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How do I get that Jeff Lynne sound?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Greatest Hits, Jul 5, 2008.

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  1. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    I love a good audio recording experiment, and I have a song that could use that unmistakeable Jeff Lynee sound that he brought to Brian Wilson's "Let It Shine" not to mention Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Del Shannon, and the Threetles. I just love the overall sound he brings to the table.

    I've carefully studied my favorite tracks that he's worked on (mostly the late 80s stuff like Wilburrys, "You Got It", "Got My Mind Set On You", "Free Fallin'", and Del Shannon's "Walk Away") and I think I got a good idea of how he positions instruments in the mix. I've also been watching the footage of the recording session for Roy's "You Got It" and have been taking notes of how he arranges and overdubs parts.

    The main thing I'd like to focus on is mic'ing and EQ. I'm thinking this thread is more or less for engineers only since they genuinely seem to know what they're doing/talking about. And since there are even some lucky dogs here that have worked on/with some of Jeff's projects, I'm thinking I'm going to get some good answers as well.

    Again, this is only for a little experiment for me to see just how close to Jeff Lynne I can make it sound without Jeff Lynne actually coming in to produce it.
  2. One trick I've read about on here is that a snare drum would be overdubbed to get that *huge* Lynne snare sound; the overdub would either be miced with lots of room sound or recorded tight with lots of reverb, I can't remember which.

    Definitely staying interested in this thread; I like his style too. It's a bit Phil-Spectory in the fact that there's so much going on in his productions.
  3. olsen

    olsen Forum Resident

    los angeles
    I read an interview with Ringo where he stated that Lynne records each individual drum track BY ITSELF, one at a time, obviously to a click. "How else do you think he gets that Jeff Lynne sound?" was the quote.
  4. -Alan

    -Alan Forum Resident

    Connecticut, USA
  5. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    Thanks thinkfist... I knew I'd seen some of the particulars somewhere here before.
  6. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    I love Lynne's production sound, the drums especially. Steve Hoffman described how to get the drum sound in one of the above-mentioned older threads. I'd like to try that one of these days.

    Interestingly, while some like to say that Lynne's had the same sound since the 70's, I do hear some differences in his sound as time has gone by. For instance, the in the sort of heyday of ELO in the mid-late 70's, he would sometimes add a bunch of reverb to the lead vocal. But most of the stuff he produced after ELO in the 80's, 90's, and 2000's, is notable for usually having extremely dry lead vocals.

    I like how he sometimes uses intruments in somewhat percussive ways. When he often adds the masses of acoustic guitars, they are often very syncopated and rigid, almost part of the percussion. Same thing sometimes with some other instruments.

    But I really love his drum sound, even though others just can't stand it. I like how the drums sound deep and thick yet kind of sound snappy at the same time.

    I think in one of the threads about Tom Petty's "Highway Companion", Steve Hoffman talked about how Lynne did the bass by just playing a Hofner Club bass through an old Fender Bassman with one microphone, that's it. I remember when I picked up "Highway Companion", I was quite taken by the bass sound, especially for a Lynne production, where the bass guitar is often rather non-descript compared to other elements of his recordings. He got some great bass sound on "Highway Companion", like on the track "This Old Town", where you can hear great, warm tone that also has a lot of bottom end, and sounds like it's almost being overdriven but not quite.
  7. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    It's not just the snare drum that makes the Lynne sound from the late 80s/early 90s. I did a "make a song sound like Jeff Lynne" song a while back. The thing I thought was a staple of a lot of Jeff's songs from that era was many acoustic guitars strumming in unison along with the beat, panned hard to the left, and hard to the right. They aren't typically loud though. The one thing he did that got to be a bit of cliché was the descending and ascending scales that resolved at the end of a verse. I think he eased up on that in the mid-90s though.

    What Balzac said...
  8. I've always wanted to try simulating a Lynne recording with several acoustic guitar tracks, via the use of capoes and alternate tunings. I would imagine such a feat would require a lot of EQing to get the combination of sounds just right.
  9. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Lynne supposedly has his house wired to record, and he apparently gets some of his sounds from things like bathrooms and other odd areas that offer unique ambience.

    He gets some interesting acoustic sounds sometimes, like the really grainy sound on "Moment in Paradise" from his "Zoom" album.
  10. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Yep, the descending/ascending notes, often played on what sounds like a Fender VI or some sort of baritone guitar, as heard on songs like "You Got It" and "Let It Shine", did get a bit cliched I suppose. He did use something fairly similar on the track "Stranger on a Quiet Street" from his "Zoom" album.

    One of the unique things I notice about some of the tracks with acoustic guitar is that he will sometimes add in more acoustic guitars as the song goes on. You can hear this in a few cases if you "OOPS" the tracks because, as you mention, often the acoustics will be panned hard to one side. Check out a track like "Lift Me Up" from his solo album, or the Brian Wilson track "Let It Shine", and you can hear that he will sometimes near the end of the song add just a lone extra acoustic guitar that you can barely hear in the overall mix, but it just gives the end of those tracks just a little bit extra sort of urgency or at least sometime different to sort of build up the end of the song.

    Lynne is probably the only producer where I've actually picked up a few albums simply because he produced them. He has usually worked with artists that I'm a fan of independently of Lynne, but I probably wouldn't have picked up something like Julianna Raye's "Something Peculiar" if it didn't have Lynne producing and arranging the whole album. That album sounds quite "Full Moon Fever"-ish on several tracks, production-wise, as it has Lynne and Phil Jones drumming. I think even Mike Campbell adds guitar on a track.
  11. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    And it was used to good effect. It's probably my favorite song on the album and probably a favorite Jeff Lynne track in general. That note sounds like it's played through an octave pedal, but it could just as easily be two guitars.

    I didn't even know about Julianna Raye. I'm pretty likely to pick up anything he does. I do this with regards to rap producers all the time, but rarely with rock producers. One thing I've noticed about Jeff's recent sound is that its a fuller sound. I never really analyzed it. It seems like there is more bass and mid-range, and less high end. One thing I didn't like (mildly didn't like) about the Wilbury-era stuff was that there was a thinness to it. I don't know when that started. His work with McCartney was fuller and almost didn't sound like Jeff at all.
  12. nosticker

    nosticker Forum Guy

    Ringwood, NJ
    Steve's original post.......

    A cheap way to get that snare sound in a studio.

    First, close mike the snare. Got that? Now, put a mike a ways away from the snare but make that mike LOUDER so the sound is the same volume as the close mike. There you have it; that built in delay, that (to me annoying) lag time thing. All there.
    To me, that's very interesting. I always had a feeling that Jeff sent the sound via a speaker into a room and then miked the sound of that.
    I used to work in a studio that experimented with that approach.

  13. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Vancouver, BC, CA
    One piece of the puzzle: you definitely need one of these.

    Attached Files:

  14. Thomas Pugwash

    Thomas Pugwash Forum Resident

    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'm not taking a cheap shot here Chiefy but why would Lynne bare the full brunt of any possible 'Wilbury' anomalies when both records were clearly produced by Jeff AND George.....?

    I've read awfully idiotic put downs of the 'Wilbury' sound only mentioning Jeff and then read major articles miss-spelling his name and mainly crediting all the other members when the awards were being picked up.....I don't know why, never will probably. :confused:

    Mini-rant over.....The 'Wilburys' home movies that have been floating around a long-time reveal a lot about Jeff's drum sound i.e under the stairs and drum by drum!!

    There's great footage of Jim Keltner just playing the snare but miming the hi-hat to help with his timing and to give the normal feel of playing the track!!

    Each to their own eh?? :righton:

  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Either way will get you there (as my ex used to say)...

    Depends on the size of the drum room.
  16. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    The drum sound is easy. It's the dynamics squashing that I'm wondering about.

    How much "squashing" should I do, exactly?
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Blue Face 1176, three times. During tracking, mixing and mastering. Set on stun.

    Attached Files:

  18. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    Thanks a bunch, Steve!
  19. :eek: That's still "acceptable" dynamic squashing, right? :laugh: and does that include whacking in all four ratio buttons?
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Analog squashing is an effect.
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host


    If you're really going to do this and use a pair of old bluestripe 1176 in stereo, you need to have them ganged or else the mix will be thrown to the left or right of the stereo spectrum as the program material changes during the mix. You need the 1176SA (stereo adaptor). Can not use a pair without it. I had to buy a new one but thank God Universal has started making them again. I think they are only like 75 bucks... Using this means that both channels will "dip" in unison when a dynamic peak is hit in the center or left or right of the stereo spectrum in the mix. Without it the mix would move to the left or right if the peak was on the opposite channel. That's a real no no. Something Jeff would never allow...


    Attached Files:

  22. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    During tracking, do you squash everything, or just guitars and bass?
  23. Greatest Hits

    Greatest Hits Just Another Compilation Thread Starter

    And thanks again for the info on the 1176.

    Yes, I am going to do this. Hopefully the results will be well worth the effort.
  24. Chief

    Chief Over 10,000 Served

    I used "Wilbury" as a quick way of saying "Jeff's sound between 1987-1991". What "brunt" is there in my comments? I said the sound was a little "thin". Clearly, that's the sound he was trying to achieve. I think Jeff dominated the production of songs on which he received co-production credit. George didn't let him run the studio, but he clearly gave him his head. That's why he wanted Lynne in the first place. Otherwise, George could've produced himself. I think the sound is mostly Jeff's because from artist to artist, album to album, Jeff's sound is there. I like it myself, but it IS a "sound".
  25. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    So maybe they should do a Jeff Lynne signature model! (If that particular item is still being made).

    So is it safe to assume that Lynne still uses that piece of equipment today? Do we know if he used it on "Highway Companion"?

    Supposedly, he tracks stuff on analog tape and then dumps it into ProTools for editing (and perhaps further overdubs?), so I guess all of the analog effects and outboard gear or whatever it would be called could all still be in line when he records. Then again, I suppose any analog effects and other pieces of equipment could be integrated in some fashion even if one recorded, mixed, edited, etc. with ProTools.
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