Guitar.com proudly presents the next segment in our on-going series, The Tone-Chain. In constant pursuit of that ever evasive tone, we're speaking with musicians, manufacturers, inventors, engineers - basically anyone and everyone that has helped shape "tone" over the last 35 years. We started off with a great two-part series of video interview with Alex Perialas. Be sure to check that interview out, as his studio knowledge is most impressive indeed.
In this next segement, we are sitting down with Andy Sneap, producer, guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire. His list of credits include a virtual who's who of metal kings over the last Megadeth, Cradle of Filth, Exodus, Soulfly, Arch Enemy, Machine Head, Nevermore as producer, Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Testament, and Trivium as mixing engineer, and guitarist for seminal thrash metal giants, Sabbat. (check his site).
Guitar.com: Welcome, Andy, it’s nice to have you here. Let’s start with a bit of history: You’re a guitarist turned producer. How did that come about?
Andy Sneap: I'd always been interested in the studio side of things, totally into gear and tone when I was playing and always loved recording, so when the band split up and grunge came in, it was kinda, ok, where do I go now. I already had a small reel to reel set up so I decided to pursue recording a bit more seriously and slowly but surely built my reputation.
Guitar.com: Your known for achieving great guitar tones on your projects. Can you take us through the steps on how you create great tones?
Andy Sneap: Its in the hands, it really is. Well 70 - 80% of it. The tone has to suit the style of playing and the player. One thing I've noticed is the old school guys really know how to dig in and pull the tone out the guitar, I think thats just cause we didn't have the high gain amps we have now. To be honest, you can get a pretty decent tone out of nearly all these newer amps these days, they're just a bit different.
Cabs are just as important as the amp, i tend to favour boogie cabs with celestion vintage 30's tho I'm diggin the peavey xxx cabs at the mo.
Guitar.com: Is there any one place that great tone starts from? (pickups, tone woods, pedals, cable, amps?)
Andy Sneap: All of those and more, one weak link in the chain and you have undone all your good work. Like I said though, it all comes from the hands. It's that contact with the strings that you are amplifying. Gary Holt will always sound like Gary Holt whether he's through a Marshall or an Engl. Some things you can't buy.
Guitar.com: Which album do you feel proudest for having produced? And, why?
Andy Sneap: Megadeth's Endgame was a challenge, that was literally from building the studio to the final mastering, and Accept's, Blood Of The Nations , as I was such a huge fan of that band growing up.
Guitar.com: For someone unfamiliar with your work, which album would you suggest they listen to, and why?
Andy Sneap: I think I'm always pretty happy with the Exodus albums, thats probably because we have alot of fun making those records. I'd like to think all the albums I work on are a fair representation of my production, mixing. There's been a couple of not so hot ones but in my defense I'm not always sent the best tracks to mix.
Guitar.com: Do you have any words of advice for anyone out there who is interested in becoming a producer?
Andy Sneap: Get your own style, its tough I know but why try and copy someone else, you can't hear what they hear so you have to know how to correct problems and have a vision for the end result. Taking a kick from here and a snare from there will usually never work, everything has to seem cohesive. Also don't let the musicians get lazy, make them play it again til they get it right.
Guitar.com: Thanks for your time, Andy, we appreciate it very much.