By Strings Direct – 29 August, 2023
- PLAYER SPOTLIGHT -
“At a young age, I learned that if you put your mind to something, you can probably figure it out.”
We think of Canada as a wide open space of picturesque tranquillity with great depth, height, and integrity; a vast, crisp landscape of possibilities and exploration. You may now be wondering how any of that could possibly relate to a guitar player? Well, let us introduce a truly individual, complex, and deeply intelligent player that has made everything about the guitar very much his own.
If you've been checking out players over the last few years via the modern library of discovery (aka the internet), then we imagine you would have come across this highly influential player of today's generation.
Joey Landreth has truly cemented his place in the unspoken Hall of Fame of the modern day guitar hero, captivating audiences both in the live environment and online on almost every platform.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Hailing from Winnipeg, Canada, the Landreth family has great musical roots. His father Wally Landreth was a working, professional musician and clearly a heavy influence both in playing and musical taste exposing Joey to Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, and Lyle Lovett amongst many others. Out and about on the circuit from the tender age of 16, the young Joey Landreth was straight into session work and became a working guitarist with the generation to his senior. After a number of years shifting around the local circuit, word was clearly getting around that an accomplished young player was in the making.
Although Landreth appears to have worked predominately in the country, pop, and folk arenas he actually cites working for and touring with a well-established gospel band as the period that dramatically developed his use of harmony. Both singing and playing he was bound to learn plenty about harmonic structure and gain confidence experimenting in his own writing.
The Canadian county music scene is its own entity, separate from the globally dominating American genre. It was playing in this scene that Landreth began to develop his own style and identity. Stepping back from session playing and collaborating with a band of amazing musicians, and notably his brother, Landreth was about to take the industry by storm.
Juno-winning band The Bros. Landreth became the group that would break them on foreign shores and announce the Landreth name to the masses with their articulate use of vocal and instrumental harmony performed by unrivalled musicians.
The Bros. Landreth released their latest album ‘Come Morning’ in May 2022 and have been nominated at the Juno’s again, this time for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, with the awards happening this weekend (10th March 2023), we'll let you know how they do! 🤞
FYI... The Bros. Landreth won the Juno award this weekend! (Update: 13/03/2023) Nice!
Furthermore, just last year, Bonnie Raitt recorded The Bros. Landreth song ‘Made Up Mind’ which became the lead single on her album in 2022. Bonnie’s incredible performance of the song won her the Grammy for Best Americana Performance at this years’ Grammy Awards. An incredible achievement to which she credited the guys for "writing a kick-ass song”.
JOEY LANDRETH ON THE LINE
Of course, a tasteful and well-versed player such as Joey is a prime candidate for online content and he has become hot property. Another student of the The Class of Carter Vintage Joey has demoed some exquisite vintage guitars for the iconic guitar store and said videos have attracted considerable attention.
This astonishing short demo of a 1958 Gibson Les Paul Gold top displays his talents:
He’s been championed by Guitar Player and Guitar World and with the gates open, an already established Joey Landreth was there for the entire world to marvel at and is now regularly featured on popular social media and YouTube channels. A perfect example of this would one of Joey’s key appearances on That Pedal Show.
A self-confessed pedal addict and gear enthusiast Joey has become a regular on Dan & Mick’s show. But, it's this particular episode that really displays how mesmerised the presenters are as they laugh with sheer admiration and disbelief at the mind blowing sound playing along with what can only be described as perfect Tone.
JOEY LANDRETH SIGNATURE GEAR
Joey’s collaborated with with many companies now producing pedals such as the Mythos High Road. However, a most notable moment for us was the announcement of Joey Landreth developing his own signature slide with US brand The Rock Slide. Joey’s guitar slide is a modified version of the original small brass Rock Slide. It’s been stretched out to 2⅛ inch length compared to the original 1¾ inch length. This gives some added weight and full string coverage. These slides are as unique as Landreth's playing itself having neat little features including a tapered inner wall and finger rest for added comfort; absolutely the slide for slide players!
More recently Joey Landreth released a signature guitar amp with Two Rock Amplification which sold out completely within hours of its launch. This single channel tube amp uses 4x 6L6 output tubes for that fat American clean volume, an analog reverb circuit, and a harmonic tremolo.
“It is literally the most beautiful sounding amp I have ever played, and I would think that whether my name was on it or not,” says Landreth “The preamp delivers the perfect edge of break up sound, kind of like something lower wattage, while the power amp delivers all the punch and thump you get from a big amp. It’s never too much even at 100 watts.”
WHAT TUNING DOES JOEY LANDRETH USE?
“It’s almost a baritone tuning because it’s a half step above B”. Joey Landreth tunes to open-C and is currently using Stringjoy Signatures in his custom gauge of 19, 22, 24w, 36w, 44w, 65w.
The open-C tuning JL uses is (from low to high) C, G, C, E, G, C which is the same intervals as open-E just two whole steps lower; and to understand how and why Joey uses this tuning we have to note his particular interest in slide guitar. Playing slide guitar with standard tuning has particular limitations where the straight bar doesn’t allow for easy and intuitive use of chords. An open tuning opens up (pardon the pun) a much broader harmonic palate.
As stated in the video below JL moved to slide tunings whilst still playing with different artists forcing himself to relearn and expand his musical vocabulary by adapting to play songs normally played in standard tuning.
For most players who think in standard tuning this 19-56 gauge sounds terrifying, however put into perspective when tuning so far down it starts to make a little more sense. The rough rule of thumb, and standard practise is to go up one gauge of string for each semi-tone drop in tuning (the same is also true in the opposite direction). That being said, it’s still heavy, because tension-wise for comparison it’s like use a set of 13s on at normal tuning. Remember though, there’s a not a lot of string bending going on!
WHAT STRINGS DOES JOEY LANDRETH USE?
Therefore, unlike many players who use off-the-shelf strings JL has very specific requirements, something to be expected from such a complex and in-depth player, and has chosen Stringjoy to put together those sets for him. Right from the early days of adopting this tuning Joey Landreth has been synonymous with the Nashville-based strings brand who continuously work with him to achieve as close to perfection as possible.
Click here to get an exclusive set of Joey Landreth custom gauge Stringjoy Signatures.
As you can see in this brief player spotlight on Joey Landreth we have opened the box on a truly interesting player full of integrity, depth and innovation. When we think of Joey Landreth’s playing and overall approach to guitar itself it has a degree of escapism and imagination, almost painting a picture of a wide open space of picturesque tranquillity with great depth, height and integrity, a vast crisp landscape of possibilities and exploration.
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