio Pro for both guitars at the beginning of the song.
The lead guitar is my Custom Shop Fender Strat through the Dumble Overdrive Special preset. The second lead guitar is through my Fender Deluxe Reverb with a Klon KTR, an Xotic EP Booster, and a Timmy pedal, stacked with a bunch of compression. I love gain staging and do it quite often live. Sometimes I leave a clean boost like the EP Booster on all the time.
“Bold as Love”
I’ve always been a fan of this Hendrix song, but loved how John’s version took it to complete different perspective. I will say, it pays to learn long guitar solos from players who you look up to. It teaches you things about your playing that you can’t get to in shorter solos. After listening to Hendrix’s solo on the original and then learning John’s solo, it’s such a master class in phrasing. It was definitely the hardest solo on the whole record to get right, from the dynamics of where this solo goes, to the timing of when John really gets into it. My favorite parts of John’s playing are when he plays within chord changes as well as floating melodies between major and minor sounds.
In the mixing process, Tom Tapley reamped this guitar through an Ampeg B-15, which gives it that wider, thicker tone. That combined with the heavy reverb on the vocal helped balance out this track. In the solo, I’m stacking a Fulltone Full-Drive 2 with my Xotic BB Preamp. I don’t hear a lot of guitar players talk about the BB, but I think for higher-gain solos, it’s a little secret weapon to throw in the mix.
“Dreaming with a Broken Heart”
There is something about the vulnerability of recording this song with an actual broken heart that helped me get the right emotion across. I recorded this song using my American Standard Strat through the Two-Rock Studio Pro preset with an MXR M300 Reverb. It’s a good device with six distinctive reverb options, but I typically use the spring option.
Let’s talk about delay pedals for a moment. The tried-and-true Boss DD-7 is something I consistently come back to because it has a pretty good modulated analog delay emulation. Whenever I run my chain through the DD-7, I feel it delivers a bit of compression. While I actually like how it colors my tone, sometimes it changes the sound too much. The Dunlop EP103 Echoplex is another one of my go-to delay pedals. I used it on this track for a warm, modulated tape echo effect. Also, I feel like I need to mention the Strymon TimeLine. Although I didn’t use it on this song, it’s an incredible delay pedal with tap tempo and a seemingly endless amount of settings.
I love all the sections in this song. One of my favorite things about John’s songwriting is how he may shift to a completely different headspace as the song unfolds. The guitars on the back half were so much fun to record. This song taught me a lot about stacking guitar parts, for sure. How you bring them to a crescendo is all about the arrangement, dynamics, and tones you use.
The guitar at the top of the song is my American Standard Strat with a slightly overdriven tremolo, which I got using the Diamond Tremolo enhanced with some reverb from the MXR M300. I believe John recorded the organ part using an overdriven Electro-Harmonix POG. I played that part on keys because I wanted it to be slightly different, and it let me explore how I could shape the sound. There is a throat to the voice of an organ that I feel a POG doesn’t deliver in the same way. There are sections where we took that organ part, put on some delays, and then only took the delay part of the chain and laid it in the background of the mix.
“I’m Gonna Find Another You”
This was a fun song to record. To me, it sounds like John played something like an ES-335 on the original, which is a complex and warm guitar. I played my Gretsch G6115T-LTD15 Center Block “Red Betty” and reamped it through a Deluxe Reverb. I also doubled the guitars in the chorus and panned them.
So there you have it. I will say that after recording Continuum, I approach music differently. I reached a place of vulnerability through this assignment that I knew I had in me but was never able to tap into before. Music doesn’t always go to that delicate and personal place like John went to on this record. So, whatever it may be, listen to music that inspires you to a level like this. It will teach you how to listen.
Thanks Kristian Bush for asking me to record my version of my favorite record, and thanks John Mayer for recording Continuum. It still remains my favorite record, and I’m a better artist because of it.