How to Capture Vince Gill’s Guitar Tone
THE NEXT IN A SERIES OF STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES TO HOME RECORDING
There’s no question Vince Gill’s music – whether you call it country or country rock – has made him one of the most sought-after artists in music.
From his early days in the late ’70s and early ’80s in Ricky Skagg’s Boone Creek Band and Pure Prairie League to his current reign as one of the most successful solo artists of all-time, Gill has written some incredibly popular songs over the years.
He’s also worked with an incredible array of artists, including the likes of Reba McEntire, Amy Grant, Barbra Streisand, Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall, Trisha Yearwood, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Raitt, Leann Rimes, Gretchen Wilson and many, many others. It’s even been reported he turned down an offer from Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler to join the band, which would have been an interesting combination.
Through it all, Gill has played many types of guitars, including a 1950s Gibson J-200, a Gibson CF-100, a Gibson Super 400 archtop and an ES-335. Given the type of music he plays, it’s no great surprise that Gill uses Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverbs, Fender Bassmans and Fender Tweed Deluxes.
But what is surprising, however, is the amount of effects Gill uses to achieve his tone, including a collection of Roland Boss pedals which consists of a compressor, digital delay, digital reverb, tremolo and a Blues Driver.
I’ll be using Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3 to build Gill’s guitar tone on my computer.
I chose to use two Twang Reverb amp models for the clean tone. The settings for the first amp are Volume 8, Treble 7, Mid 7, Bass 8 and Reverb 3, with the “Bright” and “Reverb” switches turned on. The “Vibrato” switch should be turned off. The cabinet on the amp has the mic at 74 percent towards Mic A, the dry/air slider at 8.31 and the volume at -12.5db.
The second Tawng Reverb amp is set at Volume 8, Treble 4, Mid 4, Bass 7 and Reverb 3, with the “Bright” and “Reverb” switches turned on and the “Vibrato” turned off. The cabinet is 84 percent towards Mic B, the dry/air slider is at 1.17 and the volume is -13.6db.
Now that the amps and cabinets are set, we need to shape the tone to sound more like Vince Gill’s. I’ve added several effects to the chain to get the sound I was looking for, starting with a chorus with the volume set at five and intensity at 1.71. We also need a little bit of delay with settings of dry/wet at 89 percent dry, time at 1/8, feedback at 57 percent and depth at 8.8 percent. The last item to shape is a Reverb with settings of 71.9 percent wet, bright at five and room size at 7.19, which is actually one of the preset settings in Guitar Rig called Medium Shine.
For those rockier numbers, I added a gain booster with a boost setting at +10db to spice up the Twang Reverbs, which works really well because a tube screamer or other type of overdrive is just way too much punch for this tone.
You’re now all set and ready to play like Vince Gill. Enjoy!