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Digital Subscriptions > Guitar Magazine > Dec 17 > THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TOUCH


You might not have heard of Dave Cobb, but over the last decade, he’s established himself as Nashville’s hottest producer, with Jason Isbell, Rival Sons, Chris Stapleton, Chris Shiflett and Zac Brown all beating a path to his door. JOE BOSSO spoke to the producer/guitarist to pick his Grammy-winning brain about guitars, recording and going to tape…

Ask producer Dave Cobb the secret to his sound and the Georgia native will tell you he doesn’t have one – that is, a secret or a sound. “I just want the records I work on to come across as honest as possible,” says the hotter-than-hot record maker, whose recent resume boasts Grammy Award winners and chart-toppers by Chris Stapleton, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell and the Zac Brown Band, among others. “If I had a sound, I wouldn’t want to impose it on somebody else. It’s their record, not mine.”

As well as being a producer, Cobb also knows his way around guitars. Raised on classic rock, he started playing in his teens, and during the 90s he cut his professional teeth as guitarist for the alternative/Britpop band, the Tender Idols. Although he only recorded a couple of albums with that band before relocating to Nashville to try his hand at producing, he says that his first studio experiences helped to form his philosophy about recording guitars.

“I pretty much learned that I had to know what I was doing before we pressed that record button,” he says. “It all starts in the player’s hands first. If somebody doesn’t play what a song needs and doesn’t have a good sound, there’s very little I, or any producer, can do to fix it. There’s no magic bullet that’s going to make a bad-sounding part sound great.”

And flashy, expensive gear isn’t the answer: “It’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig,” he says with a laugh. “A player can even use really old, cheap stuff and still sound great. If you know your sound and you know how to get it, you can sound good on anything. Some people are Strat guys; some people are Gibson guys. As a producer, I just try to figure out what sounds best in their hands, and from there I can take a classic amp like a Princeton Reverb and start to build what a track needs – I can insert pedals or whatever. But it all begins with a guitarist who knows what he’s doing. There’s no substitute for that.”

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About Guitar Magazine

The December 2017 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale now! Inside, you’ll find a massive 24-page feature devoted to The Secrets Of Studio Guitar. Following exclusive insights into the golden era of session guitar from Wrecking Crew luminary Carol Kaye and Tommy Tedesco’s son Denny, we move into the modern age (albeit via a raft of vintage tube amps) with recording tips courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, first-call LA guitarist Josh Smith’s guide to the perfect session and a tale of how digital modelling can be the answer to your sonic prayers. Elsewhere in the mag, we pay tribute to Tom Petty, review a raft of hot new gear from the likes of Fender, Maybach, Satellite Amps, G&L and Keeley and show you how to build your own acoustic guitar in the latest instalment of DIY Workshop. For all that and a FREE 2018 calendar packed full of beautifully photographed vintage and star guitars, pick up your copy of the December issue of The Guitar Magazine now!