Gary Clark Jr is a name that you may or may not know, but you’ve certainly heard his music at some point or another. At 32 years old, his music sounds more akin to that of the blues from many decades ago. At a young age, Gary Clark Jr had the opportunity to play with Jimmie Ray Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan – feats many aspiring musicians would do anything for.
Gary Clark Jr has played along with the Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, BB King, Buddy Guy, and many more.
WHERE TO START
GUITARS | What kind of guitars to look for $ – $$
Gary Clark Jr is known for his soulful twang he pulls out of his guitars. Ibanez has been making absolutely beautiful looking and sounding guitars that manage to encapsulate that very tone. Of course, Gary Clark Jr has a signature guitar, but we’re going to work with not only a smaller budget but also gear that you can actually come in and try here at the Music Den in Randolph, NJ. One of the coolest things about the kind of tone Gary Clark Jr has is that much of it comes from the hands. There are so many genres of music that require tone that can be so easily manipulated to be a certain way that it doesn’t matter who’s playing it. But with the bluesy, syrupy lead tone found in Gary Clark Jr’s music, it requires just as much soul as it does the right gear. Grab a double cutaway semi-hollow electric guitar with humbuckers, throw the pickup selector in the neck position, and get your fingers picking those notes, and you’ll be en route to developing the sound you’ll find in Gary Clark Jr’s music.
AMPLIFIERS | What kind of amps to look for $$ – $$$
In terms of amps, Fender is going to be a sure shot way to get close right off the bat with chasing the tone Gary Clark Jr has. The Fender Bassbreaker 007 Combo is a new amp that Fender released in 2016 that has an array of tube tones ranging from blues to rock. The Fender Mustang II V2 is a solid state combo amp that has multi effects and a plethora of amp simulations, of course ranging from blues to jazz to rock to metal.
EFFECTS | What kind of effects to look for $$ – $$$
- Overdrive Option 1: BOSS BD2 Blues Driver Overdrive Pedal $99
- Overdrive Option 2: Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal $179
- Reverb Option 1: TC Electronics Hall of Fame MINI Reverb $109
- Reverb Option 2: TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb $149
- Fuzz Option 1: BOSS FZ5 Fuzz Pedal $99
Note: the Fender Mustang II V2 amp mentioned above includes many of these effects to keep your budget low!
For Gary Clark Jr’s sound, you’ll need to have at least one of each of these types of effect pedals in order to really nail his sound. His fuzz sound creates a mechanical break up sound that you can only find with a fuzz pedal. Reverb may be built into your amps already, but a slap-back reverb sound (similar to rockabilly) is crucial for many of his songs. And lastly, per any blues rig, there should always been an overdrive pedal in there to push your tubes a little harder to give you that syrupy push that you find in most iconic blues rigs.