My Essential Gear | Guitargate

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Live lessons each weekday with some of the world's very best players. Recorded and transcribed. 

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My Essential Gear

In this masterclass, Jamie McLean dives deep into the world of guitar gear, showcasing a selection of his personal collection and sharing insights into how each piece contributes to his signature sound. From his number one touring and recording guitar, a Heritage H-535, to a variety of electric guitars including a Fender Stratocaster and a Harmony Rocket, Jamie demonstrates the unique qualities and sounds of each instrument. He shares personal anecdotes about acquiring some of these guitars, including a memorable purchase of a 1969 Gibson ES-335 in Eugene, Oregon, which came with a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp.

Jamie also explores the realm of guitar pedals, detailing his minimalist pedalboard setup that focuses on achieving a rich tone with a few carefully selected effects. He discusses his preference for medium to high action on his guitars and how this setup facilitates his playing style, particularly when using a slide. The masterclass provides a comprehensive look at Jamie's gear, including his approach to strings, picks, and even the tuners he uses. He emphasizes the importance of gear that not only sounds good but feels right, highlighting how the tactile experience of playing an instrument can inspire creativity.

Throughout the masterclass, Jamie performs various pieces to illustrate the sonic characteristics of his guitars and gear, from clean rhythm playing to soulful slide work. He offers practical advice on tone building, from the clean boost settings that form the foundation of his sound to the use of overdrive and phaser effects for added texture. Jamie's down-to-earth teaching style and clear explanations make this masterclass an invaluable resource for guitarists looking to refine their sound or discover new gear. By the end of the session, viewers gain a deeper understanding of how to select and utilize guitar gear to enhance their musical expression.

Transcript Summary


  • Introduction and Welcome (00:00:05 - 00:00:39)
    • Jamie greets the viewers and mentions his return from traveling.
    • Encourages new viewers to share their locations.
    • Acknowledges a viewer from California.
  • Gear Overview: Heritage Guitar (00:00:45 - 00:01:04)
    • Jamie introduces his Heritage 535 as his primary guitar for touring and recording.
    • Shares a backstory of the guitar's damage and repair.
    • Mentions its unique vibe and history with previous bands.
  • Guitar Setup and Preferences (00:05:32 - 00:06:15)
    • Discusses his preference for medium to high action for better string interaction.
    • Details his choice of D'Addario strings, gauge 11 to 49.
    • Explains why he prefers heavier picks for a brighter sound.
  • Amp and Pedal Setup (00:14:55 - 00:15:42)
    • Describes his use of Fender Deluxe Reverb amps both original and reissue models.
    • Talks about his minimalistic pedal setup including a tuner, fat boost, and overdrive pedal.
    • Highlights the importance of simplicity in his gear for tone control.
  • Diverse Guitars for Different Sounds (00:49:45 - 00:50:05)
    • Explains his strategy for purchasing guitars to fill different tonal niches.
    • Mentions buying guitars during tours from various shops.
    • Emphasizes the importance of a guitar's feel and sound over its price or brand.
  • Acoustic Guitars and Writing Inspiration (01:03:15 - 01:03:45)
    • Shares his use of a Taylor 810 acoustic guitar for writing and its unexpected quality.
    • Mentions having a cheaper Yamaha acoustic for convenience and its surprising sound quality.
    • Discusses how different guitars inspire him in songwriting.
  • Closing Remarks (01:06:06 - 01:06:39)
    • Jamie concludes the masterclass and invites suggestions for future lessons.
    • Expresses gratitude to viewers for their participation.

As the Axe man for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band for years, and working with all the heavy hitters including Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Trombone Shorty, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Marc Broussard, and so many more… Jamie is the PERFECT window into what it takes to thrive with the very, very best.

(IMHO, The level of musicianship in NOLA is probably the best in the country - if not the whole world.  THE RHYTHM. THE SWAGGER. THE VIBE!!)

Jamie is a spectacularly tasteful guitarist - but that’s not the whole story:  He’s an equally Incredible singer and songwriter.  As you know, I’m obsessed with understanding WHY things get stuck in your head, WHY hits are hits, and HOW rhythm, harmony, and wait for it - MELODY - work together to craft something moving and unforgettable.  Jamie is uniquely able to take us on a journey beyond the fretboard, and go deep into the craft of making great music & being an even better storyteller.

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