Saturday, March 27, 2010

Recording Ace Frehley's "Anomaly"

by Rich Tozzoli

Guitars, amps, mics and three different studios: how Ace recorded tracks for his latest.

On Anomaly, Ace used several engineers, since the project spanned a long period of time. Jay Messina (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Kiss, Peter Frampton) tracked the drums and basics at Schoolhouse Studios in NYC to get things started. Then the drives went home to Ace In The Hole studios in Westchester, NY. There, Alex Salzman and I finished off most of the overdubs, along with Tim Hatfield. In L.A., Ace tracked “Fox On The Run” and mixed the project with Marty Frederiksen and Anthony Focx.

I kept thorough notes on what mics, amps and preamps were used on each song (as well as taking pics), so that if we came back to a song a month or more later, we could remember the setups. For most of the electric tracks, I used a Royer 122V tube ribbon mic or a Royer 121, along with either a Sennheiser MD 421 II or the classic Shure SM57. At first, we also used room mics, but they were rarely used in the mix, so we eventually just settled on close mics. Ace liked the mics to be right up on the speakers, which does provide some proximity bass and a very up-front sound.

The variety of amps included a Marshall JCM900 SL-X, Peavey 5150 II, Vox AC15, Fender Princeton, Twin Reverb, Bassman combo, Mesa/Boogie MK IV, and several others. Preamps were a mix and match of Universal Audio LA-610, Avalon VT 737sp, Earthworks 1024, and Focusrite ISA428, as well as some others.

When cutting acoustic parts, I’d use a variety of mics, from AKG 414s and Earthworks QTCs to a single AKG C 12 VR “The Tube” with a modified capsule. That was the primary vocal mic used on the record as well. We also used the DI output on any acoustics that had one, just to have the extra sonic options later.

For acoustic guitars, Alex used an ADK SC-T mic on the neck, with the AKG 414 on the body. He also used an esoteric Chinese Stellar tube condenser, as well as a Tech 21 SansAmp acoustic DI. He used mostly the Focusrite ISA428 and the UA 610 on the amps, capturing the sound with a pair of SM57s—one straight at the cone and one at a 45-degree angle next to it. The Peavey 5150 II was the primary head he recorded Ace with, but he also used a small Peavey Bandit amp for certain overdubs with a 57.

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