Hello Sylvia. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I love your work and it is a pleasure having you here.
I LOVE the guitar and bass sounds on Undertow (especially the bass). Can you provide any information regarding the signal path(player's rigs/general settings, tracking/room choice, and mixing) and techniques used to capture these great sounds? Also, how different would you say they ended up sounding from tracking to mixing? I'm more the type to try and really get it right in tracking and use the mix to take it to the next level, but I've been an assistant on projects where it was kinda meh on the way in and then successfully worked into something crazy at mix time. Thanks again for doing this.
PS: I love the Duality as well. It was the board at the studio where I interned and still occasionally freelance out of, so I've logged many hours on it.
The specifics of the Undertow guitar are as follows:
Gibson Les Paul Silverburt into a splitter, into two heads and cabs, as described in the other guitar posts in this Q&A. The particular heads were a Marshall Plexi-style 100-watt Lead head and a Mesa Dual Rectifier head. The Marshall head set very loud but dynamic, the Mesa gainy and squeezed. Both cabs were newer 4x12 Marshalls with 75-watt Celestion speakers.
The guitar cabs were miced with a 57 and a 421 on each, with all mics generally summed into one track. However on the verses, sometimes I recorded each amp/cab combination to its own track, panning them wide. The differences in the character of the amps made a nice panning effect in sections of the song where there was only one performance.
The bass guitar was very unique on the Tool records. I worked with Paul D'Amour, who had a Chris Squire signature Rickenbacker 4001. The CS model has hot pick-ups and it hit the amp harder, making it growlier than most. Paul's choice for several songs was a Mesa 400+ bass amp, which had a graphic EQ on the face. It was generally set a bit scooped out of the middle. The bass was recorded through my Urie LA-3A set-up, and all guitars and bass tracks were recorded to a Studer A827 2" 24-track tape machine.
Check back and I will post a diagram of the Tool Bass Tone in the next few days...
Hey Sylvia, thanks for the info regarding Paul's bass tone, I was wondering if you could tell me was this the same set up Paul used for Recording the EP Opiate?
Oh and there is footage of tool recording Undertow that I'm sure that everyone knows about but in the footage
although its hard to tell but during the recording of Bottom it looks like Paul is using a Gallien-Krueger head? was this used on the songs that the Mesa head wasnt.
In answering the question about Paul's amp on Opiate, yes, sometimes he would use a GK400RB head on the bass (it might have been an 800RB). I have a 400RB that I bring out when my vintage Ampeg SVT is complaining too much. It is lightweight and easy to use. Consistent tone. But it doesn't growl like the SVT. For some of those Tool songs, the GK was the perfect fit!