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Topic: "Oldfield guitar sound": what do I need?, Starting with electric guitar< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Nicolas Offline




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Posted: April 20 2008, 08:49

Hi!

I started to play electric guitar recently. I like the Mike Oldfield guitar sound as can be heard for example on the Montreux DVD. There he plays an SG junior.

What do I need to get a similar sound? I mean that kind of distorted, "crying & screaming" guitar sound he uses. It sounds quite fat and distorted at low notes, and starts to "cry" at high notes (when played the way he does it, at least).

I've got myself a 1994 Epiphone "Gibson (les paul) Junior Model '58 reissue" with a P-90 (or P-100, not clear). Within my budget, I guess that was the best path towards the SG junior sound. The sustain is not in the multiple-millennia range on high notes, but it should be good enough, it's a good guitar.

Now, as such this guitar sounds quite a lot like my acoustic, as I use no amp or effects (just direct recording).

What effects etc do I buy best (low budget) to get the MO sound? I'd prefer a direct recording solution, as the rest of my "studio" is based on synthesizers and not too large, so I could do without a guitar amplifier. Or is a proper guitar amplifier (amp + speaker) *the* key to the MO sound?

Maybe  in that case a Roland cube would be a good start? (it has built-in effects)

Or should I better buy a multi-effects pedal and stick to direct recording?

Thanks for any help!
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 20 2008, 15:55

I would say u need 3 things :
- an overdrive pedal, with the gain level high enough to hear a distorded sound when power chords are played, but not too much otherwise the sound on single high notes won't be clean enough, that's why i think an overdrive pedal is enough and a distortion pedal is not needed (note: the more you increase the gain level, the more u need to turn down the main output level)
- a compression pedal to help achieve sustain, though using an overdrive as previously stated will give you a natural sustain. It's trickier to set the parameters of the compression pedal but if I remember you need to play with the threshold and the output level as well

These 2 effects can be found in nearly any modeling amp or plugin software.

- nails, finally, because playing with a pick will give a too clean attack  (however u can play power chords with a pick, as it is well suited for this kind of rythmic playing). I think the irregularity of nails give that kind of dirty attack that make the note cry/scream.

If any other people have other ideas ...

As for myself when I want to play MO stuff, for this kind of sound I use :
Gibson L6S with P90 pickups -> MXP dynacomp pedal (compressor, could be other but I only got this one) -> Boss Blues driver (overdrive, could be other as well) -> amplitube (amp modelling software, I don't use the built-in effects since I have pedals, I like to use them)
But I don't have enough nails at the moment.
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 20 2008, 16:29

I forgot : along with the nails (i.e player skills, not effects), u need to add left hand vibrato, this only will make the notes sing, whether u use effects or not. It is often overlooked but it is essential to the sound : look at videos or real players (or Mike) how he is constanly "working" the sound on notes and not waiting for it to finish. Every note has to be played and not only hit !
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Nicolas Offline




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Posted: April 22 2008, 02:26

So if I'd get myself one of these guitar multi-effects with amp modelling, and use overdrive (+compression, as far as the unit allows to use 2 effects at the same time) + a nice cabinet model, I'd have a good low-budget start hardwarewise (for direct recording)? Maybe a little bit of chorus or something else from my line level multi effect later on in the loop would also help building the sound.

Thanks! Somewhere this year it's my birthday, so I'll know what to ask :).
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 22 2008, 07:52

You can also use delays instead of chorus on solos. In fact a small delay (200- 300ms) will "build" your sound much more than a chorus and if you want to achieve sustain and clarity I think it's best to favor delay.
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Nicolas Offline




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Posted: April 22 2008, 14:26

Thanks for the tip! My line level multiFX also includes delays, so no problem there.

I'll start looking for a nice guitar multi effect that at least includes an overdrive and hopefully also a compressor that can be used at the same time.

I could built myself a passive line level overdrive with some Ge diodes to put after the guitar multiFX, in case the guitar multiFX has no decent overdrive. But I think it's best to look for one with built in overdrive, which most of them have.
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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: April 22 2008, 16:31

I hope I don't disturb anything by moving this (it feels to me like it belong better amongst the general Mike-tech stuff...fine line though...).

I agree with nusky here, essentially. If you're interested in more details, I think Mike was using a Mesa/Boogie combo for his live distorted sounds  at the time of the Montreux performance, with a preamp in front of it to overload it some more (though he never specified exactly what preamp...perhaps the bits of the Manor's desk he later used for the Strat?). I think the combination of valve overdrive and a miked-up speaker helps to keep things smooth. You can indeed use a compressor to get similar smooth sustain without too much fizz.

A little earlier this year, I did a 'Budget Hergest Ridge' demo using a Marshall MS-2R. I was aiming more for that fizzy, gnarly early 70s sound of his, and had fun in the process. It's not perfect, it's not the ultimate Oldfield sound, but the reason I did it was that I thought it would be something that almost anyone could have a go at without spending too much money. I ran the headphone output through a compressor (actually, it wasn't a cheap one, but I'd bet that something like a decent software compressor would do a good job of it). I did it quickly - it could be improved upon quite a bit, even sticking with the gear used. Another thing to try with those little Marshalls is running an overdrive pedal like a tubescreamer into it first, then miking it up with a suitably warm sounding mic (a Sennheiser MD421 is always good to have around, though they cost many times more than the amp...the AKG D112 can make an interesting choice if you want a more woofy sound with the mids sucked out, though I have to admit to not having tried one on a micro amp. I have tried various Neumanns, but really, that's getting silly...Oktava MK-012s tend to work well for that kind of thing, though, and don't cost the earth - they're very handy to have around). I have to be honest and say that I play around with the thing more for the novelty value for anything else - I'm not sure I'd recommend spending a lot of money just to build up a rig based around one! That said, things like the mics can of course be used for all sorts of other recording tasks (though the D112 is a rather more specialist thing - I find the them useful for more than just recording bass drums, which is what they're intended for, but they're far from general purpose).

Anyway, I think I digress...one of the many amp modellers out there ought to be able to help you get a sound which will leave you more than happy. I actually don't think the specifics of the sound are as important as how you use it. I think having the right touch is very important, like nushky says - the sound you're aiming for is the sort which can end up anywhere between beautiful and excruciating depending on how it's played! I think the two key things there are picking the strings with the right kind of attack (confidently and cleanly, with a fairly small amount of knuckle movement - I think having the picking hand at the right angle is crucial there, so you have the right amount of control; if you end up pulling at the strings or hooking your fingers under them somehow, you'll not get that screaming quality) and fretting with just the right kind of pressure, to keep the notes sustained without pulling them put of tune. Staying as relaxed as possible is important, and I'd say it's a good idea to pay attention to where your fretting hand thumb is - hooking it too far over the back of the neck can lead to you holding the fingers at an angle which then puts them in a position where they're less flexible. Stiffness tends to come across in the playing.

I think that's quite enough from me for now!
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 24 2008, 03:52

That's an interesting experiment (and a faithful rendition to the hergest ridge sound). Yet I wonder how much does the mike really alter the sound ? I mean: I suppose if you were not recording through one of these mikes but only playing and listening to the mini marshall amp, would you hear nearly the same tone or not ?
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 24 2008, 03:55

Quote (Nicolas @ April 22 2008, 14:26)
I could built myself a passive line level overdrive with some Ge diodes to put after the guitar multiFX, in case the guitar multiFX has no decent overdrive. But I think it's best to look for one with built in overdrive, which most of them have.

Why not ? maybe another 'Glorfindel bow' ?
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nushky Offline




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Posted: April 24 2008, 03:55

Sorry : 'Glofindel box', though the guy may indeed have a bow
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The Caveman Offline




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Posted: April 24 2008, 09:18

Someone should build and market a Glorfindel box.As i understand it the original was built by David Bedford and was a wooden box containing a mess of wires and transistors and all manner of other bits(much to the amusment of the engineers at the Manor studio).The net result was that when the guitar went throught it flattened the sound completely.So it's really an extreme compressor/sustainer.The results can be heard on Tubular Bells part 2 on the Bagpipe theme preceding the caveman song.As far as i'm aware it made a brief apppearance on Hergest Ridge and was then seen no more till some time in the late 80's when Mike managed a simulation on a digital effects processor.This is the version mentioned on Amarok.

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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: April 24 2008, 19:34

Quote (nushky @ April 24 2008, 08:52)
if you were not recording through one of these mikes but only playing and listening to the mini marshall amp, would you hear nearly the same tone or not ?

Aha, yes...good question!

That recording was done purely with the headphone output, to get full gnarly fizziness...not something I'd usually do, actually, but it was fun ;)

Using any kind of mic will smooth things off quite a bit compared to that. How it affects the sound really depends on the kind of mic and where you put it. The small speaker and the plastic cabinet gives the thing a fairly boxy sound, but if you use a mic with a directional mic, you can take advantage of the proximity effect by putting it up close to get a more bassy sound. To an extent, you can move the mic across the speaker to bring out different frequencies, as you would with a larger amp, though of course there's rather less cone area to work with (to be honest, it's ages since I really experimented with miking the thing up, so I don't completely remember how much variation is available by doing that). Still, the sound you can get by doing that is fairly different to what you hear if you have it on the table a metre or so in front of you. Of course it doesn't magically sound like a full Marshall stack or something when you mic it, but there are quite a lot of possibilities for shaping the sound through mic choice and placement. I can almost feel a comparison test coming on... ;)
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Nicolas Offline




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Posted: April 29 2008, 08:39

Thanks for all the advice!

I think I'll go for a homemade overdrive (passive, using Ge diodes) with an amp modeller/multi effect all in one thingy. And then maybe add a compressor pedal afterwards. And maybe a distortion pedal after that (finances... :)).

But anyway, using an amp modeller/multiFX wonderbox seems like the best way for me to get versatility and direct recording possibilities at a relatively low cost.
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Thea Cochrane Offline




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Posted: June 29 2008, 18:55

Quote (The Caveman @ April 24 2008, 14:18)
Someone should build and market a Glorfindel box.As i understand it the original was built by David Bedford and was a wooden box containing a mess of wires and transistors and all manner of other bits(much to the amusment of the engineers at the Manor studio).<snip>

Apparently the Glorfindel box also hardly ever worked. I'm just saying...
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ex member 419 Offline




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Posted: May 02 2009, 04:30

:p over the years mike has used lots of techniques to produce that unique sound, what techniques do you use re mic rigging, amp distortion, compressors, pedals, and effects? deb
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The Caveman Offline




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Posted: May 05 2009, 09:51

Very true.When it did it sounded cool though.They should market a reliable one then :laugh:

@Deb.Guitar,compressor and amp.As long as all that's there that's about all for electric.SM57 just off centre of the cone and as little desk jigery pokery,aside from reverb/delay,as possible.Acoustic would be a good valve mic and a couple of smaller mics and another one or two strategically placed to pick up room anbience.Again keep it simple.
Works for me.


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ex member 419 Offline




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Posted: May 05 2009, 23:29

Ta caveman, how is recording going, are you playing regular gigs? give your band a plug here, deb
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The Caveman Offline




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Posted: May 06 2009, 04:42

Ta Deb.We did the recording.Just waiting to get in to mix it,get the artwork done and we're away!Just had the MySpace site revamped too.And we are gigging fairly reguarly too.OK people plug over :laugh:

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ex member 419 Offline




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Posted: May 07 2009, 23:35

Thats great caveman, doing well, good luck with the mixing and have fun gigging this summer, deb
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59Bassman Offline




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Posted: Nov. 14 2011, 06:50

I have always liked the sound of MO's Strat lead sound and on playing some tracks today (Get to France as I write!) I googled to see if there was a specific technique he used that had been documented. I ended up here!

Now, I have not read a definitive answer but my analytical ear is telling me that along with delay, overdirve (not distortion!) and cleanish but loud amp setting (allowing the outboard overdrive to lift the gain, not via the amp's power amp) and heavy outboard compression, he uses a great degree of vibrato on his fretting action. Also the Stratocaster PUP is at the Bridge selection, as the tone is quite toppy... Of course the majority of his lines are 'Double-tracked' in the studio too...

Is interesting to see that he latterly uses PRS Guitars and I know from also owning Strats and a PRS, that you can get similar Strat tones on the Bridge setting of a PRS by virtue of pick action - slide off the string with the side of the pick  as picking it (is similar to action used to secure 'pinched harmonics').

Anyway, something is now documented! Go and see if you can make it happen also!


Guitar Mad? Sanity is Here:
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