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Old 28th August 2002
Bernard 🎙️
Smile Studio Musicians

Hi Dave, I've enjoyed your posts this month. I have asmall home based Pro Tools Le studio and everyday I toil to get to get better sounds. Nashville is known as hot bed of excellent studio musicians. My all time favorite guitar player is Brent Mason. Have you ever worked with him? Who are some of your favorites studio musicians and what technique,signal path etc. do you use to get those sounds?
Old 28th August 2002
Moderator emeritus

Well, I haven't worked with Brent except live years and years ago, so I can't tell you how most folks recording him. I'm kind of out here in the country, doing projects for my clients using my usual guys.

But, I can tell you that Brent's sound comes from him, not anything the engineer's do. I've seen him plug a tele into a Fender Deluxe. There's the sound. I've also seen the multiple refrigerator racks of gear he has in cartage. it's from him, not the gear. (Best example of that fact that the sound is in the hands - find the instructional video Jaco Pastorius made - he was playing a fretted Precision bass, even though the fretless Jaxx is what brought him to prominence. And he sounded just like he always had...).

But for favorite guys and their signal chain? I can tell you what I've seen or heard; For electric bass, I'd rather hear Glenn Worf than any other session guy in town - I think that Glenn has the knack of playing the right notes, all the time. And I've seen him with a straight DI and a Precision with EMG's, and I've seen him with a rack that includes an SWR and an LA-2A. Same sound. For upright in a traditional style, Dennis Crouch (who just finshed the Down From The Mountain Tour with the Nashville Bluegrass band) is great - you can also hear him with the Time Jumpers, a western swing band, at (I recorded and mixed the live album they just released). For a hipper style. either Victor Krauss or Edgar Meyer (though Edgar mostly is a soloist these days...) get great sounds. and that, too, is from the player, not the gear (though Bil Vorndick's article in the new EQ mentions how he records Victor and the greates dobrot player there is - Jerry Douglas). When I've recorded Dennis, it's been through an RCA 74B and a Great River NV.

For drums, I usually use Tommy Wells (who played on all of the old Ricky Van Shelton records), and I also love to work with John Gardner, currently with the staff band on the Grand Ole Opry. The usual chain I use for drums is posted under another subject. For keyboards, young Gordon Mote plays great (listen to the new Alan Jackson record). If you hire Gordon, it's best to go ahead and pay the cartage for his C3 and Leslie - they sound great. But he sounds great on both synths and piano. No trick on either, though I usually run his synth (an XP80) through the Vac Rac preamps as DI's and a Meek C2 on the way to tape.

A fiddle/mandolin player who's hit big this year is Jonathan Yudkin (he's doing most of Dann Huff's projects, including SheDaisy). Jonathan's one of the few fiddle players I know who brings a signal chain with him (some engineers use it, some don't) consisting of a 4033 into an ART MP Pro and some multi-effects box. WIth that, he can stack parts with the client having an idea of what it's going to sound like even on the first pass. I think Jonathan did Lonestar's "I'm Already There", stacking the string quartet that's all the way through the song. However, I usually use Wanda Vick (who was with Wild Rose a few years ago, and then the house band on 'Nashville Now" for fiddle, dobro, mandolin and bango. Wanda plays great, and saves me from havind to schedule a bunch of guys on those instruments.

For Wanda's fiddle, I always use a Geffell M582 with the M62 capsule into a Vintech X73. For mandolin, the THE mic with the 25MM capsule sounds great, through a Manley 40dB pre. Or I've used a KSM 44, which I'll also use on dobro and banjo. Or a TLM 103 from time to time. The preamps are either Vintech X73, Great River NV, Vac Rac, or the original Great River. A lot depends on what's already up, since (live everyone else) most of her sound comes from her.

For steel, Mike Johnson's the guy I'll call (he's on all of the Brad Paisley records, among others). For Mike, it's pretty simple - he'll bring a rack that includes a Boogie preamp a couple of rack mounted effects (a TC 2290 and a TC G Force), as well as a Brent Averill 1272. He'll plug his steel into the bookie and out to a Bookie (or Rivera - I can't remember which) 1x12 cabinet, where he mikes it ith his 421 and back into the 1272. From there it goes to the effects boxes (at line level, of course) and gives me an XLR. I'll choose the compressor of the day (last time was a Purple 1176, and the time before that was a Peavey VC/L2 - before that, a Cranesong Trackker - we experiment each time he's out...). Johnny Cox is another great choice - he currently plays with the Time Jumpers as well as Connie Smith. With Johnny, I used a 421 into the ooriginal Great River one time, the NV another, and the Vac Rack a third. I've used either a Tube Tech CL1B or nothing at all on him to tape - he still sounds like himself.

I hope this helps a but, but pretty much, you can assume that the sound of the Nashville guys comes from their hands, NOT from the engineer (as much as I'd like to take credit for the sounds they get here...). And there are a zillon other fabulous players here - The ones I've mentioned are ontly the guys who came to mind or who work out here.
Old 29th August 2002
Bernard 🎙️
Thumbs up Very Cool

Hi Dave, Thanks for the information. I totally agree with you about great sounds being in the hands of great players. I've done steel guitar on a number of occaisions for local projects but the last time I hired a different player and good got some fantastic sounds DIing from a stomp pedal into my pro tools box. Certainly wasn't anything that I was doing differently. I will try some of your suggestions and I truly appreciate the insights.
Old 29th August 2002
Moderator emeritus

Well, it's not a lot of help, since the biggest part of my advice is to hire the right guys for the record. The saound is there.

Actually, I'm starting to wonder if there's an income opportunity for me in there somewhere - offering to put great players on projects for out of town producers. You know, send me a 2 mix and I'll record whatever instruments you'd like and send them back to you on ADATS, DA-88's, PT sessions, or whatever. Finding a great steel player or fiddle player is a bit difficult in a lot of places.

THe issues would be figuring out the financial end (for me and for the players), and (naturally), convincing producers that what my guys put on their project is just what the project needed...
Old 30th August 2002
Gear Addict

I'm fortunate in that I get to work with Brent in the studio fairly often. Indeed, the tone is in the hands. Are there any specific songs that you're curious about?
Old 31st August 2002
Bernard 🎙️
Dave, that's a great idea. i've recently seen ads in mix magazine by a session drummer offering a similar service. I'm sure there's a way to work this out.

OKden, thanks for your reply. There are so many tunes that Brent has played on, from his stuff with the Mavericks, David Ball, George Straight, Brooks and Dunn and of course all the signature licks that he's done for Allan Jackson (Chatahochee etc.) I find it difficult to pick out one tune(excuse the punn). Info any tune that you've been privy to would be great. Thanks>
Old 31st August 2002
Gear Addict

As Dave mentioned, it's often as simple as plugging into a stock black face Deluxe reverb (with the stock blue speaker). For the clean things like the George Strait and Alan Jackson, it's the Deluxe, a Boss CS3 compressor (the blue one), and sometimes a delay pedal for slap. I've tried lots of mics on him, but always end up going back to the sm57, and sometimes a u67 added to it (not often) On those records, the effects you hear (reverb, delay, width) is added in the mix. On the "Summertime Blues" solo (among others), a BSS DPR901 was used to notch out some of the "hurt" while leaving the clear high end. It's a lot like what a waves C4 can do on your system. On Chattahoochie, one side was "dry" and the other side had a touch of PCM42 mixed in.
The other part of the sound is his gray telecaster. It has a third pickup in the middle like a strat, but it's wired with a three position switch like a standard tele. The middle pickup has a volume control only. This way he's able to add just a touch of that middle pickup to the others. The bridge pickup with just a touch of the middle added is a sound you've heard a bunch.
I don't want to give the impression that Brent doesn't use other amps and guitars. He's capable of pretty much any tone you can think of (and then some). For what it's worth, he's an incredible Jazz player as well.
Old 31st August 2002
Gear Maniac
vsl666's Avatar

Wink ooo

now that really is a splendid idea !
im going to store it if thats ok !

.... i seem to have the devil went down to georgia stuck my head
*bangs head*

as a gearslut i have to protest this gear not making the sound are being a bit modest...most folk seem to have no trouble buggering up a good sound ...

he was looking for a soul to steal....
Old 31st August 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

thats odd. i have one of the Mavericks [im guessing way old] PA system sitting in my sutdio right now. at least thats what is spray painted on the cases of it.
Old 31st August 2002
Bernard 🎙️
Hey OKden, Thanks for the info. Do you generally use stock pres from your board or do have outboard pres and/or compressor that you like to use? I also agree with you about Brent being a monster jazz player. Some of the stuff he does on his Hot Licks video is incredible and he never seems to run out of ideas. I also have a copy of his Hot Wired CD. It's amazing. It must be incredible to work with players of that caliber.
Old 31st August 2002
Gear Addict

Yup, stock board pres, and never any compression (other than sometimes what tape does). A compressor just takes away the ability of the player to use any dynamics. If they're feeling it, I want to record it. A lot of these records are tracked live on the spot with 7-8 great players. I've learned that you get a sort of "oneness" if alot of your record goes through the same preamps. Usually a studio capable of handling a Nashville tracking date, will have a good enough sounding board to do it.
Hot Wired was about 90% Trident 80B, and 10% Neve 8108, mixed on an SSL. It got crispy in mastering, as per the label. (sigh) An interesting note about Hot Wired... Brent really didn't labor over it. He's smart enough to leave in the "less than perfect" spots. He didn't feel the need to show off much, and very little punching or comping was done....... what a concept!

It's like when the operating room nurse said to the brain surgeon "Hurry up!, this isn't country music you know."
Old 31st August 2002
Lives for gear

Originally posted by Dave Martin

But for favorite guys and their signal chain? I can tell you what I've seen or heard; For electric bass, I'd rather hear Glenn Worf than any other session guy in town - I think that Glenn has the knack of playing the right notes, all the time. And I've seen him with a straight DI and a Precision with EMG's, and I've seen him with a rack that includes an SWR and an LA-2A. Same sound.


I could not agree more about Glen Worf. My favorite, hands down. Tone, time, taste and a most excellent personal vibe. Why, if I wasn't already married.........

My comments about Glen are in the perspective of having cut everybody from John Patitucci to Nathan East to Abe Laboriel toTommy Simms, etc. All great players, but I'd still take Glen most of the time over any.

I have to say that the musicianship in Nashville is astounding. Great guitar players have to wait in line, hoping somebody dies, just to get a shot here, there is so much talent.

After 10 years in Texas and 5 years in LA, I was just not prepared for the scene here when I moved. I'm still blown away by it 10 years later.

How about this one? Paul Leim. What a timing freak. I recorded him handmaking a click track with a cowbell for a tune that had been cut without a click and a bad drummer. The track felt slightly drunk and the drums sounded like caca, so Paul was overdubbing new drums.

Paul made the clicktrack in about 4 minutes, we stopped and punched in *once*, then went out and drilled the drums to the rest of the band on tape. Beat Detective my ass! Beat Detective and about 5 hours would have gotten us to about 60% of where TALENT got us in 10 minutes.

Grrrrrrrr!!!!!! Don't get me started.

Another time, just joking around, Paul was playing down to get drum sounds. I gave him a click, let him groove for a few bars, then killed the click.

About 90 seconds later, I turned the click back on. Yup, you guessed it. He was right there.

The "problem" with Nashville is powerbroker/political producers who lack passion for their craft and have decided to simply take a ride on the backs of the superior skill and craftmanship of the players, and in some cases, engineers.

Many Nashville producers seem content to find a truly great demo (often better than the final record) and tell the players, "Well boys, I like what they did here. Let's try not to screw it up." Wow, there's some motivation. Then the producer busies himself on the phone about important crap like lunch and tee times while the band and engineer make the record. So much so that the players are self policing. They notate their own mistakes and simply give the engineer SMPTE times or bar numbers they need to punch. Often with the producer still in the lounge.

Nashville guys, do I lie?

These players can play just about anything better than just about anybody. Brent Mason is a savant of a *jazz* player. Glenn Worf can rock *hard*. Etc, etc, etc. But the town traps them in a box more often than not. It's a testimony to their talent that they make the box so much better than it might be without them.

Brian T
Old 31st August 2002
Motown legend
Bob Olhsson's Avatar

I visited Nashville for the first time a year ago last May.

Ellen and I got invited to sit in on a string and horn session for Turner Television. We both sat there with our jaws on the floor at the musicianship. Ellen's best girlfriend's older brother was a top arranger in New York and she had visited many string dates there during the early '60s. I had recorded many string sessions in Detroit and sat in on a number of sessions in LA that used their best players during the 1970s. Just to reassure us that we weren't hallucinating, the producer told us he had stopped doing his strings in London because the players in Nashville were so much better.

This was followed by Dave Martin's invitation for us to come and see his wife's band, "The Time Jumpers." Here was the Basie band's rhythm section with a steel guitar, two fiddles and an accordion. The playing and singing was exceptional and it was utterly obvious WHY this music had been a sensation during the 1940s. I had never heard anybody but Basie himself and Detroit's Funk Brothers rock like this. As a climax to the trip, we were invited to watch King Crimson play a club. After an hour it was just too loud for me so we went outside and listened for another half hour from the sidewalk. The music was incredible although I was disappointed at not getting to catch up with Tony Levin who was out touring with his own band.

We went back to San Francisco knowing for certain that we would be making several visits to Nashville a year. Six months later we were finally able to schedule a demo session for some of Ellen's songs through Bob Babbitt. Bob was the first session bass player I had ever watched play in Detroit when I was a kid. Bob called on his old friend Ed Greene to play drums for us and here we sat with arguably the living R&B A-Team playing on Ellen's song demos! After that experience and another Monday night dose of The Time Jumpers, we both knew that we had to go back, pack up and move to Nashville. After years of ranting and raving on the net about what was wrong with music, it had come crashing home that a lot of what has been missing is truly exceptional musicians. You can intellectualize about music all day long but in the end it's about how it feels and "there ain't nothing like the real thing."
Old 1st September 2002
Gear Maniac
vsl666's Avatar

Thumbs up


*jumps about a bit*

ps but nathen east is F FF FF FF FUNKY tho innit
i worked with him once and i cant remember the band or
the year or my life at the time but i do remember
the bass...
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