Old 04-18-2016, 03:30 PM   #1
Petimar
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Default Micing amp for 50's Jazz Guitar sound?

I've been an acoustic player and recording person for many years. I have a new project where I want to add electric Jazz guitar sounds to some of my original tunes. Think Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass type tone.

I've got two friends who are top notch players that can play this stuff very well. What I dont know is how to record them. I've seen a bunch of videos where folks do this and read a bunch of things, so I will try those. I have some good mics (Royer R121, etc) and pres and a good room sound.

What I was wondering is if any of you who record this sound have any tricks to suggest? Thanks much in advance, I've learned a ton from the good folks on this forum!
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Old 04-18-2016, 06:30 PM   #2
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Is there a particular song example from one of those artists? They vary a bit much to pin point any ideas, imo.

I'd start by treating your ribbon mic like it is the most sensitive thing in the world and use more distance than you think is necessary, the technology wasn't so robust back then. Some subtle low end distortion and upper harmonics can add a good 'old' style tone.

I'd use some light reverb before the amp or use the amp's reverb, that was definitely a large part of Wes's tone. He used Fender Twin Reverb and Super Reverb models of amp. It's not washy but just a nice crushed but quiet reverb beefing up the sound.

All in all I think you should be safe setting up a dynamic a few inches off the grill and your royer 2-3 feet back, one of those or both should work to get you there.
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:43 PM   #3
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If the player uses a big hollowbody jazz guitar with heavy gauge strings with a touch of the tone on the pickup rolled off, and plays through an amp with lots of clean headroom and with its tone set appropriately you'll be 80% there, and if they can nail the touch you're after you're golden (as in, if a player has kind of the right instrument and can kind of make it sound like WM and JP it's not going to get any better no matter what comes next : ) )

Will this be a live basic session with band or guitar tracking? I would put up at least three mics at varying distances from the amp and see what sounds best, kill the others. Room mics are great but take care not to use too much of no matter how great they sound if they encroach on an intimacy you want to achieve.
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Old 04-21-2016, 12:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
Is there a particular song example from one of those artists? They vary a bit much to pin point any ideas, imo.
Wes: Incredible Jazz Guitar, any of the Verve recordings (Sundown comes to mind), Full House

Joe: Joy Spring, any or the Joe Pass - Herb Ellis recordings
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Old 04-21-2016, 01:37 AM   #5
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Absolute no expert here,
but from what I hear:

- Good top end roll-off (ribbon, dynamic and/or lopass/tone)
- I presume they strived for a rather clean sound, yet, it wouldn't be todays clean.
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Old 04-21-2016, 02:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Sun View Post
Absolute no expert here,
but from what I hear:

- Good top end roll-off (ribbon, dynamic and/or lopass/tone)
- I presume they strived for a rather clean sound, yet, it wouldn't be todays clean.
I wouldn't worry about rolling anything off in the chain.The player will usually have that covered. Not uncommon that they take it to too far in fact.

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Old 04-21-2016, 04:58 AM   #7
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If you want the sound of 50's recordings, don't mic the guitar amp at all!

Use 2-4 microphones to capture the entire band and then sum to mono. Use the relative placement of musicians and microphones to create your balance. Think a mic at either side of the "stage", and maybe one for the drum kit and one for the bass. Typically distances will be far greater than generally use today, because it's a live recording and leakage is not an issue.
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Old 04-21-2016, 09:58 AM   #8
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Just watched an amusing YT video on just this subject.

A rather nice jazz box with a to-die-for tone when mic'ed up using an LCD and..... one of those little Marshall Micro Stack!
I kid you not,
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Just watched an amusing YT video on just this subject.

A rather nice jazz box with a to-die-for tone when mic'ed up using an LCD and..... one of those little Marshall Micro Stack!
I kid you not,
Link please!
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judders View Post
If you want the sound of 50's recordings, don't mic the guitar amp at all!

Use 2-4 microphones to capture the entire band and then sum to mono. Use the relative placement of musicians and microphones to create your balance. Think a mic at either side of the "stage", and maybe one for the drum kit and one for the bass. Typically distances will be far greater than generally use today, because it's a live recording and leakage is not an issue.
Yea, not really multi-tracking yet then so everyone was just in a big room together. I'd probably do a R121 a foot or two back and a couple of Omnis or similar in the room. Be careful with those 121s, you aren't supposed to even carry them across the room without the sock on. I have two and treat them very gently. If used closer in, throw them 15-20 degrees off-axis (vertically or via rotation), won't change the response and will protect from SPLs coming off the cone.
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Old 04-21-2016, 05:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judders View Post
Link please!
You bugger! I was hoping nobody would ask, but I will see if I can find it.
Cant even recall what the title was exactly....

Sorry cant find it & I clear my browser history regularly so it is gone.
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
You bugger! I was hoping nobody would ask, but I will see if I can find it.
Cant even recall what the title was exactly....
Ah well, I had a quick search but didn't find anything.

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Sorry cant find it & I clear my browser history regularly so it is gone.
Something to hide?
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Old 04-23-2016, 12:29 AM   #13
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Nah - I am a neat freak.
Run ASC at least once every week.
I sometimes wonder if this OCD behaviour is why I get so few of the problems reported on here.
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:20 AM   #14
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Thanks for the help all!
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Thanks for the help all!
I'd love to hear the results if you can share them.
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Old 07-06-2016, 06:37 PM   #16
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In the early 80's I was in a jazz band and used an ES 335 with a Music Man 112 RD. The solid state pre on the MM and that classic clean to warm growl of the Gibson was the sound to have at the time. If you were set right the clean was perfect and would start to break up naturally with a heavier hand. Man I miss those days.
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Old 07-07-2016, 12:53 PM   #17
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What guitar and amp are you using? That's important. Herb Ellis, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow, Grant Greene, Barney Kessel, etc. were all using Gibson archtops like the ES-175, Super 400, and L5s with a PAF humbucker in the neck position. They'd normally have the cleanest-sounding amp they could find. In the 50s, Ampeg had the jazz tones cornered, but Fender was making cheaper things, so the Twin was popular.

For me, it's always been about the archtop with a neck humbucker. As for miking that sound, like the other guys are saying, jazz was recorded live off the floor—no overdubs (other than Les Paul). So the techniques would be more distant. The horns and drums would play quieter when the guitar would take a solo. Distances were likely two feet from the horns at most. They weren't working with multitrack too much for jazz till the 60s. Jazz is about the performance anyway.

I would recommend getting the sound you want in your room first, then start sticking mics in front of the amp till they're reproducing what you want to hear in Reaper.
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Old 09-24-2016, 04:10 PM   #18
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Wes also used and liked Standell transistor amps.
I think Wes was recorded closer than you think. It was the 60's not the 40's. Don' forget a good compressor.
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Old 10-09-2016, 12:25 PM   #19
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Cool thread! I love the sound of 50's jazz recordings, and vintage recordings in general sound much more pleasant to me than the in-your-face sound of the recordings of more recent decades. I also like the idea of not mastering the dynamics out of a recording.

One would typically think of 50's recordings as low-fi, and that's the case with several genres of that era (country, rock and roll). But Kind of Blue was recorded in '58, and to me, that doesn't sound low-fi at all. Just a great band in a great sounding studio, with (then) state-of-the-art equipment capturing an absolutely brilliant performance. Of course there's no guitar on that record, but man it sounds good!

The idea of putting some distance between the mic and the amp has been touched on here, and I think that's the key to getting a "vintage" sound, whereas close miking an amp will certainly result in a more modern sound.

I'm not sure which type of microphones were used to track electric guitar back in the 50's, but I think that jazz recordings were more likely to have been recorded with Neumann condensers, whereas rock and country recordings were still being made with ribbon mics. I think the R&B labels (Motown, etc.) also started using condensers earlier as well. That said, I think ribbon mics are excellent for recording electric guitar.

I'm a guitarist, and I love jazz, but I'm a mediocre jazz guitarist at best. These days I'm playing in a classic honkytonk band, and we're trying to sound as authentic as possible when it comes to sounding vintage. Check out the link to our recordings in my signature. Tracked live in my untreated living room with only ribbon mics, placed at least a foot from their source. Minimal EQ used, and no tape emulation or any other plugs other than a bit of ReaVerb on the vocals.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:07 PM   #20
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A ribbon mic would probably give you that 50s vibe. But you can also use an sm57 and get nice results I bet.

You've got a few choices for positioning.

Dead Centre and close will be bright and thinner
Back off 6" for bright and more bass
Off axis will be darker sounding
Or ... (my favorite) Move the mic off centre of the speaker near the edge of the cab, back out 6-12 inches and point the mic in toward the center of the speaker for a balanced tone.

Hope that helps
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