Vintage Guitar - January 2018 - open - 99

and Smith also run a studio and jam space
in Austin called 6 String Ranch - a place
teeming with cool vintage gear.
You two are expatriates living around
Austin, but sound like you've been there
forever. How does the culture, people,
and landscape resonate with your music?
Jeff Hasselberger: Music in Texas - not

just Austin - is woven into the culture,
and it resonates with
anyone with music in
their blood. Texas is
also a great historical melting pot of
American music
with influences from
Mexico, the Caribbean, Germany, blues,
country, jazz, folk,
R&B, barbecue and
cold beer. I've always
been a Texan in that
respect - I just happened
to have been born in New
Jersey.
Among the vintage gear
available to clients of
6 String Ranch are this
'57 Strat, '58 Precision
Bass, '59 Strat, and
'57 Princeton.

Bill Kaman: I've been coming to this area
of Texas since 1982. There's a great feel to the
countryside here, and to the music. Back in
the '70s, we all loved the Southern music.
My college roommate was really into Asleep
at the Wheel, Doug Sahm, and Commander
Cody. I loved Bill Kirchen's guitar playing
back then although I didn't know who he was
or that these guys were from Texas. Now he
hangs out at the studio with us! Funny how
life runs in small circles.
How does your collaboration work?
Each of you must have quirks that
enhance the ultimate sound.
JH: Bill and I just started

pickin' together with no real
plan. I really like his playing
and especially love his songs. His
background is mainly in Southern
sounds and acoustic guitar, and
mine is in urban electric rock
and blues. A lot of quirks
come out of that simple
fact. It went from "Let's start
playing out" to "Let's do
a record" in pretty short
order.

Are there songs that
best demonstrate your
process?
JH: A good example of the

acoustic/electric collaboration is "One Window Town."
It started out as acoustic tune
and wandered in the desert
for a while. I kept hearing
it as a hard-driving electric
tune, Bill added the electric
12-string idea, and Matt put
a plan together to make it a
rocker. It's the same tempo as
"Into the Great Wide Open,"
and Bill and I tried to channel

Mike Campbell in the solos, so it ended up
as kind of a Tom Petty song.
BK: We each start with an idea and pull
it together enough to make it presentable to
the other. Then it's, "Hey, what do you think
of this?" and we work on it. Sometimes the
suggestions are good, and sometimes tried
and discarded; sometimes it takes a while for
things to become obvious. On "Hill Country
Home" we loved the song and played it for a
while 'til it hit me that it needed something
after the chorus, so I suggested the little
walk-down turnaround. And of course, once
we're in the studio, we can count on Matt to
throw several curves, some of which we seem
to hit out of the park.
Matt Smith: I always think about what
works best for the song - guitar voicings,
single-coil or humbucker pickups, amp
choice, or whether to add something twinkly, like high-stung guitar, or throaty like a
baritone. We can also vary rhythm patterns
and stay out of the way of the vocals and
existing guitar parts. Every part has to be
the best part of the song.
"Hill Country Home" feels like a love
letter to Texas. Tonally, what's the difference you're looking for between your '59
Strat and Bill's Collings SoCo 16?
JH: Actually, it's an ode to the travelin'

man who's also trying to be a family man, in
addition to being a Hill Country Valentine
of sorts. It was written as a soul song from
the start. The '59 Strat has a particularly
captivating middle/bridge tone, and was an
early decision for the rhythm guitar. I think
I used a Bruno amp. I was envisioning a
big Billy-Preston-style organ intro, but Bill
brought in a guitar solo that fit perfectly -
the tone was his call. After Bill laid down
that track, Matt said something like, "You
know... this needs a dual guitar solo." Bill
played both parts, using the same tone,
and I started to weep. My bass-playing son
Alex made a visit from Philly and he's a big
James Jamerson fan, so I asked him to
do the bass groove. The studio
has a killer '58 P-Bass and
he had great fun playing it.
BK: I love the song, and
I've always been partial to
335 sounds and the feel of the
guitars. Collings makes the
best, in my opinion, especially
their I-35 and SoCo 16.
You can really hear Bill's
Ovation Deacon 12 on
there, and then various
other models throughout the album. Are
Ovations

January 2018

99

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