His impressive work over the years as co-leader of the group TRIBAL TECH, and as sideman for Chick Corea , Jean Luc Ponty and Joe Zawinul, has elevated him to the front ranks of both Jazz and Blues. Scott's trademark today, apart from being a world class player and a premier composer, is his unique sound and striking ability to switch from wonderful soulful Blues to incredible technical Jazz.
We'll start with a diagram of his gear.
In the lower part you'll see Scott's foot controllers. The Custom Audio Foot Controller activates the Stomp Boxes at the Pedal Drawer plus the Custom Audio Black Cat Vibe.
The connections between the foot controller and the pedals are not shown in the diagram, but are done through the Custom Audio Pedal Looper where these devices are wired up.
So, to understand the diagram, just follow the signal from the guitar through the Pedal Looper (with connections to the Pedal Drawer) to the input of Scott's amplifier.
The FX loop (blue line) in the amplifier takes the signal through the Volume Knob/Pedal to a One Channel Mixer which makes another loop (yellow line) via a Boss SE-70 and FX level adjustments, back to the Custom Audio OD100 Amplifier.
Here's Scott on the latest gear updates:
"I modified my Custom Audio OD 100 last year by putting a deep bass knob on the back and these days I don't use any bass from the preamp section (which is voiced higher). Recently I modded the boosted channel one by changing the 68pf treble capacitor in slot C50 to a 33pf which voices the treble higher, making it way more Fendery sounding."
Scott has replaced his old TS9 and old TS-808 pedals with Analog Man TS9/808/Silver modified pedals. He used these on the new CD Well To The Bone, tracks 1, 5, 6, and 9.
Scott says "the Siver Mod still faithfully produces the Tube Screamer sound, but with a way more musical midrange and top end, and more bass. The Silver Mod rocks!"
Scott's settings for the OD 100 are:
Channel one - gain 10, boost on,
bass 0, middle 4, treble 6, level 4.
Channel two - gain 7, boost on,
bass 0, middle 7, treble 4, presence 4, level 7.
Scott uses channel 1 with pedals, mainly the TS-9 and Voodoo-1 and uses channel 2 for pure amp distortion.
He uses a Custom Audio 4x12 cabinet with Celestion 25 watt Greenback speakers for Tribal Tech, and two Bogner 4x10 cabinets with Kendrick Blackframe speakers for the blues trio.
What about previous records?
Recently I've been getting a lot of questions about what type of gear I'm using and which guitars and amps I used on previous records, so I decided to write this section for the website.
Hopefully this will satisfy those of you who are curious about amps and recording, and maybe you'll learn something from my mistakes......
I'll start with the first Tribal Tech album "Spears". Back then I was playing a basswood Charvel strat with Seymore Duncan double screw '59 humbucking pickups, which are still the pickups I use now. The amp was a Peavey Special 130 that I used as a preamp, with the power section of a Peavey 100 watt tube amp that I can't remember the name of. The mic was a Nuemann 87 and I was using EV speakers, which is why my tone was more midrangey back in those days than it is now. This was also my amp and mic setup on "Dr. Hee", but at the mixing session, Allan Holdsworth was kind enough to bring over some of his studio toys and give the guitar tracks some stereo imaging which helped a lot. The guitar on Dr. Hee was my first Ibanez, which was also basswood. My tone was kind of thin on these records but the transistor Special 130 probably wasn't the best choice for a preamp.
On "Nomad", I was using a Boogie Quad preamp that I modified a little with my very limited tech skills by changing the cap on the treble pot to voice the treble a little higher. The power amp was a Boogie 295. In the 80's I was using preamps and power amps instead of heads because back then everyone was playing in stereo on their gigs and lugging around lots of rack gear. I was young and my back was strong. My gear changed on the recording of "Tribal Tech" to a Boogie Studio preamp and a 395 power amp.
Then I switched to a Lee Jackson preamp that I used for the next three albums - "Illicit, Face First and Reality Check". My power amp for those records was a Boogie 290, and I switched to Celestion speakers. Also, those three records were done with my second Ibanez guitar which was alder instead of basswood. "Reality Check" was my first venture into home recording and is probably my worst tone to date. I was using a rather complicated system involving amp attenuation devices to lower the volume in the house and I learned an important lesson - don't do that. Volume is good.
"Dog Party" was done with a 35 watt Matchless amp, Celestion Vintage 30's, a Shure 57, and a Tube Screamer. The guitar was a re-issue '57 Strat with Lindy Fralin pickups. Since the guitar tracks were all done in the studio, I didn't get the chance to screw them up at home. I decided at this point that I really liked the good ol' Shure 57 and never went back to the Nuemann. On Tore Down House, I learned that the Matchless was great for that sparkley clean blues thing, but I needed a heavier, more gainy sound for the songs on this record so I bought an old 50 watt plexi Marshall that worked better with distortion pedals than the Matchless. The plexi was used for about half the album. For the rest of the album I used a Custom Audio 3+ preamp with the Boogie 290. I put John Suhr's pickups in my strat, which are warmer and a little darker than the Fralin's. The big mistake (again) on this record was made during overdubbing at home.... My wife wasn't too happy about my abandonment of the speaker attenuation gear but she put up with it, and I was thankful, knowing that really loud guitar in the house has probably been the cause of some divorces. Anyway, I thought I could put the extremely loud speaker cabinet in a small bedroom, but even though the mike was ultra close to the speaker, I learned that the sound of a bad recording room can really ruin the tone. The stuff I recorded at home sounds tanky compared to the studio tracks. Also, there are moments when I had the amp up too loud and those stupid Vintage 30's made their famous double-note sound. My engineering skills were..... well, the word crap comes to mind.
On "Thick", I was playing a Fender Strat that John Suhr made for me while he was working at the Fender custom shop. I finally got away from the preamp thing when Custom Audio made the OD-100 head, which I used for the whole record. I improved my home recording scene a lot by building a big box to put the speaker cabinet in. It was made of pressboard with a layer of cork inside and a layer of two-inch cotton. The box lowers the volume a lot, but it gives the tone it's own frequency that isn't completely natural sounding, though it's a fairly subtle thing that you wouldn't notice unless you were comparing it directly with the same cabinet miked up outside of the box. One cool thing about this idea was that I could take the box to the studio sessions with me, and when I wanted to keep my live tracks but fix parts of them at home, my tone stayed the same. If you're playing a loud cabinet and change rooms between sessions, you'll have a difficult if not impossible job of dialing up your original tone.
For "Rocket Science", I went back to Celestion 25 watt Greenbacks, which are the speakers I used when I was fifteen, and I should've stayed with them. The OD-100 got modded for this album by putting in a deep bass knob and was used for the whole record except for the cut "Econoline", which is a '64 Fender Bandmaster modified by Alexander Dumble. John Suhr was making his own guitars by now so I used them on this record, and that brings us up to date.
Oh, I forgot about the first VTT album... THAT's my worst tone ever! We recorded at Steve Smith's house and rather than try to rent a cabinet with 25's up in San Francisco, I brought a 4x10 cab with me, but this cab had a closed back! Yuck! Here I learned a huge lesson - Kendrick Blackframe speakers are great in open-back cabs but in a small closed-back cab they sound like pancakes! Also, the only place for the cabinet was in Steve's daughter's bedroom which was about 100 feet from the amp, so lots of tone was dropped off in the living room, kitchen, bathroom, ect. The second record was done in a real studio and the overall sound of the recording is much improved over the first one.
For the tracks I'm recording now, I'm using a '68 100 watt plexi Marshall and the Fender Bandmaster with pedals, or the OD 100 when I want amp distortion. I've way improved my home studio recording setup - my friend Ralph Skelton told me how to build these cool tables to set the speaker cabinets on. They stop the bass from transferring to the floor without losing any bass for the mic, and I discovered that the best way to lower the volume of the cabinet is to just cover it with a variety of multi-colored moving blankets. They make it look like gypsys are camping in your living room, and they don't allow reflections from the room to affect the tone, so you can move your cabinet between the studio and home without tonal changes.
THIS... is what you do:
Make the top of the table small enough so the feet of the cabinet hang off the sides - the only thing you want between the cabinet and the table is the earthquake putty. Make the bottom a little bigger for stability.
Make the table top, bottom, and posts all from pressboard because it conducts much less than wood.
The most important part is that the table bottom doesn't touch the floor, but sits on the bolts about an inch above the floor.
So that's it - best of luck to you all in the search for a great guitar sound. Osama Bin Laden wants you to have bad tone, so the best way to help America is to get an old Fender or Marshall and turn it up loud.
Scott's guitars are made by
and according to Scott, they're really awesome!
The "Scott Henderson Models" are strat-type guitars, and are built by former Fender Custom Shop Master Builder John Suhr.
This multi talented guy, apart from being a guitar builder, is also the designer of some of the Custom Audio amplifier products.
(Custom Audio is owned by electronics guru Bob Bradshaw)
The only difference in Scott's gear between the blues and jazz thing is the guitar pickups. The guitar shown on this page, is the blues version. For the jazz stuff he uses a guitar with Seymore Duncan '59 double screw humbucking pickups in the neck and bridge positions.
The Gotoh 1088 bridge is on both guitars.
Take a look at John's Web Page were you'll find more details about the guitars and also a close-up picture of the Henderson Model
The new white guitar (spring -01)
is exactly like the red one - alder body, maple rosewood neck, V60 low peak pickups, Gotoh 1088 bridge, Sperzel tuners. Compared to the red one, it's a bit darker and fatter sounding, and people that see me play a lot tell me this guitar has a more "hendrixy" type of sound. I tried 3 of them at once and the guitar I picked produced a fatter tone, especially on high notes. My guitar was the lightest of the three, about 3 or 4 ounces lighter than the others, so that could be a factor.
On the other hand, most of the differences in tone between these guitars I think is pretty subtle - all of the strats I've gotten from John sound great.
Scott is using D'Addario 11's strings tuned down to Eb for the red/white single coil guitar, and 10's tuned to E for the purple Tribal Tech guitar. His picks are good ol' Fender Heavy's.