Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Guitar Vinci Amp Rig

Reflecting the pared-down approach to my recording guitars on the new EP, I used a basic but versatile amp rig for the tracking of The Guitar Vinci Code. Apart from one clean chord part recorded with a plugin, I used a Mesa/Boogie RectoVerb25 head and CabClone interface exclusively for all electric guitar tracks.
The RectoVerb25 is an amazing piece of equipment - a two-channel amp with two preamp settings and separate reverb on each channel, plus an effects loop. The amp's 25w power rating is deceptive, as I found out when playing a live auditorium show some time prior to recording, and while it is the baby of the Rectifier family, it's certainly not the runt of the litter.

The Mesa/Boogie CabClone is a simple and effective speaker simulator/interface that has some very useful cabinet settings to compliment the amp, and I pretty much left it set on open-back for all the sessions. From saturated rhythms and solos to clean sounds that could shimmer or grind, I found the match of Mesa/Boogie and Ormsby to be one made in tone heaven. Between the amp and the guitar pickups I found every tone that I needed for every track, with minimal tweaking and processing. For such a minimalist recording rig, I was beyond impressed.

I'm looking forward to finding more sounds from this rig as I get back in to the studio to see what awaits - I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Mesa/Boogie RectoVerb25 and CabClone

Friday, 17 March 2017

Guitar Vinci Guitars #6

Track 6: Trail Of Dreams

Trail Of Dreams, the album closer, was also the last piece to be written and recorded, and is a play in three acts. The main guitar used was my trusty GG6, there being some acoustic (Taylor 412CE) in the first two sections. The chords and arrangement for the first section was originally written as part of an earlier effort that went nowhere, so I started there with a fresh approach and everything took off from there. I say took off, because the second section followed in a creative rush, and as I was completing that, ideas were forming for the main body and grand finale. The thread of the tune fell in to place seamlessly, and as the melodies and orchestration came together I knew I was doing something good. I was almost disappointed when the track was finished and I had no more to add.

The GG6 played beautifully on Trail Of Dreams, and I enjoyed using different pickup configurations to get the different chord and solo tones for the three separate movements. Perhaps a little bit of guitarist playing guitar/guitar playing guitarist went on, because there was some alchemy afoot. The EP felt complete once I'd finished, and the afterglow lingers as of this entry. It was good to get back to guitar basics and just work with my main axes, because I feel that it helped me to focus on what I was creating with them. I'm glad that Ormsby kid made himself known to me all those years ago.

The Ormsby Graham Greene Signature Series

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Guitar Vinci Guitars #5

Track 5: The Odd Dervish

The Odd Dervish was the first track written for The Guitar Vinci Code, and came at a time when I was feeling a bit sick of all the extended soloing. I had spent a year playing AC/DC songs with Hells Bells (which was solo city), and was kind of over the guitar hero thing. I had also really enjoyed holding down those Malcolm Young rhythm parts, so decided to write a piece that had no soloing, but cool chord work with suggested melodies and additional instrumentation to help things move along.
Messing around on the GG6FG (yet again), I happened across the altered-5th D chord pattern that forms the main theme of the track. The Eastern-flavoured theme consists of three bars of 6/4 followed by a bar of 7/4 - a pattern that continues through the second section that shifts to E before returning to the main theme in D after a clever little additional bar of 3/4. Even with all the timing changes, the groove still held together and made musical sense, with the drums playing off various Eastern percussion instruments to create a solid foundation for the guitars, bass and strings.

The main guitar sound for The Odd Dervish is the single coil neck pickup of the 'FG. This pickup is one of the finest single coil units I've heard, and it was great fun to find a thick but chiming tone that suited the track perfectly. I hadn't used the pickup for a recording before, so was happy to find somewhere to use it. With some tweaking and stereo spreading, it came up huge, and is the tonal mainstay of the track. It even held its own when the feel breaks out of the odd-time section into a breakneck rock section in common time, and the more ambient middle section cleaned up beautifully to compliment the piano and bass parts that come to the fore.

The 'FG never ceases to impress me with the variety of tones it can produce, and The Odd Dervish is a perfect example of this. Just before getting into mixing, I added a dirty track using the bridge position humbucker to double all the sections except the middle, which took the track from big to huge, beefing up the bottom end while the clean guitars and strings took care of the sparkle.
All in all, a very satisfying piece to write, record and play. Reaction to the track has been very positive also, which always does the heart good!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Rig Rundown

A few weeks ago, I took some time out from rehearsals at Vision Recording and Rehearsal to film a quick rundown of the rig I'm taking on stage with me for this year's gigs. John Davies shot the footage and the editing was courtesy of Donna Greene. Please enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Guitar Vinci Guitars #4

Track 4: Petra

Petra was another drop D tune played on the GG6FG although this one is in the key of E, with the drop tuning allowing the D to E main riff.
This track started with the main riff idea, which I doubled with a staccato string section. Once I had settled on a tempo, the rest of the piece came in a rush, with melody and orchestration ideas coming to me as I was writing and recording the other sections. I spent very little time reviewing parts as everything felt right as it was going down. The arrangement, while not simple, flows from part to part, the orchestra/band interplay describing mystery and high drama in turn. In one section in particular the horn line (written and recorded first) inspires and compliments the guitar melody, something I didn't plan or even realise until after the parts were all recorded. I think I got more of a handle on orchestrating recording Petra, and after playing it a few times in rehearsal, it is definitely one of my favourite tunes to play so far.

The GG6FG is perfect for this track, allowing me to clean up the rhythm parts where needed simply by changing my pick attack and palm muting, and to roar when the tune opens up. The solos vary in intensity from section to section, and I'm finding it easy to replicate live due to the guitar's responsive feel and the pickup's sensitivity to attack. When the drama hits in the tune's story, the 'FG sings gloriously - one of the reasons that Petra was so enjoyable to record and play.

Oh, I should mention - that's the 'FG in the background image of this blog. 😏