Steve Rothery on Layering

May 1, 2010


“WHEN LAYERING GUITARS, THE most important thing is to start with great-sounding instruments and great tones,” says Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery, whose latest release, Ostara [Eagle], is from his other band, the Wishing Tree. “There are lots of things that can be done with processing and effects later on, of course, but I prefer to find tones that inspire me and then commit to them—although I rarely compress or EQ sounds when tracking, as those tools can be most useful when fitting different guitar parts together at the mixing stage.”

Rothery’s tonal palette for Ostara was loaded with colors produced by a variety of 6- and 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, a variety of differentsounding amps, and effects ranging from his beloved TC Electronic 2290 Dynamic Delay processor to stompboxes such as the AdrenaLinn III (which he syncs to his sequencer to produce perfectly timed grooves and filter effects) to the Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere. And while most of the songs on Ostara have five or more guitar parts, Rothery cautions that less is sometimes more.

“Every part should be there for a reason,” he says, “because doubling or adding parts just for the sake of it might actually detract from the music. Start with just the basic song structure, and add small parts that only come in briefly here and there before moving on to anything more elaborate. It’s all about melody and atmosphere, and underplaying is always better than overplaying.”

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