Here to you, the second part (out of… X) of our “Studio Day” in Los Angeles, CA last August, following up on our first Test Driving A Schaffer Replica™ Pedal & A Rock N Roll Relics Angus Model: AC/DC’s “Sin City” where Billy Rowe of RockNrollRelics.net and myself “test drove” our respective pieces of equipment (his “Angus” model SG Standard modeled after a late ’60s Gibson SG Standard with some specific requirements by me, first and foremost being, my requirement for playability and ease of set up whereas often vintage Gibson SGs really demand a lot of work for a number of reasons). The Studio was Gilby Clarke‘s own home studio (beautiful!) in Los Angeles. I can not quite describe the feeling of being there while looking at some gold albums affixed on the walls… felt pretty weird. Gilby was terrific with us. Completely down to earth, colloquial (i.e., liked to speak to us), just a common “rock n roll guy” like us. Since he’s been friends with Billy for a long time (probably since the teenager years) this surely helped.
Listening to takes
The gear we found there was two Marshall amps and two reissue 4×12 cabinets loaded with Celestion vintage 30s. The amps were Billy’s JCM800 (he used it for Malcolm’s parts, though in a very clean setting naturally) and I was lent Gilby’s own Marshall 2204 head, a vintage one just like mine.
One microphone per cabinet was used, one for Billy and one for myself, mine was a ribbon microphone and I have to say I really like its “tone”.
One thing I haven’t (hadn’t) spoken enough about – when detailing the RockNRollRelics “Angus” Model, was David Allen’s pickup(s), which are a strong component of the character of this guitar. Currently, my unit features a P51, which is however a replica of a PAF humbucker (1957-1961). That is, an earlier style of humbucker pickup, while the Angus model is shaped after a late ’60s guitar. This was Billy’s own choice. Since David Allen and myself however are now in talks (i.e., working together as well) Dave was kind enough to send us two more pickups to install, these being replicas of later hum bucker pickup models. Installation of one of this soon to come and be presented here. I think “this” incoming pickup might well be the holy grail of Angus Young earlier (i.e., late ’70s to early ’80s) tone.
Anyway, back on the topic of recording these few improvised AC/DC tunes, we were introduced quickly to each other ( 😆 ) in the recording room (Billy and I met online first, and then – in person – earlier on that same day in LA) and started literally playing. Each time was recorded by Gilby who had previously set up the recording gear (mikes mainly). That’s how we did it and that’s what you hear.
My Side – Amp Settings (1970s Marshall 2204)
The sound in the recording room was what you could imagine it was… not exactly the optimum situation because we were all in there playing at decent volume (loudness). I think I was on 6 on my head – no attenuation – so you can imagine. Plus drums next to me, Billy next to the drums and the bass player next to Billy. Pretty cool 😆
Doug – our Video Man (super cool guy) with the Rock N Roll Relics “Angus” Model
That’s also why I moved often towards Billy’s side of things – to hear them too – and be in front of the drums. That kind of place really gave me the goosebumps, because when you hear the guitars in more or less stereo, that really gives you the kicks (IF you are a rock n roller that is… ).
Editing – notice something on Gilby’s chair?
You can definitely see the level of engagement I had, which often people think is for show on my part. Never it is. Never. It’s just pure me 100%. Not that this should be interesting to you – I am uninteresting – but I think it is always a connection point for all of us who play our guts off, just like the two Kings of this style of playing – Malcolm and Angus themselves – who I learned from.
Mike on my cabinet (Marshall reissue cabinet, Celestion Vintage 30s inside) – Mike is a ribbon mike. Good stuff.
I think in order to try and get the timing right, this is the only possibility. I say this again (and will repeat it ad nauseam) butwhile it is totally natural to hear a guitar grooving, it is not at all natural for the body to groove that guitar.
So please take a moment and think about this. While you may not feel comfortable with how ugly you become (or may become) when playing, I assure you that this is the most satisfying way of doing it. For you.
This is also why I wrote the payoff to this blog as “First String Contents for Emotional Learning”. If music isn’t emotional for you, then please change your hobby (or worse yet, profession) immediately, it means it wasn’t meant for you 😆
There IS a lot of technique involved, but it’s not meant to be in the way. You have to just assimilate, incorporate the technique as if it was a part of you and then let it go out.
Our The Schaffer Replica™ Pedal was ON all the time, both for the rhythm tracking and for the solos. The solos – as you could see – were recorded after the rhythm tracking session, because we wanted you to hear the lead guitar separately. It was recorded exactly in the same way as the rhythm part was, no moving of the microphone even. Same. Just the settings of the amp changed slightly (more Master volume, from 6 to 7) and the Replica boost was probably increased by a little amount. The guitar volume was on about 6-7 for the rhythm tracking (tone open) and for leads I opened it up to 10, as I think most of the time was for Angus (with exceptions). I sat in the recording room, Gilby fed me the rhythm track and I played, I think I did probably three takes of each solo for each song we recorded, we were done in probably 20 minutes.
One thing that you realize quickly when you have limited studio time (I did this time) is that your soloing hand will wear off rather quickly, especially if you are the Angus Young type (like I want to be, in style). Heavy vibratos, precise touch, every note has to come out, attention to timing. All of these things are extremely demanding for your head and hand(s), and for your whole body too. My whole body is always involved in the playing somehow, just like I think it is true for the Young brothers.
The experience of so doing is so overwhelmingly incredible that it will wear you out quickly, even if you are trained for it (like I am). So you have to know this and approach it with awareness. This will let you use your energies the best way and psychologically it won’t drain you burning you out (the psychological aspect of recording can be devastating: imagine yourself in the pressure of having to deliver that one time, at the best of your abilities in those very minutes and that you will have to listen to what you have done likely for a long time afterwards… for some, it ain’t easy to cope with!).