Welcome to the Gibson Pro Audio Studio Blog with Mike Harrison
This blog will feature both Gibson and Epiphone amplifiers and the ongoing perspective of amps and their use in the recording studio. We have chosen Mike Harrison to help us tell the story. Mike is a studio owner and pro guitarist who will be providing content on using our amps in the studio, imparting techniques, tips and tricks along the way. We hope you enjoy Mike’s content and visit with us often.
Mike Harrison was born in Chandler, Indiana. At the age of ten, he was introduced to music and the guitar, by his father. For many years, Mike played and sang in club bands in Evansville, Indiana with his singer, songwriter wife, Julie. Wanting more than their hometown had to offer, they moved to Nashville to further their careers in the music business. Mike built the Harrison House, a recording studio in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and quickly became a busy independent producer working with a variety of artists.
In 1998 Mike saw that computers were changing the recording industry and he became a systems builder, designing and installing audio systems in numerous Nashville recording studios. For several years, Harrison has been working with PG Music as a developer for their Band in a Box, Real Band and Real Tracks products. He continues to work with many music, audio and software companies helping them develop and improve their products.
Mike Harrison is also an accomplished guitarist and studied with the late great bebop jazz guitarist, Jimmy Rainey. He is a diverse composer/arranger and has just released a contemporary jazz instrumental entitled, “Songs”.
Photo: Julie Harrison
Recording the Epiphone Valve Junior Guitar Amp by Mike Harrison
Today, I’ll be talking about the Epiphone Valve Junior Guitar Amp and some ways of recording it to capture its great sound. You’ve probably heard of the Epi Valve Junior seeing that there’s been a lot of buzz all over the web since it first came out - but if not, I’ll tell you about it and some ways I record with it. The Epiphone Valve Junior head is a single ended Class A five watt tube amp that features one 12AX7 preamp tube and one EL 84 output tube. There are many different modifications that people have done to this amp, but what I’ll be addressing is the stock amp and stock speaker cabinet, with no mods done to it.
There are two flavors of the Valve Junior amp; a combo amp and an amp head with an extension cabinet. I’ll be using the amp head with the 1×12”extension cabinet loaded with a 70 watt Eminence Lady Luck speaker. The first time I heard this little amp I was amazed at how loud it was - it packs a lot of punch in a little package . . . but, could I get this half stack to have that same sound in the mix? I set up the speaker cab on the floor in my sound booth, an 8X8 carpeted wood floor room with a 10 foot ceiling. Normally I like to keep the amp head in the control room so that I can quickly make adjustments to the volume and eq controls. Also by doing it this way, I can play along with the track and not have to use headphones which gives me a better idea of how the guitar is sitting in the mix. Since the Epi Jr has just one volume knob there wasn’t a lot of tweaking- just set the volume and go, so I put the amp head on top of the speaker cab.
The first thing I do is to set the controls on the amp to get the sound that works the best for the song. The song we were cutting today featured guitarist, Darin Favorite. It was a country pop tune that needed a raw country rock sound making the Valve Jr. a great choice. The Valve Jr only has a single volume knob with no eq or reverb. It’s a no frills setup but you can get a few different sounds out of it by just turning it up and down. My go-to mics for recording amplifiers are a Shure SM 57 and a Ribbon mic - either a Cascade Fathead 2 or an Avantone CR-14.
Above: Darin Favorite Photo: J. Harrison
Stay tuned next time when I’ll talk about mic placement, preamp settings, equipment choice and some sound clips and photos!