January 25, 2013

Interview: HBC's Scott Henderson and Jeff Berlin (PGuitar)

Very nice interview with Scott and Jeff Berlin about the HBC trio from premier Guitar.

Scott, your solo on that track is some of your most exciting playing ever. The clean tone sounds like you’re using a jazz box, which you don’t often employ. What guitar did you use for that?
 I wanted to do it as a traditional jazz-guitar thing, because I don’t often get to do that. I don’t own a hollowbody— when I recorded Reality Check, Ibanez loaned me a George Benson model. I didn’t rent one this time, I used my Line 6 Variax 700. I ran that into a Suhr Badger, which warmed it up quite a bit. I sent the track to a couple of my friends who actually play jazz boxes, and they gave me the thumbs up.

HBC in Bangkok, Thailand. Henderson routes his Suhr guitar through a signature Suhr head driving Marshall 4x12s, while Berlin plays his Dean 4-string through two Ampegs and an unidentified combo.
Scott, you’re also known for your legato technique, as demonstrated on the new “Stratus” solo. Early in your career, you used humbuckers. Now that you’re using single-coils, is it harder to play those types of passages?

 Yeah, physically harder. My guitars are set up now more for tone than for speed. The action is a little bit higher now than it used to be, because I want my guitars to ring really clear. Some people like my tone back then. It might have been a little smoother because I was using those double-screw humbuckers, which make the tone creamy and milky—but there’s no rock ’n’ roll whatsoever in that sound. They also have no bass whatsoever. They’re very small sounding. When I listen to my tone from the old days, it sounds very thin, whereas now my tone sounds a little bit more rock, but it’s way fatter and takes up more space. I’m also using .011s now instead of .010s, tuned down to Eb, and they’re a little bit harder to bend than .010s in E.

Henderson: I can’t even imagine Jeff playing in Van Halen. That gig calls for a 100-percent-support bass player, and I just don’t think that’s a good fit. As far as just playing on a pop or a rock gig, we all have our moments when we wish we made more money but nobody wants to play music that they hate. Not saying that Jeff hates Van Halen—because we all love Van Halen. I think Van Halen’s a great guitar player and I always have really liked his playing. But I couldn’t play that music all night and be myself, and neither could Jeff. I think there are very few pop gigs outside of maybe Steely Dan or Beyonce where I would enjoy myself. Anybody else, I feel like I’d have to dumb my stuff down. To be on a pop gig that you don’t like, you have to be an actor, and I’ve never been much of an actor. But Steely Dan or Beyonce—if they call, I’m there.

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Interview: HBC's Scott Henderson and Jeff Berlin

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