Laboratory:  How To Make A Song In The Style Of Jack White
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Laboratory: How To Make A Song In The Style Of Jack White




Jack White is a hard working bloke. He has, with two hands and about a decade and a half of paid time, crafted a sound solely his own with a rockin' aesthetic to match. Every guitarist learning to fret has, at some stage, wanted to fret like White and the fantastic news is we can show you how to come close in four steps. The guarantee is his sound - production, instrumentation - will be clearly and systematically dissected for your benefit. None can say though whether even our rendition can possibly capture the White je ne sais quoi.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

- Digital recording software. Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic all work great.

- Some drum samples. You won't need many, and a lot of great ones come with store-bought recording programs.

- An electric guitar, with plug-in accessories, and a decent cab amplifier.

- A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) used to capture and emulate guitar sounds.

WE'LL BE USING ABLETON, A GIBSON LES PAUL, AND A LINE 6 TONE PORT UX2

STEP 1. BIG MUFF'D GUITAR


Jack's Big Muff distortion pedal tone is simply iconic. If you're going to recreate 'Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground', like us, you're going to need one. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff pedals retail at around 200 big ones, but if you've got a Line 6 Tone Port, you'll find a pretty decent stand-in. Lay down the opening riff, as such, and make sure to chuck on some layered compression and boost the low-end with an eight-band EQ. Also make sure your B string is slightly detuned. Just a little.

STEP 2. NOT BIG MUFF'D GUITAR


You'll want to repeat the above Muff'd riffage with a second, only slightly distorted guitar track. We've turned the gain levels way down on our emulated cab, dialed it through a digitized dynamic microphone (which is of course kind of theoretical but seems to make a difference) and layered it beneath the Muff'd track. It gives a bit of depth and contrast to the overwhelming fuzz of the first guitar track.

STEP 3. DRUMS


You'll want a heavily saturated, gain-y drum rack for this one. Note Meg only uses her crashes, snare and kick drums and is very much laying down a bare-boned four-on-the-floor rhythm. It's slower than a break beat at about 78 bpm and as such you're going to want to make sure you treat those cymbals with care so as to prevent them from overwhelming the top end of the mix. Throw in some high-end limiters and compression and everything should be right.

STEP 4. TAMBOURINE


White's tambourine tracks are always his top-cherries. Seemingly unimportant, the subtle fluency of the swung tambo is vital in adding a unique rhythmic and tonal character to any tune. Listen again without the tambourine and you'll agree it needs to be in there to have any hope of reaching White.
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