Author Topic: Elliott Smith - gear, techniques, theory  (Read 5375 times)


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Elliott Smith - gear, techniques, theory
« on: June 19, 2018, 03:05:50 PM »
Hey all, I've seen a few posts around mentioning Elliott Smith so I wanted to post what I've been gathering myself from forums and other places. Some of the links are what I sent to Mike a little while ago. I figure it might be useful to others as there's quite a bit of information.

Here's a list of thing I've collected from books and forums. None of them are cited, but if you just google search the phrase you might be able to link back to a forum post by Larry Crane or Rob Schnapf.

A brief list of Elliott's touring gear on Sweet Adeline

AKG D112 dynamic
Audio Technica 37r SDC
Shure SM57
Langevine CR3A

Steven paul modded 87 with innertube electronics/Langevin CR3A mic (Either/Or)

"Miss Misery" was the CR3A through a Mackie 32x8 to a funky JH-16. Either/Or was that mic and other Mackie crap, Behringer Composer

U47 or 67 from sunset sound collection (XO)
67's sounddelux km 84's km 56's (XO)

(Figure 8 )
U47 or soundelux U95S, KM54 (piano)
microphones were probably a 67 on the gibson J50.
and probably a soundelux U95S for vocals as
that was the vocal mic of choice for figure 8.

modded U87/U47 (Basement)

Outboard gear
(Elliott Smith)
Self-titled recorded with Leslie Uppingham at Greg Sage's (of the Wipers) studio. 2 Custom preamps. Tascam 38.

(Either/Or) Elliott's own
Tascam 38 8 track 1/2"
Mackie 1604 console
Panasonic SV3800 DAT recorder
Behringer Composer 2100
Digitech TSR 24S dual channel processor
Ibanez AD 202 analog delay

(Rob S on Either/Or)
we had 1176's, LA3A's, api 525's, rca BA6A
summit and lots of api eq.
it was mixed on an old api dimedio console that came out of wally heider 4.
it is the same console that gram parsons greivous angel and GP were done on
as well as a bunch of tom waits records.
there was a partcularily odd thing about the console that caused it to have an extra transformer in the audio path in each channel and stereo buss.
this definitely had an effect .
the round mound of sound as we called it.

the mic pres for XO were the sunset sound custom mic pre's that are in the studio 3 API/demideo console.
they are kinda API ish.

(Figure 8 )
Sunset custom console with 550a eq with 990 opamp (Figure 8 )

compression would have been 1176's or 3A's on the acoustic (cant exactly remember) while tracking and 1176/CL1B combo on vocals.
or something like that.

figure eight is a combination of things being that it was recorded all over the place.
some neve some API some EMI.
compression was probably a combo of 3A's and a CL1B compressors/maybe some distressors (Figure 8 )

Neve 1073, vintage RCA compressor, AKG D19, and a beautiful 59 telecaster (Basement)

60's gibson hummingbird and a '63 epiphone texan (XO)
texan and a '57 gibson J50 (Figure 8 )
gibson j45 (Basement)

Elliott Smith: on the joy of recording
This was published around the release of the Either/Or Expanded edition for it's 20th anniversary, and includes an interview with Elliott from an earlier issue of the zine, in which he talks about using a 4 track as a teen. It also includes a photo and list of Elliott's own recording equipment around Either/Or's release.

The Recording of Elliott Smith's Either/Or

This is a thread on the Gearslutz forum by someone else asking about Elliott's double track vocals: I'll link directly to the important posts:
Larry Crane writes about the gear Elliott used on Either/Or and Elliott's skill as a musician:

Someone who worked with David McConnell (of Satellite Park Studios) who recorded a majority of From a Basement on the Hill with Elliott, goes into detail on the mics and outboard gear Elliott used on that album

Rob Schnapf talks about using stereo mics to double track both the guitars and vocals in two takes:

This is another post (72 pages long!) about Rob Schnapf specifically. Some questions are about his work with Beck or Guided By Voices, but I'll just link to the Elliott specific ones:
Talks a bit about double tracking and different condensers:

Rob's response to someone saying they wanted to achieve a sound similar to Either/Or:

Another about double tracking:

Rob mentions acoustic guitars used and outboard gear for XO and Figure 8:
A reply to a reply to the previous link, talks about transfering Speed Trials and compression:
He responsed once again to the reply but talks about processing and EQing Elliott's vocals:

On recording drums:

Q about vocal mics, compression and EQ:

Signal chain/processing for the song Somebody I Used To Know:

Signal chain and technique for double tracking Elliott:

Signal chain for the song In The Lost And Found:

Guitar effect on the song A Fond Farewell:

Reply to "What was Figure 8 mixed on?":

Rob on the gear used on the song A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity To Be Free:

A video by Elliott himself for talking about how he writes music

Sean Daniels made this great video (and did a whole week of videos) on Elliott's style of songwriting.

A thread discussing Elliott from r/musictheory

Alphabet Town - a complete guide to Elliott's discography from his juvenilia to posthumously released works. It even lists what recording sessions they're from

Elliott Smith Cross-Song Reference guide - this is a blog I made myself with the help of folks from an Elliott Smith facebook group last year. It lists repeated images and references made in other songs.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2018, 01:30:48 PM by Catface »


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Re: Elliott Smith - gear, techniques, theory
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2018, 03:46:21 PM »
These are awesome links and info! Thanks, Andrew. I've been slowly making my way thru them since you sent them a while back whenever I've got some downtime. Great idea cataloguing and sharing them here for the TascFam to enjoy. Kudos!

Off to get lost in the links  8)