Recording Tutorials

13 Nov Never Underrate Your Equipment – A Marshall MS-4 Demo


Dear Rocking Friends,


Every one of us has a dream. A gear-related dream, to be precise. A Marshall Super Lead maybe? I think I just said something magical there. But you know, you don’t have to have that kind of equipment to achieve (or at least approximate) the tone you’ve always been dreaming about, as I shall demonstrate with this post. Now to be clear, the aim of this writing is not to say that expensive gear can be replaced, but rather to show you that you can squeeze out a somewhat decent tone – something you didn’t quite expect – even from cheaper gear. To sum this up in a sentence:

You don’t know you’re beautiful you sound amazing.  🙂 


So let’s jump straight into the setup I have for this demo:

  • Vintage VS6 SG – This is a $300-ish SG copy, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for a decent guitar in this price range!
  • Marshall MS-4 – You probably know this little pocket amplifier already.
  • Shure SM57

Nothing quite special as you can see, it’s a very straight-forward setup. The only thing I did to the recording you’re about to hear, is that I applied some reverb via software. Other than that, this recording is raw, and has not been enhanced in any way. Have a good listen:



One thing to keep in mind while listening to this, is that the MS-4 has very tiny 3″ speakers inside of a plastic cabinet that barely has any air in it. This is the reason for the boxy sound, and the lack of bass. But once you get over that, it sounds very decent, especially the Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution part! That one sounds frighteningly close to the original in my opinion.

Now let’s take this experiment a little further – in case you’re not impressed already. I added the following items to the rig:

  • Boss GE-7 – Used as as clean boost in front of the amp (via the output volume slider), no EQ pattern was set.
  • 1960A replica cabinet with original 1973 Rola Celestion G12M greeenbacks – I admit that this is a bit of an overkill, but I really wanted to make sure that nothing is holding back the little Marshall from unleashing it’s glory.

In order to plug the MS-4 into the external cabinet, a modification is required to the amp. This consists of bypassing a resistor inside the amp that limits the output signal to headphone levels. After that is done, the headphone jack now becomes a speaker output jack – but make sure you don’t plug any headphone into it anymore! If you need exact instructions on how to do this, please let me know in the comments.

So after the amp was prepared, I hooked up everything, and I was very impressed by the results. The amp sounded surprisingly dynamic, lively, rich in harmonics, and enjoyable. I even managed to get a nice sustained feedback! I mic’d up the cab to make a second recording, here it is:



Now let me ask you something at this point. Could you possibly tell (without reading the article) that the amp used in the recording is a $50 1W solid-state pocket amp? If this was a blindfold test, I guess you would bet for something way more expensive, wouldn’t you? That’s fine though, I would do the same  😆


Before ending this article, let me address one more thing… The whole point of this article is to give you an idea on how to get a better tone from your existing gear. The answer is very simple: take your time! When you’re setting up your amp, miking your cab, or even just setting the knobs on your stomp boxes, remember this: if you think you’re done after a couple of minutes, you’re not! 

Let’s say you’re miking up your cab. What you shouldn’t do is to try out a few major mic positions, and pick what sounds the best for you, or either use a position that you used earlier. In many cases, tiny adjustments (I’m talking about millimeters here) can make a world of difference. When I mic up my guitar cab, I usually spend at least about 30 minutes setting up the mic position every time. Even if I marked a previously used mic position with duct tape on the cabinet, I only use that as a starting point. You should always absolutely geek out every possibility before recording. I find that spending extra time on the setup after you think it’s perfect is almost always beneficial. Of course the same rules apply to all the setup that’s required for playing, and not just miking.


Another very important thing is that you should always think of your whole rig (from your hands all the way to the speakers) as one big instrument! I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re not only playing the guitar, and having an amp that only makes it louder. The whole rig is one big instrument, but most importantly an instrument that has soul (not literally of course). Every piece in the rig is equally important. You have to spend time with your gear getting to know it, thus being able to use what is has to your advantage. A good rig is not just something you play on; it’s something that helps you expressing yourself, and also makes you feel good doing it!


I hope you find my thoughts useful, and will benefit greatly from them, just as I did. As the title says: never underrate your equipment!  🙂

Finally, here are a few pictures I took during the recording session:



Have a good day!

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21 Feb UPDATED: Back and Hacked! New Developments, The BIB Album Tone & Playing debunked


Update is added to the end of the post!


Howdy Fellow members!,

Ant here writing up a brand new post…. for a while i have been brewing something special and i don’t mean in the flatulence sense!

First let me just put out there that i am not an audio engineer nor a hacker of any sort!! 😛 what i will be posting here is purely findings from my own research and experimentation with audio and various freebie software that’s on the net.

Tone searching, equalizing and listening is what i have been working hard on over the last year or two, searching ways, trying things out purely for the purpose of making decent original studio or live backing tracks from the original AC DC recordings and playing along with them. Of course in the beginning (not in 1955!) i was a complete newbie to the world of audio\listening and its theory but over time i came to learn more and progressed finding new techniques and using the tools readily available to me. Only recently (couple weeks) i stumbled across an amazing tool but i will cover this later on……  i know what your thinking so don’t even think of skipping the next bit!! 😛

Now i will leave you to have a quick listen to these two sound samples….


Angus (not Fil)

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10276″]

Malcolm (again.. not Fil :D)

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10244″]


Hi Welcome back! 🙂

Sound familiar? Now you’re either wondering what the hell was that!? some of you may think “WOW” and others “Meh” but this my dear friends is something that will aid us in the very depths of our reason for being here.. to debunk and break down what the Young brothers are doing on these great albums and recreate the very pleasure playing it!.

So! what DO! we have here, well we are hearing Angus and Malcolm’s guitars INDIVIDUALLY yes its in bold and caps ^^ this allows us to listen even closer than before to boldly go where *cough* got to stop its star trek! wrong place for it, originally we were just muting either channel and monoing the one we wanted to listen too but THIS is an extraction of the very essence in the tack. There are artifacts in the audio yes this is inevitable but only because that the very frequencies they are on are being shared with the other instruments and vocals.


HOW? Well that’s a good question, its quite simple really (i say this after months of searching Doh! same old story!)

First it was just 5.1 audacity..

initially for live i would whip out the DVDs imported the 5.1 tracks essentially breaking up the instruments/vocals to a certain degree and the re-piece them taking out either Angus or Malcolm and exporting in a stereo format. Didn’t always work as you can still hear them in the mix and of-course it didn’t work for studio albums either as they were not 5.1

Next we have Riffstation..

Now this is a great piece of software as it analyses in on both stereo channels, it lets you dynamically whip out a specific section of the stereo with additional filtration.. i wont go into to much details but i would suggest checking it out! this software works wonders on some of the Young’s live performances

Third Audacity Phase cancellation!

another method i used to use was phase cancellation..yep i used the idea of mic phase.. by inverting one channel (make both tracks mono) the frequencies that matched each other canceled each other out leaving both guitars in a mono state in a single track, i then used this mono dual guitar track inverted it and then placed it back on the original track mono-ed again and inverted to cancel out the guitars 😛 nifty eh? didn’t always work to well but it was better than nothing at the time.

Then GoldWave.. ever heard of this one?

Well this little bad boy just made my day…

First let me cast you back in time… one day i was walking down the street singing do a dee a dede dum *cough* listening to the usual back in black and my headphone cable popped out of my phone just slightly now what happened to my ears was beyond a miracle i could hear Malcolm’s playing as clear as you could say dede do! i was thinking oh crap why is this happening its incredible (for me). So i started experimenting, Google searching and fiddling with cables to try and record what i was hearing but just couldn’t get it to work so here i was with a set of headphones that let me into the track that most people may never have heard before! oh the irony!… time past i went through all my tricks mentioned above until phase cancellation it became clear to me that the headphones connectors were jumping over each other and the tracks were inverting on each other!

Back to GoldWave, this little gem lets me dynamically remove/extract sections that are played from left, Center and Right with the use of a plugin called Stereo Center.
Download it and then the plugin and have a play! its free… for a while 😛

I haven’t read about how it works but it uses some advanced processing technique called Fast Fourier Transform… its beyond me to so cant explain any of it ^^ (rocket science)

I’m sure from here on with these audio extracts it will bring us that little bit closer to solving the mystery’s behind these great albums!
again im no sound engineer of any sort but some of you may have already witnessed these tools or even have better ones but the difference is im sharing my findings here for the benefit of the cause


Sound is wonderful thing.. the more you listen the more you learn and enjoy it.

I will leave you with a couple more for listening, i hope you enjoy them as much as i do.


What do you do? Angus & Malcolm

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10268″]

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10270″]


Shoot to Thrill Angus & Malcolm

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10265″]

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10267″]


Until next time 😉



UPDATE: Goldwave additional detail and a few Solo Snippets

Couple of people have been giving it a go so i thought it would be good to update the post with a bit more support on the goldwave program to assist others venturing into doing it themselves 🙂


First off download Goldwave from there website


Open a track that you have from one of your CD’s or downloaded Albums (iTunes ect)

Click Effects

Click Stereo

Click Stereo Center

This is what you should have.

Stereo Center













Choose either side/center to remove/isolate and change the 4x to 16x (better quality) FFT leave as default and click OK

give it a name, save and Bingo your done!

Happy Times!


Also been wanting to post these few solo snippets with added initial findings listening to them, Enjoy


Hells Bells – You can hear some sort of tape delay or re verb kick in part way though the solo.. hear it?

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10477″]

Shake a Leg – This particular solo is one of the solos that was partly redone at electric lady land without the SVDS… can you hear when it changes? 😉

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10479″]

Rock and Roll ain’t Noise Pollution – Those vibratos are killer! notice how its all one take for the solo track? truly amazing

[jwplayer config=”Standard Player” mediaid=”10478″]


Drop a comment in this post if you have trouble and i will respond

End of Update! 🙂

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