View Full Version : Gordie Johnson's Tone Explanation

03-08-2010, 09:55 AM
Saw this and felt the need to share. Gordie Johnson, one-time front man for Big Sugar and currently leading the Austin-based Grady, is one of my favorites. Innovative, awesome tone, and damn good chops. Big Sugar's first major CD, 500 Pounds, is probably in my Top 10, maybe Top 5, of all time. He works quite a bit with Warren and the Mule (in fact, some of the live stuff they've recorded is deadly).

Anyway, I found this interview on www.thinkspecs.com (http://www.thinkspecs.com). Gordie gives his explanation of the fantastic tone he achieves.

TS: And now for a gear question How do you get some of the wailing, big, catastrophic sound you do from your guitars?
GJ: (chuckles) Well THAT is actually something I get asked a lot but it requires a lot of explanation and its funny, ya know I get more gear questions than youd believe. But for me, it aint about the equipment its the lack of equipment that does it. Ive always found that the most uncomplicated signal path between my guitar and the amp is the key. I mean, Matt if you want to hear from the voice of God, you gotta be able to channel it. Mostly too, I use really heavy strings and I have to play a lot harder to get that sound. Im a pretty dirty player. I tend to use amps without distortion because my hands are the distortion my hands are dirty and my playing is pretty crude and progressive. But yeah cleanest signal path is key because all these overtones and signals are pure and the sound regenerates so you have to get in the signal path which is actually a circular path that is constantly looping away from you on a circle. You have to plug yourself into a magnetic field you have to be part of it. I always see all these guys with 9 volt everything and pedal boards and 10 cables between you and your signal theres a lot of cutoff, there. Its gotta be pure. Joel plays his electric like its still an acoustic guitar and I play electric guitar in Grady almost like its a banjo, ya know? I use alot of banjo tunings. The electricity is just incidental.

Jim Jones
03-08-2010, 09:57 AM
Interesting that he doesn't mention his love of the Garnet Herzog at all. :)

03-08-2010, 09:56 PM
Interesting that he doesn't mention his love of the Garnet Herzog at all. :)


I love GJ, miss Big Sugar, but...yeah. Must be the water.


P.S. A Marshall Major full stack + a Herzog + a Gibson guitar with heavy strings + swampholler blues = GJ tone. When da dub reggae was blended in I was THERE...


03-08-2010, 10:38 PM
Actually, he's been using the Herzog into a Ampeg SVT through two Traynor custom cabs for quite a while now.
You think you've heard loud before?
Honestly, when I was at the stage in front of Gordie I couldn't hear the drums AT ALL. No snare, no bass, no cymbals. Just Gordie's ungodly guitar. As much as I love his tone and playing, I had to back away to midway to the sound man so that I could get some of the FOH mix.
He is one of my guitar heros, without a doubt. That he's from my neck of the woods is a nice bonus. Anytime I've seen him, be it Big Sugar or Grady, he never disappoints. Fantastic blues-rock. Also, "Five Hundred Pounds" is in my top 10 all time albums as well.

... Would someone please answer that goddamn phone?!?!

03-08-2010, 10:40 PM
a 300 watt SVT head and a 4X12 cab helps a little bit too!