FEATURE: How to sound like Satch

With Joe Satriani on tour behind his new album ‘Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock,’ now seems like as good a time as any to have a look at tapping into a little of Satch’s tonal mojo.

Over the years Satch has taken on many tonal guises, and his distortion has come from various sources: Pedal into a clean amp; overdriven power valves; preamp distortion; even direct into a mixing desk and audio plugins in the case of his Engines Of Creation album. So when hunting down Satch tones, the question becomes one of which tone you’re looking to recreate.

A good place to start with any Satch tone is his choice of pickup. Most of the time he uses the Dimarzio FRED model, a medium output unit with a pronounced, vowel-like midrange. He’s also used the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates, as well as his new signature Dimarzio Mo’Joe humbucker, essentially a hotter version of the FRED.

If you don’t have any of these pickups on hand to throw into your guitar, you can approximate a little of the tonal signature of the FRED by using a graphic equalizer pedal as the first element of your signal chain following the guitar. Reel the treble in a little bit and boost the mids and high mids a little. Eventually you’ll find that sweet spot where single notes almost sound like harmonics.

Next we need our distortion. Satch has a signature Vox distortion pedal, the Satchurator, but over the years he’s used a whole batch of different models from various companies, both into clean amp channels and on top of already distorted sounds. Whether you’re getting your distortion from a pedal or an amp, aim for something with enough gain to gently compress notes so you can get the full effect from legato techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs and tapping. If you need a little more gain than the pedal is capable of dishing out, try goosing the volume of the EQ pedal by a little bit. Turn it too high and you’ll get unwanted noise, but just a few dB should add a little fullness.

Finally you’ll need delay. Again, Satch has used various pedal and rack delay units over the years. Look for something with a tap tempo footswitch so you can align the delay repeats with the tempo of the song (especially on the ballads), and depending on the effect you’re after, you might want to use a more ‘vintage’ toned effect which rolls off the treble of the repeats.

(This article was originally published in Mixdown magazine in June 2008)

NEWS: Steve Lukather 2009 European tour

Now that the final Toto tour is behind him, Steve Lukather is about to embark on a tour of Europe, hitting Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, the UK, France, Monaco, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Lukather’s band for the tour features Stevie Weingart, Ricky Z, Carlitos DelPuerto and Eric Valentine, and he’ll be playing material from his solo albums and a few new surprises, plus tracks from his recent solo album, Ever Changing Times.

Next week I’ll post my interview with Lukather, where he talks about the final Toto tour, recording Ever Changing Times, and his Ernie Ball/Music Man signature guitar.

CLICK HERE to buy Steve Lukather’s CD, Ever Changing Times

STEVE LUKATHER EVER CHANGING TIMES WORLD TOUR 2009:

February 2009
26 Tivoli, Utretch, Holland
27 Boerderij, Zoetermeer Holland
28 Lantaarn, Hellendorn, Holland
March 2009
1 La Bonbonniere, Maarstricht, Holland
3 Satzvey Castle, Mechernich, Germany
4 L’Atelier, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
5 The Brook, Southampton, UK
6 Robin 2 , Bilston, Wolverhampton, UK
9 Alhambra, Paris , France
10 L’Usine, Istres, France
11 Moods , Monte Carlo, Monaco
13 Triebhaus, Innsbruck, Austria
14 Roter Saal, Speilberg, Austria
15 Forum, Gleisdorf, Austria
16 Rockhaus , Salzburg, Austria
17 Szene, Vienna, Austria
19 Lucerna Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic
21 Conrad Sohm, Dornbirn, Austria
22 Z7, Prattelen, Switzerland
23 Specktrum, Ausburg, Germany
25 LKA, Stuttgart, Germany
26 Zeche, Bochum, Germany
27 Blues Garage , Isernhagen, Germany
29 Frankfurterhof, Mainz, Germany
30 Fabrik, Hamburg, Germany
WebLinks: www.stevelukather.net / www.myspace.com/stevelukatheronline.

NEWS: Racer X to play at NAMM

From Blabbermouth.net:

RACER X will perform at the 2009 NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, which will be held January 15-18 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

Commented RACER X guitarist Paul Gilbert: “Ibanez guitars is celebrating the 20th anniversary of my PGM guitar with a concert at the NAMM show.”

The concert will take place on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at the Sheraton Park Ballroom and will not be open to the public.

Paul said, “It is very exciting for me to be the featured artist for Ibanez this year, so I am glad that I can do something special for this concert. I can’t think of anything better than a killer set of RACER X!” He added, “I can’t wait to play some killer heavy metal with my favorite metal band!”

Andy Timmons and his band will open the show, followed by a solo set from Paul Gilbert, and finally RACER X. The RACER X lineup will consist of Paul Gilbert, Scott Travis (JUDAS PRIEST), Jeff Martin (BADLANDS, MSG) and John Alderete (THE MARS VOLTA).

The last RACER X performance in the U.S. was held on May 25, 2001. It was filmed for the live DVD “Live At The Whisky – Snowball Of Doom”.