At the time of our interview, Chuck Ainlay
BackStage/Sound Stage Studio
was in England finishing Mark Knopfler’s
new album and preparing to fly to Key West
with producer Tony Brown to record their
16th album with George Strait.
121 ribbon mic and the Coles Ribbon mics
as well. If it’s an open-back cab, I often put a
mic out of phase, put it in the back and blend
it with the front. Generally, I mic a room with
a 67, AEA stereo mic for the room, a pair of
Coles can be great, and a lot of times I compress the room mics a lot. That’s the tool kit
for electric guitar.
For the guitarist’s home studio on a
budget, where should he invest his
(or his girlfriend’s) money?
What are some key pieces of gear you use
for recording guitars?
Making something sound clear and pristine
isn’t always the best thing. Some things
require old, dirty tube mics or tube preamps.
Mark [Knopfler]’s studio, British Groves, has
an EMI Redd 53, one of the consoles that
The Beatles did their early recordings on, and
the EMI TG1—the actual desk that Band on
the Run was done on, and Neve 1073 mic
pres and channels. The main console is a
Neve 88R, a beautiful desk in its own right.
There’s an API Legacy in the other room, a
great desk for recording guitars. I also use
Neve 1073’s an awful lot. I choose what
needs to go on each song. For the electric
guitar, my favorite mic is the Shure SM57,
because you get so many sounds off the
speaker cone just by where you put the mic.
It’s a directional mic, a dynamic mic, it can
take the levels and deals with transience up
close. I blend it with a condenser mic; the
Neumann U67 is my favorite. I like the Royer
The audio magazines tend to want to say
that doing it at home as cheaply as you can
is fine, because they sell a lot of ads that
way. It’s great—the new technology allows
people to express themselves where they
wouldn’t have been able to at all because of
money, but what happens is that the whole
art of recording is disappearing because a
songwriter or musician has taken it upon
himself to do this in his bedroom, and the
recordings suffer. Everybody thinks they’re
an engineer these days, but if you must, a
Shure 57 is the cheapest thing on the planet
and it gets greats sounds, so I would make
sure you had a good kit: a great guitar, an