Scott Tarulli talks gear; likes G&L Guitars

Boston musician Scott Tarulli is a man who know his guitars and amps. Tarulli, who backs others on stage and in the studio between making his own albums, was on hand to talk about his gear. Tarulli gets to work with some of the most exciting musicians in Boston. One thing he likes talking about is the gear he uses to help each person he sides for find the right sound for their songs. Tarulli delineates for us, artist by artist, the tools of his trade.

For Katrin’s new album Frail To Fearless Tarulli played five tracks. On “Faraway” Tarulli played a Jazz Master guitar through a real 1965 vintage Vox AC-10. He turned the amp up a little to get his specific tone. Tarulli didn’t use a lot of pedal on Katrin’s new CD. He only used a tremolo that’s built into the old amps.

“The old gear is very stellar and it I think it really suits her style.,” Tarulli said. “Jerry Marotta, the producer, was really into the tremolo effect so we did a lot of that. We doubled tracked. I played it straight and I played with tremolo and I think they mixed it how they wanted to mix it.”

Tarulli also used an old 1972 Fender Princeton Reverb. He used it for a cleaner sound, as opposed to the Vox AC-10. “I might have done three electric guitar tracks on one tune and there might have had to be one clean part. That’s where the Fender amp came in. It’s a very crisp sound. I used a G&L Telecaster through it.”

Christine Fawson, of the band Syncopation, has been working on a solo album she co-wrote with Tarulli. He used his 1972 Fender Princeton Reverb. On one song Fawson called “Sorry” Tarulli used a 1966 Fender Pro Reverb. Only on one tune did Tarulli use his Vox AC-10 1965 vintage model. For the guitar parts on Fawson’s album he used his G&L Telecasters and a 1985 Gibson Les Paul Custom.

“There’s stuff that has some growling rock guitar,” Tarulli said. “On that stuff I used that Gibson Custom Les Paul.” For a grainier, crunchy effects, Tarulli used a pedal from a company called Xotic Effects. He used their BB Pre-amp. Their Gain pedals for getting more distorted are one of Tarulli’s personal favorites.

“They’re on all of my pedal boards,” he said. Tarulli also uses Voodoo Lab power supplies that fit underneath the pedal board that power all of the effects. It’s safe, clean, and eliminates ground hum. “In every one of my pedal boards I use the Voodoo Lab power source,” he said. He also uses their switches that makes it easy for him to switch sounds live.

Dearest Pinky is another singer Tarulli has recorded an album with. He usually plays guitar for her in her live shows. Her style is closer to Evanescence or Paramore. The album is pretty straight forward so Tarulli essentially relied on his Gibson Les Pauls played through a 1978 Marshall Head through a 2 x 12 Orange closed back amp. For a few sparkly clean sounds he used a 1978 Stratocaster through his 1972 Princeton Reverb. His live rig is essentially the same, except he uses a lower wattage Marshall, an 18 Watts instead of the 100 Watts that he uses in the studio.

“For live, I just have a smaller Marshall head built into the same cabinet.” He also used the Xotic BB Pedals often on the recording. “I use effects as they’re needed. It depends on who I’m playing with,” he said. “I tend to use more vintage instruments to get those sounds. I like the more classic sounds in that context rather than the really modern stuff. That’s just my taste, though.”

Scott Tarulli. Our hero has also been working on his own CD, his third album. This time around, he has to use his ears to judge what works best for himself. Aside from using Seymour Duncan pick ups in everything he plays, he has wide tastes in gear.

“As I’ve been working on my album, it’s kind of been, ‘Oh, wait a minute, now what’s the sound that I’m really hearing on the material that I’m writing?’ God, it was like pulling stuff into my living room. It was hours and hours and hours, trying stuff on different gigs. My main rig on my own stuff is a 1968 Fender Band Master head plugged into a Marshall 2 x 12 closed back cabinet. I’m using the G & L Telecasters a lot most of the time on my thing. The Voodoo Lab Xotic is always in my rig.” Tarulli uses a few variations of the G&L Telecaster, each with a different pick up configurations. One pick up is called P-90. Another is the Telecaster Thin Line.

He has also been using his custom Les Pauls and a Fender Custom Shop amp called the 57 Twin that looks like the old brown tweed covered amps from the 1950s. For his new recording, he utilizes players like Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin, Mindy Abair, and he has booked Steve Lukather for it too.

Gear doesn’t come cheap. Tarulli has to sell some gear he already owns in order to pay for things he likes better. He has some good product endorsements like G&L Guitars. He also has good relationships with companies like Xotic, Voodoo, and Orange. “I usually end up making a connection with the company,” he said.

As to his taste for vintage amps, Tarulli makes it plain. “First of all, they don’t build them like they used to,” he quipped. “The older amps are just very serviceable. If you open them up and look inside, they’re just wires and components. So, anybody who knows what they’re doing can solder something in and out. But if you look at any of the amps they’re building now, it looks like the inside of a DVD player. You have to bring it to a service place, and they have to say ‘We have to order the part from’ whatever the company is, and you’re out for like a month from your amp. Sonically, I’m a nut for sound. A lot of the amps I have, I’m really happy with. I really like them. I’m definitely one of those people who can tell the difference. For example, they re-issued the 1965 Super Reverbs. I have a real 1965 Super Reverb, and they sound worlds apart to me.”

Tarulli is a guitar instructor too. He teaches two guitar labs at Berklee College Of Music and he also offers private lessons. The guitarist has a huge student base. When Tarulli performs live, Berklee students come up and take pictures of his pedal board. He also gets e-mails asking him what he used to get a certain sound.