Joe Chiccarelli Interviews Ken Scott December 2005
Not smashed up against
the grille cloth?
No. One of the things you
learned back then, because you didn’t
have much control over the sound, was
that the sound had to come from the
guitar. And, today, one of the other
things that has changed the way
guitars sound is these high output
pickups. Plug in an old Strat or Tele
with the original pickups, and you’ll
get this amazing sound. But highoutput
pickups have this weird high
end that you can never completely
get rid of, and it just gets so annoying.
Every engineer and guitarist
should really understand the effects
these pickups have on the sound of
What about George Harrison
on All Things Must Pass?
George was a perfectionist.
Amp-wise, it was usually Vox and
Fender, never Marshall, and we often
used Leslie cabinets. The mics on that
would have been a Neumann KM54 or
KM56 on the top, and a Neumann U87
or U67 on the bottom.
Jeff Beck kind of defines
for me what a great guitar player is
supposed to be. His tone, the nuances,
and his dynamics are just tremendous.
I did Truth and There and Back,
and I saw so many different sides of
him. I saw Jeff in the “very confident
phase,” and then in the times when you
had to coax him along.
When you’d work with Jeff
Beck or George Harrison, did you go
out to the amp and make sure the tone
was dialed in?
No. They knew what was
needed. It was just there—you weren’t
trying to fix something. I would have
miked them the way I tend to mic
everybody—either a U67 or U87 in
front of the amp, and, sometimes,
maybe a distant mic. You don’t have to
do all of that multiple miking kind of
thing when the musician is giving it to
you. If it comes from the instrument,
you don’t have to work too hard to get
the sound. It’s just there.
Unbelievable. His whole guitar
sound was always perfect, from a technical
point. Miking it was, again, a Neumann
U67 or U87 in front of his Marshall
cabinet. He always went through a wah
pedal, and he would get his tone by
setting the pedal at a point he liked. So
he would kind of crazy EQ everything—
that’s how he always got his sound. All
the Bowie stuff was done with the wah.
An amazing technician who
always liked to show off his
technique. He always used 100-watt
Marshalls turned up full blast. John
liked to crank. There were times
when his sound may have been just a
little too distorted for me, but that’s
the way he liked it. Once, we were
finishing Birds of Fire at Criteria Studios
in Florida, and this was during
the Bee Gees time when the sound
of every American record would be
acoustically as dead as possible. So
we went in there, and he turns up his
amp, and it sounded so ridiculously
small that he kept turning everything
up until the amp blew up. The room
was so dead, it just ate up
everything. Criteria wasn’t the right
studio for Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Warren, yeah, there’s no one
quite like him actually. One
remembrance is a track on the first
Missing Persons’ album called “Noticeable
Ones”. We were trying to get the
guitar solo. We tried and tried. Nothing.
Finally, Warren says, “When we get
to the solo section, kill the track.” I
said, “What?” He says, “When we get
to the solo, turn off the volume of the
track, and let me try it without any
music going on.” We got the solo the
—Excerpted from the December
2005 issue of EQ