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From Takahiro Kohsaka - Japan
It is needless to say that I'm great fan of Jay's work. I would like to use this opportunity to ask my hero some questions about his guitars.(These may be so maniac that no matter for somebody else.)
- When I found feature about Jay on Japanese magazine "ADLIB" in 1981(?). There were some pictures of Jay and his guitars. Jay told about principle in playing guitar and he were concerned in Yamaha as a consultant of instruments. I was too young to purchase THE GIBSON ES-335 ,so I made up my mind to get YAMAHA SA-2000(335type) which wasn't cheap at all but Jay owned and admired. Still I love this one. In fact,did Jay use the guitar SA-2000 in recording? If he had used it in his studio works, I want to know some album titles ,as much as possible.
- For killing the howling,most of his semi acoustic guitars have f-hole stuffed up. What is the material? Closely stuffed ? And want to know how to set the cover.
I did use the Yamaha SA-2000 on at least one song on the MARC JORDAN album, BLUE DESERT. I am not sure of the song but it was for a "clean sound". Since I have a signature guitar (BOSSA Osaka Japan) my Yamaha guitar ties are no longer.
Regarding stuffing the "F" holes on semi-acoustic electric guitars, use something like synthetic cotton. Best to be fire proof if possible just to be safe. Pack this stuff in and either use a piece of plastic shoved inside the "F" hole as to not allow the material to get out or use scotch tape to cover the "F" hole.
Good questions and later, Jay
From HALVOR ANDERSEN - Norway
1. The music you have produced over the years, shows that you must have influences from a lot of different music styles - jazz, funk, latin, soul, heavy metall and more. How would you define your background in different musical styles, and how has it influenced you?
I have been very fortunate to have experienced many musical styles over the years. As a "side man" (guitar player on many gigs), you learn so much on the job. On each gig, even if musically not very good, I walked away with some education like learning a new song. Learning new "chord changes" to a standard tune was often discovered.
Hanging out with the musicians, on the gigs, leads to education for sure! I played a latin gig for a few months in the 70's and the drummer was incredible! This guy taught me about latin grooves in a big way!
Doing "society gigs" was typically boring, but again, I learned tunes and styles. I played in the Jazz "big band" in college which was an incredible education! I learned about arranging for horns and learned how to "swing".
When in college, I got a gig with the Don Ellis band. This was an education in "odd meter" music meaning 5/4, 7/4, 9/4, etc. Typically, the phrases are grouped in 2's and 3's. An example in 7/8 would be 2,2,3. This would count as 12,12,123. If requested, I could elaborate on this concept.
Rock and roll and R&B was always in my life. The radio was very helpful along these lines. Fusion bands and rehearsal bands always led to growth.
All of the above helped me become a qualified studio guitar player. When doing record sessions, film sound tracks, TV shows and Jingles (radio and TV commercials), I learned so very much!
2. Do you still think it is important to let others influence on synthesizer sound (I'm thinking of programing)? - Do you get your own synth. samples/sounds made for you by others or do you make these yourself?
When I hear a synth sound I like, I may try to emulate. This is common. Getting "fresh synth sounds" is a time burner but needs to happen when you get tired of the common stuff.
Regarding getting samples, I do some on my own but the sample libraries, available for sale, are huge! So much good stuff to choose from. The only problem is that it takes days to go through on CD ROM. This is part of the gig.
3. Will you, in the future, (for instance your next studio album) use both digital and analog recordings in the production work?
Good question. The music will dictate which to use.
4. May we hear you sing lead again on your next album? It would have been great!
I haven't decided if I will sing. With so many good singers to work with, I feel I should not sing and just play the guitar and synths.
I'm a long time fan who admire your exellent sound and, like many others hope to hear a lot more production work from you in the future. Thanks!
Halvor Andersen, Norway
Thanks man! I appreciate the great questions and good luck to you my friend.
From Sören Jansson - Sweden.
When will you & Cliff Magnes do another record like A Heart From The Big Machine?. A Heart From The Big Machine is in my oppinion the best record i have ever heard.
Sören Jansson - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The odds are not good regarding another PLANET 3 record. The music business is based on sales and the album did not sell well enough as to get the big money needed to do another.
I am glad you like the record!
From William McCorkle - USA.
I first started playing guitar back in 1973, learning techniques from Rick Derringer, Snuffy Walden-stray dog, Danny Johnson, Larry Carlton, Vito Bratta but then I stopped playing guitar in 1991. I'd like to get back into playing guitar, but these guitarists that I'd follow could never get me over the edge until I heard some of your solos (April 23,1997). Wow! Got to absorb your style...Jazz/Rock with smooth string bending... Ultimate.....
You got any cassette tapes of you practicing at home or in the studio that I could get a copy of or purchase from you in the proper terms over the past 20 years????
When practicing, I do not record.
I'll look around and see if I can get my hands on your "Airplay" and "Airplay for the Planet" albums...appreciate all the help you can give me to better my guitar playing...Thanks Jay, - William McCorkle California, USA
Listening and "breaking down" your favorite music is the way to advance. This can be time consuming but is the way to grow. "Long term gratification" is the keyword for growth.
I thank you for your question and happy that you have started playing again.
From Shugo Noda - USA.
Hi Jay, How are you? I am always enjoying your composing, arrenging and playing. I have been wondering that your relation ship with jazz theory but which person did you study a lot? As a student of music college, I really interested aout this. If you could, give me a specific example. Thanks!
PS. If you could... next time I want you to hear my tune via midi file.... take care!
Thanks for the kind words. Regarding my education in jazz or guitar in general, I studied with Ted Green. He is a master of the guitar and "hipped" me to many concepts. One would be "voice leading". Solo melodic guitar incorporates the concept as well as playing behind a singer or soloist.
When working out a ballad, I voice down the melody with respect to all notes. Each note has a starting point and destination point in its logical melodic path.
Here is a simple example. Let's say the you play a G MAJOR 7th chord with the major 7th on top (F#) and will be going to an A MINOR 7th chord next. Let's say that the G MAJOR 7th chord has F# (2nd fret) on the high "E" string, "D" (3rd fret) on the "B" string, "B" (4th fret) on the "G" string and "G" (5th fret) on the "D" string.
Now to "voice lead" up the scale, to the A MINOR chord, play G,E,C,A, coming down from the top. In detail, "G" (3rd fret) on the high "E" string, "E" (5th fret) on the "B" string, "C" (5th fret) on the "G" string, "A" (7th fret) on the "D" string.
Typically, you might not play the A MINOR with this shape. Chord melody playing will lead you to new territory regarding new chord shapes. After stating this information, your ears are the only rule.
I hope this helps and thanks for the question. If more input is needed, just ask.
If you are the sample maker on the Alesis drum machines - does that mean that you actually PLAYED the drums or did someone else play? In that case WHO was it and WHOSE drums was it?
Peppe drummer/percussionist - Sweden
I did not play the samples but engineered to the DAT format in my studio. I hired the players. After recording to tape, I was in charge of "truncating" the samples in an archaic computer regarding today's standards.
The samplers of today (like the EMU E4) makes this system look like a dinosaur! At the time, the software was totally happening! This medium is on an exponential growth plateau!
The machines that incorporate these samples are, HR 16, SR 16, D4, the ALESIS SYNTH and maybe more. The sample library was extensive.
Hope this helps man and thanks for the question.
From Jon Egil Stavik - Norway.
Hi Jay !
Started out by listening to Pages-Future Street in 1979 and slipped into Pages81, since that I've been stuck to the sound of your guitar. You were the producer and I have been looking for that record for a loooooooooong time. Can you help me to find a place where I can bye that record ?
Unfortunately I have no idea how to get this CD. If it is not in catalogue in Japan, I guess that it is not easily found. You might contact EMI (CAPITOL) in Norway and ask. The recording is very musical! Rich Page and Slug are extremely musical!
Did you know that Al Jearau visited Norway in summer 96 at Molde Jazzfestival ? I was there, but no tickets left. When do you arrive in Norway and where ?
I love Norway! When crossing the bridge from Sweden to Oslo, during February, I really enjoyed looking at the huge ice packs floating in the river! I have seen this twice over the years. What a sight! Nature at its best!
At this time, I do not know when I will be in Norway.
Al tours the world every few years but I do not keep up with the schedule. If you have not heard him live, you are in for a treat! If you have, no need to tell you this.
I also would like to take some lessons from you, is it possible ?
You probably play better than me so maybe I should take lessons from you!
Grettings from the land of vikings - Jon Egil Stavik !
I love Scandinavia! The American educational system does not teach the correct story regarding the Vikings. The input makes them look like bad dangerous people. I enjoy watching the "discovery channel" (in the States) and watched a program regarding the Vikings. The input proved that the Vikings had gotten a "bad wrap" and were very normal.
I thank you for the questions Jon and wish you luck my friend! Keep practicing and you will grow!
From Micke - Sweden
FIRST OF ALL I MUST SAY THAT I AM GREAT FAN OF YOUR WORK. I ESPECIALLY ENJOY YOUR ALBUM "AIRPLAY FOR THE PLANET" AS WELL AS PLANET 3`S "MUSIC FROM THE PLANET". SINCE I PLAY PERCUSSION AND I KNOW THAT YOU`VE PLAYED WITH THE CREAM OF THE CROP OF THE LA BASED PERCUSSIONISTS I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT QUALITIES YOU LOOK FOR IN A GOOD PERCUSSIONIST.
A good percussionist should have a "good feel and good time" in all "grooves". This is a must. Good sounding instruments and all the toys are also important. Listen to all the good Latin players. This will help you grow in a big way.
AND SECONDLY I'D LIKE TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY THAT YOU PREFER WORKING WITH.
Since the days of the machines have come into play, I am sad to say that the percussion work is slow unless we are talking about Latin live studio stuff. There are so many good Latin players in town. If I was doing a session using real percussion, the list would be real as to choose from. Read CD jackets to find out the guys that are doing most of the work.
These is some work for "legit" percussion players meaning film and TV sessions. This requires good reading since xylophone parts, snare drum parts and more can be hard reading.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST COULD YOU TRY TO DESCRIBE WHAT A "NORMAL" SESSION LOOKS LIKE FOR A PERCUSSIONIST (DO YOU PREFER TO TRACK THE PERC. "LIVE" WITH THE DRUMMER, IS THERE A LOT OF READING INVOLVED ETC.)
The percussion player would be live in a Latin session, film date or TV date. For the occasional pop or R&B date. most likely overdubed.
I hope this helps and thanks for the question.
Hi Jay !
After hearing "Nothing you can do about it" in 1979 my life has never been the same as i entered in this Graydon/Foster mania and almost twenty years later this song is still my all times favourite; i want to ask you what is that makes this so special?
Thanks for all this years of great music and emotions.
Tommaso Dorliguzzo - Italy
"Nothing you can do about it" is not a typical pop song since there are many chord changes. The groove is a shuffle but not a typical one. The melody is fairly simple which ties things together. The arrangement is loaded with interesting parts and the performance is good in my book.
What makes the song special depends upon the listener. Thanks for the kind words and support!
I´m a guitarist/engineer guy who is very interested in how to get the best signal in the studio. I´ve been reading that you are using Monster Cable in your own studio. I have been testing Tara Labs PRISM-55 signal cable and was amazed about the "BIG" difference the cable did compared to the cheap standard cables. So I´m wondering what kind of Monster Cable you are using (model.nr and so on) to your mics and other equipment. And why your choice was Monster instead of Tara Lab(or other cable).
I´m a big fan of westcoast music and I just "LOVE" your music and the way you play your guitar. I´m really looking forward to hear your next album.
Keep up the good works.
Most of the monster cable is "series 1". It is thick stuff. We also used "series 1" 4 pair as well. MM 1000 is also used. The model is so very transparent and both are great! They make good guitar cable as well.
High quality cable is very important so use eliminating connectors whenever possible. Keep the cable runs as short as possible especially with high impedance stuff.
I hope this input helps and thanks for digging quality music!
My name is Chad Boschert and I live the USA. I have three questions.
1) Which guitar solos are your favorite ones? My favorites are from:
- "I'm a Camera"
- "Black and Blues"
- "The Ending"
- "Holdin on to Love"
Regarding my favorite solos, they would be "The Ending" (Steve Kipner "Knock The Walls Down"), Twilight Tone (Manhattan Transfer "Extensions" album), Nothin You Can Do About It (Airplay), She Just Can't Make Up Her Mind (Airplay For The Planet) and Peg (Steely Dan).
All of the solos I have played over the years strike me differently each time when listening. It is hard to just listen since I am reminded of the recording process.
If you ask me the same question in a few months, I would probably have a different answer, since I may accidentally hear an old solo from some album on the radio.
2) What are your favorite albums of all time? (Either your own productions or otherwise)
My favorite albums are "THE ROYAL SCAM" (STEELY DAN), THE NIGHTFLY (DONALD FAGEN), most any STEVIE WONDER album, most any JOE PASS album, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH (METAL FATIGUE) and many more.
3) Do you think that you will ever release a second album with Cliff Magness and Glen Ballard? The "Planet 3" CD is in my "Top 5" all-time greatest Westcoast Music records!!
Maybe, but probably not.
Keep up the good work! I am looking forward to your next album coming out.
Thanks. / Chad
Thanks for the questions and support Chad, and educate your friends to quality music!
I know that you had a chance to record and play with Jeff Porcaro. What are your comments about Jeff as a musician and person. The music world really misses him!
Love your work!
Jeff was a drummers drummer! His "feel" was incredible regarding so many "grooves". He did not consider himself a good "shuffle player" meaning the groove on "NOTHIN YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT" (AIRPLAY), BREAKIN AWAY or MORNIN (Jarreau albums). There are other "shuffle grooves" but these mentioned song grooves fall into a category called "funk-a-shuffle". Jeff thought he was not that good in this situation. Man, was he wrong! He plays this groove better than anyone ever!
Jeff did not play with a "click" like most studio drummers. He did not totally respect the click and would "float" around it. This is good and bad depending on the band. If the players are top notch, they listen to the drummer first and the click is subliminal. This is most important to keep the feel happening. Drummers like JR and Mike Baird can lock with the click and still feel great. When playing with Jeff, better not to use a click since he played inside the cracks and his time float is what made him great.
Jeff, as a person, was totally unique. Very unpredictable and almost like he was on another planet most of the time. He had no regard for business in general. He did not go to a record date like most players meaning always a good attitude. If the session was boring musically, Jeff did not have patience and would get bugged if the producer would keep making take after take hour after hour. Jeff's 2nd or 3rd take was his best. He learned the songs on the first run down and rarely got lost.
Yes, Jeff is missed on the planet earth. The good news is that he was here for best "musical rock/pop era" of all time! The best news is that he played on so many great recordings that will be around as long as the planet survives.
Do you often dub each background voice and lead vocal to make the whole mix sound more powerfull? E.q the song "I don't want to say goodnight".
I am a keyboard player and I often listen to your records and productions and I love the sound and atmosphere in the way you play.
Thank you so much!
Øystein Westlie, Norway
The song you mention is "vocal thick". Some songs like thick vocal and others do not. Each song production designs its own concept as it grows.
Regarding "power", you could have many tracks of vocals and it might not be powerful. "Punch" is what adds power to the track. Some is natural from the sound source and some is manufactured using compressors/limiters. In the case of the song you mentioned, the vocals are sung with power as well as a fair amount of compression using a GML compressor/limiter. I like the compression mode using a 3 to 1 ratio and about a maximum of around 7 DB of compression. A fast attack and a medium release are typical settings.
Experiment with the following. If you want a sound source (vocal or any source) to be "punchy" and thick (if the mix can afford the sonic room), patch the source track output from the tape machine (or hard disk recorder) to a "mult". Send one of the mult outputs to a console line input fader (this may already be "hard patched from the tape machine) and send the other to a compressor/limiter. Return the output of the compressor/limiter to another line input fader on the console.
Now listen to the limiter return only and adjust the unit to taste. This signal should be "squashed" meaning heavily compressed around a 10 to 1 ratio with a compression peak level of around 10 db or more. This should make the source real "punchy" and small. Do not try to "EQ" this to be "fat" since you will EQ the non compressed source as to the body if needed.
Now listen to the non compressed source and EQ to taste. After this is done, add the compressor return to taste.
This concept works well with snare drum and most anything. Another good thing with this concept is that the natural dynamics are basically intact since the non compressed source is not effected.
Thanks for the kind words.
how did you create that special "bright" Fender Rhodes' sound which is on the Jarreau albums? It is also on the AIRPLAY album and on Steve Kipner's KNOCK THE WALLS DOWN. Which model did you use? I have a Mark I Stage Piano 73, probably from '76. I have tried to adjust it to sound more like your Rhodes, but haven't been too successful as of yet.
Did you use any effects and/or is the piano modified in any way? It sounds like the complete opposite of Michael McDonald's Rhodes, though I think both pianos sound wonderful.
Thank you so much,
Peppe, drummer/percussionist - Sweden
The Rhodes sound was special and was also on used on many more records. "Leeds rentals" had about 10 Fender Rhodes suitcase models. The best one was labeled "E". This one was even, thick and bright. It was discovered in a store in Hollywood (Wallach's Music city) in the back room and had not sold for years! It was like they had forgotten they had the unit until Andy Leeds made the discovery while looking at old stock.
Eddy Reynolds was a local tech/ piano tuner in those days and discovered a way to "voice" the Rhodes in a very desirable way. He voiced all of LEEDS Rhodes but this one was the best. All the cats knew this was the best Rhodes, and when doing tracking dates, I reserved this unit way in advance.
George Duke once called me about the sound and I told him that "E" was the one to rent.
Now for the added details. The treble, bass and volume (on the Rhodes) were set to maximum. No vibrato. One output of the Rhodes was sent to a ROLAND BOSS CHORUS with the chorus "setting" set to about 11 o'clock. The non effected and chorused signal were sent to direct boxes routed into the console.
It is important to have the piano player play chords as hard as possible when setting the input gain on the "chorus" so as to eliminate possible distortion. Get the unit to distort and then back off the gain a little.
If I remember correctly, the output on the BOSS CHORUS was the "stereo out" so only the "chorus" was sent and not mixed with the dry source.
At the recording console, we added a lot of EQ. I do not remember exactly, but I think around 2K and 10 K.
The "Stage model Rhodes" will not give you this sound since it is a "passive unit". The suitcase models have active electronics. I have a stage model as well and had Eddy or Paul Rivera (I do not remember) add the active electronics. Eddy voiced this Rhodes but it does not sound as good as "E".
"E" Rhodes was sold to a guy in Santa Barbara when LEEDS sold his business. I would have purchased this Rhodes but was not aware of the sale.
This Rhodes was used on many records of the era.
Thanks for the question Peppe. I loved this instrument.
My name is Svein Johansen, I'm from Norway and work as a software developer. I would like to use this great opportunity to ask Graydon some of the following questions:
- To me, it feels like there was some change in how music sounded in the late 80's. IMHO, it was like some of the 'groove' or 'energy' dissapeared from virtually all music. Was this due to any particular events, or am I the only one who feel it this way?
This question is difficult to answer since "groove" and "energy" are in the ears and mind of the listener.
A few things. It seems that the music of the 90's is more basic melodically in general. The "pop" trend is kind of like the 70's regarding the sound of bands. Less "Hi-fi" and less effects in general. The electric guitar is mostly being used like the acoustic guitar of the 70's meaning playing with "open voicings and "barred chords." The production is more organic as well. Not many overdubs.
The "machine" songs are another issue. Good "sample libraries" are easily obtainable, so the machine stuff, in the right hands, is constantly growing and getting better. The weak link is the sequencing software. Computers are now extremely fast but most of the software sequencing programs are still using "their old original engines" and just pile more interrupts with each update. Long story.
The era we are in seems to need a new "Beatles" as to grow. As time goes on, I think that the 90's will be viewed as a transitional era.
- What is your own favorite production?
Each has its strong and weak points. They are like children and picking a favorite is tough.
- My absolute favorite albums are "Airplay", "Jarreau" and "Breaking away". How would you rate these albums yourself?
Airplay is energetic with good performances. I think we over produced this album a little. The good news is you can hear all of the parts since the sonic layering is friendly.
"Jarreau" is the best of the Jarreau albums "sonically". Good songs and good performances. I received 4 Grammy nominations for this album including "producer of the year". Unfortunately, "Thriller" was nominated that same year, so obviously, all of the other nominees did not have a chance.
Breakin' Away is the best selling Jarreau album of the five I worked on. The songwriting on this album was totally painless. The songs came together extremely fast. This album was responsible for Al's crossover to "pop".
- What do you think of Internet and the Web?
The Internet and Web is the best thing to happen since the Beatles! We can communicate with the world! We can
learn so much with all the available input!
Thanks for the questions Svein.
All the best, Jay
Would you consider using a borrowed guitar on a concert or does it have to be your own? Now that you have your
new signature "Jay Graydon model", do you still use the other guitars? I mean like to get a special sound for
Svein - music student, Norway.
Using a borrowed guitar would be disaster. The feel of the instrument is crucial. My signature guitar plays
extremely easy regarding bending and low action. The "pickups" are also important regarding tone. Most guitar
players would agree with this concept. The amp is also important for the sound. When playing, if you are thinking
that the guitar or amp is not giving you the feel or sound you want, you are not thinking about the notes. This
situation is most uncomfortable.
I use other guitars for certain situations when recording but rarely. We designed this guitar
to sound like a Gibson and Fender so that covers most of the ground sonically.
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