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More Than A Feeling: Gear & Tone

 

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Guitar 1 is 12 string acoustic guitar. While the sound of the verse section of this song gets its magic from the distinctive sound of the 12 string, if you don’t have access to one, no problem; simply play the acoustic parts on any acoustic guitar.

The electric guitar tones on display here in this song are the stuff of legend. They were very unique sounding for the time period of the mid to late 70s. An additional Graphic EQ is a really big part of the tone shaping, so, that said, the choice of guitar here matters a bit less.

A Les Paul guitar was used for all the electric tones on this recording. There is debate as to whether P90 pickups or humbucker pickups were used. The good news is that these pickups sound very similar. A P90 can be described as a clearer but noisier version of a humbucker. Either pickup in the bridge position will do the trick.
As far as amps go, A Marshall style tube amp is the best choice. Crank up the preamp gain to full for a big crunch sound. Roll down the bass control, crank the mid control to full, and set the highs to around 3/4.

Guitar 2 uses a cleaner sound, so roll down the preamp gain or roll down your volume control on your guitar to clean up the sound.
As I mentioned earlier, the tones are EQ'd even further using a 6 band EQ pedal. The general approach here is to emphasize the lower mids (500-800 Hz) and pull down everything else. This effectively "slots" the guitar somewhere between the bass and the vocals. Beware though, that radical EQing like this makes the guitar sound rather thin if you are playing by yourself. However in the context of a dense mix, it sounds very cool.

The lead guitars (Guitar3 and Guitar5) use heavy compression, chorus, and delay for extra sustain and lushness. Guitar 2 also uses some chorus to widen out the sound. The use of heavy effect processing like this on electric guitars started to creep into recordings around the mid-70s, and this song was definitely at the head of the charge.

This "ultra-produced" sounding approach was definitely a precursor to the heavily effected guitar sounds of the 80s.

Add some reverb to all guitars for depth. Here are the settings I used:

Marshall Plexi Model:

Drive: 100% Bass: 10% Mid: 100% Treb: 75% Presence: 65%
6 Band Graphic EQ:

100Hz: -10% 200Hz: -10% 400Hz: +50% 800Hz: +100% 1.6kHz: -10% 3.2KHz: 0

Compressor:

Input: 50% Sustain: 85%

Chorus:

Rate: 25% Depth: 50% Wet/DryMIX: 40%

Delay:

Time: 325ms Feedback: 40% Wet/DryMIX: 40%

Spring Reverb:

WetDryMIX: 40%