As some of you may know, Steve Vai was recently interviewed by Home Recording Magazine about how he achieves stellar guitar tone. Steve talked about his mic's, ambience, and how to fatten up your recorded guitar sound. Info comes from the August 2003 issue, pg 36-38.
These tips are few, and very simple, but they are VERY effective. Jemsite and I hope that you all will be able to make use of them, and that's why this topic is 'sticky'.
Steve Vai's mic's:
, set to speech setting
. This prevents bass roll-off,
Vai recommends combining sounds of multiple mics. It makes for a fuller, wider stereo image.
he often pans the beyer m160 hard left, or alternatively to the 9:00 position, and pans the other mic's to about 2:00 or so.
Ultimately, he recommends playing around with the pan on multiple mic's. This really creates dynamics on your recorded sound.
-Room mic's are a must for good sound, according to Vai. You can position them at the corner's of the room. That's what gives you good ambience, as it captures the sound as it spreads throughout the space your utilizing.
Vai uses the large diaphragm condenser mic's about three inches in front of the amp (This of course, would be the Akg 414).
Combined with room mic's, your heading for ambience city!
It's an art, and it takes a lot of time to set up properly and mix them right, but the finished product should be very cool.
Adding delay to the mic's:
Vai likes to add a 20ms delay to the room mic's at the corners of the room. This adds dimensionality to the recorded sound. Additionally, reversing the 'phase' on selected mic's (for vai, particulary the Akg 414 located 3 inches from the amp) will also help with dimensionality.
Vai insists that double tracking is one of the best ways to make a guitar sound good. Of course, you have to make sure the two overdubbed tracks are tight. However, there will always be slight
differences, and this is where the magic happens. Those slight differences add considerable dimensionality to the tone. You can even detune the second guitar slightly to produce a chorused effect, or slow down/speed up the tape for the second guitar if your using analog. Both work just fine.
Just make sure things don't get sloppy!
in the Bad4Good era, Steve the 'producer/engineer' was known for wanting to overdub Thomas McRocklin's guitars 4, even 5 times, particulary for rhythm parts. The tone just keeps getting bigger and fatter. This of course, requires due care, because it can get to sound muddy really quick.
Mic'ing the back of your cab:
Steve often mic's the back of his guitar cab. This adds a lot of body and depth.
This however, requires a lot of care as well. Generally, you must make sure that the back mic is positioned so that it exactly mirrors the front mic. The slightest deviation in positioning could mean the mic will be out of phase.
When using multiple mic's, compress the combined signal of them all, rather than individual compression for each mic: "This will help glue the individual components together into one overall guitar sound" (Home Recording, August 2003, pg 3)
There you have it, enjoy. It's not much, but it is definately enough for a starting glimpse into steve's tactics as an engineer. Note: If it was in the article, it's in this post, just paraphrased. If it ain't here, then it wasn't published. While I'm sure there will still be unanswered questions, this should suffice for now! Hope you all get something out of this.