The scooped mids rhythm guitar sound of 'Beat It' (1982)

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I know it was played by Steve Lukather, and I'm guessing he used a Marshall stack (likely two or three?) for it. From what I know, Michael Jackson's Beat It was well before Steve's Boogie days. In fact I don't he went to Mesa/Boogie until 1984 for Toto's Isolation album.

But how did he get that particular texture and timbre, especially during the verses of the song? Was it due to microphone placement to enhance and phase-cancel particular frequencies? Did he use some fancy EQ setup either at the mixing desk, or somewhere in his guitar signal?

It's just that it sounds so sharp, too sharp for a Marshall amp.

The main riff does sound like it has more mids, but could be just a settings change.
 

PB+J

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Nothing at all would have prevented him from using another amp in the studio. Pretty sure the studio had a bunch of good guitar amps on hand and Lukather would have been capable of playing through any of them?
 
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Nothing at all would have prevented him from using another amp in the studio. Pretty sure the studio had a bunch of good guitar amps on hand and Lukather would have been capable of playing through any of them?

I guess so, but I am just wondering what amps they were? Does anyone know what Quincy Jones had on hand?
 

Roccorobb

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Its clearly got a chorus effect on it which enhances the phasiness. Sounds like it may have been added in post bc it smears the whole tone to my ear. Otherwise, sounds like a pretty standard 80s pop Marshall tone to me, but I'm not a Marshall connoisseur
 

Roccorobb

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Well! A little bit of Google goes a long way. Here is a quote from a recent interview with Steve:

"I’m 24 years old thinking I’d made a big time! I played the bass and all the guitars on that one, except Eddie Van Halen’s solo. I’d used all these Marshalls, then Quincy called me back saying, ‘It sounds too big! I want to make this a crossover hit – use one of your little amps!’ So I plugged in my Fender Deluxe, backed off the distortion, and gave him what you hear on the final record.”

Crazy!

Source: https://rockcelebrities.net/steve-l...s-reaction-when-he-changed-jacksons-riff/amp/
 

tmac

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I wonder if the Deluxe was one of the Paul Rivera modded DRs that a lot of the LA studio players were using at the time? It did have a gain control so maybe he backed off the gain to get a clean scooped typical blackface tone.
 

Tiny Montgomery

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Whatever he used, it only serves the song for his rhythm tone to fall in line with Ed’s solo tone. Which is usually quite cutting.


I highly doubt the entire track was constructed around the guitar solo (which was recorded later, afaik). If anything, it would be the other way around. If the rhythm tone deferred to anything, it was the vocal, which is a MUCH more important element outside guitarland.
I wonder if the Deluxe was one of the Paul Rivera modded DRs that a lot of the LA studio players were using at the time? It did have a gain control so maybe he backed off the gain to get a clean scooped typical blackface tone.
He “backed off the distortion” relative to the Marshall. He didn’t say anything about whether the Deluxe was also too distorted at first. He used the word “distortion,” not “gain,” so there’s nothing about a gain control one way or the other in the quote.
 

Tele-Vision

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"When Eddie did Beat it for Michael Jackson, he was using one of my modified Marshalls. Then came Steve Lukather, and Eric Johnson whose Marshall amp I worked on in 1980 and '81, which was at the very tail end of my stint at Valley Arts, just before I got hired by Fender.”
 
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tmac

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According to Rivera's web site it was infact Luke's modded Fender Rivera Deluxe. That amp was re issued by Sweetwater a few years back and they talked about it being used on the Beat It track.
I thought so. Makes sense.
 

Kelly

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"When Eddie did Beat it for Michael Jackson, he was using one of my modified Marshalls. Then came Steve Lukather, and Eric Johnson whose Marshall amp I worked on in 1980 and '81, which was at the very tail end of my stint at Valley Arts, just before I got hired by Fender.”
Another rumor is that Eddie used Allan Holdsworth’s amp for beat it.
 

Kelly

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This is Paul speaking. Is that considered a rumor?
Hartley Thompson’s son claims Ed used one of their amps on beat it. My apologies for calling your story a rumor, just pointing out there are multiple stories out there.

 
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In non-related relatable news...I always thought my Fender Super-Sonic Twin sounded like that lol. The SS was sort of the Prosonic's sequel and the cascading gain on channel 2 sort of gets there IMHO. Not surprised to see that a modded Fender could have been at the root of that recording; the lineage absolutely sounds the part to me at least.
 
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Its clearly got a chorus effect on it which enhances the phasiness. Sounds like it may have been added in post bc it smears the whole tone to my ear. Otherwise, sounds like a pretty standard 80s pop Marshall tone to me, but I'm not a Marshall connoisseur

I hear what you mean now. I didn't hear it as a chorus...strangely! Ha! Yeah I guess it could be set either really slow rate, or extremely fast rate, as there's no actual "wobble". You're right, there is a smearing. I guess it was done as a type of phase-cancelling filter, for the texture?

Yes, I am particularly discussing the rhythm guitar sound during the verses and the solo. There's at least three if not four different guitar sounds used, not including the solo.
 




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