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Bass on Alice in Chains - Dirt?
Old 20th December 2005
  #1
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Bass on Alice in Chains - Dirt?

I was just listening to "Dirt" for the first time in a while today, and I had forgotten how much I love the bass sound on that album. It's very in your face sounding, has a lot of attack in it, and it mixes really well with everything else that's going on. Prime examples are the intro of "Rain When I Die," the bass throughout "Rooster," and the intro of "Would."

Does anyone know what gear Michael Starr was using, or have any details from Dave Jerden or Bryan Carlstrom in regards to the recording sessions of how they recorded the bass? Even if not, how would you personally go about acheiving such as a bass sound?

Bass aside, if anyone else has any additional details about the guitar gear, recording process set-up, mixing, etc...for the entire album, I'd love to hear about it!
Old 20th December 2005
  #2
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I dunno what recording gear was used on the tracking side of it, but that bass totally sounds like a Spector and I think there's a 12-string bass (or something similar) on Rooster. I remember Cantrell doing interviews & talking about the guitars...IIRC they split each pass out to three or four amps and put each one on it's own track. Like a Marshall, Bogner, Boogie, Rockman etc. and then balance 'em out during the mix.

"Dirt" is a great record...sounds a little bizzare IMHO but it's solid. If you want that sorta bass sound I'd start with a great 'rock' style player...then give 'em a Spector with EMG's, take a DI & semi-dirty amp, compress & season to taste.
Old 20th December 2005
  #3
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James Lugo's Avatar
 

I have been wearing that CD out! Them Bones, Down In A Hole and Would are my favorites. Don't know s**t about how they made it, just a huge fan.

I bought the Unplugged DVD this week, that is a very depressing piece of art. Layne looks like a tormented soul. It breaks my heart to watch, especially the long sleeve shirt down to the knuckles. It looks like he has no front teeth in the DVD.
Old 20th December 2005
  #4
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Thanks for the input guys! thumbsup Dirt would definitely crack my "Top 10 Albums of All-Time" (as in my favorites).

I know Cantrell was using his Seymour Duncan JB loaded guitars back then, both Gibsons and the G&L. I've heard that the rhythm guitar sound was mostly one of the old (back then new) Mesa Dual Recto's, slightly blended with a Bogner Fish preamp, and the leads were done with the Fish. Cabs were Marshall's with Vintage 30's. That seems to be the most common sentiment, though I've never gotten it verified.
Old 20th December 2005
  #5
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Blast9's Avatar
He definitely used a rockman too! Dunno why? LOL
Old 20th December 2005
  #6
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

There was an article with producer Dave Jergen (not sure if thats the correct spelling of his name) in EQ mag back in the mid 90's. He had a rack of NEVE designed Summit tube preamps he used and swore by. I'll dig that mag out of my stockpile this evening and post some of the highlights from that article. (It was very good by the way). heh
Old 20th December 2005
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beechstudio
There was an article with producer Dave Jergen (not sure if thats the correct spelling of his name) in EQ mag back in the mid 90's. He had a rack of NEVE designed Summit tube preamps he used and swore by. I'll dig that mag out of my stockpile this evening and post some of the highlights from that article. (It was very good by the way). heh
Much appreciated...looking forward to it! thumbsup
Old 21st December 2005
  #8
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

OK.........here goes. From the article with Dave Jerden:

What about bass?

I also record bass with multiple amps and multiple DI's. I ususally start off with an SVT cabinet with a 57 on one of the cones. We go through the speakers to find the best speaker on the cabinet.

Do you find it varies a lot?

Sometimes there's a big difference, but sometimes there's no difference. I always listen to every speaker to make sure we're on the right one, and at the right part of the speaker too. I use an SVT, a Mesa Boogie, and an old Vox Westminster bass amp. It's a solid-state amp, and it has an 18-inch speaker with a sperate head and a thing called "Tone X", which is supposed to be an EQ, but it's got this punchy kind of squak.

If you listen to an oldies station on AM radio you can always hear the bass, and it sounds great. I listen to records today and i cannot hear what the bass player is playing. I spend great time mixing at low levels to make sure that the bass note are heard. Using this Vox amp with the 18-inch speaker has really helped that. Of course, I want the lows and highs, but what I am fighting for is the mids because when you record aggressive stuff like the Offspring or Biohazard with that 3 amp guitar set-up, you have a lot of sound there. The bass has to compete with that. So I use that Vox amp, an SVT, and then I'll use a SansAmp Bass DI and an Ibanez TS-8 Tube Screamer.

Do you record these elements onto separate tracks?

It always ends up on 2 tracks. All amps go onto one track and all the direct signals go onto the other. Usually they are used equally.

Do you tend to keep the recording path for bass similar with the Summit pres?

Yes. Everything is pretty much the same. As much tube as possible. If you're going for a Marshall sound, you are not going to get it with transistors. But, on the other hand, if you're looking for a real crazy sound....I have a Hamer 12 string bass that is really difficult to record because there is so many overtones from the different string gauges. I first ran into the Hamer 12 string basss when I worked with tom Peterson from Cheap Trick. He was using Marshalls and Hiwatts and said "My hero is John Entwistle and the sound I'm looking for is like the sound of a piano string being struck." Later on I bought a Hamer 12 string bass for myself and I always remember what he said about a piano being struck. So what I came up with was to use 2 Vox Super Beatle amps that were made in the 60's. They have four 12 inch speakers, 2 PA style horns in each cabinet and are louder than hell. They are really brittle sounding on guitar. But for Hamer 12 string bass, it's the sound- like a piano being struck. I use two of those so I have eight 12's and four horns. To split the signal between them I've been using an old Roland Chorus modified by Rivera. It kinda shifts back and forth slowly between the two amps and sounds like the end of the world. It's amazing. I used that on "Rooster" from Alice In Chains -Dirt. All of the choruses on "Rooster" are doubled- just the basic notes of the chord changes in the choruses.. It's not that the whole bass part is doubled. If his part was playing a run in between the changes, he didn't double that- only the root notes of the chord changes. It gives a great sound.

Whereas his original part was played on a 4 string.

Yes, and that's still there. up front. The Hamer is mixed in with the guitars to add power. On top of that I have a Dan Electro 6 string piccolo bass. I use that through a Zoom processor set to a Marshall sound. The reason I use a Zoom as opposed to a plugging the bass into a Marshall is that the sound is so huge that it will wash everything else out and kill the guitars. But the Zoom has a really limited bandwidth and it has the distortion.

heh
Old 21st December 2005
  #9
Lives for gear
 
drundall's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo
Them Bones, Down In A Hole and Would are my favorites.
Me too.
Old 21st December 2005
  #10
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Thanks a million for that article! thumbsup Can you tell me which magazine and issue that was from specifically? I'd love to track down a copy of it to read the whole article...thanks!
Old 21st December 2005
  #11
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pigpen's Avatar
 

Where's Jerden?

related ???

Where is Jerden now? I love the old AIC records, but I have not seen his name in years! I'd like to hear what he is doing now.
Old 21st December 2005
  #12
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ToddF's Avatar
I love the Jane's Addiction albums he produced. They are a little thin and the drums seem to have a lot of samples but it works.


Todd
Old 21st December 2005
  #13
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Almost Human
Thanks a million for that article! thumbsup Can you tell me which magazine and issue that was from specifically? I'd love to track down a copy of it to read the whole article...thanks!
EQ March 1997. I'll post some more snipits later today. Good stuff! heh
Old 21st December 2005
  #14
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ramjet's Avatar
 

hi

are you able to post a pdf of the whole article. would be cool if you can.

cheers
Old 21st December 2005
  #15
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Blast9's Avatar
Yes please! thumbsup
Old 21st December 2005
  #16
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Sorry guys, I don't have a scanner. I'll have to re-type the text.

I'll get it out today.........
Old 21st December 2005
  #17
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Blast9's Avatar
Oh no! We can't do that to you! How 'bout a short summary of the guitar tracking?
Old 21st December 2005
  #18
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

I've already typed a bit........ I'll summarize the rest. Thanks!

What are some of the techniques that you use to record guitars?

On the first Alice in Chains record, Facelift. Jerry Cantrell and I had several amps, and were trying to find sounds on each one. I said, “Lets combine them.” Usually when you combine amps you end up with nothing but mud. But I came across the idea of using different amps for different frequency ranges. That could mean ,for example, using a Vox AC30 closed back for the low end, a Marshall or Bogner Ecstasy or a Mesa Boogie for the midrange, and then using something like a Bogner Fish preamp or Soldano preamp for the top end- something thast I could get a real hard bite from on top. I record those on separate tracks. They all go down at the same time, and then sometimes I double that.

So the first set of three is one performance……..

One performance. My Engineer Brian Carlstrom and I have been making our own active splitter boxes to help deal with hums, buzzes, and all that. The cable comes out of the guitar and the box splits the signal to the three amps. But I just did an album in the Bahamas last year at Terry Mannings studio (who is also a great engineer) and Terry invented an active splitter box with one in and six outs. It has ground lift switches to take care of grounding problems and it works like magic.

And the whole point of having the box is so the pickups aren’t loaded down making the guitar sound different.

Exactly. Even the length of the guitar cable can kill the tone. When we’re doing basic tracks, the guitar and bass players are in the control room with the amp heads, and this makes the leads shorter. Keeping the guitar leads short is important because long leads can really take down the high end.

Do you have particular mics that you use for the three amp set-up?

The mainstay for me has been the Shure SM57. We always keep relatively new ones around and we front and back mic open back cabinets with them. I also use AKG C12’s for pulling out the room sound a little bit, or Neumann U47’s or U49’s are great mics for the room. But I don’t tale a $10,000 mic and put it right on a Marshall cabinet. A 57 will get the sound for me.

How much of the mix is there between the close and distant mics?

Probably 20 percent room as opposed to the close mic, and those mics go down to the same track.

When using the multiple amp technique, do the amps go into separate areas or into one room?

There’s two set-ups that I use: one is for basic tracks and the other is for overdubs. When I am doing the basic track, I am not sire if it is going to be a keeper, so I will isolate the guitar and bass amps from the drum room. But, when I actually do guitar overdubs, we pull all of the guitar cabinets ( the heads always stay in the control room) out in the main room and then I have the option of using room mics on them too.

When you mic the front and back of an open back amp, are you generally using a 57 in front and a 57 in back?

It can be a 57 or sometimes I use 421’s. Sometimes it’s a 57 in front and a 421 in back. It varies.

More to come....................
Old 21st December 2005
  #19
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You sir, are awesome...
Old 21st December 2005
  #20
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Almost Human
You sir, are awesome...
Thanks dude........my pleasure really! heh


The rest of the article went on to talk about the tracking. All guitars and bass were recorded through 24 channels of Summit Tube pres (assembled by Rupert Neve himself), and Summit Tube compressors with a ratio of 4:1 knocking back 6 db. Cut flat to tape. (the SSL was used only for monitoring at this stage. Eqing was done at mixdown) All DI's and mics are compressed together.

The SM57 (for guitars) is placed at a 45 degree angle. Dave says at this position the mic acts like a cardoid and doesn't collapse the capsule when placed in front of a Marshall at 120db. Gives him a certain sound that he likes. (When using the rear mics, make sure to flip the phase.)

He also discussed the eqing of his three amp technique at mixdown. This is where the SSL board eq was used to fine tune the bandwidth of the three amps.

Really good article. I'm glad I save all my back issues. I also ran across an interview with Bob Rock if anyone is interested!
Old 21st December 2005
  #21
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I did a record with Bryan Carlstrom a few years ago.

The bass was courtesy of an SVT with a Mesa Bass 400 head with the cab in a small lounge next door to the tracking room of the South Studio at Track Record in No. Hollywood.

I wanna say the SVT had an RE20 on it.

This is the room we used:

http://www.trackrecordstudios.com/south.html

Here's Bryan's website. I don't know how current some of this is:

http://www.bryancarlstrom.com/

The drums were a Ross Garfield kit, fairly standard rock deal. Snare was a big brass Tama Superstar. Bryan put a P.A. in the drum room and sent the mix from the kit's close mics thru the P.A. JBL 2 x 15's IIRC.

There were lots of layers of guitars. I used a Triple Rectifier, my old Marshall JMP and a few other odds and ends (Bryan has a nice Oahu amplifier.)

Bryan lists his gear on his website, and the rack is pretty much exactly what I remember. There were quite a few Summit Tube Preamps in there.

There's a 6068 E in that room.

I wasn't much of a recording geek at the time, so I can only remember the obvious stuff, but maybe some of this will be interesting.
Old 21st December 2005
  #22
Here for the gear
 
bda1106's Avatar
 

AIC bass sound - cloned \m/

hey gang - new to the board (found it courtesy to www.michaelwagener.com)

great thread... just wanted to add my two cents

as one of the early posters mentioned - a 90% clone of Starr's tone on *Dirt* can be achieved with almost any decent bass with EMG pickups and fresh strings recorded direct with generous compression and a 3db EQ boost centered around 1K-1.5K with a low Q.

bass is my main instrument (20yrs) and have two main basses (1993 high-end spector 5 string and a 1990 Ibanez Soungear) both with EMGs

if anyone's interested - here's a link to a cover of *Would?* I did for kicks with a singer bud of mine... (bass is the 5-string spector btw)

I played all the bass drums and guitar myself... I'd be happy to give you guys a breakdown of the recording if anyone's interested... quite straightforward actually

hailz





http://h1.ripway.com/bda1106/mWould192(master).mp3
Old 21st December 2005
  #23
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Thanks for that info Max! JEEZ!! What a set-up Bryan has!! What a Gearslut!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
I did a record with Bryan Carlstrom a few years ago.

The bass was courtesy of an SVT with a Mesa Bass 400 head with the cab in a small lounge next door to the tracking room of the South Studio at Track Record in No. Hollywood.

I wanna say the SVT had an RE20 on it.

This is the room we used:

http://www.trackrecordstudios.com/south.html

Here's Bryan's website. I don't know how current some of this is:

http://www.bryancarlstrom.com/

The drums were a Ross Garfield kit, fairly standard rock deal. Snare was a big brass Tama Superstar. Bryan put a P.A. in the drum room and sent the mix from the kit's close mics thru the P.A. JBL 2 x 15's IIRC.

There were lots of layers of guitars. I used a Triple Rectifier, my old Marshall JMP and a few other odds and ends (Bryan has a nice Oahu amplifier.)

Bryan lists his gear on his website, and the rack is pretty much exactly what I remember. There were quite a few Summit Tube Preamps in there.

There's a 6068 E in that room.

I wasn't much of a recording geek at the time, so I can only remember the obvious stuff, but maybe some of this will be interesting.
Old 21st December 2005
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beechstudio
Thanks for that info Max!
+1 thumbsup
Old 21st December 2005
  #25
Lives for gear
Chains rules. Sick Man and Godsmack are my personal fav's. I saw them twice. Once with Van Halen on the Facelift tour....and once at Lollapalooza for the Dirt Tour. The Lollapalooza was awesome. Maynard and Adam Jones came out on Rooster. Staley came out on a Tool song. Rage Against the Machine was there and nobody knew how mindblowing that was going to be. That was the first time I'd ever even heard of Rage. My jaw was on the floor. Maynard came onstage for one of their songs. Primus played...Dinosour Jr....best show ever. Even 2nd stage rocked. Yeah, the 2000's have sucked so far compared to the 90's.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #26
Gear Addict
 
ramjet's Avatar
 

hi

hey beechstudio you should get your self a scanner cause they are way cheap now. the cannon combo ones are great. i got one and have just discovered the scan and convert to pdf function, that is way cool. but many many thanx for typing it out, great info and much appreciated.

cheers
Old 22nd December 2005
  #27
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beechstudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramjet
hi

hey beechstudio you should get your self a scanner cause they are way cheap now. the cannon combo ones are great. i got one and have just discovered the scan and convert to pdf function, that is way cool. but many many thanx for typing it out, great info and much appreciated.

cheers
Thanks ramjet.....I'll check that cannon out. I had a Lexmark 3 in 1 printer with scanner but the power supply shorted out and almost caught fire! Scarred me to death! If I hadn't been home, my house could have burnt down! Needless to say...after that experience, we unplug our computer center everytime its not in use!
Old 24th December 2005
  #28
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
I did a record with Bryan Carlstrom a few years ago.
I don't suppose he shed any lights on what guitar amps were used to record "Dirt" did he... heh
Old 24th December 2005
  #29
Gear Addict
I thought I read somewhere for cantrells gtr sound they put a mic on the headphone of a rockman. Then blended that in with the main sound.
Old 24th December 2005
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZEUSS
I thought I read somewhere for cantrells gtr sound they put a mic on the headphone of a rockman. Then blended that in with the main sound.
Very interesting stuff! We know they liked blending a few amps at once as posted in the interview above. I've heard reports of a Mesa Dual Recto and the Bogner Fish Preamp, and now we have the Rockman added in the mix. Perhaps the Bogner for the highs, the Recto for the mids, not sure about the lows, and then a Rocman for some flavor?

Thanks for posting!
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