There’s a connect-a-dot game that could be played here with John Feldmann, his fingers and the various pies within which they might reside. A game that starts with Goldfinger, moves on through The Used and Good Charlotte, and tallies major label success after major label success before screeching to a halt on Easy Street: that is, Feldmann being one of the most in-demand rock producers around. Now ramping up to tour in support of the latest Goldfinger release, Feldmann talked to EQ about the bass and guitar tracks he produced for The Used’s second record, In Love and Death.
“For the first The Used record, we used this Warwick bass that had a really great bottom end to it,” says Feldmann. “But on the last record, we used a Wahl bass that the bass player had borrowed from a friend.” A Hughes & Kettner Duotone, and a lot of vintage Hiwatt were also deployed in the making of this record.
The guitar tracks for In Love and Death were done using two Ernie Ball guitars (including an Ernie Ball Baritone), and a Schecter Baritone. An additional axe—a Baritone Les Paul—was also brought in to double the bass parts. “Quinn was really stoked about using that one for that really low-end kind of grid,” says Feldmann.
The band jacked into Feldmann’s Universal Audio 6176 for DI. “I used the 610 part as a preamp, and the 1176 side for just a little compression,” explains Feldmann. “But I tend to use the L1 limiter in Pro Tools for most of the real squashing. I also really like the Vintech X73s on guitars for their lower midrange, because they have this really cool growl.”
For the record, Feldmann mic’d things up using a Sennheiser 609, a Shure Beta 57, and a Shure SM-57. “I set up the mics on my old Marshall cabinet with green backs in it,” he says. “Then I ran the two Shures through the X73, and the 609 through the 473, and just blended them together to get the sound I was looking for.”
“It took a while to go around the cones and figure out what part of the cone to mic up,” he says. But finally Feldmann found some sweet spots. “One spot was right above the center, off to the left, so that’s where I put the Beta 57,” he adds. “And I put the regular SM-57 in the middle. I put the 609 on the upper left as well, but on the bottom speaker, because every speaker has a different sound, just like every cabinet does.”
“I use the Alan Smart C2 as a bus compressor,” says Feldmann. But he relies way more on Pro Tools plug-ins than outboard gear. “I’ve used EchoFarm on everything, I just love the way it sounds,” he says. “I like to automate it and make it all screwed up. And I used the Waves Doubler a lot to get that fake stereo image on the background vocals and stuff.”
“As far as bass effects go, I think Amplitube has a pretty realistic amp sound, and it just really fits well in the mix,” says Feldmann. “When you solo it up, you can kind of tell what’s going on, you know, with the modeling effect. But in the mix it just seems to sit really well and I can keep the grit of the pick. For me, it’s all about where the pick hits the string above the pick-up to get that real attack of the bass.”
For The Used’s In Love and Death, the band had nothing written before going into the studio. “I set the guys up downstairs with their own cues and their own mixes, so they could just jam ideas out for hours and I just recorded everything,” says Feldmann. “I’ve got probably 40 hours of just them jamming.
Then the band would come upstairs and I could tell them—with a little perspective—‘Okay, in this part maybe we could modulate it, or cut out this.’ Or ‘That part’s the best part of the song, let’s make that the chorus,’” says Feldmann. “So we could really look at it, then I could just go do it in Pro Tools.”