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Grave Dancers Union guitars
Old 20th March 2013
  #1
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
Grave Dancers Union guitars

Hello Michael!

As a younger man learning to play and trying to find my "guitar voice" I always thought that Dan Murphy's recorded tone was among the best of the era. I loved the contrast between the cleans & acoustic sounds and the overdriven/distorted stuff - 'Black Gold' is a good example of that - I think that the difference between the verses and the chorus is tonally perfect. So far apart in terms of level but yet sounds so balanced on the record.

Can you please offer some insight into how these sounds were captured? There's some sporadic info out there on the 'net about how Dan used to play Goldtop Les Pauls but going back to that era it's unclear what he was using and it's been years since I sent all my 1993 and 1994 'GUITAR PLAYER' magazines to the recycler.

Any memories/tips/info would be most welcome! Thanks again for being here!
Old 20th March 2013
  #2
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

I'll do my best. Dan played gold tops with small pickups- that was his "thing". He had a very good tone and I'm pretty sure the balance of that recording was done with a '67-'69 50 watt Plexi head and some kind of Marshall cab- almost definitely a 100 watt. I also recall an Ampeg V4- although it may have been a V4B and used for the bass.

I don't recall the micing, although at one point, I think we used a crossed pair of 414's about 4 fingers off the grille. On a few tracks, we used silver 1176's- although I think I asked them to be removed from the chain. Pretty sure the acoustic guitar was a J45- have no idea how it was mic'ed.

All the overdubs on that record were done from about 8pm to 9am every single day for several months. With that in mind, I'm amazed I recall anything.
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Old 20th March 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I listened to that record a ton when it came out. One of the best from the era IMO...

Great work!
Old 20th March 2013
  #4
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

Thank you, guys.
Old 20th March 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
skybluerental's Avatar
 

Pachyderm?
Old 21st March 2013
  #6
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

We were at Pachyderm for about 2-3 days to do some additional recording at the end of the project. The principal overdubs were at River Sound in NYC.
Old 29th March 2013
  #7
Gear Nut
 

I agree, the guitar tones are remarkable on this album. Congrats to you and everyone else who contributed to them!! Danny Murphy used a Les Paul Deluxe, which has minihumbuckers (as someone already mentioned). I used one on my last EP and they work remarkably well in the recording environment. Those pickups don't have the sonic mass of a regular humbucker, and fit into the mix remarkably well. But mini humbucker pickups are shunned by most R&R guitarists, but sonically they are close to Filtertrons - and listen to Malcom Young's tones on every AC/DC album - a Filtertron through a Marshall is an awesome R&R tone.


Right after GDY broke, I was in a band with John Woodland - aka Woody (one of their guitar techs). He showed me the blonde, round-shouldered guitar Danny used in the studio. Because it was blonde, it was a J50, and I think it was from the mid 1960's. The sunburst model is the J45. He also had Dave's black J200, and was tuning up their guitars for upcoming recording sessions.

Last edited by bigsbyman; 30th March 2013 at 01:12 PM.. Reason: error
Old 30th March 2013
  #8
Gear Head
 
strawberrius's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
I'll do my best. Dan played gold tops with small pickups- that was his "thing". He had a very good tone and I'm pretty sure the balance of that recording was done with a '67-'69 50 watt Plexi head and some kind of Marshall cab- almost definitely a 100 watt. I also recall an Ampeg V4- although it may have been a V4B and used for the bass.

I don't recall the micing, although at one point, I think we used a crossed pair of 414's about 4 fingers off the grille. On a few tracks, we used silver 1176's- although I think I asked them to be removed from the chain. Pretty sure the acoustic guitar was a J45- have no idea how it was mic'ed.

All the overdubs on that record were done from about 8pm to 9am every single day for several months. With that in mind, I'm amazed I recall anything.
hi michael -
thanks for doing this Q&A - it's always fascinating to read how other people in the trenches are thinking!
as big fan of your records & as a subsequent producer of 2 soul asylum albums, i showed this thread to dan murphy - he wanted to put his 2 cents in.

here's his response:

Recording with Michael was intense but I left the session with nothing but respect for him. The secret of the gold tops is the seymour duncan replacement firebird pickups in both guitars I own that are from the same year and virtually identical. I swapped out the bridge pickup on both with Seymour Duncan firebird pickups way better than the stock mini humbucker gibson fit these with. The neck pick ups on both are stock. We did in fact use a nice old Ampeg V-4 on much of the guitar work - the same amp which was pretty much my touring and recording amp for the first ten years in Loud Fast Rules and early Soul Asylum. The guitar tone of Black Gold, Without a Trace and songs like Homesick the dialed back warm chiming guitar sound was all that amp through 2 marshall 4 X 12 cabinets that we ran really hot and loud we blew out speakers weekly if not daily.
Beinhorn's real coup on that album in my opinion was the tone he got on Karl, really tight and interesting yet it moved a ton of air. Michael can likely recall that process and how we moved to do bass overdubs at a smaller studio in Manhattan The Magic Shop, and the bass sound was not comparable so we cancelled the studio and went back to the massive studio where we had previously cut the drums to overdub bass which was placed literally in their closet at $1600 a day... We all thought Michael was nuts but with history as a guide he was right as rain. Fun times and crazy long ago, I remember much of it well, and other stuff not so much ! Michael B. too, be well and I miss you and thanks for making such a great record with us.
Daniel D Murphy

Last edited by strawberrius; 30th March 2013 at 07:49 PM.. Reason: grammar
Old 30th March 2013
  #9
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

I actually got choked up reading that. It was such a crazy time making that record, but it always felt we are on the path of something truly marvelous.

My sincere thanks to you for posting this and my sincere love and respect to Mr. Murphy for his steadfast performance on that record and his impeccable memory. What a great experience we shared.
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Old 31st March 2013
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Such a cool thread. What a great record!



Gideon Merritt
Old 2nd April 2013
  #11
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
Wow, thanks strawberrius for showing this to Dan and filling in the other side of the equation... please thank him from me for being such an inspiration, and thanks much again to Michael for capturing those great sounds!
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