Jon Wright, music producer: working with artists

Following the releases of Liv Austen’s ‘A Moment Of Your Time’, Alexis Gerred’s debut album and Nielsen Reaveley’s ‘Cheer Up’ EP, I’m finding I’m currently doing about as much production work as guitar recording. All have had good receptions and led to approaches from other artists to work with them on their material. Working as a music producer required a very different skill set to recording online guitar sessions, and has also led to some studio hardware upgrades including improved monitoring (in all cases I’m also mixing), broadening the range of microphones I have available to suit a range of voices and sounds, and investing in some outboard hardware ‘character pieces’ to offer creative options way beyond a mic-interface-computer recording.

I also remixed and created radio edits for a vinyl release of two of the tracks from Liv’s album: and I get a mention in Entertainment Focus:

I mention the different skill set as a music producer and one of the big things is working with artist to not only understand their creative vision, but to understand to some degree the person. Getting a really clear picture of what it is that an artist is really looking for, the sound, the approach, where their music might fit into today’s music landscape is something we do together. But something I do alone is try to gain some sort of understanding of the individual, the human being, and how they function. For example a singer might come in with complete confidence and lots of experience, and my job might really just be to hit record. But someone else might really be looking for a lot of input from a music producer and this is where I’m able to make mistakes. If I accept the role of ‘decision maker’ – choosing what approach they should take vocally, how many harmonies to layer up, what kind of vocal sound and effects, where the vocal sits in the mix – there is chance that down the line, sometime, the artist might think ‘that’s not what I wanted’ or even ‘that doesn’t feel like me’. I have no problem guiding an artist as much much as they need, but that’s the important bit: how much do they really need it? Sometimes feel under pressure to do what other think, or even that because I am their ‘record producer’ that I know best. Absolutely there are areas I can offer my experience and opinion on – and sometime people need pushing or cajoling into giving their best performance. But everyone is different and when I talk about evaluating the individual it’s really about taking care not to overlook what the shy singer might have to have, what the punky songwriter might really be looking for from the mix, and that the amazing singer might also have beautiful harmony ideas – but that they hesitate to offer them.

In the end it’s about getting a record that the artist is excited, and one that represents where they are right now. My preferences come into it at every turn, and that’s part of it, but I can also learn from following paths which might seem to me to be leading nowhere. The analogy of a path is appropriate; every recording, even just one song, is a journey that we are on together, and if we arrive at a point where we are both excited with what we have, well that seems to me to be an ideal starting place for other people – music fans – to also get excited.

For more information about working with Jon on your music email

Jon Wright in the studio producing and recording guitar. drums, vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar sessions, acoustic guitar tracks

It’s 2019, and the last blog was aaaages ago.

With the exception of my Instagram and to a less degree my Facebook page, I have been far less active online that I used to be – largely a result of being ever busier. It’s a shame from a self-promotion point of view, as much of the guitar and recording work I’ve been doing has been very exciting and probably really interesting blog material. But the nature of being busy means less time available for it.

So there are about three years to summarise, and I don’t know where to start. The first thing the comes to mind though, is the album I made in 2018 with Liv Austen. After doing some writing with Liv in 2017 she invited me to hang out at the studio where she was in the early stages of recording her album, having signed to NUA the previous year. Liv and her multi-instrumentalist producer LOFT took advantage of me being there and I recorded some guide guitars, which turned out to be good, and they asked me back the next day in a more official guitar session role. I offered a few ideas about production and arrangement which they liked and I ended up as co-producer on those tracks.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was doing preproduction with Liv at my studio in SE London – working out arrangements, making sure keys and tempos were right, thinking about mood and sonic goals, and of course getting lots of guitar work done. Liv and I were pretty much on the same page musically and I had developed a huge amount of respect for her ability to know what she wanted her music to sound like, even if she wasn’t sure how to achieve it. It became my job to figure it out. Once we’d got a song ready we’d take it back to the studio for drums and vocal tracking. I loved working with LOFT and despite – or perhaps as a result of – coming from different places musically it was a really good combination for those songs. Here’s a little video of the first single that came off the album, recorded in this way:

Move on a few months and the ‘pre-production’ I was doing had become full on production. We were taking Liv’s voice note demos and developing them to near-commercial release level recordings. Drum sessions for new tracks required different drummers in different studios, and I had upgraded my vocal recording chain with a mic suited to Liv’s voice to enable us to record lead vocals at my place. About 20 songs were recorded like this, and they’re not simple acoustic guitar songs – they’re largely big productions, very layered and lots of details and nuance. Acoustic guitars, lots of electric guitars, bass tons of vocal harmonies and vocal production, electronic drum programming, live drums, live string arrangements, programmed keyboards, sample manipulation, the works. With the exception of the live drum recordings virtually all of the above was done by Liv and I at my studio. It was a huge learning curve for us both.

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The issue of mixing began to rear its head in early 2018. I didn’t want to mix it as I felt someone more experienced should do it. To be honest, I knew how important the album would be and wasn’t sure I was confident in taking that responsibility – my strengths were in production and guitar recording. We tried a few different options but the modern country pop sound that Liv and I wanted is not something everyone understands. I tweaked a few of the working mixes as best I could – and nobody complained about them. Meanwhile Ash Howes – who has mixed a million pop records (One Direction, Dido, Ellie Goulding and so on) had mixed a couple of the singles specifically for radio. Analysing what he had done to my mixes was pretty educational. The changes were small but they made a big difference – the vocal processing was better and he always made the chorus ‘pop’. There was more energy in the high end – it was brighter and more sparkly – and he took more chances. Ash’s mixes refined the production, making more of the most important things. It just sounded a bit more confident than my mixes.

As an exercise I spent some time trying to recreate those two mixes in my sessions, and that was helpful. Even though I did realise that it was not necessarily the right sound for the whole album as those mixes can be a bit fatiguing and again those mixes were specifically for radio, it made me realise what was possible, and also some confidence that I wasn’t as far away with my mixes I’d thought. With the music now mostly recorded, it was agreed that I would mix the rest of the album. It was one of the most challenging, enriching things I’ve done and 2018 was a time of huge growth and development of my skills as a mixer. I learned to trust myself and my ears a lot more and while I’m still learning (hopefully we all are, whatever we do for a living) I’m very happy with how it sounds.

As with the mixing, the mastering was something that I DEFINITELY did not want to do. With the album delivery deadline approaching and being unhappy with the masters we’d received from the mastering engineer that the label recommended, I was deeply apprehensive about the idea of doing that. It’s widely stated that it isn’t a good idea to master in the same room as the music was mixed (let alone recorded) but we had no better option. I had bought some high end mastering plugins and some brilliant headphones that were very different to both my speakers and my other headphones – and I added the Neumann sub to my monitoring set up which changed their performance substantially, opening up the midrange of the speakers and obviously adding the lower octaves. I spent a lot amount of time going back and forth between reference recordings and Liv’s songs, switching between the monitoring that I know (my old headphones and sub-less monitors, to the different headphones and sub-on. It’s probably not ideal and not something people would recommend. I wouldn’t! Because I was learning the new gear at the time it took me a long time. But the results were better than what we had before – to me, to Liv, and to a very experienced mix engineer friend who took a blind test.

Would it sound different if I did it all again now? Yes. Would it be better? Hmm. I don’t think any recording process is perfect, and I think that once it gets to the public all those little things that annoy the creators or they would do differently now actually become part the listener’s experience of the album. It’s the album we started in early 2017 and finished mid-2018, and the songs that Liv was writing or had written up to that point. The guitar sounds and production decisions that I was making at that point. A recording that contains examples of both my limitations as an producer and mixer engineer, and my growth and imagination as one.

Jon Wright Liv Austen, UK country music, country pop, online session guitarist, one light guitar tracks, session guitarist, UK session guitarist, UK producer, music producer, UK CountryThe album was named album of the month at Chris Country Radio, playlisted on Spotify and Amazon (‘Best of Country 2018’) and many other radio stations, got 5/5 stars at Maverick Music magazine (the UK’s #1 country music magazine) and has been generally received really well. Working with Liv has been one of the highlights of my career to date and I’m glad she had faith in my abilities!

As that record was completed I was also producing (arranging, playing, recording and mixing in it entirety) an album for a Alexis Gerred, star of the West End and TV shows. After that I did the same for an EP for singer-songwriter Nielsen Reavely. But they are another blog.

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What else has changed? I was chosen out of 150 applicants to take over the guitarist role in the UK biggest Bond tribute act, Q The Music. 12-20-piece band with brass and all the works, some outrageously good musicians and vocalists, incredible music, big theatre shows around Europe compered by Bond girls Maddie Smith and Caroline Munro. In 2019 we go to Piz Gloria in Switzerland, the revolving restaurant on top of a mountain seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – should be fun.

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I’ve done a lot of shows with Liv Austen, taking the role of guitarist/MD for her live band, and accompanying her on acoustic dates. Trips to Tuscany, Majorca, a load of festivals and live radio shows. We replaced Liv’s live band during 2018 and added some track to the live set up, so lots of change to oversee there.

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Greatly reduced, this year, have been the wedding and function gigs. I’ve had some fantastic gigs with Madhen again, filling in for Martyn Hope when he’s otherwise engaged, and they’re still the best party band in the business. A residency with the wonderful singer Megan McConnell at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London was curtailed by a major fire, but only after we’d done about 5000 nights there! I’ve depped for a number of other bands and enjoyed that, but while I sometimes feel as though maybe it’s time to look for a more regular band slot, I’m enjoying the freedom and variety that I currently have. I’ve no idea what 2019 will bring – perhaps a tour with Liv, perhaps even a creative project of my own. It feels as though things are changing, and as though what I would LIKE to do can be what I focus on, rather than just scrambling to deal with what comes my way.

Jon Wright in the studio producing and recording guitar. drums, vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar sessions, acoustic guitar tracks

Thanks for reading if you’ve got this far! As always, if you’re interested in discussing having me provide session guitar tracks for your music, any other arrangement or programming, or indeed working with me as a producer and/or mixer, I’ll be happy to hear from you.


Ps you can see me in this music video, taken from Liv’s album. Very happy with the sound of it:

2015 in review

Hello kind folk, I hope your 2016s are looking collectively magnificent, or at least better than 2015! Thank you for reading the blog again. 2015 was a pretty poor effort in terms of keeping up to date here so bear me with if this one turns into a bit of a session. A lot happened last year – I worked with a really diverse range of musical acts, I moved back to London and there have been some significant upgrades to the online session studio gear.

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My KPA rack – coming to an online guitar session recording near you soon

Firstly, most recently and quite importantly I’ve started to use the Kemper Profiling Amplifier on some electric guitar recording sessions. I generally don’t at all enjoy digital ‘simulations’ of guitar amps but I had the opportunity to borrow one from a friend and it knocked my socks off. It really is a completely different thing to the AxeFX/Line 6/Amplitube modelling stuff, and when profiling one of my own amps the difference between the amp and the Kemper profile was negligible. I was expecting to find fault with it but it’s spookily accurate and actually feels good to play – plus it’s incredibly practical. I can see it making its way onto a lot of guitar tracks in 2016.

Session-wise things have been going great. I contributed guitar tracks to a beautiful recording by John Cavanagh, a version of Lindisfarne’s Winter Song. In May the album received a gold disc from Universal Music.

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Happy session client John Cavanagh receiving his gold disc from Universal

In addition to lots of new clients from all over the world (if not for the exchange rate I’d be doing great business in Brazil by the way) there have been some great projects here in the UK. A gold disc album for Universal Music, Game Of Thrones acoustic guitar recording, a dozen or so tracks for an independent album release, more soundtrack work for Unilever, BFI film soundtrack proposals, rock guitar tracks and contributor status for The Drama Dolls, and I wrote and recorded a ‘circus metal’ rock track for a Halloween scare maze. I played on some really cool hiphop and R&B tracks, some brilliant pop music and even a couple of downtempo world music/Indian dance tracks. Really diverse, challenging at times but very rewarding.

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Performing with Jamiroquai’s Paul Turner with Tallia Storm. Godin A6 Ultra


There’s been more work outside my studio, including a fun day at Metropolis with Liam Nolan who recently engineered the new Adele album and Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be”, and had a brilliant day recording with Paul Turner from Jamiroquai. As I mentioned at the time, working with Paul was a real education in good vibes and feel and the Tallia gig we did together was the grooviest ever.

Jon Wright, Godin A6 Ultra, acoustic session guitarist, Tallia Storm, session guitarist, Jersey Live, Jersey Big Gig, acoustic guitarist, online guitar tracks

Playing live with Tallia Storm in Jersey, with Godin A6 Ultra

Speaking of which, Tallia has had some entertaining gigs this year. A couple of big festivals in Jersey, and live gigs for MTV. Loads of fun as always and wonderful to see Tallia developing as an artist and performer.

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At MTV’s London offices









In Jersey I went surfing for the first time, and loved it. Subsequent trips to Devon, Cornwall and an impromptu session in Scarborough followed, with mixed success. One of the things about 2015 was that I realised I didn’t have a hobby. I enjoy much of what I do in music and I suppose to a degree stuff like guitar gear and pedals is a fun aside from the actual business of recording, writing and performing, but it hasn’t been what you’d call balanced. I realised I need something outside music, something I can openly fail at, get better at with friends, and reconnect with the outdoors a bit. I’m looking forward to things warming up a bit in 2016 and ‘getting back in the sea’!

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Chilly surf in Cornwall










Funnily, the surfing bug bit not long after I got back from LA. My wife and I spent a couple of weeks driving around California, including the Pacific Coast Highway where we drove by/stopped to gaze at some of the best spots. Highlights include a blissfully peaceful sunset in Big Sur:

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Big Sur, sunset


And here’s me being a tourist at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles:

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Griffith Observatory, LA, California


No more holiday photos. I wasn’t overly impressed with LA itself, but I have been missing living in a city a bit. We moved back to London in the middle of the year and am very happy to be back near family, friends, and also work. I’ve been gigging with quite a few different bands, including a couple of the leading party bands in the UK. After following their work for years it’s been great to meet and strike up a friendship with the lovely folk from Madhen, particularly Martyn and Andy. Probably the biggest professional party band in the country, the whole band are open, generous people and great company. I saw them live and and if you’re planning a serious event they’re your guys! If they’re not available, you might even get a recommendation for MonkeySelfie who have also had a decent year, moving from a 5-piece with keyboards to a 4-piece with track.

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MonkeySelfie backstage at a gig for Virgin Media in December









Recording those tracks to a deadline was a lot of fun I can tell ya… I did a bunch of gigs on guitar for Madhen’s brilliant option band CandyAmp, including a fun one in Geneva.

Java Duo is carrying merrily along, we’ve retained and expanded our Piccadilly residency, done more gigs on trains, and played at Monica Galetti’s birthday party in London.

So that’s about it for 2015. If I met you, or worked with you for the first time this year, thank you. It’s been a great time for new faces and funny, kind, talented souls too numerous to mention and I hope to work with you again this year!

Oh I upgraded my studio computer to a 12-core Mac Pro with some nice shiny new plugins. I’m hoping that a more up to date OS and FCPX will help me improve the quality of my video output. Apparently there aren’t enough videos of people playing guitar on YouTube…

It should also enable me to ensure that the quality of the custom guitar tracks I record in 2016 will be better than ever. I hope you have a super year and will try to keep the blog more up-to-date. Sorry it’s such a long one (TWSS). In the meantime, keep rocking!

Jon x

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Getting a bit of a pose on during soundcheck in Geneva with CandyAmp







Jamiroquai and (a) seal

Bit late posting this but wow, what a varied week.

Had a great day in the studio with Tallia Storm and our new bass player Paul Turner, who’s played with so many great names it doesn’t bear thinking about. He’s Mister Soul and Funk, playing with Annie Lennox, George Michael, and of course as a longtime member of Jamiroquai (with a guitarist whose playing I hugely respect, Rob Harris). Paul has a great sense of rhythm and impeccable taste when it comes to note choices and fills. One of those guys who really adds a lot to whatever band or session he’s playing in – a great feel and bounce, and awesome tone. I felt like I could play back a bit and just sit in the groove he created – NICE. Everyone was loving the addition of bass to our little acoustic lineup. We had Tallia’s book launch event the next day and there played a little set including her new track Pop Girl – for this is used my Godin A6 Ultra hybrid acoustic guitar. Paul, Adam and I have also contributed our parts to the full studio recording of Pop Girl. Guitars, of course, recorded right here in the studio where I do all my online sessions. I can’t wait to hear how it comes out.

session guitar, online guitar tracks, Paul Turner, Jon Wright, Adam Falkner, Tallia Storm, Pop GirlEarlier in the week I had a gig aboard the Royal Scotsman with the missus where we were royally (see what I did there) looked after, plied with fine wines, Scotch, and good food before playing in the main carriage to a lively bunch of antique train enthusiasts. Or were they on a work jolly from the States? I can’t remember, we’ve done this gig a few times now. My old Martin J40 acoustic guitar is great on these gig due to its versatility, ease of playing and big rich tone. 

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Unlike previous gigs when we’ve been picked up from Peterborough, played for an hour and then been deposited somewhere like Nene Valley, we were taken all the way to Scarborough, where we overnighted. In the morning I realised there was a bit of surf so got a few hours in the chilly sea (booties next time) and caught a few little waves. I wish every day could start like that. And I saw a seal, who popped up near me a hung around for a while. Beautiful.

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Had a couple of interesting online guitar sessions during the week, and also heard the final mix of a track called Pinball from singer-songwriter-producer-label owner Aubrey Whitfield which I played some electric guitar and ebow stuff on. Love doing her stuff as she gives me a bit of license to be creative and really contribute. Whether it’s people working alone more than they used to I don’t know, but guitar tracks are still a great way of breaking out of the made-in-the-computer sound and bring a bit of a human, organic (whatever that means) vibe to songs. Aubrey is a great producer and hearing what she does to my guitar tracks is always fun, and I think she enjoys getting some interesting ideas and alternate textures from me. Have a listen to the mix of Pinball here:

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Bespoke music for media

I work with design agencies, producer/animators, and directly with marketeers to provide striking original musical soundtracks. Previous clients include Unilever, the BBC and a number of pre-IPO tech companies.

If you’re looking for a unique piece of music for a video, a jingle for an advert, or an original music soundtrack for online media of any kind, I can help! As a guitarist I specialise in beautifully recorded real instruments and while I do sometimes use samples for things like drums and textures, my strength is really in making the most of the amazing range of music possible with the acoustic and electric guitar, ukelele, and mandolin.

Delicate, dreamy, ambient electric guitar. Optimistic, cheery acoustic folk sounds. Purposeful, driving pop rock. Tense, sinister metal. Whether it’s gentle, intimate and acoustic, or a full band sound with electronics and sound effects, the chances are that if it’s a guitar-centric idiom, the years of guitar sessions mean I probably know it inside out – if that’s what you’re after. With more open briefs, I have a quite an identifiable compositional style that leans towards the thoughtful and inspiring, with and emphasis on texture and melody.

The recordings will sound lovely but also have an appropriate sense of space. I try to take into account the ‘visual acoustic’ and the links between what we hear and what we see. I don’t create a literal link of big space=echoey, small space=dry/close, but I instinctively consider the visuals, the overall mood and aim of the piece and the sonic properties of the music involved.

I’ve become pretty good at interpreting abstract descriptions and translating them into cohesive musical events, while hitting markers and leaving room for the voiceover. I like identifying your structural cadences and reinforcing through appropriate, stylistically-pertinent musical devices and events. In short, I aim to take your objectives and good ideas, and create great-sounding music that fits your campaign perfectly.

I can also create and add sound effects to help bring onscreen action to life. I’m meticulous with the timing of this, and getting it right can add great depth and realism to the soundtrack. Time code/SMPTE no problem.

I work quickly, offer very competitive prices, and and happy to provide exclusive, non-exclusive, limited or unlimited licenses to suit budget and uses.

To discuss a project, drop me a line at or with the form below: 


2014 – what happened there?

2014 has been a fun year here in the world of online guitar sessions. Here’s what was going to be a quick round up but has ended up being a sort of digest of my working year.

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Pimp my rig

Fun stuff first – new guitars. The biggest, most inspiring thing as far as I’m concerned is my Gibson ES-335. It’s an old one – not a collectors item but it’s had a life and has its own totally magical thing going on. I find it contributes towards playing choices in a way that’s totally new for me and I bloody love it. I’ve used it on gigs and recording sessions and that character is undeniable. Where have you been all my life?

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My new old Gibson ES-335, complete with colour-blocking nightmare pink felt-lined case

I also picked up an old Martin J-40 acoustic. It records brilliantly, basically because it already sounds like a record. I’ve been looking for the right acoustic guitar for literally years, going through quite a few but never really enjoying any of them that much. Acoustic guitars often just feel like a necessity. But this one makes me happy when I play it.

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Making acoustic guitar fun again – Martin J-40. Nom.

The Webber acoustic I acquired is beautiful too. But equally interesting (and at a tenth of the price) is an old Japanese dreadnought strung in Nashville tuning. Very inspiring, lots of fun and actually really beautiful sounding.

Other additions to the studio includes a Shinybox/Lundahl ribbon mic and a matched pair of SE1A SDCs.

Going back to guitar gear, I feel very lucky to have established relationships with some great companies. Dan and Dave from The GigRig have helped me out with a customised G2 and all the pedals on both my electric and acoustic pedalboards are powered by their excellent power supplies. We did a fair bit of work on my main board to get it working just right and as a result my live rig just sounds phenomenal, as you’d expect from the guys who did boards for Guthrie Govan, Ed O’Brien, Biffy Clyro, etc.. These guys are the best and have really helped me out, they have a wonderful company and sharing the quest for low noise and great tone with them has been a lot of fun and so educational.

The GigRig's Dan Steinhardt & session guitarist Jon Wright

The GigRig’s Dan Steinhardt and Jon Wright

The guys at Westside Distribution have been helpful as ever, sorting me out with more stuff from Way Huge, MXR, Mono cases, and of course Dunlop strings and big bags of Max-Grip Jazz IIIs! On the boutique fancy-pants side of things Effectrode have been really kind too. I’ve been using one of Phil (he who makes pedals for David Gilmour)’s amazing Blackbird valve preamps for recording and it’s the most versatile, great-sounding little black box. I think they’ve used a piece I recorded with it on their website as a sound sample.

I’m also now onboard with G7th capos. Their Performance 2 capo is a revelation and I’m so happy to have been introduced. If you thought capos were boring or all the same, you have to check these out…

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Live work

Playing-wise a few things have changed in 2014. For some years I’ve been playing with the RockPins, and together we have rocked many a corporate do and wedding. Unfortunately with other stuff coming in I’ve not been able to offer them quite the level of availability required, and there wasn’t the flexibility there to allow me to do both. At the same time I’ve been wanting to start a high-end events band with some of the great musicians that I know so it seemed like the right time to dial things back with the RockPins and make the dream party band an actual thing. This band is MonkeySelfie – we’ve got a great sound, really fun repertoire and have done some cool gigs so far. It sounds fantastic and I’ve also got quite into DMX programming – we have a really cool lighting setup and a properly sequenced lighting/laser show. Hoping for big things in 2015…

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Getting funky at a London food festival with MonkeySelfie

Also taking off – albeit in a slightly more glamorous and stylish way – is Tallia Storm, who has now signed with Virgin/Capitol. Our little acoustic duo has expanded to a trio, with the rather tasty Adam Falkner joining on percussion. Together we’ve played some cool events, including an introduction session at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, the Cosmo Girl awards in Amsterdam, dates in Glasgow, Edinburgh and most recently City Showcase at the Apple Store on Regent Street. We also shot a video for Paul Frank which I think was used for a Primark fashion campaign. Tallia and her family are genuinely nice people and great to work for – it’s a fascinating insight into the fashion world too and I always wonder what uber-cool event we’re going to be playing at next.

Session guitarist Jon Wright with Tallia Storm at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge

Jon Wright & Tallia Storm at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge

My ‘other’ acoustic duo is rattling along nicely too, that being the one containing my wife. As Java Duo we got ourselves a residency in a Piccadilly hotel, which is now twice a week. That’s two days every week where we get great food and don’t have to wash up. We also played in some cool locations such as on stage at Cafe De Paris and on an old Orient Express train. It’s helped us expand our repertoire and get really tight as a duo – it’s also been the scene of a rapidly flourishing relationship with my RC-30 looper pedal. I’d previously been a bit reluctant but now that I’m into it, I love not only the opportunity to solo over a great accompanist (me) but also the ability it provides for me to just take a break every now and then… I’m still a bit hesitant to do the full guitar percussion thing and I don’t really like the ‘here’s the rhythm track’ method, but by clearing and re-recording several times during songs and using different parts each time, I like being able to construct interesting arrangements. Crucial when you’re doing 2+ hours of acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Acoustic duo, Orient Express, Belmond, acoustic guitarist

All aboard the Orient Express! Java Duo with Belmond guide on an overnight stop

In October I had a run of about 20 dates at Tulleys Farm in Sussex – I helped put together the live band for their Shocktoberfest Halloween run. Basically they repurpose this farm to put on these award-winning events which included a number of ‘scare mazes’ and activities like the zombie paintball shoot, a creepy hayride where you sit on a tractor trailer towed around the haunted woods, and possibly the worst frigging thrill ride I’ve ever been. My god I hated it. Every night for a month we heard saw this thing swinging around opposite the stage and we could hear the screaming occupants from our dressing room. One night someone turns up some free passes for it and before we knew it we’re in our break after the first set and we’re getting strapped in. Well not really strapped in, it’s just a bar that comes down. The ride takes eight people, four at either end of a long arm which swings vertically around a central pivot, a bit like a Mary Rose but with these open ‘pods’ swinging freely at either end and much, much higher. High enough for the outdoor stage we were playing on to look like a matchbox. High enough that when you’re at the top the noise of the fair fades away, and all you can hear is the wind buffeting the pod and your fellow passengers saying things like ‘holy shit…’.

If you’re in the first pod of seats, you get swung straight up to the top to WAIT while the people at the other end get off, and the next group get on. Probably only about five minutes but feels like an hour, swaying helplessly in the wind, feet dangling out of the seat into thin air. Horrific. Then, it all gets a bit tumble-dryery as the main arm start spinning you round and round like the London eye on nitrous, the individual pods also rotating so sometimes all you can see is the black night sky, then suddenly the concrete at the base of the ride hurtling towards you at about 80mph. I didn’t mind this bit too much, it’s quite insane and you’re pretty much just screaming in terror. But then it slows down and guess what – we stop at the top again for another wait wait while they unload/reload the other pod. Way too much time to think, too much time to notice the side winds and see the planes taking off from Gatwick. Did not like. My heart is pumping just thinking about it…

Anyway, other than that those gigs were a lot of fun – lovely band and cool people at Tulleys.

Guitar tracks not really involved here, this is just me and the wife at work

With Dead Lily for band gigs at Tulleys Farm.

Sessions & recordings

Lots of guitar sessions this year. I’ve got some regular clients now who keep coming back with new music every few weeks, and new clients are finding me online and getting in touch which is brilliant. In addition to the UK clients I’ve been doing work for guys in the States and Italy. People are using me for a range of stuff, mostly original pop music, but also soundtracks, library material and live backing tracks.

2014 has also seen the debut of the Online Session Band! With this people hire me, Adam and my good buddy and all-round sexy bass player Tiago Dias to record full live band rhythm tracks for their songs. We’ve been working out of a little studio in south London and the three of us combine really well having worked together for a number of years now. We think like producers and have developed some quite basic material into fully-formed arrangements. This is a service we’re going to continue to provide in the new year as what we’ve done has worked out really well and been a lot of fun.

Online session band recording, live band tracks

The Online Session Band – Jon Wright, Adam Falkner, Tiago Dias

The online guitar session stuff though continues to grow. Those that I can, I put on the Samples page but there’s a lot where for various reasons (rights, release dates, etc) I can’t post. I’ll keep updating. There’s been a nice range of music and I’m so pleased with the actual guitar recordings I’ve been providing. The process is still getting faster and the new guitars have helped keep the quality going up, which has made me very happy.

Composition & soundtracks

This has been one of the most exciting bits of my year, working on this stuff. They’re all corporate videos, and I’ve provided a range of soundtracks for them. There’s the John Mayer-influenced pop rock in the ‘What is M2M?’ video, the spacey ambient guitar stuff in the Unilever stories, and the folky Pelipod track. I like them all in different ways and am proud of them. I like working to deadlines (stops me procrastinating), to specific briefs and cues (stops me procrastinating) and to a budget (stops me procrastinating). The feedback was very positive and I hope to do some more work in this area next year. I think I’ve also found my true calling, which is effects and foley work. I expect real foley artists would laugh but I’ve absolutely loved creating sound effects for the animations – it really brings the visuals to life and the differences that tiny variations in timing make is fascinating.

Next please

In 2015 I hope to continue building the guitar session business, and get MonkeySelfie nice and busy. I’m looking forward to continuing to improve Java Duo and of course hope to carry on working with Tallia. Also it feels like it’s time to set time aside for music-making that isn’t paid work; I love doing what I’m doing and feel very lucky but I also feel the need to develop my artistic voice by also playing purely for pleasure. I think a creative project is in the near future… Also: playing jazz. More of that. And get fitter. And be more patient. And be more relaxed. Maybe set more goals…

Meanwhile, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a musical New Year!

Online Session guitarist in London, guitar track recordings UK

Radio 1 session with Tallia Storm


Some time ago I recorded a simple acoustic guitar track for a young singer. She had an incredible voice, the song was great, and while they were quite specific about what wanted they were happy with the track and I didn’t think much more about it until months later, when I got an email asking whether I’d be interested in playing guitar for her at a gig at Battersea Power Station.

Being a huge Pink Floyd fan I was excited to play within the hallowed chimneys, the date came around and after a rehearsal and the performance at this star-studded gala event I realised she had something a bit special. More events followed with me accompanying on acoustic guitar, including some once in a lifetime occurrences in New York, and the other week we did a session at BBC Radio 1 where she announced that she’d signed with Virgin. Creative boss Ron Fair (Pussycat Dolls, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera) was there, and between interviews we played a couple of new songs, with innovative percussionist/drummer Adam Falkner doing his usual great job on cajon and various other bits.

The Newsbeat video is online, you can see me doing my gormless camera face and see the interviews. It’s an amazing story really.

New York – Getting Lucky with Mick Guzauski and Tallia Storm

London session guitarist, in New York

I’m back from an exciting week in NYC with Tallia Storm where we played a series of intimate gigs and private events attended by celebrities and several of NYC’s top music industry executives. One of those times where you might prefer to know who you’re playing for AFTER you’ve done it! They all went well, and luckily I got some downtime most days to visit friends and explore NYC. I was staying in midtown Manhattan so not far from Broadway, famous now (in my eyes) for a couple of Homer Simpson impression-inducing delis. I can’t wait to go back just to get a sandwich…

I was playing a Taylor 714 rental from SIR, which frankly I didn’t want to give back. Fantastic guitar, if a little pricey here in the UK. I’ve decided that next time I’m in New York I’m going to make sure I always have a guitar with me, and basically get in and out of taxis with shades on. It makes me feel like I’m in a music video. Tallia of course needed no such cliches, she has that whole star quality thing going on (and actual fashion sense).

I also got to sit down with Mick Guzauski one evening. Mick mixed the new Daft Punk album (including Get Lucky), plus Mariah Carey, Prince, Michael Jackson and a whole bunch of other absolutely phenomenal-sounding records, including of course Miss Tallia Storm’s new material. He chatted patiently with me about my recording setup, we talked about plugins, outboard and mixing techniques, and he was the nicest guy. One of those people who is all about his craft. A total honour.

Getting great guitar tone and recording it

March 17, 2014

There is a wide range of ways to record electric guitar, from plugging a guitar straight into a computer and using a free guitar amp simulator, to agonising over the impedance of guitar cables, using decades-old vintage stomp boxes, having the ‘right’ preamp valves, buffers, isolated power supplies, fiddling with microphone placement where an inch makes all the difference, the TYPE of mic, the mic preamps and convertors and THEN all the things you’re going to do it in the computer.

Just to be up front about this, I’m at the latter end of the scale for sure, though digital guitar amp sims have their place and there are a couple of high-end hardware options that sound great. For most electric guitar sessions I’ll go with a real amp and mics because I think it gives you the most interesting, sympathetic and detailed sound, but the digital options can be perfect for some material. I think if you’re making a record that real amps should at least be an option because authentic guitar tones are a great way to add soul and a human element – particularly when dealing with programmed music – and can really lift a recording.

That guitar tone is a result of a series of components doing different jobs and they’re all essential. Start with a great guitar with great pickups (we’ll assume a nice fresh set of strings and a suitably trained fleshy carbon-based lifeform able to manipulate them). Then it’s clean, not-crackly guitar cables. The best patch cables between pedals, and the funky old pedals completely bypassed so that they don’t have a negative impact on the tone. Seriously, there are pedals which when off, are not really off and still do something to the sound. Usually it’s not a nice something, and manifests itself in what you might summarise as loss of top end or brightness but is actually a bit more complicated than that. So during recording sessions you generally want to bypass them completely if they’re not on.

Next up is the amp, which is likely to contain valves. It’s a big subject and these little light-bulb thingies are key to most of the guitar tones that we all know and love. Guitar amps are usually divided into two sections – preamp and power amp, both with their respective sets of valves. The preamp is when the tone shaping happens – your bass, mids and treble controls and the amount of drive or distortion. The preamp valves play a big role in the sort of tone you’re working with. The power amp section is where this tone is, um, amplified so that it can drive the speakers to make it come out all loud and full of fun for your ears. The valves in the power amp section also play a role in the final tone and there are different ‘flavours’ of valves that are commonly associated with the resulting tone.

All of these valves need to be working properly, not making funny noises or ringing sounds, and not being excessively noisy.

Next – speakers and cab. These play a big role in the actual sound being made. To analogise it, if the amplifier is a singer’s larynx, the cab is their mouth! Yum. The type of speaker(s) and the physical construction of the box contribute significantly to our objective of recording a type of guitar tone.

At least one microphone will be used to capture the sound being made by the cab, and positioning is again key. It’s like a really cool EQ in a way; put it on the outer edge of the cone for a warm, wooly tone – put it right in the centre of the cone for a bright, spiky sound. Right up close gives an uncompromising, direct sound as you’d expect. Move it away and there’s a bit less low end, and a slightly rounder sound with a bit of the ‘room sound’ coming into the equation. Use two mics or more, and experiment with the phase relationships between them – VAST tonal options. Of course, there are a number of microphones to choose from, all of which sound different.

It sounds like there’s a lot to go wrong, but it’s all good news really because if everything is right, you’ll be hearing completely awesome, beautiful recorded guitar tones – comparable to the sounds on some of the best-known albums of all time. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time recording guitar tracks and I still get excited hearing what I’m doing sometimes. I think of it as being a bit like a chef – if you ask me to make you a Bearnaise sauce, I know that I’ll need a Telecaster, a compressor, a tape-style delay and an SM57. You need a soufflé? Behold, my fuzz, Engl, Suhr and a Sennheiser 906! There’s plenty of scope for experimentation and that’s absolutely part of it but it’s also helpful to have a basic understanding of what ingredients always go well together, and how to achieve what you want.

If you’re thinking of getting some session guitar tracks recorded I’m happy to advise on any of this stuff. Alternatively just let me crack on with it – after all you’re if you’re a songwriter you probably don’t want to get bogged down in details. Hopefully most of the time the decisions I make are good, which is simply reflected in the guitar tracks I record. Feel free to show me the sort of thing you want on an existing record though – that’s extremely helpful. Hopefully at the end of the day you get some guitar tracks sent back to you that fit just perfectly with your production. For me, while I’m doing it, there is a series of technical decisions (quite boring stuff to normal people) that is really kind of ‘my thing’ – hopefully this is reflected in the quality and vibe of the tracks you get from me.