In The Box: Emulating Jeff Beck's Tone on "Pull It"

If you want to explore the “Pull It” tone in your DAW, here's how to do it.
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I can’t think of any other guitarist i have followed so closely, or who has influenced me so deeply, as Jeff Beck. It’s not just his Yardbirds or classic fusion days, either, as his new work is so strong. He just keeps getting better and better.

Beck’s recent Loud Hailer delivers a multitude of brilliant guitar tones, but the instrumental “Pull It” really caught my attention, due to its melding of furious overdrive with dubstep-style bass and drums. This is precisely why Jeff is such an innovator—he takes contemporary music and bends it to his will. If you want to explore the “Pull It” tone in your DAW, here’s how I approached it.

THE TONAL INGREDIENTS

• Stratocaster
• Overdrive
• Ring Modulation
• Phaser
• Wah Pedal

THE PLUG-IN

There are many excellent amp plug-ins out there, but I used Studio Devil Amp Modeler Pro (via an Avid Fast Track Duo interface). If you use another plug-in, you can probably approximate my choices, as many manufacturers provide a “usual suspects” menu of similar amp flavors—even if they go by different patch names. I choose Studio Devil’s Hot Lead preset to achieve Beck’s snarling tone.

THE CHASE

Within Hot Lead, I selected the British Crunch amp model. Then, I activated the Bright Amber button to boost the high frequencies. My speaker-cabinet choice was the 4x12 1960 model. To accentuate the midrange of the guitar, I activated the Graphic EQ, and boosted the mids and highs a bit to emulate the bite that Beck has going in the song. I also turned on the Wah-Wah Filter, setting the slider about a quarter of the way from left to right, to get a bit of that “cocked-wah yowl” tone. Finally, I opened the effects menu, and selected Phaser EFX, adjusting the Speed knob to 2 o’clock while keeping the Sweep and Depth controls at 12 o’clock. This setting seemed to credibly match whatever phaser Beck had chosen, or perhaps what his recording engineer may have added during the mix.

FINISHING TOUCHES

What I really enjoy about working in the box is the flexibility of the amp modeling. You get so many options for detailed adjustments. For example, I was able to adjust the size of the cabinet in the room, and also dial in more high end or sizzle from the virtual speakers. In addition, Studio Devil Amp Modeler Pro provides a kind of recording-studio rack—or an effects pedalboard—that lets you activate a noise gate, a compressor, an echo, and/or reverb for subtle refinements. Lastly, there’s a control that allows you to choose the power-amp type: FET, AB, A, or Off. After experimenting, I found the best setting for the “Pull It” tone was AB.

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