Reverb Interview: Mark Tremonti

Mark Tremonti is one of rock's most recognizable lead guitarists. While his intricate and precise guitar playing in Creed and Alter Bridge put him on the musical map, Tremonti's first love was, and is, songwriting.

"My passion, more than guitar soloing, is that I like to write songs. It's been a part of me since I was 11 years old."

"Songwriting is something I did from the very beginning," Tremonti told "I was never very good in the beginning at guitar soloing, and I never had the patience. So, I would have my own riffs and sing over them, and to this day, my favorite thing to do is sit down and come up with vocal harmonies."

Tremonti spoke with about his popular signature PRS guitar, his brother's Fret12 learning resource and community for guitarists and plans to release a sophomore solo album.

PRS Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar

PRS Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar

Reverb: How did your signature PRS guitar come together?

A: They called me and said they'd like to send me out a guitar to play, but I couldn't play it onstage, because the volume knob pickup and switch were in different spots than I was used to playing, and it was tough to change it when I grew up with it. So, they sent along another one, but the tone wasn't quite right, and the way the guitar fit wasn't right for me. After going through that with different guitars, they said, "Why don't we just have you do a signature guitar." I was very honored. To this day, one of the highlights of my career is getting that signature guitar. It's been their top signature model since day one. It has a mahogany body and maple top and is very road-worthy and stays in tune really well.

R: What are your main effects and pedals?

A: I have a signature Wah pedal from Morley that I love. I also have a phaser pedal with T-Rex. I don't use that as much, because it's really for specific songs, but I have that. I also have my Voodoo Lab Ground Control that switches all my amps, my Dunlop Uni-Vibe and my favorite delay, which is a G Lab delay. I use a hand-wired Tube Screamer for my leads. That's pretty much it. I'm not a big pedal guy. Miles (Kennedy) in Alter Bridge more the effects guy. I'm more straight-forward.

R: What about amps?

A: I'm all over the place. I'm an amp fanatic. I collect amps like women collect purses and shoes! On tour, I use a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier alongside a PRS Archon Amplifier and twins on my A rig. I have Fender '65 Twin Reissues and a Bogner amp.

R: What was your guitar philosophy on Alter Bridge's latest album, "Fortress?"

A: I never really have a guitar philosophy. I just wanted the parts and arrangements to be different and catch people by surprise. I wanted to try to make everything as different as possible and not repeat myself. I experimented with a lot of alternate tunings and tried to come up with things we haven't done in the past.

R: Do you have any plans for a new solo album following up your debut solo release, "All I Was?"

A: Yeah, I'm working on it right now! The guys are coming down the 27th, and we'll finish up writing halfway through September. At the end of September, we'll go into pre-production.

R: How would you describe the difference between what you do in Creed and Alter Bridge?

A: To me, I think they sound different. Creed is much more straight-forward. Alter Bridge is a little more experimental. For the songwriting process, I go into it the same way. I try to write the best of what I have at the time, and later on, it becomes a Creed or Alter Bridge or Tremonti idea.

R: Tell me about Fret 12.

A: Fred 12 is a company my brother Dan started. He asked me to do a guitar instructional DVD, and I said "no" to him for years, because I didn't feel ready. Then, I went ahead and did it, and now, they have more and more guitarists and doing them. Mastodon has one. Stone Sour has one. They keep on building it. We also turned it into a record label for my solo album. But it's a mainly guitar-based company.

R: What advice do you have for budding guitarists?

A: Follow your passions. I think there are two different types of guitar players: guys who try to tackle the guitar to be the best lead guitars player in the world and guys who are more into songwriting. Lots of times, the guys that want to be leads become great but also get frustrated because there are not a ton of gigs our there for people who aren't writing songs. So, as a young guitar player, I would say learn how to write songs early.

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