JST Artist Spotlight: Jason Richardson

Look up the top metal guitarists from the last decade and you’re sure to find Jason Richardson included on almost every list. Jason’s style is unmistakable in the modern metalcore and djent scene – incredibly fast and technical playing up and down the neck, mixing dexterity and complexity that shredders of the past have never achieved.

Jason’s playing has been featured in groundbreaking bands and staples of the genre, with his first recorded work on Born of Osiris’ The Discovery album in 2011. His playing even on the earliest songs comes across as sure-footed and melodic with confidence shining through in both his riffs and solos. In a band laden with technically proficient players, Jason’s musicality carves out its own niche in the music’s lush sonic landscape and his solos rip through song after song.

In 2012, Jason left Born of Osiris and was immediately picked up by Chelsea Grin – a band at the forefront of deathcore music. With his ability to play at extremely high BPMs with clarity and proficiency, Jason’s rhythmic performances continued to grow as can be heard on the Evolve EP & 2014’s Ashes to Ashes. Jason’s guitar playing added a level of virtuosity to the band’s already massive sound.

By 2015, Jason’s musical work had already begun reaching outside of his work with Chelsea Grin. He was constantly working with other artists in metal sub-genres, performing features for bands like Polyphia & Veil of Maya. He was working on playthroughs and collaborations with other modern metal legends like Luke Holland. Eventually, this led Jason to start work on his solo project, with the culmination of years of experience across various genres coming together on his 2016 album, I.

Working On I

Recording his first solo album, you can definitely hear production techniques from Jason’s past projects combined with brand new techniques and styling completely unique to his solo playing. The djent-laden tracks are some of the most technically-proficient examples of his playing style, though the album often drifts into other genres with ease – seamlessly moving between djent, metalcore, rock & even hints of country, jazz & classical (seriously!). It all makes for one hell of a rollercoaster ride sonically!

Jason’s team on the project couldn’t have been more stacked to help promote his vision for the album. With Luke Holland playing most of the drums and producer Taylor Larson (From First To Last, I See Stars, Periphery) in the producer’s chair, the album was bound to be a technical metal heavy-hitter from the start. Pair that with guest vocals from Spencer Soltelo (Periphery) & Lukas Magyar (Veil of Maya), plus guest performances from guitarists Rick Graham, Nick Johnson, Mark Holcomb (Periphery) & Jacky Vincent (Falling in Reverse) & Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy), and you’ve got a lineup too skilled to let you down.

The end result is over an hour of unrelenting metal & djent perfection, with clear and impactful guitars, drums & vocals. The album is a must-listen for anyone that wants to know what a well played, well programmed & professionally produced modern metal album should sound like.

Getting Jason’s Signature Sound

Jason Richardson’s tone is so hugely dependent on clean and intentional playing that it's almost not even worth discussing the gear he’s using until you’ve got hours of practice under your belt. No amount of processing is going to get you the same tone unless you’re working with a guitarist that can play fast, clear & consistent. Once you do have someone with all of those skills, there are a few key pieces of Jason’s rig where you should be focusing your efforts.

Jason’s signature guitar is an 7-string model from Music Man with a roasted maple neck and an ebony fretboard that holds up to the wear and tear of playing more notes in under a minute than many bands will play throughout their entire set. The active pickups and electronics are custom made by Music Man for this guitar to ensure a tightly matched pickup to the unique dimensions of the guitar. The same goes for the custom floating tremolo system.

Because of the super tight, detailed low-end of Jason’s 7-string playing, his rig needs to match the guitar’s output. In the studio session for I, this meant tracking with plenty of gain, extremely detailed microphones & preamps, and crystal-clear conversion – something that took years for Larson to refine for his studio.

Fortunately, knowing that they wanted a consistent sound throughout the session, Larson captured impulse responses of the best cabinet/mic/pre combos, which we used as the baseline for the Toneforge Jason Richardson plugin. From there, we backed into what Jason’s ideal front-end looked like and came up with three amp models with Jason & Taylor: Clean, Rhythm & Lead. There’s nothing closer to the exact recording setup on this album than a good DI recording into a virtual rig custom built for the job. 

Mixing Jason Richardson’s Guitars

Recording a great guitar tone is really just the start – once you’ve captured it there’s plenty of post-processing and mixing that needs to happen to take it to the next level. 

If you’re ready to start getting tones like you hear on Jason’s studio work, come check out the JST VIP section of our site where we’ve got tons of resources dedicated to helping you craft the sound you’re after. Whether you choose to start with our plugin tutorials, the Toneforge Bootcamp lessons, or our Beastmode Bundle that includes our eBook The Ultimate Tone Bible is up to you!