Opin­ion

Hav­ing had a break (and not in a good way) Adam Gold­smith de­cides to take it down a notch

Guitarist - - Contents -

Things I al­ways re­mem­ber to take with me on ses­sions gen­er­ally in­clude pen­cils, a capo, a slide, an EBow and a va­ri­ety of spare bits and pieces. But, this week, it also in­cluded crutches, as I man­aged to break three bones in my right foot while play­ing foot­ball. Mer­ci­fully, my arms, hands and fin­gers were left in­tact by the (not so) beau­ti­ful game, and so I con­tin­ued via taxi to Air Stu­dios in Lon­don’s leafy Hamp­stead to record the sound­track to a forth­com­ing Hol­ly­wood film en­ti­tled Judy – a biopic of Judy Gar­land star­ring Renée Zell­weger. Apart from be­ing tripped up by the en­gi­neer’s dog as I ar­rived in Stu­dio 1, things got off to a fairly smooth start…

Many films made in Hol­ly­wood ac­tu­ally have the sound­tracks recorded in Lon­don. This is for sev­eral rea­sons. First — and not to den­i­grate play­ers in other coun­tries — here in Lon­don, we have some of the finest and most ex­pe­ri­enced stu­dio mu­si­cians in the world. We also have some of the great­est stu­dios (Abbey Road, Air and An­gel be­ing the prime sus­pects for this type of work), but we also had Mar­garet Thatcher in the 80s. I have no doubt that many will fail to see the last point in a pos­i­tive light, but with her de­fang­ing of the trade unions, it re­moved a lot of the roy­al­ties as­so­ci­ated with mu­sic per­for­mance and record­ing. In the long run, this meant our Amer­i­can brothers and sis­ters are a lot more ex­pen­sive in terms of resid­u­als and roy­al­ties, whereas we re­ceive en­hanced up­front fees, but fewer roy­al­ties, which I would imag­ine makes it easy when set­ting bud­gets.

How­ever, I di­gress away from our topic. As the mu­sic for the sound­track is gen­er­ally big-band-style jazz with a few orches­tral num­bers thrown in, I’ve elected to bring my Martin John Mayer acous­tic and a Gib­son ’59 reis­sue 175. These two gui­tars are fairly new but both sound warm and old. The com­bi­na­tion of mod­ern playa­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity with vin­tage sound makes them ideal stu­dio gui­tars. Air Stu­dios is housed in a large con­verted church and used to be owned by Ge­orge Martin, and, as such, is su­perbly well equipped. In front of me, the main acous­tic gui­tar mic is a Tele­funken ELA M 251, which gives me one of the best recorded acous­tic sounds I think I’ve ever had.

Gen­tly Does It

There are quite a few bal­lads fea­tured in the film. This did make me think that while we gui­tarists spend a lot of our time try­ing to get our tech­nique to­gether to play fast elec­tric gui­tar, a good amount of what I get asked to play on films is slow-tempo acous­tic. Play­ing con­sis­tently in time to a click track (a metronome that keeps you in time with the rest of the band and the mu­sic synced to the vi­su­als) at slow tem­pos can be a real chal­lenge, and if you can get some way to­wards mas­ter­ing this skill you’ll def­i­nitely be in more de­mand as a free­lance gui­tar player.

It’s pretty rare, with the ex­cep­tion of live gigs, that I get asked to record shred­ding 80s so­los, sim­ply be­cause the cur­rent fash­ion in the more com­mer­cial end of mu­sic is not for gui­tar so­los. How­ever, play­ing good rhythm gui­tar, pos­si­bly at slow to mid tem­pos is an al­most daily de­mand. On a side note, I re­mem­ber be­ing silently ec­static af­ter I was asked if I’d mind play­ing a com­pletely over-the-top solo in the style of ‘Lukather on steroids’ for Lit­tle Mix’s Word Up.

When­ever the sub­ject of rhythm gui­tar rears its head in my pri­vate teach­ing prac­tice, I ad­vise stu­dents to prac­tise slowly, with a metronome. A good start­ing point for check­ing out rhythm gui­tar play­ers would be Fred­die Green (Count Basie’s gui­tar player), Nile Rodgers and Steve Crop­per. If you want to go fur­ther for­wards chrono­log­i­cally, then you could do much worse than check­ing out Ed­die Van Halen’s rhythm play­ing (he has in­cred­i­ble time and in­ven­tive­ness) as well as Me­gadeth’s Dave Mus­taine. Ad­just to taste, but the point be­ing your rhythm play­ing is what’s go­ing to keep you work­ing as a pro­fes­sional gui­tar player.

Adam lux­u­ri­at­ing in the Air Stu­dios with his Martin John Mayer model

GOld­smitH

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