Steve talks about guitars, gear and recording

Based on some questions received on twitter, Facebook and web forums, Steve has put together some info about the recording of Three Kings and the gear he uses live:

How did you get the guitar sound on Three Kings?

All the guitars on Three Kings were recorded using my Fractal Audio AxeFX Ultra. The rhythm parts are all quad- tracked, two using the Das Metall model (which is based on a Diezel VH4) through the Cali cab, and two using the FAS Modern (a custom amp based on a Mesa) through a downloaded cab IR which I have since lost! It actually sounded much like the Cali cab, but with less top-end "fizz". No mic modelling was used, and I captured a DI of all the parts just in case, but ended up not needing them.

The clean parts used a variety of amp models, mainly the USA Clean (based on a Mesa Boogie MKIV clean channel) but this varied from track to track based on what kind of texture was needed. I recorded the clean parts from the AxeFX in stereo with whatever effects I needed such as chorus or phase, but I added reverb and delay in the DAW so they sound like they're in the same space as the rest of the instruments.

Guitar wise, I used one of my Jackson KV2's with a fairly standard EMG 81/85 combo at 18 volts, and my Jackson KV4 with an EMG 85/60 combo at 18 volts. Both guitars are strung with D'Addario 10-52 strings. Dave used a number of different Charvel guitars which have a mix of pickups (he has probably the largest and best collection of Charvel guitars in the country!) and he uses D'Addario 9-42 strings. For the clean parts, we used my Line6 Variax 500, typically in Tele or Strat mode, and I believe we used one of the acoustic 12-string models for the intro to Out Of Eden. It adds a certain other-worldly quality to the sound, which is quite apt given the subject matter of the song!

The acoustic guitars were done with a Takamine, mic'ed with a couple of SDC mics at the 12th fret, with one pointing at the soundhole and one pointing more towards the neck. Both mics were placed about 12 inches away from the guitar and were running through an SM Pro compressor on a very gentle setting.

Overall, there's very little post-processing going on the DAW, just a little top'n'tailing frequency-wise. I like to pan the rhythm tracks almost all the way out to the side. I find if you hard pan right to the sides, things can sound a bit odd in headphones when only one side is playing.

What is your live rig?

My live rig is based around the same AxeFX Ultra, with the Das Metall and USA Clean models. I typically use around 7 or 8 patches - a dry-ish clean sound, a wet clean sound, a main rhythm sound, a slightly louder rhythm sound with some delay that I can use for quieter solo or harmony parts, and a full-on lead sound. There are a couple of song-specific patches for Cuchulain's Story and Beware In Time which have some harmonising and spacey sounds going on. The switching happens via a Rolls MIDI Buddy pedalboard that is wired to receive phantom power from the AxeFX. I don't use any other pedals or effects, which helps keep everything simple and compact.

From the stereo outputs of the AxeFX, the right channel goes through a Cali cab so it can go straight to FOH or be used for recording/monitoring purposes, and the left channel goes to a Rocktron Velocity 300 which goes into two Marshall 1960B cabs. All the guys in Stormzone are using the Line6 G30 wirelesses at the moment, which work great.

I'll use one guitar for the whole set unless I break a string, and on any given night I choose from the two Jackson's mentioned above, or my other Jackson KV2 which has an EMG 81/81 combo at 9 volts. They're all setup pretty much identically aside from the pickups so there's no problem switching between them.

It's not always possible to travel with my full rig, of course, so I have what I laughingly call my "fly rig" which consists of a POD X3 Live with a Line6 G30 wireless attached to the top. This can be plugged into the power-amp of any decent amplifier and sounds pretty damn good!

\m/ Steve \m/

1 Apr 2014

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