Mick Jagger struts his stuff and Wood plies his trade on a Gibson Les Paul
Special during the Stones’ August 10, 1994, Voodoo Lounge tour date at the RCA
Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Ken Settle
Other than getting to call all the shots and make the decisions yourself . . .
Yeah, that’s a good exercise, you know?
But stylistically or as far as how you approach writing your parts, is it any different from how you might do it with the Stones?
Not really. I always give my best and I’m always very natural with it. It’s kind of easier [because] it’s laid on the plate by the Stones more. Mick or Keith will have this riff and I interpret it immediately. “Oh, I know what you need.” And they know that. With my albums, I often know what the basis is, and I know where I want to take it—and that’s why I can have guests on it. Because if they don’t play it, I’ll play it anyway. So it’s just a matter of party time—it’s like, “Okay, let’s party. Let’s have some fun making a record.” That’s what I love to do.
How do you approach getting the actual guitar tones?
[U2 guitarist] Edge said to me, “How do you get that tone?” And I said, “Just turning it up to 10 and hitting the full volume.” [Laughs.] I don’t use effects . . . very rarely. And he’s Mr. Effects, and he can’t understand how to do it.
Did you use the same guitars and amps you would normally use with the Stones in the studio?
Yeah. My man Dave Rouse, my guitar roadie, he said, “Do you want the Champ, Ronnie? Do you want the Deluxe or the Twin?” I usually go with a Strat with a whammy bar, or a slide, or a B-Bender. I didn’t use a B-Bender on this album, which I would have liked to have done—but I did use a pedal steel, so that’s even better.
Do you remember which particular guitars and amps you used the most?
Not really, but I suppose my old standby is my ’55 Strat and a Champ amp. “Have guitar and amp, will travel!” [Laughs.]
What’s the year on the amp, roughly?
It’s a tweed from the ’50s.
Do you feel like your concept of what constitutes good guitar tone has changed over the years?
Well, I think, like wine, the matured sound of a ’50s Strat is more or less a stable part of my diet—like with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. They’re just very comfortable. You get that reliable sound that comes from a ’50s amp and a ’50s guitar, whether it’s an acoustic or an electric. Y’know, you go to a Martin for an acoustic—or an old J-200. But some of the new guitars that are available, they’ve got a bloody good sound.
Did you use any other amps or guitars besides the Strat and the Champ?
Well, yeah, I’m always open to ideas. I mean, I’ll use a Les Paul once in awhile. But that’s another thing—if you’ve got Slash around, you know you’re going to have a Les Paul sound. So, I’ve got the Fender side covered. But, amps-wise, a Boogie or an old Vox AC30. They’re all there if I want to use them.
Is the Boogie an old Mark IIC or something?
Just the regular Mesa/Boogie with the EQ on the front. I don’t know the model name.
An older one—the little combo?
Yeah, they’re cool. As far as different amps, I used an old Fenton Weill on the solo for “Maggie May.” It was like, more or less, a converted radio—it’s a bit like the Champ amp is. There’s a bit of distortion already built in, just because of the old valves and stuff.