Dial in Jared James Nichols Tones on HT-20R MkII

Dial in Jared James Nichols Tones on HT-20R MkII

Jared James Nichols is one of the most exciting guitar players currently on the circuit. A Blackstar amps devotee and a true patron of the blues. He loves blues so much that he’s even named the overdrive channel on his signature Blackstar amp the Bluespower channel.

Jared uses a very simple setup to achieve a monstrous tone.

If you really want to capture that JJN vibe, you need to ditch the pick. Jared plays exclusively with his fingers.

Let’s dig in and see if we can make some Bluespower magic happen with the HT-20R MkII.

The Gear Used In This Video

In this video, I am using the following gear to emulate some of the tones you hear Jared using:

• Blackstar HT-20R-MkII
• 1970s Les Paul Jr with a single P90

Jared is a big fan of guitars with a single P90 bridge pickup. He has a signature single pickup Les Paul available that he tours the world with. To get close to this, I am using a 1970’s Japanese Les Paul Jr with a single P90 in the bridge position. I am not using a pick for this video.

All the overdrive you hear is directly from the amplifier. The clean tones are achieved by rolling back the volume on the guitar.

The amplifier is mic’d with an Aston Origin condenser microphone which his running straight into a DAW via a Focusrite preamp.

The Tones of Jared James Nichols

Jared’s tone is very simple. It’s a big, solid tone that’s firmly rooted in blues and rock.

Set your HT20 to the overdrive channel and leave it on the first voice. The first voice is a more British style voice with a lower gain level. Jared’s tone is big, but it is not overly saturated. P90s are noisy pickups so too much gain will cause undesirable amounts of amp hum.

The Gain on the overdrive channel is set to 8 and the channel volume is set to 10.

To get closer to that warm, earthy tone you hear on Jared’s records, you want to play with your thumb in place of a plectrum. Using your fingers will give a rounder attack on the notes. Get ready to build up the thumb calluses for this fast rocking riffs!

Jared James Nichols Settings Panel

The amplifiers EQ is not set in an extreme manner. The bass is set to just below 6, the mid is set the same. The treble is rolled back slightly to just under halfway. Remember that P90s are a form of single coil and are brighter. If you are looking to capture this sort of tone with a humbucker, you can push the treble a little further.

The ISF is set to just below the midway point. This gives you a nice blend between the American and British style voices.

Don’t be afraid to crank that reverb up a bit to get that big room sound that Jared loves using. It really makes those high string bends soar.

Clean Tone

The clean tones in the video are achieved by rolling back the guitar volume to about 3. This reduces the output signal to the amplifier. The amplifier is running on the overdrive channel but reducing the input signal cleans it up. It makes the amplifier very touch sensitive so even though the tone sounds clean when you pick softly, if you dig in hard, the amp will break up more.

As heard on tracks like: Threw Me To The Wolves

Crunch Tone

The crunch tone in this video is like the clean tone but with the volume backed off to about 5 instead of 3. This will allow enough signal to hit the overdriven amp to give you a light breakup but retaining lots of clarity in the notes.

As heard on tracks like: Run

Overdrive Tone

The heavier overdriven tones once again come from manipulating the guitars volume and tone. Setting the volume between 6 and 7 will give you some different gain levels. If you want to thicken this up, roll the tone control back to 5 to take some of the top end away.

As heard on tracks like: Crazy, End of Time and Last Chance

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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