Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 24
It's more about how many layers I want to
put on a tune. If I want B3 on the track, or
want to use special effects, I'll need to lighten
up on the guitar tracks. If I'm going to use
one guitar track on a song that's an a cappella
performance, I'll make it more interesting.
If I use more than one guitar track, like a
Duane and Dickie kind of thing, I'll arrange
the parts to support one another. What I like
the best is writing guitar parts so they're like
alter egos within the song. My new record
illustrates that pretty well.
Recording puts your technique under a
microscope. Your playing on Rise To Shine
I'm trying to get that magic take, because
you can tell if there's a lot of editing. All that
splicing is disingenuous, but it'll come down
to two or three takes, then I'll choose the best
one. Sometimes, the tone that I'm getting will
put me in a different direction. Maybe I'll play
a little sweeter and not as fast, because the tone
is dictating the song.
What are some common mistakes guitarists make in the studio?
rian Kahanek is a guitar-slinging southerner whose style sits firmly within blues
and southern rock. With a perfectionist's ear
for detail, his albums communicate soulful
melodies over rich American soundscapes. He
has also found success as a recording engineer,
giving him a skill set that leaves other guitarists envious. Kahanek's latest, Rise To Shine,
displays massive guitar tones, top-tier guitar
prowess, and pristine production.
Being a recording engineer gives you
the kind of skills most guitarists could
When I was recording in college, I would
listen back and think, "This is not even close
to what I was hearing in my head!" (laughs)
I love it all, but it all started with guitar. It
takes a long time to get over the ego of guitar.
I'm standing on the shoulders of giants from
the engineering world. Those guys are great
musicians in their own right.
How did this come about?
I was on the road playing guitar with a band
called Gypsy Soul. I would come off the road
and be broke, so I joined a temp service because
I was good at Excel and building databases.
I got sent to Disney a lot. One of the people I
worked with there knew a guy who did character voices and was the head engineer. I made
a call to him, we hit it off, and they hired me.
I always had a home studio and recorded all
the time to improve my production, so that
was my first professional gig. Then I started
getting sessions for movies and TV work. I
was always on both sides of the glass. I'd be
doing a guitar session one day, and be behind
the board the next.
How has your knowledge of sound engineering affected your playing in the studio?
What's your number one guitar?
I have a 2015 Les Paul '58 reissue that I really
love. It's the Dickey Betts tone on steroids. And,
the Fender American Vintage Series is killer.
I'm constantly in the studio because that's
my bread and butter. I want to play out live,
so I'll be flying to Europe for some dates. I had
a track on my first record that appeared on
Guitar Hero 2 almost 10 years ago. It's given
me a great following of people who love my
stuff. Rise To Shine is a high watermark for my
playing and production, and I want to give it as
much of a shot as possible for people to hear.
I do a lot of sound design for Disney and
Warner Brothers. I'll be writing music for TV,
running my company, Sidewinder Post, and
making guitar records. I can never stop because
it's in my blood. - Oscar Jordan
Brian Kahanek: Scott Taylor.
One big lesson for me was bringing racks of
gear. I had a 20-space rack full of power amps,
preamps, and switchers. I went into the studio
and spent six hour trying to get a guitar sound.
The engineer said, "Why don't you turn off all
that rack s**t and plug into a Marshall? If it
works for Angus Young, it'll work for you." I
used that Marshall with a Tube Screamer and
recorded the entire record with that setup. The
next day, I sold my rack.
A lot of guys think their live rig is going
to translate. My advice is to trim down the
amount of pedals and go straight into the
amp as much as you can. That's where the
dimension comes from. As much as possible,
I try to get pure signal to tape.