Ron Bosse

Unison Groove
Ron Bosse
Ron Bosse: Nick Swizzero.

While Boston-based guitarist Ron Bosse was inspired to begin his six-string journey while listening to classic rock, he became a jazz player and has been active for decades.

“The first instrument I learned was saxophone, in fourth grade,” he recently recalled to VG. “When I got to high school, I joined the jazz band as a saxophonist, which was right around the time I also started to play guitar. After about two years, I started playing guitar in the jazz band, so my first real experience playing guitar in a band was doing jazz.”

Not surprisingly, Bosse is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and he ventured into the business of music by founding the Bosse School of Music, and Bosse Studios.

While expressing admiration for players such as Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern, he said, “For me, it’s all about the two Pats – Metheny and Martino. From Metheny, I get a certain way of moving around the neck from a technical perspective; he has this way of using hammer-on and pull-offs when playing lines that give him a very fluid, horn-like approach. From Martino, I get a type of feel and an approach to soloing. Simply put, Martino swings harder than any guitarist I’ve ever heard.”

Bosse’s recent album, Burning Room Only, leans heavily on the groove-jazz mode with a dollop of fusion. For the first time in his career, he opted for a collaborative focus.

“I’ve been a highly active composer since being a student at Berklee,” he detailed. “Prior to recording Burning Room Only, all the jazz songs I’d written were composed by me alone. For the new album, however, I wrote all the songs with Grammy-winning producer and keyboard player Jeff Lorber. I’ve found the approach to be extremely rewarding and feel that collaboration can yield an end result that’s more unique than just going about it alone.”

While there’s ample improvised soloing on the album, listeners will also notice a lot of unison playing, as Bosse’s guitar goes one-on-one with saxophone, keyboards, and a horn section.

“Compositionally, I think you’d lose the punch of the lines if they were harmonized,” he said. “The unison approach tends to be more effective and also helps establish the melody better for the listener.”

Many of the songs feature dazzling, almost “bubbling” double-time riffs.

“Those lines use specific techniques I’ve spent a great deal of time working on,” Bosse explained. “Having good technique is especially important to me, and I’ve studied a lot of burning players from a variety of genres, including John Petrucci, Al Di Meola, Joe Bonamassa, and Eddie Van Halen.”

Bosse used his ’89 Gibson ES-347 almost exclusively on Burning Room Only.

“I’ve been playing it my entire career,” he said. “My previous guitar, which my dad bought me, was a Les Paul Custom. When I started gravitating to jazz, I wanted to get a semi-hollow because I was a big fan of John Scofield. Only problem was I wanted the exact feel of the Les Paul Custom – I absolutely did not want an ES-335. I told the store owner what I was hoping to find, and he said, ‘The ES-347 is exactly what you’re looking for!’

“It’s got great, low action, which I love, and gets a beautiful clean sound. I always play the neck pickup to get a fatter, more-rounded tone, and I’ll typically set the Tone control at three to give it a hint of brightness, but also to preserve the slightly darker tone I love.”

A sunburst Stratocaster figured slightly into the mix.

“My Strat is great for getting a searing, distorted rock sound and for clean rhythm parts. I used it for some rhythm parts on the album, though it was minimal.”

After trying several amps for the record, he discovered, “The approach that gave me the cleanest possible sound was to go direct into my Apogee Symphony preamps. I added a long-hall reverb and stereo delay, and it sounded great. The only exception is on ‘Strutter,’ where I played the solo through one of my Orange amps, and it was perfect for that.”

Bosse and Lorber have written four songs for a follow-up album. Other plans include touring and live videos.

This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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