Paul McCartney's compressor ?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by bjm007, Jul 18, 2004.


  1. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Does anyone know how Paul McCartney got his bass lines so punchy and fat on the Beatles records from the Revolver album going forward.

    I did a few searches and found a few reference to compressors, but I'd be very interested to see if anyone else has read something about this.

    Chandler Compressor

    This link talks about a book called Revolution in the Head which mentions the use of a compressor on the Revolver album...

    Rickenbacker Acticle
     
  2. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I think it was a Fairchild 660. The Manley Variable MU is supposed to be nearly identical in response and sound, according to a mastering engineer I know who has used both extensively and did A/B tests with them.
     
  3. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    A good Hoffner bass is all about fat bottomed punch (the Rick 4001 and 4003 have their own sorta punchiness, just not quite as good at the deep throbbing thing). I kick myself for selling mine on a regular basis, but it was so fragile that it made me nervous.
     
  4. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    George Martin told me that a key part of the Beatles' guitar sound was the Fairchild 660 limiter.

    Another reason for the punchy sound on the early stuff is the Hofner which is short scale so has less harmonic content and more fundamental than a longer scale, and he was probably using flatwounds back in the day.
     
  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    >>I think it was a Fairchild 660.<<

    I read an article interviewing the engineer, Goeff Emerick, and he says that the Fairchild was used on just about everything. I have used the Manley, and it will give you "that" sound.

    Another part of it was the Telefunken mic preamps, tube preamps that EMI used on the consoles they built in-house. I've also used several of these, and it's another link in the chain.

    Also, I think for the later stuff, McCartney started to use a Rickenbacker bass around that time, but not on every song.

    I was going to do one of my "Hey, I was Paul McCartney" gags, but decided against it just this one time.

    I always loved the "Paul is dead" acid trip thing. LOL
     
  6. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Thanks guys - very interesting...... From what I can tell doing a few searches, the Fairchilds are pretty much long gone, being snapped up by engineers, producers and high end studios. The originals go for between $25k-$35k and apparently you damn near need a small forklift to move around!

    Pendulum Audio makes a compressor that is designed to have a similar sound...

    Pendulum Audio ES-8

    Here's the Manley...

    Manley Stereo Variable MU
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    I haven't used the Pendulum, but it's gotten very good reviews in the trades.

    I have used the Manley, and it does the deed.
     
  8. jzb

    jzb Member

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    Pendulum is also very special.

    If punchy is what your after, the Manley line (especially the pres!) make for a great recording. I liked them so much I got 4 channels.

    Another thing about those recordings is they're analog.... you can push an analog deck *much* harder than digital. This can make a world of difference.

    Ain't nothing like running the meter in the red!

    -j
     
  9. bjm007

    bjm007 Member

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    Yeah, I miss analog ..................... :D
     
  10. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Dont forget that on the early beatles recordings it wasn't just the compressor that was doing the business. The EMI quadrant faders and the EMI four track one inch tape machines were all adding to the effect.

    Personally I am not a big fan of the recording techniques used by Geoff and George in the early days, there is a lot of distortion present and it just goes to show that the song is the most important aspect.

    Ringo's drums always sound thin and flat and I suspect that Geoff was overloading the ribbon 4038 mics that he is a big fan of for drums.

    If you are after that fat sqiudgy bass sound you need more than the right compressor, some flat wound strings and tons of valve kit is the starting point.

    A friend of mine did the wings recordings in the 70's at abbey road and McCartney was being badgered byt the engineer to change his bass tone.
    His reply was that they didn't mess around with his bass tone on the beatles stuff in the 60's and that still sold millions.

    I think it is more inportant to get your own sound rather than try and mimic what was probably the sum of a lot of different parts.

    Remember the beatles albums were mostly recorded in one day or even a week so there was not a lot of time for experimentation as studio time was expensive.
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    >>A friend of mine did the wings recordings in the 70's at abbey road and McCartney was being badgered byt the engineer to change his bass tone.<<

    Into Studio Talkback mic:

    "Uh, Paul..."

    "Yes?"

    "Paul, your tone just fu%^in' sucks, man. You really need to change it."

    "It sucks, eh? Go screw yourself, I sold 900 bazillion records with it. Now let's do another take."

    "No, seriously, Paul. It just sucks, man. You gotta change it. Hey, I got this new record by a new band called Pet Shop Boys, you should hear the bass on it. Really cool."

    "I'm sorry, but there is a Wings sound like there was a Beatles sound, and this is it, I'm not changing it. Roll tape!"

    "The Pet Shop Boys record is pretty cool..."

    "No."

    "OK, it's your call, Paul."

    Engineer looks at assistant engineer, rolls eyes. Assistant also rolls eyes.

    Engineer says to assistant,

    "This guy is, like, SO past it..."

    Assistant nods...

    "Hey, I'm just into Gary Numan. I can't stand this old fashioned sh^t."
     
  12. Ericsson

    Ericsson Guest

    Are we talking about a song like Rain?
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Funny you should say that... I love the sound of the drums from Revolver on. "Birthday," "Glass Onion," etc. Very unique, different from anything else before or since.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    I always thought the drums sounded like they sounded because of all the track bouncing they needed to do in the days of 2 or 4 track machines, and that they had to EQ the hell out of the drums because they were bounced the most.

    But what do I know. I'm from Detroit, not London. ;)
     
  15. GaryNattrass

    GaryNattrass Member

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    Dont get me wrong I love the music side of the Beatles and have always been a Macca fan.

    Its just my anal engineer side that winces at some of the quality of the recordings bearing in mind that the audio quality on some of Frank Sinatras 1950's tracks is fantastic and that is what George Martin was trying to match when he saw the gear that they were using at Capital studios. He then insisted that abbey road had the same compressors.

    Nice bit about the Bass Les and from what my friend Andy Bennet says its not far from the truth.
     
  16. RogerF

    RogerF Guest

    From what I have read, Norman Smith was the engineer for George Martin on the early to mid period Beatles sessions. He was promoted to producer and his first assignment was Pink Floyd. When Norman left, Geoff Emerick became the engineer. I think was just after Rubber Soul and prior to Revolver.

    The book also mentioned that Norman's style was old-school EMI and that Geoff was sort of a rebel and was always willing to experiment with differnet placements, settings, etc.
     
  17. Soul Man

    Soul Man Local 83

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    Great information guys!
     
  18. E-Rock

    E-Rock Member

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    Buying a Fairchild type compressor seems like a REALLY expensive way to get a great bass sound. I mean, if you have the funds, knock yourself out, gear rules, but I think you can do it without a $4000 compressor.

    I know stuff like 'Paperback Writer' they did the old "speaker as a microphone" trick.

    I've also read, (and tried it myself.... it really works) that they would put a mic like 8 feet back from the cab. Usually figure 8, ribbon. Crank up you favorite amp! Now, if your room isn't as big as the Abbey Road room, I've had great luck in my basement with a ribbon like 3 or 4 feet back (move it around until you find the sweet spot) and some tasty compression.
    Don't crush it, 4:1 or 6:1 slow attack, fast-ish release.

    A Hofner would be sweet, but I've had killer results with a P or J.

    To me, that sound is more about getting some distance/air on the mic,, and cranking the amp up so it moves some air.
     
  19. loudboy

    loudboy Supporting Member

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    No one's mentioned the fact that the bass was usually recorded as the last overdub, and it was done intentionally, to achieve that big fat sound.

    Also, as far as I know, no DI. Miked amp. Probably the ubiquitous U-47s that were used on most sessions. If you've ever miked a bass amp with one, you'll know what I'm talking about.

    This is from some interviews with George Martin, new info may have come out since then...

    Loudboy
     
  20. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Yup. The UAD Powered Plugin modelled Fairchild is damned convincing...it'll, like, "take you half the way there, man". At least.
     

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