Howard Hart – Majestic Touch
Not many people may be familiar with cess and helped out enormously with co-pro-Howard Hart, the California-based guitar- duction. Rod Ratelle played bass and came
ist who packs a huge punch with fat guitar up with the idea of using an upright acoustic/
licks and great production. Seymour Duncan electric on the track – I wish you could hear
hipped me to Howard when I was putting more of it. It was great, but with all those gui-together Guitar Masters, Vol. 1. I was really tars and the wall of percussion, the subtleties
impressed with his guitar style, but even more sometimes got lost.
so with his innate ability for production. He
has a great ear for instrument placement in a
mix, which is very important for instrumental
music, so I immediately approached Howard
to be part of the BHP Music compilation, Get
the Led Out!. He fittingly chose “Four Sticks.”
a tape mentality, in terms of performance.
At this point in time, hard drive recording is
incredible – but it still comes down to the
musician. Rod did his bit straight through,
with one punch to tighten up a kick. I like that
because I believe you can feel it on a track,
but I’m a digital man at this point.
The vocal “ahs” on the B and C sections were
an afterthought. It just felt like it needed
something, so I asked Melisa and she made
it happen. She’s done a lot of work in the
past with producers like Michael Walden and
Give us a little background on the song and
how you envisioned the guitar sounding?
What guitars and amps did you
use to record “Four Sticks?”
“Four Sticks” is an all-time favorite for me
and, in my strange head, it has always sound-
ed like an instrumental. Because of
this, it seemed a cool choice for the
Bohemian project. Page is always
“touchy” territory; he was brilliant
in the studio and his body of work
speaks for itself. As far as envisioning
the guitar sounds, I think what we
hear in our head is always grander
than the final outcome, but that’s just
being neurotic! I’m pleased with this
track and it was great fun to do.
The main guitar I used was an EVH
Wolfgang, but a couple of the
rhythm bits were doubled using the
Ibanez RG series. But there are also
some acoustics scattered throughout the mix as well – an Ovation
steel string and a Montalvo nylon.
I like layering guitar tones. A little
goes a long way in terms of subtle
differences in gain and bite. This
particular track was done with a
combination of a Mesa Boogie DC-
3 and a Genesis 1 – I actually love
that thing for adding a little edge to the mic
sound. The cabinet used was a Mesa with two
12” Celestions – the Vintage 30s.
really knows how to record and layer vocals.
It’s a two-part harmony (keeping with Page’s
concept), but we did two or three per-line – it
was a lot fun building the beast.
The solo section was interesting. It
Do you have your own studio or did you
was late and I played four or five
solos, so I just picked one. The next
day, it didn’t grab me so I got the
idea of “orchestrating” it – dropping
in harmonies, kicks, etc. throughout the take
and it worked. It’s actually one of my favorite
sections in the track – happy accidents!
use an outside studio for this project? Were
there any key players involved in making
I used my own studio that’s set up at home.
What’s funny about this track is that I had just
returned from my honeymoon and was a little
crunched for time, so I recorded the drums at
a friend’s studio and we used Pro Tools. When
we brought the tracks back there were a few
problems and I had to put some extra time in
to straighten it all out. I used bits from the Pro
Tools session and everything else was done at
the home studio.
Everyone involved really put in 100 percent.
Nick Sitar played drums and also came over
to the studio to do the battery of percussion.
Melisa Kary was key because she offered up
a lot of great ideas during the recording pro-
How did you record the guitar and amp?
Believe it or not, I still love a Shure 57 for
guitar. Close mic’ing is cool for certain things,
but I actually like to back off the amp a bit
– maybe four or five feet back and up a bit.
Boogies and Marshalls sound good loud, but
you have to worry about the “studio ghosts”
that day, so they can actually be captured. I’ve
recently been going through some old DAT
tapes and doing a little re-mastering. There’s
nothing like a great sounding amp in a great
sounding room with all that breath being
caught by the microphone.
What format did you record the song on?
The original drum tracks were done on Pro
Tools. Everything else was done using Sonar,
but as usual, I like to approach things with
As you can see, Howard really got the Led
out with his version of “Four Sticks.” While
sticking to the original, he brought his own
flavor of guitar to the song that Jimmy Page
himself would be proud of. “Four Sticks” is
available at i Tunes. For more on Howard Hart
Emmy Award winning guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a
Top 20 hit in the nineties with “ The Best of Acid Jazz,
vol. 2 ” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10
hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica
band, Asphalt Jungle Tarquin has scored TV music for
such shows as CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My
Children and many others.