So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I went to an unexpected concert when a friend of mine won Whitesnake tickets from a local radio station. This past weekend, my wife and I went to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, to see Van Halen’s 2015 tour. Unlike the Whitesnake show, this one was planned, and what a show it was.
After recently and unexpectedly seeing Whitesnake live, I remembered how much I used to love the guitar tone that John Sykes had when he recorded their 1987 album and his follow-up Blue Murder albums. I’ve always heard that he used a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier for those recordings. The HD500X Cali Tread model is based on the 2001 version of that amp, so I decided to create a patch using the Cali Tread.
You can hear a sample of the patch here, and download at https://brianmhall.wordpress.com/hd500x-guitar-patches.
So, if you had told me two weeks ago that I’d soon be at a Whitesnake concert, I would have just looked at you funny and laughed. But you would have gotten the last laugh because that’s exactly where I was last night.
A friend of mine from church called me up a couple of weeks ago and said, “Hey, I just called a radio show contest and won two tickets to go see Whitesnake. Wanna go?” My first reaction was that he was joking, but it turns out that he wasn’t, so I said, sure, I’ll go.
I’m not much of a Whitesnake fan, but I will admit that in the late 80s, I did like them quite a bit (I just won’t admit if it was the 1880s or 1980s). I even saw them in concert somewhere around ’89 (again, maybe 1889, maybe 1989, I’m not saying). So when my friend asked me to go, I thought it would be fun to go and reminisce. It was actually a pretty fun show.
Several weeks ago I wrote about stage volume and beaming when it comes to using an amp on stage. Today I want to talk about my experiences using microphones to send the guitar sound to a PA system.
First let me start by saying that I don’t have extensive experience miking amps, and I generally don’t need to either because I either use a multi-fx pedal going straight into a PA system, or the amp itself was enough without needing to have it mic’d.
Having said that, there was a period of time when I did need to use microphones to get my guitar sound into the main speakers controlled by a PA system. I spent quite a lot of time trying to learn the best methods to do so, and after a lot of trial and error, this is what worked best for me.
The main thing that I found, as mentioned in the article I mentioned above, is that the amp has to have enough volume before being mic’d or else you’ll just be amplifying a small, weak guitar sound. The other things that I learned are 1) that you need to find the correct mic placement, 2) that you need to find the best mic angle, and 3) that you need to find the best distance of the mic from the speaker.
Yesterday I talked a little bit about using a microphone on stage and why you need to have plenty of volume coming from the amp to get a good mic’d sound.
While there are plenty of times that having your amp loud on stage is perfectly acceptable, there are instances where this can be a problem. Some church worship bands, for instance, understandably require low stage volume for all instrumentalists. Low stage volume also cuts down on speaker beaming, which is what happens when someone’s ears are the direct path of the speaker and they get all of the very harsh frequencies from the center of the speaker cone. If you’ve got a multi-fx pedal, no problem, but what if you need to use an amp and you need some volume to get that really great tone without blowing grandma’s wig off? What can you do?
I’ve been in this situation before, and after trying a number of things over several live sessions, I finally found a solution that worked very well. I found some old kick-drum shields and placed them in front of my amp to block the loud volume from overpowering the room and to block the harsh tone caused by beaming from hitting anyone square in the ears.
One question I see being asked often on the Internet is, “How do I get a good guitar tone for playing live that will be heard in a mix.” There is a lot of good information to be found, and I’m going to add some things I’ve learned from my experience to the mix (pun intended).
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the new Line 6 model packs for the HD500X multi-effects pedal had been released. One of my main interests in the new model packs was the inclusion of the Peavey 5150 amp model, which Line 6 has named “PV Panama” in keeping with their practice of naming amp models in creative ways, rather than naming them the same as the real amp.
Now that I’ve purchased the model packs, I created a sample recording of the raw sound of the 5150 model on the HD500X.
When I was about 16 years old, I started learning how to play “Cathedral” by the great Edward Van Halen. That song uses a repeated delay and volume swells, literally turning the guitar’s volume control up and down with each tapped note. I began playing around with that same exact delay setting on my Digitech Digital Delay pedal (which, regrettably, I sold about a a year ago) and came up with my own song.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun with what I came up with, and even got to play it live at a huge family reunion that our extended family had at Orange Beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama sometime in the late 80s. I never recorded the song, other than with a tape recorder set up next to my amp, until recently.
You can here it here.
I had never come up with a name for the song, but I decided it was time to make a recording and give it a name. The song is called Into The Eye of Harmony and was recording using the HD500X both for the guitar parts and for the bass (using my typical setup of using my guitar with the Flip Top Bass amp model with a bass octaver effect). I found a royalty free drum track on the web and set out to record a quick demo of the guitar part, but ended up using that first take without doing another. Since I hadn’t previously written a bass part, I just improvised the bass part in two takes.
I enjoyed finally getting this recorded and mixed and I hope you enjoy listening to it.