Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Recording the Beatles


Recommended Posts

Yes, I know this is the acoustic forum. But I also know there are a lot of serious Beatles fans here. I picked up the latest Guitar World before heading off to the Left Coast a couple of days ago, primarily enticed by the cover story on the instruments and recording techniques and equipment used by the Beatles in the 60's and early 70's.

 

This is essentially an extract and re-write of material from "Recording the Beatles", which is pretty definitive. The article distills this down to 20 pages or so of pictures and text, as well as some tab for several legendary Beatle's chords that I have been trying to figure out for years. There are lots of shots of the Harrison/Lennon J-160E's, which were just about the only instruments used consistently throughout their careers, as Ric's, Fenders, and Epis, and Gretsch would come and go. There's one very good photo of Lennon's J-160 with the pickup mounted at the back end of the soundhole, exactly in the location of the much-discussed holes in the top of this guitar on a much earlier thread here.

 

What is mind-blowing is how much work went into creating some of the recordings, largely becase the studio equipment in those days was extremely primitive compared to what we have now. Some of the effects we take for granted now involved days of detailed reprocessing on simple two-track analog equipment, and it shows how much the studio engineers brought to the finished product, translating the boys' descriptions of what they were looking for into recorded sound.

 

Good stuff, for all of us interested in the history of recording and performing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I know this is the acoustic forum. But I also know there are a lot of serious Beatles fans here. I picked up the latest Guitar World before heading off to the Left Coast a couple of days ago, primarily enticed by the cover story on the isntruments and recording techniques and equipment used by the Beatles in the 60's and early 70's.

 

This is essentially an extract and re-write of material from "Recording the Beatles", which is pretty definitive. The article distills this down to 20 pages or so of pictures and text, as well as some tab for several legendary Beatle's chords that I have been trying to figure out for years. There are lots of shots of the Harrison/Lennon J-160E's, which were just about the only instruments used consistently throughout their careers, as Ric's, Fenders, and Epis, and Gretsch would come and go. There's one very good photo of Lennon's J-160 with the pickup mounted at the back end of the soundhole, exactly in the location of the much-discussed holes in the top of this guitar on a much earlier thread here.

 

What is mind-blowing is how much work went into creating some of the recordings, largely becase the studio equipment in those days was extremely primitive compared to what we have now. Some of the effects we take for granted now involved days of detailed reprocessing on simple two-track analog equipment, and it shows how much the studio engineers brought to the finished product, translating the boys' descriptions of what they were looking for into recorded sound.

 

Good stuff, for all of us interested in the history of recording and performing.

 

I felt December's issue was the best in quite awhile. I've enjoyed all the articles about The Beatles recordings.

 

Usually Guitar World is too....."metal" for me.

 

Where ya headed on the Left Coast?

Link to post
Share on other sites

it shows how much the studio engineers brought to the finished product, translating the boys' descriptions of what they were looking for into recorded sound.

 

 

Engineers were engineers in those days, they designed and built stuff...

 

The term engineer today is far removed from what those guys did even though it remains.

 

Madman Greg

Link to post
Share on other sites

God bless George Martin who did so much to shape the sound of The Beatles with the technology of the day. Very few folks are aware of how much he did not only in terms of recording, but all of the added strings & other instruments he arranged. I wonder how much of the article talks about him. It would be a shame if he isn't given the credit he richly deserves.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I felt December's issue was the best in quite awhile. I've enjoyed all the articles about The Beatles recordings.

 

Usually Guitar World is too....."metal" for me.

 

Where ya headed on the Left Coast?

 

It was a turn-around trip to SF: into SFO at 4PM, out at noon yesterday. Next time, I hope to be there a few days and catch up with OWF. Probably flew right over your house on the way in from Dallas. I looked out and waved to you and Ol' Fred.

Link to post
Share on other sites

God bless George Martin who did so much to shape the sound of The Beatles with the technology of the day. Very few folks are aware of how much he did not only in terms of recording, but all of the added strings & other instruments he arranged. I wonder how much of the article talks about him. It would be a shame if he isn't given the credit he richly deserves.

Don't worry: he got a lot of credit, as did the engineers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It was a turn-around trip to SF: into SFO at 4PM, out at noon yesterday. Next time, I hope to be there a few days and catch up with OWF. Probably flew right over your house on the way in from Dallas. I looked out and waved to you and Ol' Fred.

 

Wily is over on the Pennsula.... Fred is out in the Gold Country, but you would have flown right over my house on your way into SFO. My house is very close to the base of Mt. Diablo.

 

Next time let me know...I'd LOVE to meet Wily in person. (and I have plenty of guitars should we want to play!)

 

Bob

Link to post
Share on other sites

God bless George Martin who did so much to shape the sound of The Beatles with the technology of the day. Very few folks are aware of how much he did not only in terms of recording, but all of the added strings & other instruments he arranged. I wonder how much of the article talks about him. It would be a shame if he isn't given the credit he richly deserves.

Have to say I believe George Martin have had a lot of attention the last decades. Okay maybe not all people on the street recall his name, but if you're into music, it'll ring a bell, , , like Gibson and Fender f.x.

Another key figure comes to my mind. Though I haven't read his book (and though I sense he's a bit bitter) – this person is Geoff Emerick. He started on Revolver, just as the real experiments began, and stood steady until the somewhere in the middle of The White Album where he kind burned out. Wont go into detail, but look out for this fellows name.

 

I been skimming the Recording The Beatles several times and see it as a high carat book. Still I find it hard to believe the staff and EMI crews remember so much – every microphone and microphone position down the smallest detail etc. - - - in the wild later60's - eeeehhh, , , , I'm just not sure.

 

What really impresses me, is they way the band, producer and engineers managed to get so much character, atmosphere and spirit down on those tracks when considering how sparse equipment and sometimes little time they had.

 

This dimension of the work, beside the number of quality-songs and the music itself, will stand as something unparalleled for generations to come.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to say I believe George Martin have had a lot of attention the last decades. Okay maybe not all people on the street recall his name, but if you're into music, it'll ring a bell, , , like Gibson and Fender f.x.

Another key figure comes to my mind. Though I haven't read his book (and though I sense he's a bit bitter) – this person is Geoff Emerick. He started on Revolver, just as the real experiments began, and stood steady until the somewhere in the middle of The White Album where he kind burned out. Wont go into detail, but look out for this fellows name.

 

I been skimming the Recording The Beatles several times and see it as a high carat book. Still I find it hard to believe the staff and EMI crews remember so much – every microphone and microphone position down the smallest detail etc. - - - in the wild later60's - eeeehhh, , , , I'm just not sure.

 

What really impresses me, is they way the band, producer and engineers managed to get so much character, atmosphere and spirit down on those tracks when considering how sparse equipment and sometimes little time they had.

 

This dimension of the work, beside the number of quality-songs and the music itself, will stand as something unparalleled for generations to come.

 

Sometimes the engineers like Emerick DO remember things like microphone placement, because they might have spent days on tiny variables trying to get things right. Engineers tend to be pretty anal. Being in the studio used to drive me nuts, even though the stuff we were recording was straightforward folk/rock. When I engineered a concert, everything was a compromise driven by the nature of the room. We were doing everything from clubs seating 50 people to thousand-seat auditoriums using exactly the same equipment, so no two venues ever sounded the same.

 

As I've said here before, the highlight of that time for me was setting up our own equipment for a very young Kate McGarrigle to use (she was opening for us)at Gerde's Folk City. Pretty simple when all you are doing is mic'ing and mixing a piano and a very soft voice, but no one else would help her. Of course, I was in love with her from then on.

 

The nature of the studio is that you can isolate every instrument and every voice, and do the things to each one that you only dream of doing live.

 

Unlike London, the NYC recording industry then (as now, probably) was strictly a union shop, with NABET (National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians) controlling the access to boards and recording equipment. Since I wasn't a union member (it was a closed shop) all I could do was try to tell them and show them what I did with the sound in performance, and try to get some of the feel in the recordings. I wasn't even allowed to touch the studio board, even though I created a big part of the concert sound, as simple as it was.

 

Maybe because I can identify so much with it, I find the history of developing the Beatles' recorded sound endlessly fascinating, as they consciously moved beyond the limits of performance into the world of created sound. You can thank Brian Wilson for a lot of that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

God bless George Martin who did so much to shape the sound of The Beatles with the technology of the day. Very few folks are aware of how much he did not only in terms of recording, but all of the added strings & other instruments he arranged. I wonder how much of the article talks about him. It would be a shame if he isn't given the credit he richly deserves.

 

He gets lots of credit. There's a reason he's called Sir George.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting to learn about 'how it was done'

 

Many of the ground breaking sounds and arrangements were IMO partly as a result of crude recording techniques

 

And tremendous drive and ambition to create vital, joyful music....

 

There was more than luck involved in meeting and working with George Martin

 

A classically trained musician with enough instinct to allow free reign to the boys

 

At a time when pop music was like today...controlled by accountants and risk averse 'what sold before' merchants

 

A never ending story of charisma, fine music and sheer hard work and perfectionism

 

Somewhat lacking in today's celebrity/video mediocre pop culture....

 

V

 

:-({|=

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I must get the "Recording the Beatles".

 

The Emerick book was very, very enjoyable too. Some priceless moments at Abbey road - ie: Emerick had joined the greatest Old Boy Club in the world - the BBC - as apprentice. His description of the dress standards (red lab coats, white lab coats, white shirt and tie) is a laugh and a half. I won't ruin the book for everyone, but into this fray are thrown The Beatles to record for the demeaning (and intended to be) comedy label Parlophone.

And years later, his version of the real truth behind the breakup of The Beatles - Yoko found George's secret stash of biscuits and ate them, and THAT was That!

 

Anyone that has fiddled with home recording, or any recording, will enjoy his description of Abbey Road and life there!

 

 

BluesKing777.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"A Hard Days Night" Opening Chord Mystery Finally Unraveled

 

http://guitarsquid.com/Latest/qa-hard-days-nightq-opening-chord-mystery-finally-unraveled.html

 

The fingering, as played by Harrison on his 12-string Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar, was as follows:

 

E ----3----

B ----1----

G ----2----

D ----3----

A ----x----

E ----x----

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to meet you all....I wish Nick could bring his L-7 and we could compare!!! Well, let's keep it open, Rob's, Nick's hotel room, who knows.....I'm ready willing and able.....

 

This is starting to sound kinky: a bunch of middle-aged men (that's a polite way "geezers" who refuse to accept the fact) meeting in a hotel room in San Francisco to play with 60-year-old guitars.

 

Actually, sounds like fun. My problem is I do not like to travel with any of my vintage instruments. Had a bad airline experience with my '48 J-45 in 1968 that I never really recovered from. Nevertheless, when I'm out there for a couple of months next summer, I can see this all happening, one way or the other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is starting to sound kinky: a bunch of middle-aged men (that's a polite way "geezers" who refuse to accept the fact) meeting in a hotel room in San Francisco to play with 60-year-old guitars.

 

Actually, sounds like fun. My problem is I do not like to travel with any of my vintage instruments. Had a bad airline experience with my '48 J-45 in 1968 that I never really recovered from. Nevertheless, when I'm out there for a couple of months next summer, I can see this all happening, one way or the other.

Nick...."middle age men"...thats so kind of you,,,,lol

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, sounds like fun. My problem is I do not like to travel with any of my vintage instruments. Had a bad airline experience with my '48 J-45 in 1968 that I never really recovered from. Nevertheless, when I'm out there for a couple of months next summer, I can see this all happening, one way or the other.

 

Don't worry... I wouldn't fly with any of my Gibson's either, ('cept the one Amtrac already broke), but if we meet somewhere, I'll bring a Dove you can use....if ya'll come to my house, I'm sure I have everything you'll need.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...