Pete Thorn records his guitar in his home studio quite a lot. Part of that’s do to his new line of work. While he first developed a reputation as a crack session and touring guitarist working with artists like Courtney Love, Chris Cornell, and Melissa Ethridge, Thorn has found a niche for himself that calls on some other skills as well. “A big part of what I do these days is demos for gear companies,” he says. “There are an incredible number of manufacturers out there making all kinds of gear for musicians and engineers and people want to evaluate them and see what each one does.” Thorn’s skill on the guitar, combined with his experience as a music sales person and his many years teaching lessons gives him a unique ability to create concise, yet thorough videos demonstrating the new tech to a wide audience over the internet. To record these demos, Thorn has turned to BAE Audio’s powerful 1073MP preamplifier, giving him an edge on other pedal reviewers out there with a pristine analog signal path for his guitar mics.
The New Vintage
Though Thorn has always paid significant attention to how his guitar has been recorded for his videos, he had not worked with classic vintage pres before he acquired the 1073MP. “I’m not an expert on the vintage 1073 sound,” he says. “But my good buddy Steve Stevens told me about BAE’s 1073MP and their reputation for quality recreations of classic pres.” Thorn was immediately interested in giving it a try and picked up one for his home studio. He was immediately pleased with the analog warmth that the 1073 preamp brought to his sound. “Right away there was a thickness to it that was really cool,” he says. “It also added a certain sparkle to the high end. It’s really fat but defined, which allows it to sit in the mix well.”
Committing to Quality
Thorn is fond of a two mic approach to capturing the sound of a guitar cabinet. “I like to blend a dynamic mic and a ribbon mic when I’m tracking my amp,” Thorn explains. “Like a lot of people working with a DAW, I’m often building a track up piece by piece, so by the time I’m tracking guitars I usually have a pretty good sense of the sound I’m looking for,” says Thorn, who often creates mini-songs as part of his demos that also include programmed drums and tracked bass guitar. “With those two mics running through the 1073, I can always dial in exactly the tone I need.” Thorn noted how little post-processing is required to get his guitar sound to sit properly in the final mix, too. “I don’t have to do much in the box, really just a bit of fine tuning with plugins. With these pres I’ve got the sound exactly where I need it, which I vastly prefer to a ‘we’ll fix it in the mix’ approach.”
Thorn has also experimented with driving the 1073 to enhance its highly musical saturation characteristics. “There are other pres on the market that are more aggressively crunchy, but with the 1073 you can throw a mic on a guitar amp, crank up the pre and drive it a bit and it’s just an incredibly thick sound without becoming harsh or losing its character,” he says.
Already Ready, Already
For Thorn, his recording setup has never been easier to work with. “99% of what I do here is tracking and mixing guitars, and it has never been easier for me to get a good sound,” he says. “I’ve got a cab miced up in my front room with my two mics running through the 1073MP, and I’m tracking through it all the time,” he says. “It’s my go-to thing these days, so I leave the mics and pres set up and it’s always ready for me.” The requests keep coming in for Thorn to review new products, and he’s feeling more confident than ever in his ability to give an accurate representation of what the hottest new equipment and instruments sound like. “I try to keep my commentary short and to the point when I do video reviews, and I also try to make sure the audio represents what the gear would sound like if you tracked it for your own record,” he says. “The 1073MP allows me to do that better than ever before.”