3 Doors Down’s Chet Roberts Talks Les Pauls
It reads like a rock star fairytale: Guy lands a gig as 3 Doors Down’s guitar tech. Said guy spends years on the road, learning the ins-and-outs of the band. A few years later, he’s in the band!
That’s exactly what happened to Chet Roberts. The longtime guitar tech for 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson now holds down rhythm guitar duties in the band, and he couldn’t be happier. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world right now!” Roberts gushed on the phone with Gibson.com.
These days, Mississippi-based 3 Doors Down have a new greatest hits package out, simply titled “Greatest Hits,” plus a lengthy tour with Chris Daughtry going strong. During his first-ever interview, Roberts chatted with us about the time he sold his motorcycle to buy a Les Paul and how being a guitar tech helped him step into the role of guitarist.
You were the guitar tech for 3 Doors Down’s Chris Henderson before taking over guitar duties. Tell me about that experience.
It’s been great! I was given the opportunity to step onto the stage when I was Chris’ tech, so when they asked me to step in and play some guitar for the guys on this tour, I had no problem doing it. In this business, everybody aspires to be at that level, if that’s their ultimate goal: to be a guitar player. I think I’m more suited for this job than being a guitar tech, and I’m just really fortunate to be a part of this.
How did being a guitar tech prepare you for the role of lead guitarist?
That’s a good question! It prepared me a lot. First of all, it gave me a chance to get to know the guys in the band. I knew Chris really well before I was his tech, and we’ve worked in the studio together, but I didn’t know rest of the guys. It gave me a chance to get to know everybody and get to know the songs and how to play them. It really gave me a chance to get intricate on the parts, and being Chris’ tech, I was able to sit there and learn the songs for fun. Chris told me, ‘You may want to learn the songs, too, in case you have to fill in for me someday.” So, when it was time to step in, I already knew a lot of the material. I had a memory of what the songs did and how the band played them live, and that gave me a tremendous advantage when I stepped into the role of guitarist.
What guitars do you use on the road?
I have been through a plethora of guitars. I have a little bit of everything, but I have a Les Paul that I always really gravitate towards. I’ve always been a Les Paul guy. I sold my motorcycle in 2001 to buy my first Les Paul! I really wanted a Les Paul, so I sold my motorcycle and took the money and bought me a Gibson Standard Les Paul Honeybust, and it’s been a great guitar. I played it on the new tracks that are on 3 Doors Down’s new greatest hits album. On the song “One Light,” our single, the rhythm guitar tracks you hear come from that Les Paul. It’s been a go-to guitar in the studio. It’s great for leads or great rhythm tracks!
Why do you prefer Les Pauls?
First and foremost, it’s the tone that you get out of them. When you get in the studio and start digging for tones, you always look for the song to kind of tell you what tone you need. A lot of times, I use that Les Paul and end up switching out the amps, cabinets or effects, but that guitar has a great tone. Another thing that was actually one of the first things I noticed about my Les Paul was that is the angle of the neck and the way the strings come across the body, it almost has a violin-like aspect to it. I think that’s something special about that. All together, a Les Paul has a great tone, feel and unique quality. The main reason I pick up my Les Paul is because it gets that tone I desire.
3 Doors Down and Daughtry are touring together this fall and winter. Why do you think it’s a good fit for you two to share the same bill?
We’re good friends with Chris [Daughtry], and we have some crew that has toured with their guys in the past, so there will be a lot of familiar faces and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s one of those tours that everybody is going to hate to see come to an end.
What’s next for 3 Doors Down?
Right now, we have the greatest hits album, and there are about 12 tracks on there, including some new ones. Also, we’re all really ready to hit the road. We’ve been off the road for a few months now, and we’re itching to get back out there. We’re planning on writing on the road and hope to at least get the ball rolling towards new material.
Photo credit: Chip English.