Posted by levipeto on 2015-12-27 13:32:32 , Contributor: guitarnerdswe , Source: guitarnerdswe
BACKGROUND? If you're a fan of Steve Lukather, chances are that your favourite era (both regarding his tone and playing) is the late 80s and early 90s, often referred to as "the Soldano era". Being probably the biggest geek about Lukather's tone out there, I've spent many years and way too many hours researching, hunting down clips, acquiring bootlegs and harassing people close to the man for inside information about his past gear It seems only fitting that I put all this together into something I can share with my fellow Axe-brothers. I will run down the entire rig and how I've replicated it in the Axe. GUITARS? His main guitar was his Valley Arts "The Robot": A mahogany strat-style guitar with maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, a Floyd Rose, a EMG 58 humbucker in the bridge and two EMG S single coils. Whenever he needed a clean tone, he would use what became his signature model from Valley Arts (Custom Pro): A quilt maple-bodied strat-style guitar with maple neck, ebony fingerboard, a Floyd Rose, probably a EMG 85 humbucker in the bridge and two EMG SA57 single coils. THE ROUTING? The general routing for his rig is pretty standard for how Bob Bradshaw of Custom Audio Electronics usually did his rigs at the time. All the effects are post preamp, except the wah. A rack compressor was used directly after the preamp, but only for clean sound. The chorus of choice was often used as a stereo splitter, and then it was reverb and pitch in mix 1, and the delays in mix 2, everything parallel to the dry. I've added a solo boost (vol/pan block 1) after the cab, just because most people will probably find that useful in general (even though Luke never used one). WAH? His wah was just probably just a standard Dunlop Crybaby that Bradshaw modified to handle long cable runs better. The standard Cry Babe wah type works fine. PREAMP? The basis of his tone was the prototype for the Soldano X88R preamp with the black faceplate. It was a custom order by Bob Bradshaw from Mike Soldano. The prototype had 3 outputs (one for each channel), a different transformer than the production model, was PTP and not PCB and god knows what other differences. Channel 1 was clean, and only used for rhythm. Channel 2 is dirty rhythm, but he also used it for some solos, like the first ones in "Without your love" from the Paris 1990 concert. Be aware that his dirty rhythm tone has a lot less gain than you might expect. Channel 3 was never used for anything other than lead, and has tons of gain. I've set the tone/gain/bright controls to the same settings as he used, and then tweaked away on other settings until I thought it sounded more like his. Fun fact: Bradshaw sold the preamp many years ago to "some dude in Japan". Fun fact no 2: Soldano will build an exact replica of the preamp if anyone wants to order one, but it will be VERY expensive. POWER AMP? He used a HH V800 Mosfet transistor power amp at the time. Because of this, the power amp simulation is off. CABINETS AND SPEAKERS? His cabinets were late 70s/early 80s pre JCM Marshall 4x12, with the small check grill cloth, that had been painted black. He used the original 1980s Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, most likely 16 ohms. He did NOT use Marshall "Vintage by Celestion", that's a different speaker and is stock in certain Marshall cabs. Lukather bought his speakers as an after market replacement, so it was the Celelstion-labeled V30s. These speakers are not available nowadays, since Celestion changed the design of the original V30 in the early 90s. After that, only Mesa Boogie got the original design from Celestion for use in their cabs, although they primarily used the 8 ohm version (8 and 16 ohm speakers sound quite different). The sound of the speakers changed once again when Celestion move their production for most of their speakers and their components to China in the early 2000s. That meant that certain components of the previously 100% English-made Mesa Boogie V30s are now made in China and different from before. Nevertheless, after much comparing and a lot of research, I've found that the current 8 ohm V30s in Boogie cabs are probably the closest sounding ones to what Lukather actually used, to my surprise. Therefore, my preset use the OH 412 MES-TR V60 57-05 IR from Ownhammer. Get it here: http://www.ownhammer.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=160&products_id=367 RACK EQ? There was usually a rack EQ of some sort in the rig (usually a Rane ME 15 graphic EQ, but I've also seen a parametric EQ in the rack. I think he used this as a general tone shaper. I've started with his settings and tweaked it to fit the IR better. COMPRESSOR ? Lukather used a DBX 160X rack compressor after the preamp, and only for clean sounds. He used a 4:1 ratio, and I've dialed in the compressor block to sound more like his, partly by ear and partly by technical information/specifications. CHORUS? In the early version of his Soldano X88R-rig, he used a TC Electronics 2290 for chorus. In the later ones, he used the TC Electronics 1210. I have good picture of his settings from the mid 90s, so I've used those. I suspect his setting didn't change anyway, Luke is a "set and forget" kind of guy. I had to use both chorus blocks, since the TC 1210 is two separate choruses in one. He used chorus for all his clean sounds, and certain lead sounds, like in the end solo of "Without your love" from the famous Paris concert in 1990, and also the lead for "Little Wing" from the same show. PITCH? In the earlier versions of the rig, he used a Yamaha SPX90 for pitch shifting. I've chosen to replicate the Eventide H3000SE in the later versions of the rig. I've used the same setting as in the original factory preset numbered 231, called "MICROPITCHSHIFT", which use the layered shift algorithm. The pitch shift was always on. REVERB? Lukather used a Roland SRV2000 reverb, probably the hall reverb. I've dialed in the reverb using some knowledge about the unit, and by ear. The reverb was always on. DELAY? Lukather used two Lexicon PCM70 for delays, both running V2 firmware. One was running the preset called "Pan delays", the other one "Circular delays". Both are multitap delays, and "Circular delays" also use some diffusion. Besides all of the recordings of Lukather, I have demo clips from users of the PCM70 and the actual settings of the presets in a chart. I've spent many hours figuring out the "mystery" of his delays. Lukather used "Pan delays" as his main delay. "Circular delays" was often added in parallel to the other unit/preset (think Little Wing from the Paris 1990 concert). It was rarely used by itself, I can count the number of times I've heard him use "Circular delays" by itself on one hand. He also used two different volume settings for the "Pan delays" . Bob Bradshaw changed the input level of the PCM70 running the "Pan delays" preset by hand, quite easy to see since he has marked the two settings on the front of the unit. When Lukather used the louder version of the "Pan delays", he never added the "Circular delays". You can hear this on "Without your love" from the Paris 1990 concert. I've added a vol/pan block in front of multidelay 1 to simulate the two different levels. In this general period of time, Lukather's delays were synced to the songs tempo. From what I can gather, Bradshaw switched the delay times of the PCM70s using a small midi controller backstage. I've synced the delays times of the two multidelay blocks to tempo subdivisions that match up correctly. If you don't want to use tap tempo, remove the tempo information from the delays to get the factory delay times. Sometime after he stopped using the X88R prototype and switched to the CAE 3+, Lukather also stopped syncing his delays to the songs tempo POST PRODUCTION TONE SHAPING? I've added a filter block and a PEQ block at the end of the grid to do the final tone shaping. I've chosen to simulate the NEVE 1081 preamp/EQ using the Waves V-EQ4 plugin. Bypass these and the cab block if you're using a real cab. ------------------------------------------------------------ SCENE DESCRIPTION ? Typical clean tone. Clean tone with both delays for ballads. Typical dirty rhythm tone. Dirty rhythm with both delays (Little Wing-style). Dirty rhythm/lead with loud "Pan delays" (Without your love-style). Typical main lead tone. Lead tone with both delays. Lead tone with chorus and loud "Pan delays" (Without your love-style).
OH 412 MES-TR V60 57-05 WHICH YOU CAN GET HERE: http://www.ownhammer.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=160&products_id=367