This is by no means a definitive list, but there are more and more examples of famous musicians going against the grain (and against trends that they themselves have set) to meet their creative needs.
As the old saying goes, rules are there to be broken. So we thought that maybe we can take something from the ethos of these musicians who refuse to play by the rules? New music has always been borne out of people that chose to push the boundaries. In this article, we’ll cover a few of our favourite examples – let’s get started…
John Mayer uses an AKAI MPC instead of an amp
If you’re a guitar fan or gearhead, you might want to turn away now:
When I’m playing on people’s sessions these days, I don’t usually bring an amp; I record all my guitars through my Akai MPC. Why? Well, because that’s what the rest of the music is suggesting. When everyone is using virtual instruments and virtual effects, there’s no oxygen. Those frequencies are so well cordoned off, a Bassman amp with three mics put on it literally will not fit inside the song. There’s a lot of resistance to that from producers. – John Mayer
This might be shocking news to you if you’re a purist but the thing is, Mayer has a point. Especially in modern music (especially pop) where instruments and vocals are layered up so heavily. It makes sense to give producers the ability to a) change effects and tones using in-the-box guitar simulation software like Guitar Rig from Native Instruments and b) find a pocket in the mix for the guitar.
With loads of mics on a cab you’ll be taking up a lot of the EQ spectrum with bass, mid and treble frequencies. The ability to change tones is also important because pop producers will often have to change things like their kick drum or bass sounds, for example, and it’s important that they can easily get your guitar sound to sit in the mix and change things to do so if necessary.
How John Mayer uses the AKAI MPC
John Mayer turns up at studio sessions with his AKAI MPC so that he has a production and beat-making suite at his fingertips but mostly because he’s using the High Impedance input from the AKAI MPC to feed the guitar signal to the producer. Essentially, like a DI Box but with far more power.
Why would you want to do this? Well, a DI would definitely do the trick because it’ll allow you to record a pure, clean and unaltered guitar tone into your interface. But you’d have way more fun and increase your ability to create if you used an AKAI MPC like he does. You can create beats and loops and use samples to make a bed of music to jam and play along to whilst recording a clean guitar signal that can easily be tweaked and morphed using plugins.