Keyboard ace Derek Sherinian has a thing about guitarists: He is always working with one or more of the best in the world. Granted, the guy is a terrific and versatile player, and he has earned every opportunity. He’s toured with Buddy Miles, Alice Cooper, Dream Theater, Billy Idol, and many other household names. A man of his abilities attracts other top players. He also plays with amazing bass players, drummers, and singers. Still, when a keyboardist can honestly say that he has played with almost every six-string slinger on his wish list (except Jeff Beck), the rest of us have a right to be a bit envious!
For example, he and Joe Bonamassa are bandmates in the supergroup Black Country Communion, and Bonamassa also appears on Sherinian’s new solo album Oceana. Sherinian has worked often with guitar legends Steve Lukather, Slash, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, and Allan Holdsworth, not to mention Steve Stevens, Tony MacAlpine, Doug Aldrich, and Zakk Wylde. He even gigged with Eddie Van Halen at a party at Van Halen’s home. His seven solo albums are as much showcases for his many brilliant friends as for himself. And you can hear the guitar influences in his high-powered playing.
With his ear for fine guitar work, perhaps it’s not surprising that Sherinian has been close friends with guitar wizard and PreSonus founder/president/Chief Strategy Officer Jim Odom (Louisiana’s LeRoux) ever since the two were students at Berklee College of Music. “When we were at Berklee 28 years ago, Jim Odom was the most talented guitar player in school,” insists Sherinian. “No one there would have ever thought he would go on to be president of a successful company. Everyone thought he would be a famous guitar player. So when he took this left turn and started PreSonus, it was extremely impressive.”
The Odom connection led to Sherinian’s first forays into PreSonus gear was adding the original DigiMax multi-channel preamp to his studio keyboard rig; today he relies on a pair of DigiMax FS’s. “I wanted to run my keyboards through mic pre’s but I didn’t want to have to keep patching them in,” he explains, “and the DigiMax offered me multiple channels, making it simple and convenient. I love the way my DigiMaxes make my synths more punchy and ballsy!”
Although many artists prefer PreSonus’ top-of-the-line ADL 600 tube preamp for vocals, Sherinian reserves his ADL 600 for two important instruments. “We love using the ADL 600 for grand piano,” he states. “And I also run my Minimoog through it. Certain instruments respond differently to the specific mic preamps, and for some reason the Minimoog oscillators just scream through the ADL 600.”
For vocals and acoustic guitars, Sherinian is a big fan of the PreSonus Eureka solid-state preamp/channel strip. “The Eureka adds a nice warmth and crispness to the vocals. I think it’s great!” he enthuses. “We love the sound, and we also like the built-in compressor; it’s very nice to have it all in one unit.”
At one time, Sherinian’s studio relied on a Mackie 16-channel mixer that he describes as “a big boat anchor.” Then PreSonus brought out the StudioLive 24.4.2 digital mixer, and he decided he needed to change consoles. “The StudioLive 24.4.2 is the centerpiece of the studio now, and we appreciate the convenience of everything,” he explains. “It even looks great, with all of the lights, and more important, it’s a really clean board. It’s a whole new vibe.” A PreSonus FaderPort sits nearby for easy DAW control.
Delighted with the StudioLive 24.4.2, Sherinian decided to check out the new, ultra-portable StudioLive 16.0.2 for his live performances. “I just test-drove it on a Billy Idol tour, and it sounded great,” says Sherinian. “It was very consistent, and it was roadworthy, which was very important. A lot of mixers can’t take the beating of roadies loading them on the trucks but this one is very durable. And it’s nice and small – I just racked it right up.”
Sherinian recently released his seventh solo album, Oceana, featuring frequent collaborator and all-around drum master Simon Phillips and, of course, a stellar array of guitarists and bass players. The drums and guitars were recorded at Phillips’ studio but all of Sherinian’s tracks were recorded at his place, through the PreSonus preamps and mixer.
This is a man who doesn’t compromise. If he wanted to hire some second-level session players who are plenty good and relatively inexpensive, he could have saved himself some money on his solo records. No chance. He gets the best he can find and tries to make records for the ages. He could record though pretty much any gear he wants to, at least, within reason. He chooses to record—and now, with the StudioLive 16.0.2, to tour—with PreSonus gear.
When he became friends with Jim Odom all those years ago at Berklee College of Music, Derek Sherinian thought he was hanging out with one of the next big-name guitar heroes. And perhaps that could have been the case; Sherinian has turned out to be a pretty darned good judge of guitarists! Odom has indeed made good records and played fine shows but more important, he had a different vision of the future, developing new technology that has helped countless musicians, producers, and engineers. Sherinian couldn’t be happier for his old friend—and he’s delighted to reap the benefits of using PreSonus gear. “I feel very fortunate to have remained friends with him all these years,” concludes Sherinian. Sherinian’s fans are fortunate, too!
Follow Derek Sherinian at http://twitter.com/#!/dereksherinian.