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14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 20, 2014 10:42

Hey Everybody!

I am new on IORR and this is my first thread.
Maybe there are already some threads about the guitar sound of that great tour.
I used the search function but found nothing specific.

I was at the vienna stadium concert on 16th june, and like many other people with whom I talked, I was blown away by that loud and direct guitar sound.
Clear and powerful but also crunchy and sparkling high endthumbs up. Honestly, that concert had the best sound I've ever heard.
Because I also play guitar in my own band, I really want to know how that guitar sound is made and what they optimized in comparison to their 50 & Counting tour.
Does anybody know something about it? On the stage are just Fender amps miked with SM57s.
My guess is that they also pick up the direct speaker sound - to add more high end that the guitar cabinet usually would cut off..

Looking forward to your answears!

StonedRambler

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: john lomax ()
Date: December 20, 2014 12:18

I agree - awesome sound on the 14 on Fire tour and Keith's guitar in particular sounded great. I just loved how high it was in the mix - loud and crunchy and heavy, just awesome. I can get a similar sound playing my tele through my Lazy J amp.....

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: Rockman ()
Date: December 20, 2014 12:26

OOOW YEAH!!!...take a long, deep-bow Mr Dave Natale.....



ROCKMAN

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: firebird ()
Date: December 20, 2014 12:33

I don't think that they used anything else than the SM57, these mics seems to work great with Fender amps.
I don't know if you have seen them live on the 50 & Counting tour of if you know the guitar sound from this tour from recordings only because on the recordings it always sound a bit different. I think Keith guitar always sounds a lot thinner on recordings and i believe its done to keep the mix clean.

Anyway, on earlier tours they miced the tweed twins with condenser mics:

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 20, 2014 12:56

Yes, I wasn't able to visit a show of the 50 & Counting tour - just listened to the recordings. On many 14 on Fire Recordings you can clearly hear that loud and direct guitar sound (for example: [www.youtube.com]) - but on all 50 & Counting videos the guitar sounds quiter and thinner. But maybe it's really just the volume..

Yeah and Dave Natale really did great work. I actually wanted to use hear protection but in the middle of start me up I took it out and enjoyed the sound - just couldn't help grinning smiley But the sound was really enjoyable and dynamic, not just loud noise like on many rock concerts. My ears was ringing next day, but it was worth it. Fortunately the ringing was away after a week or so and I haven't a permanent tinnitus..

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: Tubeman ()
Date: December 20, 2014 13:12

For Mick Taylors sound the difference was him playing through a vintage Ampeg VT-40, I believe it was the original one he played through in the 1970's which was retrieved from the stones warehouse in London. This amp is effectively a Fender Bassman but when the strings on his guitar are hit hard it increases the volume of his amp dramatically. The stones havent used at VT-40 on stage since the 1970's so this is part of the sound difference.

With Keith and Ronnies sound, I have to agree it was much more dynamic and and louder, but at times I thought the mixing desk was playing with volumes, especially during the Australian tour. The mike placement on the amps didn't look any different from prior tours,however the sound whilst being overdriven through the amps was much more clearer and dynamic.

It sounded like at the Australian concerts they took some of the effects out of their signal chain for a raw sound that bought them back to their root sounds

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 20, 2014 13:52

Yes, Dave Natale is definitely riding the volume levels. And because he uses an analog mixer I guess he has to do that all by hand. You can clearly hear how he turns up the guitar volume in vocal breaks, for example Keith on Jumpin' Jack Flash or Ronnie on Tumbling Dice.
That's also the reason why Dave is present during the rehearsals.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2014-12-20 13:56 by StonedRambler.

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: The Worst. ()
Date: December 20, 2014 14:01

Here's a great interview with Dave Natale regarding the sound of the Stones on the 50 & counting/14 on fire tour. It gives a great technical insight.

[www.prosoundweb.com]

50 & Counting: Sonic Truth For The Rolling Stones Latest Tour
Jul. 15, 2013, by Danny Abelson

If you’re like me, you find security and comfort in using plenty of gear in a large entertainment setting. Yet the seasoned professionals who make up the audio crew for the Rolling Stones recently demonstrated to me they understand the benefits of moderation, carefully questioning their decisions and using a healthy dose of restraint while practicing their craft in the most high-budget, high-profile setting imaginable.

Like the Stones crew provided by Clair Global, many of us are also in the business of delivering spectacle, so it’s perfectly understandable why restraint might not be the first thing that comes to our minds when standing at the console of a powerful system or driving a fast car.

Today we’re provided feature-rich digital tools offering limitless opportunities to “use something” with little apparent downside. We’ve been conditioned to apply a liberal dose of the newest mic or latest greatest device in search of delivering that illusive “best sounding show ever.” It’s become much easier to overlook the benefits of moderation.

I respectfully argue that in audio every decision comes with a price. I’m not necessarily referring to a financial cost; more specifically, an opportunity cost of what the positive or negative impact might be from a particular decision. The most experienced among us still carefully evaluate the costs and benefits when making an equipment choice or applying an audio treatment.

Commanding Purpose
After 50 years the Rolling Stones need no introduction. This year’s tour, assembled to celebrate their remarkable longevity, is playing in the largest arenas across North America, the UK’s Glastonbury Festival, and two shows in London’s historic Hyde Park. The band is joined on every show by special guest and past bandmate, guitarist Mick Taylor.

Last night I heard the Stones in Boston’s TD Garden arena. Keith, Mick and the boys played with commanding purpose, delivering a cohesive performance at an energy level that would leave many bands one-third their age gasping for breath.

What impressed me most was that the audio team shunned the use of unnecessary tools or treatments, and despite having them patched did not use a single compressor or noise gate on an act as prestigious and hard-rocking as the Rolling Stones. Once again for clarity, not a single compressor or noise gate was engaged on any channel.

I realize this lack of treatment defies convention, but it’s obviously a considered choice by a crew determined to present the music in the most appropriate manner possible. The result is a remarkably natural and refreshing presentation. The show sounded fantastic, and most importantly, the sound was honorable to the music. No breathing compressors or clicking gates to get in the way. Leading-edge transients abound. To this observer the experience offers engineers of all skill levels an important reminder: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Classicist. Minimalist. Strict constructionist. These are the terms that popped into my head as I discussed the live sound approach for the Stones with veteran house mixer Dave Natale, journeyman system technician Jo Ravich, crew chief Thomas Huntington, and monitor mixer Robert Bull. In a world where the majority of us believe we must apply a liberal dose of control, rely on unnecessarily expensive gear for that special sound, or demand the latest greatest digital solution to get through the show, this team is mixing the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” using relatively little.

“I could do this band on a pair of Shure Vocal Masters and a 58 in some church basement, and guess what it would sound like? It would sound like the Rolling Stones,” notes house mix engineer Dave Natale. “This is possible because of the way this band is, their talents so strong, and the genre of music they play. Most of it is based on old blues.

“These guys started off without a lot of money, they were lucky if they had a guitar amp, and in fact in the old days they shared them. Maybe that’s why guitar amps have two inputs. You don’t need much to make them sound great. We could do a show today with two (Fender) Twins, an (Ampeg) B15, an upright piano, and a four-piece drum set. And you can bet that piano would already be in that church basement so with three roadies we could get most of it down there in one trip.”

He continues, “This is the Stones; it’s not Roger Waters or Elton John. Clive Franks (Elton John) used effects better than anyone I’ve ever heard in my life. That guy was so good, he used a ton of effects on Elton shows and you could hear every one of them even in a reverberant arena. But that was appropriate because of that music. Same with Trip (Khalif) on Roger Waters. You can’t do Roger Waters without outboard gear. That’s not possible because it won’t be Roger Waters. You need delays, you need reverb because that’s the nature of Pink Floyd.”

Wonderful Experience
For the few who haven’t guessed, Natale is a dedicated analog devotee. “I don’t care about hardware. I just want an analog console, 100 percent analog, because it won’t do anything until I tell it to. I don’t want any logic in the desk, which is why I use a (Yamaha) PM4000. This allows me to spend most of my time mixing. If it takes water, as we’re often outdoors, then what type of desk do you think I can bring back to life quickest?” A 24-input Midas Venice 320 serves as a sidecar for choir mics.

“We often have guest performers on this tour, and I never know who the guest is until the afternoon of the show,” he continues. “We reserve one input for the guest’s guitar with a wired 57, and one input for their vocal with a wireless 58. The guest vocal is the only input I regularly use a compressor on. We’ve had Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Brad Paisley, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Gary Clark Jr., Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, John Fogerty, and Tom Waits.”

This was probably the first show this writer has heard in decades that did not use compressors or gates in some manner, and it was a wonderful experience. Natale has a single dbx 900 rack under his console. dbx 903 modules are patched on the bass DI, Mick’s number 1 vocal, Mick’s number 2 vocal, Keith’s vocal, BV number 1, BV number 2, and the guest vocal channels. Three Aphex 612 gates are patched on the kick, rack, and floor tom channels.

However, none of these devices were engaged, not even the compressor on Mick’s vocal. I can testify that no indicators were moving during the show. While any red-blooded engineer would question how Natale is able to effectively manage gain levels, he appreciates that the opportunity cost of using inserts to manage those levels is lost leading-edge transient response. Instead, he chooses to stay very active during the show, relying on the consistency of the performers. His adjustments are in response to the many required cues as dictated by each song, while retaining a natural transience in his input channels that I found so refreshing.

I detected no “blanket” over the sound or processing getting in the way, only the occasional peak of a given voice or instrument. The occasional peak seemed like a reasonable price to pay considering how accurate everything sounded. I honestly believe that Charlie Watts’ drums were the most real sounding I have ever heard in an arena.

“I’m not at all into vintage gear because I do not believe we need special equipment to enhance what’s coming from the stage,” Natale states. “No boutique microphones; we’re all about choosing what is easily accessible, reliable, and known to sound good. We’re using Shure SM57s and 58s, Sennheiser 409s, Neumann KM 184s, and two AKG C 414s. If we need a replacement we can go to the music store down the street. In fact I joke about the fact that if you added up the total cost for wired microphones on this tour it might not exceed $5,000.” He also specifies Radial DIs exclusively.

“I’m not even using reverb. I’m relying on the million cubic feet of (natural) reverb right here in the arena,” he adds. “It’s really clean and sounds better than digital, but doesn’t hiss like analog. Outdoors is another story. In bone dry, uncontained free air I’ll obviously need something, at least on the slower songs.

“But only one reverb on one innocuous program that adds something you can almost not even hear. However, everything goes through the same program so it sounds like the whole band is playing in the same space. It’s not so much an effect as trying to create an environment we’re not in.”

Honed Perspective
With more than 40 years on tour and literally countless shows, it seems unfair to characterize Jo Ravich as simply the FOH systems tech. I think of him more as a distinguished master—he offers a degree of wisdom and perspective honed from years on the road that few of us will ever attain. He distills the risks of using gear unnecessarily in very simple terms: “Just because you can use 25 plug-ins doesn’t mean you should.”

Clair Global crew chief Thomas Huntington offers his perspective: “We try to change as little as possible from show to show, and how we set the PA up is fairly standard and consistent. How Dave and Jo approach using subs is brilliant. They don’t use any ground subs, because often what happens is you either turn them off or EQ out all of the low-frequency energy anyway, because we’re in a big boom chamber with no articulation. This is rock ‘n’ roll, it’s not thumpy modern drill your head stuff. We have a varied demographic, and some of our fans don’t care to hear all that extended low end.”

“Subs are for sissies anyway,” Natale chimes in. “No sexy lightweight amps either on this tour. We’re using Crown Macro-Tech because I’m interested in having fully charged capacitors at all times,” indicating his preference for a more traditional amplifier power supply topology. “I use old Lake Contour processors because I know them so well. One XTA GQ600 stereo third-octave EQ sits between the console outputs and the system processors.”

Incredibly Rewarding
Robert Bull handles the monitor mixing duties for the tour. A Nashville veteran who for years has been Martina McBride’s monitor engineer, this is his first outing with the Stones.

As expected, he’s mixing a combination of in-ears and wedges. What’s not expected is that he handles the monitor effort for the entire band himself on one 48-channel Midas Heritage 4000. This was a task previously handled by two engineers, and when I observed him working during the show, he’s a very busy man.

Despite the magnitude of the show, Bull approaches it in a down-to-earth manner. “Everything is very analog and very simple, although it’s a really busy show with lots of cues. Mick, (bassist) Daryl Jones, and our two backup singers, Bernard and Lisa, are on ears. We have 52 wedges as well as flown side fills. Charlie uses a pair of 12AMs (wedges) stacked on two i5B subs. On ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ he uses headphones.”

Bull shares the team’s strict minimalist mantra, with no noise gates or compressors for the band’s monitors, only for guest artists. Effects are limited to two reverbs. I found his demeanor with respect to this tour both humbling and respectful. “To be brutally honest, it’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever done, but incredibly rewarding,” he says. “It’s fun to mix. These guys deserve the best, and sometimes the fact that I’m sitting in the monitor seat is overwhelming.”

He notes that the downstage mix is pretty much a blend. “Keith’s guitar is a bit louder stage left, Ronnie’s louder stage right. Mick has two wedges he can rely on if for some reason he’s uncomfortable with his ears. Stage levels are pretty loud. Keith’s guitar level dictates everything.”

I could go into greater depth on the house PA, but suffice it to say it’s comprised of large, very well-tuned Clair i5 line arrays. Coincidentally, on my return trip from the show, I ran into Clair Global CEO Troy Clair at the Denver airport. I told him how good the show had sounded to me, and stressed how amazed I was that Dave, Jo, Thomas, Robert and their associates were getting these results with a healthy dose of moderation using no dynamics control whatsoever. I came away thinking that he too appreciates that there is real virtue in restraint.

The approach might leave many younger engineers scratching their heads, aghast if saddled with these simple and economical equipment choices, wondering “how do they make this work?” I argue that the Rolling Stones crew do it by listening.

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 20, 2014 14:27

Great! Thank you The Worst! smileys with beer
Tough I read a simular interview anywhere else, very interesting thumbs up
That clear and unvarnished sound matches great to the stones, really agree to his mixing approach.

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: Mel Belli ()
Date: December 20, 2014 17:38

I maintain the tones are too dry. I don't like the tweeds. I miss the Boogies. There, I said it.

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: mighty stork ()
Date: December 20, 2014 17:47

Here's the secret to the sound:





Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 20, 2014 20:31

Quote
mighty stork
Here's the secret to the sound:



Hehe grinning smiley that Video smileys with beer just legendary that classic approache thumbs up
But could really be that the amp is already set as loud as possible.
When you hear direct desk audio recordings of the 50 On Counting/14 in Fire Tour the guitars are actually not so loud in the FOH Mix. I guess in small venues you can also hear the direct amp sound very loud, especially in the front rows.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2014-12-20 20:32 by StonedRambler.

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: Naturalust ()
Date: December 20, 2014 21:43

Great article The Worst.! Thanks for the post.

Sound to me like it's all in the fingers, just less stuff getting in the way. But I think the guitars were just plain louder and higher in the mix this tour too.

peace

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: Mathijs ()
Date: December 21, 2014 12:15

Quote
Tubeman
For Mick Taylors sound the difference was him playing through a vintage Ampeg VT-40, I believe it was the original one he played through in the 1970's which was retrieved from the stones warehouse in London. This amp is effectively a Fender Bassman but when the strings on his guitar are hit hard it increases the volume of his amp dramatically. The stones havent used at VT-40 on stage since the 1970's so this is part of the sound difference.

With Keith and Ronnies sound, I have to agree it was much more dynamic and and louder, but at times I thought the mixing desk was playing with volumes, especially during the Australian tour. The mike placement on the amps didn't look any different from prior tours,however the sound whilst being overdriven through the amps was much more clearer and dynamic.

It sounded like at the Australian concerts they took some of the effects out of their signal chain for a raw sound that bought them back to their root sounds

The Ampeg VT series is as far removed from any Fender is a Vox amp is. They are nothing alike. And, the Stones have never used any VT amp on stage, except for a V-2 on the flatbed truck in NY 1975 and a V4 at the El Mocambo in 1977, but that one wasn't miked.

Mathijs

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: 71Tele ()
Date: December 22, 2014 06:55

Quote
Mel Belli
I maintain the tones are too dry. I don't like the tweeds. I miss the Boogies. There, I said it.

Agree!

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Date: December 22, 2014 10:25

Quote
71Tele
Quote
Mel Belli
I maintain the tones are too dry. I don't like the tweeds. I miss the Boogies. There, I said it.

Agree!

I have to agree with that. Having said that, I think they did something new with the Twin-sound this time, and Natale's use of acoustics in the room was a very interesting read.

I haven't heard the kind of "live mixing" like on this tour on gigs the past 25 years. For instance, when Keith does some of his riffs on JJF, the rest of the band is almost inaudible, because he boosts Keith way up. It makes a great effect on the show - but Keith needs to be on... winking smiley

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: midimannz ()
Date: December 22, 2014 12:44

For me, the guitars in Auckland, combined with Charlie's 'crack' on the drums and that deep bass is all I ever want to hear from "the greatest rock'n roll band in the world"

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: StonedRambler ()
Date: December 22, 2014 15:05

Quote
midimannz
For me, the guitars in Auckland, combined with Charlie's 'crack' on the drums and that deep bass is all I ever want to hear from "the greatest rock'n roll band in the world"
thumbs upsmileys with beer

Re: 14 On Fire Guitar Sound
Posted by: gwen ()
Date: December 22, 2014 17:30

Great interview, thanks! Surprised no compression is used, especially on the drums.

Keith s sound through the PA only missed a bit of punch compared to his direct sound at rehearsals. At that time, I remember talking about the brightness to Mathijs who thought it was because the tubes were new. But it remained very bright throughout the tour smiling smiley



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