Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 101

The pairings and their
resultant tracks combine to
help form a tasty musical
melange with a wondrous
range of feelings and moods.
As the clock clicked toward sound
check, Starr sat for a bit and dug into
how good friends and great guitars
pushed his latest thoughts and dreams
"to tape."

it. Let it get fast. We've learned to
avoid whatever might encumber
the proceedings.

If you have chemistry, let
it flow.

Yeah. There's a famous quote by
Jimmy Page where he said something
like "I wanted 'Stairway to Heaven' to
speed up. And that's against the musical
rules..." And why is that a rule? Who
knows?

When Blackberry Smoke records,
is everyone together in the studio?

How long did it take to record?

The basic tracks were done in eight
days.

Always. I think most musicians
agree that the magic in a band happens when you're playing together,
interacting. We've made quite a few
records now, and I love the process.
Our producer, Brendan O'Brien,
is one of the best in the world. He
helped by reminding us, "Hey, man,
perfection is not where it's at. Passion
is where it's at." And if the band gets
fast, but it feels great, then screw

How did you go about choosing
instruments, amps, and effects?

Well, I love that process. I always have
guitar amp combinations in mind, even
sometimes as I'm writing a song. And
sometimes the song will come out of
an instrument, you know? But I always
have that mapped out. It doesn't always
work the way I want, of course. Same
with effects; I'll start pre-production

Guitar photos by Evan Bartleson.

1

2

1) Starr was willed this '58 Les Paul Custom by a fan who had
become a friend and in mid 2017 died by suicide after years of
suffering severe fibromyalgia. He could no longer hold the guitar
(let alone play) and couldn't travel, so he never got to see Blackberry Smoke in person. "He'd seen us on Jay Leno in 2013 or
'14," said Starr. "He told me, 'The guitar part just got me. People
don't play like that anymore.' I said, 'Well, thank you. I appreciate that.' It's such a sad situation when health problems bring
someone down that low. He told me, 'I can't even describe the
pain; it's constant.' But I know he bought the guitar in 1967, when
June 2018

3

he was 17. He told me, 'It's my number one and I just want to see
it played and loved.'" Starr invited the man's widow to a recent
performance during which he played the guitar onstage. 2) You'll
hear this '65 ES-330 on "Run Away From It All" and "Nobody Gives
a Damn" from Find A Light. Being a true hollowbody means it's
prone to feedback, and its shorter (249/16") scale forces Starr to be
more mindful while bending strings. Still, he's fond of its unique
sound. 3) The '63 Esquire weighs about six and a half pounds
and has a very chunky neck. "It's just incredible," Starr said. "I've
always been drawn to rosewood fretboards on Telecasters."

101

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