“I’ve never been happy with the guitar tones on my other records,” Curran reports. “Usually, the engineer puts a mic right on the amp, but I don’t like how brittle that sounds. Back in the ’40s and ’50s, there often wouldn’t even be a mic on the guitar amp. So, for this record, I pointed a Fender Pro Junior at a wall, and positioned a vintage microphone right on the grille, and another vintage mic up in the air that was also pointing at the wall. The idea was to capture the natural reverb produced by the signal bouncing off the walls. If the song needed additional reverb, we ran the guitar track through an old plate reverb—the kind studios used in the ’50s and ’60s—and adjusted the ambience to enhance the room sound, rather than appear as an effect. What you hear on Player has a lot more to do with the placement of the mics in the room than just about anything else.”
Recording with the Fabulous Thunderbirds at Viewpoint Records in Austin last fall, Curran was again able to benefit from a similar miking technique, albeit with a different twist.
“In that situation, I had one of the bigger Vero amps that I use live, as well as a tweed Fender Pro and my Fender Pro Junior,” he says. “All of the amps were in one of the bedrooms facing out the door, with just a mic at the end of the hallway. That setup made for a very nice room sound, and I’m convinced that distance miking is the key to a true and organic guitar sound. Even when I play live, I don’t like my guitar miked-up onstage and routed to the house mix. I’ve always felt if your guitar is loud enough, why not let it fill up the room so you can get your tone with natural reverb?”