Gear Rundown: Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’
14.05.2021

Gear Rundown: Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’

Words by Benjamin Lamb

Deep dive into the production of the triple threat's funk-tinged hit.

Childish Gambino’s unique approach to R&B and hip hop songwriting has garnered him a bunch of fans across the globe, but 2016’s Awaken, My Love! and its final track pushed him far into the mainstream and helped to create the monolith we all know today. 

This universally loved track reached number 12 on the Billboard 100, and helped Glover win his first Grammy. Back in Australia, it reached number 5 in 2016’s Hottest 100 count, and is recognised as one of his most memorable tunes.

Co-penned and recorded alongside long-time friend and producer Ludwig Göransson, today we’re diving into the array of interesting gear they used to create this track.

Gear Rundown

Mellotron

The opening keys sounds come from a Mellotron M4000D Mini, this instrument is one of the most iconic in some of the best 1960s and 1970s classics from groups like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

Ludwig penned the intro on a Mellotron to give the track its perfect old-school vibe.

Fender Stage Rhodes Mark II 

The subsequent keys licks come from the classic Fender Rhodes, a constant of many early classic funk and psychedelic tracks. 

These 73-Key keyboards are hard to come by nowadays, and only tend to pop up on swap and sell websites from time to time.

Fender Precision Bass

‘Redbone’s’ iconic bassline was penned and recorded on a pretty slick Fender Precision Bass. 

A lover of all things early jazz and blues, in an interview Ludwig noted that all of his favourite artists used this bass, so he tries to use it for scores and tracks whenever he gets a chance.  

Roland Juno 106 Synth

A constant of more modern oriented R&B is a heavier, more layered bass track, which is followed on ‘Redbone’ through additions of the Roland 106, where the thick undertones of the Juno mimic that of the Precision. 

The Juno 106’s first came into production way back in 1984, but are still heavily in use today, with acts like Tame Impala and Chvrches using it throughout their many respective releases.

Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 

A further third layer is added to the rich bass track with Dave Smith’s Pro 2 Synth, a high quality instrument that truly tops the bottom end of ‘Redbone’ 

Vintage Fender Telecaster

Slightly within the chorus but loudly throughout the outro, we hear a beautiful guitar line, which comes courtesy of a Fender Telecaster. 

Once again, this brand of guitar being the obvious choice for Göransson because of its use in similar sounding R&B and funk records from years past. 

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Maestro Pedal

The Tele isn’t played clean, with Göransson adding in a couple of effects from the old school Maestro pedal to further the old school intent Glover wanted with ‘Redbone.’ 

Ludwig opts for the reverb / vibrato setting on the Gibson Maestro pedal, a constant of early 1960s experimental music and used by the likes of Jimi Hendrix.

Ableton’s Echoboy Triplet 

The track is recorded with Ableton, where other effects can be added to various lines.

Goransson opts to add in a tremolo effect on the guitar line, helping achieve a more futuristic sound to the instrument, which helps is sit amongst other more space-age sounding tracks on Awaken My Love! 

Hohner Clavinet 

To top off this iconic track, are some “brass sounding elements”, as Ludwig put it. This comes via the Hohner Clavinet.

The Hohner is one of the most popular in the industry, once again, it being a constant throughout old school funk and soul music, and it finding its way into more modern neo-soul as of late. 

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Lyons 25 Note Xylophone

One of the coolest elements of the track comes via the Xylophone, a memorable addition and the perfect way to conclude this track. 

This specific xylophone is made and marketed for kids, which makes it all the more impressive that it is featured on this Grammy winning song.   

Read more Gear Rundowns here.