Kevin Shirley's 7 tips for recording great blues guitar tone

The seasoned producer offers some insight

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCxRYvVN0CA

Kevin Shirley has manned the desk for Joe Bonamassa, Black Crowes, Iron Maiden and Rush among numerous other major names. We caught up with him following his work on JoBo's recent album Blues Of Desperation to get his tips on how to record brilliant blues guitar...

1. It's all in the hands…

"The main ingredients are having a set of hands that know what to do with a piece of plank and some wire bolted across it! Once you've got the hands, that's the beginning of it."

2. Pedals are no substitute…

"Joe's very much into the purity of his instruments and his amplifiers. He has great equipment. I love the distortion of an overdriven amp or the cleanliness of a loud clean amplifier. Pedals don't do it for me. Pedals and modelling amps are just substitutes for the real thing."

3. Use the room…

"I don't use many room mics… but the room is important because I like it to be comfortable. I love Grand Victor because it's not a pristine room. It's a 'fuck you' studio, in that Joe can be playing a solo and there'll be people walking right by."

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnhGGZB6U9s

4. The overdub foundation…

"After basic band tracking, I like to overdub because I think it helps repeated listening to hear things and discover things. I think it helps set moods and helps light and shade and I think it helps the emotion that you're trying to achieve."

5. Going live…

"I like Joe to do the solos live, mostly, unless they're particularly challenging or we're looking for a different tonality or something else that's changing in the track, but we'll normally go live because then he's playing off the musicians."

6. Mic the cone…

"I just put a Tul G12 mic on the cone. It's that simple. It's like the no brainer microphone. Anyone that wants to record an amplifier, just stick this microphone right on the cone of the speaker."

7. Keep it simple…

"It's not about using outboard. Blues tone is in the fingers, guitar and amp. If it doesn't sound right, then I'll say 'change it' while we're tracking things. If it sounds good, then we'll just leave it alone."


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