Gary Pihl of Boston (part 2)

November/December 2003
Gary Pihl of Boston
Part Two
by Will Phoenix
Musicians Hotline

MH: Right. So do you use a different rig when you're playing for Alliance?

GP: Yes, because I'm looking for a different sound there, more of a bluesy sound. What I've been using lately are a couple of different tube amps. One is a Bedrock, which was a company from Massachusetts actually, and it's just a small amp. The other amp I have is an old VOX V125 tube amp. I do use traditional 4X12 or 2X12 cabinets with those amps.
 
MH: Nice. Now with the studio that you have of your own you said that you run tape. Do you prefer to run analog or do you run digital as well?

GP: Its actually digital. I have a Tascam DA88. Tom has a bunch of those. He puts everything onto two-inch analog so even though I'll send him my digital tape he'll transfer that over to the two inch anyways.


MH: Ok, so Tom's studio runs on digital and analog but you run strictly digital?

GP: Right, just for ease of use and transfer. He's got the two-inch analog tape so unless I had another two-inch machine at my place and then gave him the tapes, but then he'd have to have two machines and sync those together. It would just end up being more of a pain in the neck, you know? It's just easier for us to do it on the DA88s.


MH: Alright, now the reason I ask this next question is because a lot of our readers have home studios of their own. I take it that the Tascam DA88 is pretty much what you would recommend or is there anything else that you would suggest that they pick up and use?

GP: Well, I don't think they make the 88s anymore. Now the 78 which is 24 bit is even less expensive than the 88s used to be. As a matter of fact, we just got four of those that we're taking on the road with us that we're recording our live shows with. Now we have 32 tracks of the Tascam DA78s out here. High resolution, 24 bit units. So, we're recording all of the live shows and I hope we come out with a live album here someday.


MH: That would be excellent. I remember you said that you always run direct into your recorder. Do you have any other recording tips for our readers that might help them to get a slightly better quality recording than what they're currently getting?

GP: Well, again the Rockman stuff is unique in that it's designed to go direct. These days there are other manufacturers that make other things that are designed to go direct as well and that is certainly a very convenient way to do it. Then you don't have to worry about microphone placement or speaker cabinets, not to mention, you know, disturbing your neighbors when you're recording late at night. If you just go direct you can use headphones and the neighbors won't even care.

For other instruments or vocals in particular, everyone seems to be in agreement that the better the mic you have, the better the sound you'll achieve. It's always nice to have one GOOD mic, but good is always in the ear of the beholder you know. I've heard some terrific mics that only cost a couple hundred bucks and we've all heard the mics that are five to ten thousand dollars each. It's a funny thing. You see the sound of your voice or the voices you're going to record should dictate what kind of microphone you're going to use. I'll give you an example. Tom has access to any mic he wants to use right? Well Tom has found that the best mic for Brad (Delp) is an Electrovoice RE20, which is a dynamic microphone and not a condenser. You see them all the time in radio stations. Tom has said that for Brad and his voice that seems to be the best mic for him. Now for other singers you'll use different mics. And again, the RE20 is not that expensive. You can buy those for $250 or something like that. You don't have to spend a lot of money but it IS important that you try to match the sound of the voice or instrument, whatever you're going to record, with the type of microphone you're going to use. I know that Tom used to use SM57s to record drums with for the snare and all the toms, usually something else for the kick, either a RE20 or something else and then condenser mics for the cymbals. But again, the SM57s are cheap. You can pick them up for $100 or less so you don't have to spend a lot of money if you know what the sound is that you're looking for.


MH: Right on. Now I know that in the past at N.A.M.M. Shows and other trade shows you used to do a lot of demos for the Scholz R&D pedals. DO you still do those for the Rockman amps?

GP: Well, Tom sold the company to Dunlop about five years ago so I haven't been to a N.A.M.M. show since. I used to go every year and sometimes twice a year to show off the new preamps, pedals or whatever we had going that year.


MH: Ok, well this is going to be the last question I have for you and then I 'll let you relax cause I know you have a lot of preparation to do later. So, what is the favorite instrument that you own?

GP: I'd have to say it's my '59 Les Paul Junior double cutaway. Its got one P90 pickup in it and it looks terrible. I was looking for one and a friend of a friend said "Oh I know this guy up in Maine that has one." So I called him up and he said "I got it, but it looks really bad. I'll send it to you and if you don't want it just send it back." So I opened it up when I got it. If you have a minute, I'll tell you this story.


MH: Yeah Please!

GP: Ok, so I got it, opened up the case and it looked like somebody had spray painted it with a can. You know, there were drips all over it and it was yellow. I mean Bright Yellow! It was like the worst paint job ever! So I looked it over and said while laughing to myself "this looks really bad." But, I plugged it in and it sounded just Great. So I said, "That's it, I'm keeping it." And its been my favorite guitar ever since. I did take the paint job off so it's just natural now.


MH: Well that probably makes it sound smoother cause its not in so much pain anymore.

GP: Yeah, That's it!


MH: Well Gary, I appreciate you taking the time with me today and I look forward to seeing you soon.

GP: Hey, Thank you man.

So there you go, brilliance from a man with excellent tone. If you want to find out more about Boston's current tour or album go to www.bandboston.com. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did and until next time, do one thing and make it your life's passion.
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