When we spoke with Tom Scholz last month, we tried to leave no stone unturned, peppering the iconic guitarist and architect of the famous Boston sound with questions about his idiosyncratic recording techniques, his gear, the recently issued Tom Scholz Gibson Collector's Choice #10 Tom Scholz 1968 Les Paul, and Boston's brand-new album Life, Love & Hope.
And yet, we didn't even scratch the surface, evidenced by the amount of questions for Scholz that we received from MusicRadar readers. While prepping for a New England-style blast of snow, the famed music maker and inventor sat down to answer your queries.
Rudra R: I would love to get a true analogue sound on my recordings, but I don’t have the money for vintage equipment/tape machines. What do you recommend?
“That’s a tough one. Of course, that’s the position lots of people find themselves in, and the position I was in 35-plus years ago when I started. Back then, not too many people recorded because it was very expensive. The only option was analogue, and analogue by definition is almost always going to be more expensive than digital.
“When I started, I had to make a huge investment of time and money just to afford studio time, and later I was able to buy some old gear. It’s a difficult thing. The one thing I will say for digital, and you won’t hear me say that many complimentary things about it, is that it’s cheap. It pretty much enables anybody to record as long as you can deal with the sound.
“There are some deals for old tape machines. They’re going for a song compared to their original cost, so it is possible to get one. The tape is fairly pricey and hard to come by, but the equipment isn’t half bad. Of course, you don’t have to have an ancient, 40-year-old Les Paul to make a good recording. You can do it with any decent guitar or instrument.”
Brandon NM: What’s your take on how production of music has become digital? Is it killing the soul of music, or is it making people more creative?
“My pet theory is that digital reproduction is a huge step down in audio terms. There are a few big things wrong with it, which is why a lot of people don’t think it sounds so good. The first step down was with 16-bit CDs; and then there were MP3s, which are even worse than that – those were the final blow.
"I’m going to say this as an ethereal effect, not something that people are necessarily aware of while it’s happening, but my theory is that the proliferation of MP3 files have really diminished people’s appreciation of music. If your own choice was to listen to music on some terrible speakers all the time, would you listen to it more or less? And if you had great speakers with huge, perfect clarity, would you listen to it less? [Laughs] So I think it’s diminished people’s interest in music, and that’s hurt sales.”