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How to Capture Brad Paisley’s Guitar Tone

The next in a series of step-by-step guides to home recording

Jim Dalrymple

West Virginia native Brad Paisley is another of the modern artists that has successfully made the crossover from country to pop. Along the way, he’s also made quite a name for himself as a guitar player.

With a string of top-selling albums since first hitting the scene in 1999, Paisley has been busy piling up hit after hit. All of his albums have hit either gold or platinum status, and 22 songs have landed on the country charts – 12 of them reaching No. 1, and still counting.  He’s also won 11 Country Music Association awards, including the last two Male Vocalist of the Year awards, and this year’s Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance.

The thing that makes Paisley so unique from his contemporaries is that he’s the whole package – a songwriter, singer and fine guitar player all in one. It’s hard to find that combination in any genre of music.

But when it comes to gear, Paisley keeps things pretty simple. For guitars Paisley has used mainly Fender Telecasters, and most recently Crook Custom Guitars equipped with stringbenders. For amplification he uses Dr. Z amps, which sound a lot like the classic Vox amps.

To make Paisley’s tone on my computer, I’m turning to Line 6’s POD Farm. I chose the Class A30 Top Boost amp, which is basically an AC-30 model, using the following settings: Drive 5; Bass 4; Cut 9; Treble 7; Presence 4; and Volume 6. Since this is a combo amp I’m using a 2x12. I also chose a ’57 Mic on Axis.

I put in a Blue Comp pedal to give the tone a little kick. I didn’t want too much in there because I didn’t want to take away anything from the clean tone, but I did want enough to make the tone a bit richer. I used settings of Sustain 31 percent and Level 76 percent.

The next effect I used was a chorus, which is perfect for a tone like Paisley’s. The settings are Speed 0.46Hz; Depth 50 percent; Treble 50 percent; and Mix 50 percent. The last effect I used was a Stereo Delay with settings of Time 183ms; Offset 65 percent; Left 38 percent; Right 50 percent; and Mix 32 percent.

These settings should give you the tone you need to play most of Paisley’s songs. Download them now!

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