The alternative guitar guru Jack White has captured the millennial ears for quite some time now. In fact, he has spawned a deep interest in retro guitars such as the Res-o-glass Airline Guitars and the 1950's Kay Hollow Body Archtop. To get a good idea of his guitar tones, you should watch the movie It Might Get Loud featuring Jimmy Page and The Edge of U2. It shows us how he approaches the instrument and how he creates his signature tone. Certainly not a diva or an ‘80s hairband video star, Jack is down-to-earth with his guitar playing and is passionate about how he creates his music.
As a music composer-guitarist for television and film, I often have to cop many different guitar styles and tones. Recently I was asked to come up with a CD of instrumental compositions for Telepictures Productions ( Extra, TMZ & Crime Watch Daily) that incorporated guitar tones from Jack’s 2017 single, “Battle Cry.” Jack has a reckless approach (meant in a good way) in the song that really captures his guitar style. The main riff of the song I particularly liked because of its eminent feeling of danger and unbridled energy. I wanted to capture this attitude in my compositions and evoke the same type of emotions.
So the first thing I did was to identify the main riff’s tonal characteristics heard in the song.
Jack White’s Tonal Characteristics
· Overdriven fuzz tone
· Low-end octave boost
· Long single note sustain
· Grungy guitar attitude
· Forward presence of guitar
There are many excellent amp plug-ins out there, but I used Logic Pro X (via an Avid Fast Track Duo interface). If you use another plug-in, you can probably approximate my choices, as many manufacturers provide a “usual suspects” menu of similar amp flavors, even if they go by different patch names.
The Battle Begins
After establishing my “sound goals,” I used a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Deluxe with mini humbucking pickups through Logic Pro X to achieve the grunge attitude. For the main guitar riff of the song, I put the pickup switch on the bridge position.
Logic Pro X (See pic 1)
- Within Logic I created a new guitar audio track
- Under “Crunch Guitar” I choose the guitar plug in called – Chord Burner
- I set the “Gain” knob at 11 o’clock (See Pic 2)
- Switch the “Lead Boost Drive” on and set the knob at full blast
- I doubled clicked on “Pedalboard” and added “Dr. Octave and set the “Drive” & “Direct” controls all the way to the right (See Pic 3)
- I chose a Stadium 4x12 cabinet miked by a Dynamic 421 pointing directly at the center of one speaker
I was able to closely dial in the Jack White tone from “Battle Cry” and Telepictures was very happy with the project. There are a plethora of amps and pedals to choose from in Logic, but other DAW programs as GarageBand, Steinberg Cubase and Cakewalk can offer the same options.
BRIAN TARQUIN is the winner of multiple Emmy Awards, having established himself as a top-rate TV composer/guitarist. In 2006, SESAC honored him with the Network Television Performance Award. In addition, Tarquin has produced and composed the Guitar Masters series, trading licks with such guitar greats as Leslie West, Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan, Frank Gambale, Andy Timmons, Chris Poland (Megadeth) and Hal Lindes (Dire Straits). For further information, visit briantarquin.com.