Jackie Greene's Real-World Rig

AG 241 January 2013 Cover

by Teja Gerken

Singer-songwriter/guitarist Jackie Greene has come a long way since starting to sit in with bands in Salinas, California, bars as a teenager. Proficient on acoustic and electric guitars, Greene (jackiegreene.com) performs solo and with his band, playing theaters and major festivals, including premier events such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, and many others. Hovering around the parameters of folk, Americana, rock, and blues, Greene has toured with various members of the Grateful Dead, B.B. King, Los Lobos, and Mark Knopfler, and recorded six solo albums, the latest of which is 2010’s Till the Light Comes.

Playing these kinds of shows is obviously quite different from performing at your local coffeehouse or open mic, yet Greene’s gear is anything but complicated: a Gibson J-45 with an L.R. Baggs iBeam Active pickup, a Sunrise preamp, a Boss TU-2 tuner, and a Fishman Loudbox Performer amp. And while some players are shy about taking their best guitars onstage, Greene feels strongly that this is where a good onstage sound starts: “People who want to augment their setup need to first look at the instrument itself,” he says. “You could sit here all day and have pedals and pedals—and I used to have modeling pedals and whatnot—and I just spent too much time fiddling with it, and less time worrying about what I’m going to play.” In Greene’s case, this has meant finding a way to make his favorite acoustic, a recent Gibson J-45 Legend, sound good onstage. “I’ve had this guitar for a few years now,” he says, “and I really didn’t want to bring it on the road, because it’s rather expensive. But then, it is the best-sounding guitar I have.”

Because the guitar has a glued-in saddle, an undersaddle pickup wasn’t an option, so Greene settled on an L.R. Baggs iBeam Active pickup, which mounts to the guitar’s bridge plate. Asked how he handles feedback issues with a potentially sensitive soundboard transducer such as the iBeam at rock band volumes, he says that he’ll occasionally use a soundhole cover. “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll turn around and tell the band to play quieter.”

What He Plays

Acoustic Guitar: Gibson J-45 Legend.

Pickup: L.R. Baggs iBeam Active.

Preamp: Sunrise SB-1.

Amplifier: Fishman Loudbox Performer.

Tuner: Boss TU-2.

Strings: D’Addario EJ-16 light-gauge phosphor bronze. 

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar January 2013

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