To call Aaron Kusterer a guitarist and leave it at that would be something of a disservice. Sure, he plays a mean guitar, but he also is an adept guitar instructor and has a history in guitar repair and sales. It may be more accurate to describe Kusterer as a guitar guru or maybe a six-string lifer.
Kusterer discovered his life’s passion at the ripe old age of 9 and was teaching by age 16. In 2008, he graduated from Jefferson College (Missouri) with an Associate of Arts degree in music performance and soon after relocated from his native St. Louis to Hawaii.
He currently provides guitar instruction clinics, sometimes via Skype, and performs and records as a solo artist and as a member of the Air Force Band. An active blogger, he has found the time to collaborate with other guitar luminaries, including Matthew von Doran, Scott Dalhover, Jennifer Batten, and Anu Gunn. He even shoehorned a performance for First Lady Michelle Obama into his arduous touring schedule.
As is the case with many a guitar purist, Kusterer’s recordings reveal that he is something of a tone snob—not that there’s anything wrong with that. When it comes to recording, capturing the perfect guitar tone is of paramount priority for the man. He has relied on PreSonus® since the FP10 FireWire interface was introduced and more recently has upgraded to the AudioBox™ 1818VSL. Both interfaces have been a critical component in Kusterer’s use of the often-mysterious art of re-amping.
“I first started re-amping tracks via PreSonus gear,” Kusterer recalls. “The FP10 followed me through a whole slew of different environments and situations. The projects included orchestral film scoring and some commercial music. My intro to no-amp-required, direct guitar tracking started with the FP10. While I firmly believe that it's unbelievably difficult to match the tracking on a Marshall JCM900 that’s miked, cranked, and rattling the next country over, that sort of a situation just isn't practical most of the time. The AudioBox and its XMAX™ preamps facilitate direct guitar tracking with alarming quality and capture the nuances of my sound latency-free. Much of my second album was recorded this way. I have doubled and tripled tracks after recording just one with a PreSonus interface for purpose of widening my guitar sound. The result is nothing short of awesome!
“I use my AudioBox’s line outputs to send a previously recorded dry signal out of my DAW and into an amplifier. I then tweak the amp settings and adjust mic placement until I get exactly the tone I want and then bring the sound back into my DAW through the AudioBox. It’s a pretty useful trick that allows me a lot of freedom when dialing in my sounds; I never worry about having committed a less-than-ideal tone to tape!
“Choosing the AudioBox 1818VSL was based on several factors,” Kusterer continues. “I'm all about being comfortable. If I'm not comfortable with a piece of equipment, I don't use it. I had used PreSonus gear before and knew what to expect. A good reputation and price are always contributing factors when choosing a piece of gear, and PreSonus offers both! I really like the simplicity in design; the AudioBox is very easy to use. Plug, play, mix!”