Hip Tip From Adam Levy

March 23, 2006

Guitarist/composer/producer Adam Levy has reinvented himself many times over the years. From his chart-topping work with Tracy Chapman to his stint as a Guitar Player editor to a burgeoning career as a solo artist to dominating the Grammys with his current gig backing Norah Jones, he doesn’t sit still for long. Find out more at adamlevy.com.

“Here’s one of my favorite ways to get cool acoustic tones in the studio,” says Levy. “My main recording guitar is a 2002

Martin 000-18, outfitted with a Sunrise S-1 pickup mounted in the soundhole. I mic the guitar with one condenser mic—most often a Neumann U87. When a U87 isn’t handy, I’ll use an Audio-Technica AT4050—a good, cheap, studio workhorse. I route

the pickup to a Sunrise S-B1 preamp/buffer box, then into an electric guitar amp. I use small amps, preferably with vibrato, such as a Fender Vibro-Champ or Princeton Reverb, and I mic it with a Shure SM7. I like amp vibrato, but I do not use amp reverb. It sounds clunky to me on acoustic guitars. I pan the guitar mic and the amp mic pretty much hard left and right. For sonic variety, I sometimes reverse the phase on one of the mics. The relative levels can be blended anyway you like to favor the stringy acoustic qualities or the warm amp mojo. The amplified tone, with its vibrato and tube compression, sounds very different from the bare strings on a mic. Once you pan them, it almost sounds like two different guitar tracks.”

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