Opin­ion

With no time for the Jan­uary Blues Adam Gold­smith got nerdy in the stu­dio with his Kem­per pro­fil­ing amp

Guitarist - - Contents - adam Gold­smith

Tra­di­tion­ally the first month of the year is a quiet time for ses­sion mu­si­cians, but I was lucky enough to have a week of con­tin­u­ous ses­sions start­ing on 2 Jan­uary, just enough time for the hang­over to clear up and to take my mind off the dreaded self­em­ployed tax bill.

I spent this week in renowned drum­mer Ralph Salmins’ Bunker stu­dio record­ing 50 min­utes of mu­sic per day in ev­ery style imag­in­able, from a tango clas­si­cal gui­tar fea­ture to a cover of Me­tal­lica’s En­ter

Sand­man, via The Sound of Mu­sic. This was all recorded for a com­pany who sell show back­ing tracks all over the world, and in or­der to make it fi­nan­cially vi­able, we didn’t do more than two takes for any­thing, and they all needed to be per­fect by that sec­ond take. The charts were ex­pertly writ­ten and ar­ranged by pi­anist Rob Eck­land, key­boards played by the Strictly Come Danc­ing band and Brian May Key­board player Jeff Leach, and up­right and electric bass by stu­dio supremo Steve Pearce.

It’s not to a lot of peo­ple’s taste, but for me be­ing un­der this amount of pres­sure and hav­ing to con­cen­trate hard con­stantly is pos­si­bly my favourite mu­si­cal sit­u­a­tion. It does re­quire the odd light ale af­ter­wards and ex­ces­sive use of blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion, how­ever, it’s very ful­fill­ing in­deed when you get things right.

Gear wise there is ob­vi­ously a re­quire­ment for di­verse and well­main­tained gui­tars and amps, so as we were in a medium-sized stu­dio (when com­pared to Abbey Road Stu­dios where I’m writ­ing this col­umn) and play­ing many styles, I opted to use my Kem­per pro­fil­ing amp with the very fine Michael Britt pro­files. This unit is re­ally the first ‘DI’ style unit, as op­posed to a real valve amp, which I’ve felt does a good job of ac­tu­ally feel­ing and sound­ing like the real thing. I’ve owned most of them, from the very first Line 6 POD (er, nope!) up to the Axe FX (close but no cigar) and fi­nally I feel con­fi­dent about us­ing one in pro­fes­sional record­ings.

I set the foot con­troller up with five ba­sic sounds, which as you may know, are all ad­justable us­ing the front of the unit it­self in an amp style lay­out. All very ac­cept­able from the point of view of a Lud­dite techno­phobe gui­tar player.

Left to right on the ’board I set up ‘pro­files’ of a clean Fender ’64 Deluxe re­verb; a slightly bro­ken up Fender Tweed combo; a crunchy Vox AC30; a Mar­shall (from my mem­ory a JTM45) for most of the rock rhythm; and fi­nally, for the oc­ca­sional full shred, a Bogner with a boost pedal and some de­lays. The beauty of the Kem­per, as it re­sponds pretty much ex­actly like an amp, is that if I ever found my­self get­ting stuck, I could sim­ply place a stomp box in be­tween the gui­tar and the Kem­per and my prob­lems were solved.

One of the re­ally pos­i­tive as­pects of work­ing this way is that the sound you get in your head­phones is ex­actly the sound that ends up be­ing com­mit­ted to tape. With a real amp, the room, the po­si­tion of the mic and your phys­i­cal po­si­tion in re­la­tion to the amp are all vari­able, and of­ten the sound you think you are mak­ing isn’t ac­tu­ally the one be­ing recorded. This can oc­ca­sion­ally re­sult in dis­ap­point­ment, or at least re­peated trips from the live room to the con­trol room to hear how you sound, while every­one else gets fed up with you wast­ing time.

The fi­nal joy for the geeky gui­tarist is that these units gen­uinely re­flect the sound of the gui­tar you are us­ing, so my re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of a ’59 Les Paul Ju­nior (a great way of be­ing able to own a real ’59 Les Paul with­out hav­ing to do­nate your en­tire fam­ily to med­i­cal science) sounded fab­u­lous, es­pe­cially through the vin­tage Vox and Mar­shall pro­files.

I’ll def­i­nitely be us­ing this unit more on ses­sions (which, in case you were won­der­ing, was bought and paid for from a shop like every­one else, no artist deal or af­fil­i­a­tion here!) now with in­creased con­fi­dence af­ter my busy week.

‘The Bunker’ Stu­dios and its fab­u­lous sound­ing Har­ri­son desk

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