AC/DC’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer” (Now Updated with Full Recording Info!)

04 Jan AC/DC’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer” (Now Updated with Full Recording Info!)

Someone had posted a cover of this song days ago. And it just reminded me that I love this song and I had never covered it. So here you have it. Tough one, as always with AC/DC going for feel.

Now onto some technical aspects.

As never before, I think I have nailed – or went really, really close – the original “tone” of this recording. I put special care into getting it right. If your ears too tell you this and you are interested, here is how I did it.

For both rhythm and solo(s) guitar I went for a one microphone only, as I thought that older recordings may have easily been recorded with one microphone for simplicity of approach. The microphone however, was both off axis and off center, meaning that it was not facing the cloth completely, nor it was put on the center of the cone. It was about 5 centimeters off of the center of the cone, on the right side, going towards the center part of the cabinet. Also, the mic head was a few degrees off axis (see photo).

As for the amp head, I used a 1959, since I think at this time they mostly used a 1959 for Angus. Now, I tried one specific thing, that was to put everything on 10, except for bass that was on 0. This type of thing was very much used back then.

I then set the guitar volume and tone controls at settings that sounded good. For rhythm, the guitar volume knob was at 5-6, and the guitar tone knob was at 6-7. I am not sure what influences more the tone on this song, whether it is the microphone placement or this way of setting amp and guitar. Keep in mind I also always equalize in post production, which I think was always done in recording and mixing. Equalization curves to be added.

For solos, I brought down the amplifier volume to 5. I experimented a LOT with higher volumes, but it was getting too aggressive. Angus here is really delicate. On the guitar, the volume knob was at 10 and the tone varied a bit from take to take, but it was closer to 10.

For solos, I used the same microphone positioning, though I may have moved it very slightly to find even a better position, since I was specifically looking for a distinct tone which is the one you hear on record. That is, a very fine resonation of the cabinet. That “hollowness” that has chased me since I was a kid. I love that hollow-like tone. Probably among my very favorites.

To do that, I really searched for a specific spot in the cabinet (about the same position described above, see pic) and also, I raised the equalization settings on the  five hundred Hz band higher as this specific band gets us exactly that kind of resonation. Please also see equalization settings for solo tone.

Microphone positioning: note how it is likely on the outer border of the speaker. Probably even further. A 4×12 Marshall cabinet has a LOT of stuff going on inside when the speakers are pushing. So it is really important to put the mike in a position where it will capture many different things.

[singlepic id=420 w=1024 h=768 float=]

Also of interest (it should be to you!!!! Don’t underestimate the power of a GOOD EQUALIZER in post – and at times, even in pre) the equalization curve. What you see is a pretty big spike on the five hundred Hz frequency. That spike enhanced that hollowness that you hear. Also added some brightness on the 2k and above, as having the microphone off axis and off center will detract bright freqs.

So basically – learning as I do this for all of us – I understand that the equalizer should be used to enhance characteristics of the tone that you already should have captured in your recording. This is why it is VERY important to have a good take with an excellent microphone positioning that will let you later on bring out the best of your performance.

Please note: the image below refers to solo equalization. Rhythm was left almost flat.

[singlepic id=421 w=1024 h=768 float=]

Guitar was the terrific 1971 Gibson SG Standard, as I was willing to use an accurate tonal spectrum on this one.

Regarding the stereo positioning, I have set on a sort of standard where I mute the right channel of the original recording (Angus), bring the left channel into mono (center position), add my own version of Angus and put it on the right side of the stereo position, and add solo(s) on the left side of the stereo position. This way, you’ll be clearly hearing me, the parts and the tone of the guitar a lot better, for debunking and pleasure.

I hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂

Welcome to 2011 at SoloDallas.net!

Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:52h, 12 October

    Rhythm guitar has an AWESOME TONE!!
    Very woody, strong and amazing!
    Nice work!

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:13h, 18 September

    Co tu dużo pisać. Jesteś dobry w tym co robisz. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:09h, 21 September

    Very Good!!!

    Keep up the good work!

    Greetings from Norway! 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 18:08h, 25 August

    Sounds Awesome Fil!! I am headed down to Buenos Aires next month to meet up with some old AC\DC friends I met on the last Tour. Keep Rockin My Roman Friend.
    PS: Do you still have the New Angus Signature SG you bought about 2 years ago?

  • avatar
    Posted at 19:23h, 25 January

    Okay, I might need some mic stuff sorted out but i tryed EQ in Cubase and it was quite a big difference.

    Its just like you said. Its not about capturing the whole amp. Its about taking out the parts that you need. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 12:47h, 16 January

    Could anyone to a turitorial on how to make home recordings? and I dont mean mic placements. More like about what requirements, equipment and so on. I’ve tryed to guess and ask around how but its hard to understand:S

    It would be much appreciated!:)

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:20h, 14 January

    That vibrato could kill.

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:48h, 13 January

    There are over 6000 thousand comments!

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:51h, 13 January

    One of my favorite vintage AC/DC songs! Thanks for continuing to chase Angus’ tone! Great job Fil!

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:40h, 08 January

    Im confused when it gets to preamps. I dont know what to get really and thought this could be a good resulotion for me as a start. Anyone who have tried it or know if it works with guitar/amps?


    (its a shure sm58 with a converter to usb with a gaincontroll and headphonejack)

    • avatar
      Posted at 07:57h, 08 January

      It won’t work. Its a vocal microphone. That really sounds shit in front of a guitar amp. You need a SM57.

      • avatar
        Posted at 11:24h, 08 January

        oh sorry! I ment the sm57 ofc. But I’ve heard the sm58 also could be used with amps.

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:32h, 06 January

    I read your describtion anymore and i remember that the technican of Marshall said to me, that Angus is veeery particular about his sound and Malcolm even more than his brother.
    You can be very proud that you found out their settings !

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