Hello friends, here is Sebastiano Lillo speaking.
As you already know, I am an endorser and demonstrator for QP Slide.
Two of my great musical passions are slide guitar (and you understood this!) and music production: since 2019 I have been managing a small recording studio and independent label: “Trulletto Records“.
In the studio I have the opportunity to develop sounds, techniques and approaches to production, recording and arranging and over the years I have put my little knowledge at the service of many artists and musicians.
It happens to me quite often to be asked to add guitar parts to songs and that’s the moment when something clicks in my mind and the desire to give carachter to a track (assuming it’s really necessary) with my sound becomes my main objective, without ever strangle or cloud what’s already been done: in this short feature I will tell you about my approach to arranging and recording slide guitar parts.
Study of the piece
I calmly listen to the song dozens of times, interiorize the structure, the changes and the dynamics using an acoustic guitar in standard tuning (this is a necessary approach for me in this phase, but I recommend it to everyone); after having assimilated these elements and mainly the tonality, I choose the right open tuning to use and the most suitable guitar (electric, acoustic, lap steel, resophonic, baritone) and consequently the slide to use (measurements, weight, material and also the finger to use).
After having assimilated the tune and chosen the essential tools (tuning, guitar and slide type) I continue with the choice of the timbre and colour, choosing, if an electric instrument is required, the amplifier and effects chain, then moving on to the miking and recording set -up.
Lately for electric instruments I choose fairly small tube amplifiers, mainly my old faithful Fender Pro Junior that’s been with me for a long time (for louder approaches I use an Ampeg SJ 12-r from the 80s or a ’74 Fender Silver Face Bassman) miked with a Coles 4104 ribbon mic in a Universal Audio Solo 610 preamp (I love ribbon mics on tube preamps), paired to a Shure Sm7B in a Neve 73 style preamp; in some cases I also take up the environment surrounding the amplifier (it mainly depends on the arrangement and approach to the the song.
For recording acoustic instruments I use a U-47 style tube microphone with a beautiful Focusrite ISA 1 preamp or a pair of AKG 214s, but I don’t disdain to use ribbon or dynamic microphones as well, if they help me to get the sound I have in mind.
Sometimes I may choose to integrate the sound processing with analog outboard gear, like passive compressors and equalizers that can better sculpt my sound and make it feel connected with the arrangement and so also the recording set-up is ready.
Recording, at last
Like all musical instruments, slide guitar has many features, each one with its pros and cons, it can be a single voice but it can be a choir of harmonized voices, it can be delicate but also nervous and even intrusive, so I think that before recording, it is appropriate to listen to your part and ask yourself some questions:
- Does the track need a support intervention or a strong characterization?
- What frequency range am I going to occupy?
- Does the frequency range of my part interfere with the main melody lines?
- Is the harmonization correct?
- Is the articulation rhythmically correct?
- Am I playing in spaces?
- Are the type and size of slide the right ones for my hand, my finger?
These are the main questions I ask myself but we could add many others: in the end when I listen back to the recording I get the answers to the previous questions, whether positive or negative, in this case we start all over again, with patience and passion!
Either in minimalistic interventions or important phrasings, the slide guitar adds an unmistakable color and when it happens to be put in “mute” mode on the mixer its absence is strongly perceptible.
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of “slider life” in the studio.
I leave you with some links to songs in I have proudly lent my sound, showing how the reflections I make while working become music, and I invite you to visit the QPSlide website to discover models, features and news!