Friday, May 14, 2010

Andy Timmons: The Tone King

I remember the first time I heard of this guy was watching the Ibanez 90th anniversary show which also featured Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. At one point, PG and AT were taking terms jamming over a blues based rock song called Red Rooster, and the solo Andy dished out was just out of this world. (

The phrasing was so unique and new to me my jaw dropped for while. I remember rewinding to that section just for that solo multiple times. So from there, I started to listen to songs he had written. I played his "That was then, this is now" album front and back that I got my roommate at the time (Antonio) interested in his stuff.

There's something very distinct about his tone, his style. The guy isn't a super control-oriented guitarist like Steve Vai is, but a more feel-my-way-through-the-melody type of guitar player. He doesn't pick every note but instead slides around the neck to hit notes, vibratos in and out of licks, and bends to notes you really don't expect. Every song he has that has him going into a solo, he never makes it sound like it's planned. It almost sounds like he improvised everything on the spot. Kinda like this: (This was a one take, semi-improvised track that ended up on his CD)

I really can't put my finger on what his style is. The rock aspect is obviously there, but he also adds a little bit of jazz fusion into his playing. The outcome is song after song of tireless music that is always inspiring.

His sound on the other hand, is very similar to what John Mayer has. At least since the resolution album. Very bottom heavy, bright but not ear piercing highs, and very strat-inspired sounds. It has less "twang" than a classic strat tone though. His gear isn't overly complex. A few compressors, delay units, a Ibanez TS909, BB preamp, all into either the mesa lonestar or the stiletto.

From listening to a lot of his songs, he really loves to play with the delays. A double delay with different settings that give it a space-ish dreamy clean tone is what I hear on a lot of his slower songs. On his more rock-ish tunes he has the drive channel engaged on lead and boosts with the TS909, then uses compressor peddles to keep it from going over the top. So all in all, some 4~5 analogue peddles is all he really uses. He plays a Ibanez AT100/300 guitar, which is basically a ibanez-strat in many ways. Although, the AT300 features a less popular mahogany body which gives it a darker sound compared to the Alder bodied, maple neck of the AT100 in my opinion.
------GEAR TALK ENDS------

His stuff you should check out:
September -
This never made it on a CD, but is a great song nonetheless

Cry For you -
This is to Andy Timmons like what "For the love of god" is to Steve Vai. His signature song.

Pink Champagne Sparkle -
A track I personally like a lot. He changed a few things for this live performance. I personally like the CD version better though.

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