I’m currently weeding through the takes from two days of sessions for my solo guitar album. I’ve got about 4 tunes done so far, but I recorded quite a few more, and we’ll see what fits together best on the album.
I recorded everything at Digital Brothers in Costa Mesa, CA, with Bryan Shaw (who played Trumpet in the Campus Five and Orchestra many times over the years). He set up the multiple mic setup shown here:
That’s FIVE ribbon mics, and one condenser. In our mixes so far, we’re using the pair of Cascade Victor Ribbon Mics for most of the sound. I’m hardly a mic expert, but Bryan described them as having the same kind of sound as classic RCA44, but in a much more reliable, usable package. They are, sadly, discontinued. The Royers (one stereo pair further out for “air” and one close up to catch the “body” of the guitar) and the Oktava (pointed sort of near the 12-14th fret area for string “zing”) were just there to provide options and shading. Yes, phasing was taken into account.
Guitar-wise, I brought four guitars along, my two Gibson L-5 guitars (a 1932 and a 1939), my National Style 1 Tricone, and my 2016 Waterloo WL-14LTR.
I used the 1932 on about 70% of the tunes, and the 1939 on the remainder. The sustain and sweetness of the 1932 were the trick of the slow and medium tunes, while the zing and punch of the 1939 were better on the peppier tunes. In fact, the second day, I only brought back the two Gibsons. Sadly, I ended up not using the National after all, but I made a point to use the Waterloo (which is patterned after a 1930’s Kalamazoo KG-14, but made with Collings consistency and playability, oh and a truss rod) on a Roy Smeck tune, “Itching' Fingers” from 1928. Given that Eddie Lang wasn’t yet playing an L-5 in 1928, I doubted that Roy Smeck was either, and I though a 20’s-30’s flattop was more appropriate, since that was likely what the tune was written on.
Oh, and since I get asked a lot, I had Martin SP 80/20 strings on both L-5’s with a .014 and .018 plain string swapped in for the high E and B, and the Waterloo was strung with Martin Retro Monel 12’s. I used a Bluechip TD40 for everything, though we did experiment with other picks, including an original “AR” Allan Reuss model pick from Fife & Nichols music store in Hollywood from the 1940’s.
I’ve got two original compositions recorded that I’m quite proud of, a medium tempo piece that starts with an Eddie Lang-style noodle-y guitar intro called “Pickin’ for Charlie,” and slow piece called “Charlie’s Lullabye”. Even though I’m a huge Charlie Christian fan, these are actually named for my son, Charlie. Then again, he’s named after Charlie Christian, so perhaps they are in a roundabout way.
I’ve got both tunes transcribed already, and I am planning to release a transcription folio of all of the original arrangements. Considering how far along I am, I think this is pretty doable. I’ll likely self publish it, but I’ll have details soon.
Here’s a little sneak peek: