Artist Spotlight on Jimmy Rip

Is there anything Jimmy Rip can’t do? Throughout his extraordinary career, Jimmy has been a session guitarist, touring sideman, singer, songwriter, accomplished solo artist, film and television composer, musical director, producer, and much, much more.

Jimmy, a native New Yorker, picked up his first guitar at 8 years old and was out playing gigs by age 12. Originally inspired by the Rolling Stones, he soon became interested in the recordings of blues heavyweights like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, developing the necessary skills to become a session ace.

Rip quickly became a staple in the studio as well as a side guitarist for worldwide tours. Just a few of his credits include Hall & Oates, Rod Stewart, Deborah Harry, Patty Smyth, Willie Nelson, Kid Creole, and many others. After all this, Jimmy would finally get the chance to record with one of the artists that originally inspired him to play.

By the late 1980s, Rip was sought out to record for Mick Jagger’s solo album “Primitive Cool,” and later joined the supporting world tour. He later went on to co-write songs with Mick himself, and served as guitarist, arranger, and musical director of Jagger’s 1993 solo album “Wandering Spirit.” But his biggest challenge was yet to come: to serve as guitarist and producer for Jerry Lee Lewis’ much anticipated album, “The Pilgrim.”

“The Pilgrim,” set for release early this year, is a 22-track monster better than 4 years in the making. The album aims to reintroduce the world to Jerry Lee Lewis, an American treasure and true rock n’ roll pioneer. “Jerry Lee is a force of nature. No one has ever seen more, felt more, or done more than him,” says Rip, “Every time we thought we were done, we’d come up with another great song and be approached by another great artist who wanted to be involved.” This might explain the truly impressive roster of guest artists including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Rod Sttewart, Toby Keith, George Jones, Don Henley, Buddy Guy, Merle Haggard, John Fogerty, and several others. “The Pilgrim” is truly an album not to be missed. But it doesn’t stop there.

In 2004, Jimmy wrote and recorded the score “The Big Bounce,” and served as musical director for TNT’s television special “Willie Nelson and Friends — Angels & outlaws.” He is currently in the studio recording and producing albums for Ivan Neville and B’nard Fowler, where Line 6 gear is an invaluable part of his setup, despite taking criticism from the old school tube amp users.

Since the release of the original POD, Jimmy has made Line 6 a fixture in his studio. “When I was living in New York I just when to Manny’s and bought the damn thing and I’ve been using it ever since. My amps have thick layers of dust on them,” says Jimmy remembering the days of using a number of vintage amps to get the tone he was looking for. “People would ask me ‘How could you do that? Why aren’t you using your ’58 Deluxe?’ And I say, ‘It’s sounds great, you can put it in a bag, and it’s just way too convenient to resist.” When recording acoustic instruments, Jimmy looks no further than Variax Acoustic 700.

Jimmy has used Variax Acoustic 700 on several recent projects to help him achieve not only the sound that he wants, but the feel as well. “I like to play acoustic guitar, especially on rhythm tracks because it makes the band play a certain way,” says Jimmy citing that he can record sitting right next to the drummer with no microphone bleed. “Drummers tend to lay into it harder when you track with an electric first and overdub acoustic later. Variax Acoustic is amazing for getting everyone to play in a delicate or more rhythmic way. I can be sitting a foot away from Jim Keltner and we can still have that beautiful thing going on.” In addition to the production advantages of Variax Acoustic 700, Jimmy treasures the sounds as well.

For example, on the latest B’nard Fowler record, Jimmy used the Blues 12 model, the Folk 12 model, and the Mandola model (with a capo at the seventh fret), to produce a truly unique experience, saying that “The three of them together don’t sound like anything else in the world.” He also talked about how great the final product sounded, “It all sits real nice in the track. It’s hard to get acoustic guitars to sound that ‘in-your-face,’ especially in a home studio.” In fact, all the acoustic guitars for the B’nard Fowler album were recorded at Jimmy’s desk in his home studio with the Variax Acoustic 700. “When your in a project studio, that thing [Variax Acoustic] is absolutely indispensable,” added Jimmy, “Plus, it sounds like something new, something to catch your ear.” But it doesn’t end there.

Jimmy is also recording songs in the studio using PODxt Live and the DL4, MM4, and DM4 stompbox modelers. As an artist who wears many hats, Jimmy has come to rely on Line 6 for great sound in the studio.