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Record Performance

While we were making this month’s big feature on recording, it was interesting to watch respected studio engineer Dom Monks walking round the room listening for the best-sounding zones. One of the most telling observations he made while doing this was that people often think rushing out and buying an expensive mic is the answer to their problems. Whereas, he observed, if your recording space doesn’t sound very good, something like a Neumann U-47 is only going to reveal its unlovely acoustic in greater detail. While that’s a useful bit of studio advice in its own right, it also has a wider implication – a guitarist playing in a flattering audio environment will be at their ease and, spurred on by a good sound, put in a better performance. And it is that charismatic performance, not perfect audio, that is the prime goal of studio work. It’s the only thing that can’t be buffed, polished, plumped or primped afterwards. Why do we so often forget that coaxing out the best playing that’s in us is the starting point for a great recording, not the gear? At any rate, it was refreshing to watch an engineer who routinely works with extremely high-end recording equipment use his ears first – before anything expensive was plugged in. Elsewhere in the issue we bid a final hail of farewell to Chuck Berry, who died in March. In our tribute feature we look back on the life of the father of rock ’n’ roll – with a lesson in some of his greatest licks from top tutor Denny Ilett, while at the complete other end of the musical spectrum, we catch up with instrumental prog pioneer Mike Oldfield who reveals the guitar techniques and creative approaches behind his best-known 70s work – and the personal tragedy that inspired his Return To Ommadawn. Finally, we’re proud to welcome Whitesnake legend Bernie Marsden aboard, with his new column on old guitars (p32), a subject few players have as much experience with as he! Enjoy the issue.

Editor’s Highlights

Studio Savvy Learn to get great tones down on tape with our eight-page special on recording featuring John Mayer sideman Robbie McIntosh and Simon Law p78

Winter’s ’Bird We take a close look at the late, great Johnny Winter’s stunning ’65 Firebird V. Just check out that aged nitro over Inverness Green… p72

Jamie Dickson Editor

True Brit We hail the return of a classic slice of British guitar making in the form of the strippeddown Gordon Smith GS-1 ‘60’, a no‑frills single-cut thriller p8

May 2017  Guitarist