Back in Black Tone Project

25 Aug Replicating the Unreplicable: More from Back in Black

You Shook Me Six Months Long
What it took to make it: finally debunking how the guitar sounds for Back in Black were made.

It’s amazing how difficult it can be to play something as perfect (humanly speaking, of music played by human beings, not computers) as some of AC/DC’s songs.
Most of us know that it doesn’t get better than that – in terms of rock and roll or even popular music – and yet, we doubt it at times. Don’t we? I know I did, several times over the years – that comes usually from not knowing thoroughly how things are really done.

But fear not. Every time I approach a new video – whether I already covered that song or not – I completely re-discover the immense difficulty it took to play and record some of
AC/DC’s best songs – which are and always will be among the best, most popular songs ever committed to tape (quite literally).
Now, this last effort of ours at SoloDallas’ is no stranger to all of this. We wanted to step it up some and do something most, if not all, companies in our industry simply don’t do – ever – which is to present what their products can do in a given, real situation (as opposed to companies making product usually claiming their product does this or that). Because we actually got the product (Our Schaffer Replicas) from covering the songs, we thought we ought to go back to just doing that but, better.
Still, to do it properly, it requires/required to match at least over 90% of the guitar(s) sound (and performance) which – I know too well – not only is extremely difficult to do but also, one thing is to just play and a whole different one is, to capture those sounds to a recording media (HD or tape). So we set up to do just this, and we started with probably the most difficult among the guitar sounds from Back in Black, Angus’ guitars from ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.

While the sound of the guitar(s) might sound so immediate, natural and just ‘it’, this instead happens because it’s been done so well, the guitars have been played so woefully well, recorded and mixed (or simply, produced) even better and the entire album ends up sounding truly magical. Back in Black is absolutely a masterpiece and it’s not going to change. Back in Black is and forever will be a classic of modern music. It’s among the most sold albums across any musical genre and it is considered as having some of the best recorded electric guitars ever captured on any medium.
I truly did not really know what I was getting into when we decided to do this. Well, I know now and I feel and I even am a different person, once again and despite all the incredible adventures I have gone through in the fine, recent years. I learned so much in these past few months by just doing this for eight hours a day straight, every day for weeks and weeks that I can’t wait to tell you about it. Right here and now.

Before we get into the technical details, we feel we need to stress out the importance of studying covers, their sounds and even entire musical genres. Because it is, simply put, studying a subject matter. Studying is fundamental for our preparation. Studying good material is even more fundamental because it leaves a trace inside of us that is going to stay likely forever. This is naturally valid not only for music, but for any subject relative to human nature. AC/DC are one of the most unique yet natural forms of popular rock existing on the planet. They were conceived with just this in mind by Malcolm Young at the very start and to say that he’s achieved his goal is a major understatement. AC/DC have put their signature on music forever and I am so glad to have been with them for all of these decades, faithfully. Covering AC/DC decently is meaningful and it can be a terrific learning experience. Every now and then, I write comments of folks trying to suggest that one should try and be themselves, other than covering someone’s else work. While I can agree with this to some extent, I found that most of the ones who try to be themselves playing musical instruments fail most often than not at being musical, inspiring and even technically relevant. Learning from people who have been there before us – instead – can be amazingly rewarding and once again, can teach us things and lessons that – usually – stay with us until the end. At any point during our learning process we can be ourselves (heck, we are always ourselves anyways, even when covering someone else’s music) and go out and play our own music with our own style (if we even have one). But we do it with a different perspective on the instrument (guitar, specifically) and on the music from people who have really dug into it for a long, long time creating amazing material.
Also let’s always remember that simple ain’t easy as we at Solodallas use to say. AC/DC are definitely simple in their general approach to composing, playing and presenting themselves and their material but please – never make the mistake of thinking that it’s easy to play their stuff the way it was meant to be by them in the first place. Because it simply ain’t.

We needed to know rather precisely what gear had been used in each of the two situations – tracking and mixing – because (as it turned out to be) the features set of both the two different situations turned out to be extremely exclusive and unique. In short, what I am trying to tell you is that the sound of the guitars of Back in Black (as of the entire album itself as a whole musical masterpiece) is intimately tied to the gear that was used to play it and record it. And we will prove it.

 

(writing in process)

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Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith Guitar Effects

10 Aug Lenny Kaye Takes The Schaffer Replica On Tour With The Patti Smith Group

Lenny Kaye TSR-1

Lenny Kaye, guitarist with the Patti Smith Group since its inception in 1974, heard about The Schaffer Replica right here, and shared his thoughts about it when he finally got to use it onstage:

“The Schaffer Replica sparkles the top, rounds the bass, and gives an extra tail to sustain… it enhances rather than overrides your overdrive. When you want more, it’s there, just like rock and roll.”

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Filippo Olivieri and Angus Young 3

16 May Full Circle: SoloDallas Meeting Angus Young. Part Two.

Of course, both Ken & I gave in to Ellen’s second request that we join them all in feasting – happily so. The meal would have also given me an excuse for my silence – shock, more than silence – keeping my mouth full (though politely) could have calmed me down, I thought. And it worked. It just worked. The meal was delicious, which I am sure helped me quite a bit. Dinner was a healthy Asian recipe cooked by Ellen in a wok, containing rice, chicken and vegetables. Lightly on the spicy side (ask Ken about it).  Eating “family style” was a relaxing sign for us all.
(more…)

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