Meet a Pro: Marc Muller
This month, we will break format and
take a peek into the home studio of a
What do you use to mic them?
How do you determine what sound to go for?
Marc Muller covers a lot of ground, playing
electric and acoustic guitar, pedal and lap
steel, Dobro, mandolin, banjo and violin, as
well as touring with artists such as Shania
Twain, Van Zant and Tommy Shaw.
Having worked with him on several
projects and always receiving great
tracks and killer tones, I decided to
give him the floor to explain the gear
and techniques behind the sound.
Back during my Shania days, and when I
first started recording at home, I asked Paul
Franklin, the top Nashville pedal steel session player, what [mics] he saw used most
often on his amps. He said an AKG 421, so I
took his word on it and picked one up. The
What’s your recording chain for
I have an early seventies Neumann
U87 mic that I’ll usually run into a
Focusrite ISA430 Producer Pack. I
also have a Focusrite ISA110, which
has the same EQ and preamp as the
430. Also, the mic pre’s that are in the
Apogee Trak2 that I use are killer. That
runs into the Apogee A/D converter,
either with the Trak2 or an Apogee
AD-8000SE, which then digitally feeds
my Pro Tools setup.
It really depends on the song. It’s a matter
You don’t use guitar modeling
of just seeing what fits within the track and
sticks out best – or not. If it’s a Les Paul and I
want to get a thinner sound, I will go into the
10s. If it’s the Fender and I want to beef it up
a little bit, I will go into the 2x12s. If I want
to do an old time-sounding “hippy”
pedal steel part, I will go into the
Fender Twin head through the 2x12
JBLs for a classic “Jerry Garcia”
tone. For a traditional Nashville
pedal steel sound or a Nashville
“pop” sound, I run into a Peavey
Nashville 400. I try to capture the
purest guitar-through-amp sound,
dirty or clean, to send onto who-
ever is producing the track.
Tell us about your electric setup.
I don’t even use stompboxes. I just
drive my amps and use plug-ins for
compression, delay and reverb. That
way the producer can decide later
if he wants it wetter, drier, more or
less compressed, etc. I do, however,
send the plug-in settings I like in
with my tracks so the producer can
reference how I was hearing it.
Well, to begin with, I tend to try out a
bunch of different amps to see what
best fits the song that I’m working
on. I have them upstairs in my control
room with my Pro Tools rig and preamps. Downstairs I have a bunch of
different cabinets mic’d up, and I run
mic lines and speaker cable downstairs so I can try different combinations of amps and speakers quickly
and easily while working.
Can you tell us about your
Upstairs in the studio I have a Fender Hot
Rod DeVille, a Fender Pro Junior and an
early-seventies Fender Twin head. I also have
a really groovy 1967 Ampeg Reverberocket
II that has its own sound – it’s either going to
sound really good or be really bad!
421 sounds great on guitar amps – I also put
up an off-axis Shure SM57. I have tried my
U87 along with it, but I never end up using
I just finished a great record with
Dave Murphy and I’m putting the
finishing touches on my next solo
release. Victor Wooten came in and
played bass on seven songs, and
Rod Morgenstein played drums. I
still have a few more people I’ll be
pulling in here to finish up, so keep an eye
out for it. You can hear some tracks or drop
me an email at marcmuller.com or
What amp do you turn to most often?
Downstairs, I have a 2x12 Fender cabinet
with Celestions and a 4x10 with the Hot Rod
De Ville speakers, as well as an old pair of
JBL 12s from the seventies.
The one that wins the shootout is usually my
little Fender Pro Junior. It’s a little 12-watt
1x10 that’s like a Fender Champ. At low volumes it’s sparkling clean, and when you turn
the volume from 3 up to, say, 6 or 7, it’s a
is a producer, engineer and mixer who has worked with
artists ranging from Al DiMeola to David Bowie. A lifelong guitarist, he’s also the author of Pro Tools Surround
Sound Mixing and composes for such networks as
Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon and National Geographic.