Veteran engineer Bill Jackson shared one of Donn Landee’s guitar recording techniques during a recent visit to Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles!
Jackson spent quite a bit of time working with artists at Sunset Sound including Prince. While there, he said he liked to study the techniques of other engineers who were working at Sunset Sound at the time. One of those engineers was Landee, who was working on the songs from Van Halen’s 1982 album Diver Down.
“I was recording bands and it was sometimes a nightmare getting a sound on a guitar,” said Jackson. “Do you use two mics? Use one mic? Where do you put it?”
At the time Jackson got a look at Van Halen’s studio set up, Landee and the band were finishing up the recording of their single “(Oh) Pretty Woman”. Jackson said he noticed two SM57 microphones – one on one speaker, one on another speaker.
“I’d never seen exactly that kind of angle and where it was pointed but I remember it,” said Jackson, who then drew up a diagram on the spot for Dempsey and photographer Mathieu Bitton. The clip can be viewed above.
“I never told anybody that so there ya go,” added Jackson. “But it changed the way I recorded overdriven or loud guitars…and it always worked.”
Jackson is an engineer and Emmy Award-winning mixer (for HBO’s “Entourage”). Along with recording music by Prince, he also engineered a number of gold and platinum records for such artists as Los Lobos and Sheila E, and was introduced to film work through composer Danny Elfman, with whom he had worked on several album projects for the band Oingo Boingo.
Watch Jackson’s entire Roundtable interview with Sunset Sound HERE.
Watch more of Sunset Sound‘s Roundtable interviews at their YouTube channel HERE.