18 Nov AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” (Studio, from, “Let There Be Rock”)
As anticipated here a few days ago, I think I really did manage to capture this sound as well. It’s – as always – a matter of “studio album sound”, in the sense that, with minor adjustments, it was used all along on Let There Be Rock. This is my theory:
– Amp used: Marshall 2203 for both of the brothers
– Microphone: U47 FET (at least one per cabinet; WHY this microphone? Well, naturally we can’t be sure, it’s not mentioned anywhere. BUT we do know that the subsequent live “If You Want Blood” album – which was done as the usual tour following a new record – was recorded with U47s. Also, it has been an AC/DC tradition to recreate the sound of the latest album released out on tour, or very similar. Soooo….)
– I think that the microphone pre-amp was sent into distortion by overloading its input. This was added either on the preamp itself or in the analog console used at the time, a “Solid State” analog drive that was summed to the amp overdrive.
I simulated this exactly the same way, overloading my mic preamp.
The settings for the amp were:
Amplifier: 1977 Marshall 2203, stock.
PreAmp: 5-6 ish on Rhythm, 10 on solo.
Guitar is a 1970-1971 Gibson SG Custom, just like Angus’ original in every aspect. The controls were set to Volume 10 and Tone 5 for the rhythm; Volume 10 and Tone 8 for the solo.
I think Angus definitely used the “trick” of closing down the tone knob in the studio many, many times.
Additionally – I’ll say this here for now – I truly think that even in the movie “Let There Be Rock” at least a Marshall 2203 was used, and I also think the tone knob on the guitar was rather closed to avoid excessive feedback at high gain. It’s still unknown what was used to overdrive the amps for this movie, but my investigation will continue!
So, as you understand, my theory is that NO boost whatsoever was used here, just the amps and the mic preamp overdrive.
This is the year (1977) when AC/DC had attained an endorsement contract from Marshall, and very likely, they had received the 2203s and their cabinets brand new directly from them.
The 2203s were therefore the new thing to have, which would be a good reason for having used these amps.
Since the G12-65’s were not yet in production, probably G12Ms were used, which is what I used here as well (bottom cab, Pre-Rolas G12Ms).
Regarding the post-production of the sound, I used Neve 8081 modules here. I think this album was recorded on a Neve console, so I used the Neve outboard simulation.
Specifically, the EQ controls are quite different from what I have used so far, in fact these controls do help shape the sound, especially on the higher medium frequencies filtering.
Additionally, a tape emulation was added. On the solo, a tape echo was also used, nothing else.
I almost forgot to say something that I have been confident of for a long time: playing. The strings are brushed, lightly brushed, almost always, never hit hard.
I am not sure if I give this impression, because of my body language and aggressive face-look (that’s just due to how I hear the sound in my mind) but the strings must really just be touched, brushed in fact. It takes a lot of control of the right hand too, which is an additional element of concentration, and still makes me ‘wow’ at how these boys – very “young” at this time back then – had already grasped so many important things that I only understood around my 40 years of age.