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how to record jazz guitar - benson's sound ?

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by neoericson, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. neoericson

    neoericson Guest


    I have an Ibanez Gb signature jazz guitar which I'd like to record.

    Can you help me concerning the gear to use, let's say I want to obtain a sound "like" george benson's
    (okay, I noticed first is to have the guy's talent..)

    I have generally heard about some home studio reference gear :
    ISA 220, Liquid mix, Powercore TC, and apogee or RME converters

    But concerning jazz guitar especially, I can't find anything very specific

    Does somebody have an experience about the gear that such great artists do use for their recordings :
    I've heard "Breezin" from the latest record with Benson, al Jarreau and Abraham Laboriel and the sound is really great

    Thanks for your answers
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    I suspect that the sounds you hear on the recordings you like are very much what was heard in the studio on the day, and recorded with conventional gear.

    Recording jazz guitar is different from rock guitar or folk guitar. I've done a number of jazz guitarists, including some world names. Generally, they know what they want. They bring their guitar and amp along, adjust their amp controls until they get the acoustic sound they want and then expect me to mic their amp. I usually try to put up a mic (or pair) on the instrument as well, but often that gets waved away, under the suspicion that the mix will not sound the way they hear it live. Occasionally, I can get a DI feed from a pickup for an additional track, but unless you can re-amp that through the same type of amp at mixdown, you are running the risk of incurring the displeasure of the artist.

    I think that you should look at the posts on this forum about miking guitar amps in general. If you can get the sound you want through your amp, you're a long way down the road to getting your sound recorded. Start with an SM57 through a good preamp and a little compression. You can choose a neutral preamp such as a Grace 101 or one with a little more colour.

    The recording chain won't produce the sound of one of the jazz greats unless that sound was there in the studio. Maybe at mixdown the sound can be adjusted to sit in the mix with the other musicians, or at the pre-mastering stage, the ME can make some adjustments if you provide the reference material for comparison purposes, but basically it's down to you, your instrument and your amp.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I think that Boswell's answer is the best one: develop your live sound with the right amp and effects and then mic the setup in a good room. (I think I remember GB using a Roland JC-120, but don't trust my memory. The Guitar Player magazine where I read it was printed on parchment scrolls.)

    However, you seemed to be interested in trying to get a good sound recording direct. That's possible, but might be surprisingly hard. I've played around a lot with amp emulators (particularly the POD and PODxT) for live use, and I've found that good clean guitar sounds are harder to nail than distorted sounds. You have one option of outboard units like the POD or a channels strip (which you mentioned) or a separate tube compressor and preamp. The other way to go is with amp emulator plugins for your DAW. (Amplitude came bundled with my PT, but I have not really experimented with it that much.) The big problem here is that things can get pretty expensive, and it is not as easy to test these as it is to walk into a music store and plug your guitar into an amp. (At least with the plugins you can usually get a trial version to test.) Do you have anyone you could borrow things from?
  4. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Distinguished Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    I've seen Benson live various times over the last thirty-five years, everytime he has had a different guitar/amp combination.

    My conclusion is that his tone is more from his touch, and technique.

    Didn't matter if he was playing a Gibson, Guild, or Ibanez the sound was in his hands.

    In the earlier years it was mostly area mics, large diaphram tube mics is my hunch fro the stuidio images.

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    In 1976, I had one of the best live sound experiences of my young career. I was handling live sound duties for an outdoor venue in Phildelphia, at a place called the "Robin Hood Dell East". Although I had interned there several summers before, this was my first year as FOH and general sound manager with a new sound system. The system in place was my design as well; a Community 3-way horn system driven by Phase Linear amps and the FOH concsole was a Yamaha PM 1000. (16 inputs...the very first one, all discrete transisters, too!)

    We did three shows a week, at least one of them was Jazz. That summer, late June/early July, as I recall, Maynard Ferguson was the headliner and George Benson was the opening act. As it came to pass, "Breezin" was #1 on every chart at the time, and it was going to be embarassing to have George open for Maynard. Long story short, George was "Delayed in Traffic" and Maynard and his band went on first. (Logistics problem solved!)

    In those days, few people, George Benson included, travelled with much gear, rarely bringing even amps; usually it was their own instruments, and a rider with a list of amps & drum specs. As I recall, George had his trademark Gibson hollowbody jazz quitar (archtop? can't recall now), and he used whatever amp they'd rented for him, either a Yamaha jazz guitar combo amp, or (most likely) a Fender Twin Reverb. There was NO soundcheck at that time, either (hey, soundcheck was usually the first tune!)

    George & co. basically got off the bus, walked up the steps, plugged in and played on the gear we had waiting for them. Our mic choices were limited at the time, too...all we had were 10 SM57's and 6 SM58's, plus a variety of other odds and ends, a couple of RE-20's, etc. I'm sure we mic'd his cabinet with a 57.

    I assure you, the 12,000 cheering, yelling and applauding fans of his that night knew EXACTLY who he was, and what he sounded like. My job was basically to NOT screw it up and get the sound out of the PA. George did the rest, all the way out to the farthest reaches of the venue.

    (The first artsist of the season was Ray Charles, btw...and they only let me put FIVE mics up....one for piano vocals, one for fender rhodes piano vocals, two on the Raylettes, and one in the piano. EVeryone else played "live" onstage, with no other amps. We were horrified, but Ray's people warned us that if Ray heard anything else mic'd up, he'd stop the show and single me out for ridicule. (At the time, local live sound engineering was often VERY dicey and not usually trusted, so I didn't take it personally, and relutantly put my other mics away....what a gig!)
  6. neoericson

    neoericson Guest

    Thank you all guys for your time and your answers.
    I really enjoy discovering this site, as I got real hard times to get one line of answer for any question on our french recording forums

    In fact I've bought the Ibanez GB-200, which I had tested on an AER Cube, and I really loved the sound, that would be my choice at this time.
    (..heard that benson played much on Polytone)

    I just read this morning that one great acoustic guitarist tommy emmanuel is also recording with AER : amp miced + line out + 2 mics on guitar :
    4 sources mixed stereo = 8 lines for one guitar!!!

    I'd have loved to record in my appartment that's why I was thinking about DI, but I am not really convinced with POD + plugs.

    As you said, I think I'll invest in the amp and enjoy the sound until I find a setup to mic it and record.
    I also lead worship in my church that has not a great sound system at this time so it would be a worthful investment.

    At this stage maybe my simple mic SE2200A + an ISA 220 would make it ?

    Many thanks again,
    you are sharing great experiences and insights :)
  7. neoericson

    neoericson Guest

    By the way, Bob Rogers , thanks concerning your advices on the DI way,
    I didn't answer to your last question : No I don't have someone to borrow some Pod and plug ins stuff, so I would have to buy and give back to test every material, except for the pod that I've already heard, but I am not really fond of the sound.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of "rehearsal studios" in paris with good amps that I could test for the cost of 6€/hour, so this way seems really easier and cost effective !

    At the end, I might finish as well with an ISA220 to record the miced amp :)
    Many thanks again

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