Gear used:
PowerMac G4
MOTU 896
Digital Performer 3.0
TL Audio Tube PA2 Mic Preamp
Glyph Hard Drive
Oktava MK 012 small condenser mic
Audio Technica 4040 large condenser mic
Neumann KM 184 small condenser mic
Tannoy Reveal Active Studio Monitors
E-MU 4XT Ultra Sampler

A single mic was used on all tracks on all of the tracks using a guitar with a standard strings. For the modified high-strung guitar tunes, two mics were used. The positioning of the single microphone was approximately 16-18 inches from the guitar essentially in front of the sound hole. Multiple mics and various mic positionings were initially attempted, but it was felt the true sound of the guitars came through the best with this very basic micing technique. The majority of the tracks were recorded with a single Oktava MK 012 with the following exceptions. The tunes Be Thou My Vision and Amazing Grace were recorded with the Neumann KM184 with my 1936 Martin 000-18. The balance of the melody tracks were played on Eldon Whitford’s 1937 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe. This Smeck has a sound quality of concert grand piano and I do not think I could have recorded with a better sounding guitar for fingerstyle work. Eldon did have to convince me to play this guitar. It has a 2’ nut, thus initially, one’s reaction is that it is much too difficult a guitar to play.

A large condenser AT4040 was used on Sweet Hour of Prayer in an attempt to bring in a little more warmth to the tune. Minimal effects were used in an attempt to keep the production as authentic as possible. Essentially, what one hears on this CD is the true sound of the guitars. The studio utilized has thorough wall and ceiling acoustic treatments, again, in an attempt to achieve the guitar sound without any reverberant room sound what-so-ever.

All arrangements are original and the tunings with the capo combinations are relatively unique. However, the tunings utilized are fairly basic, and utilize a combination of partial capos w/ minimal drop tunings. The majority of the tunes were played using a full capo on the first fret and adding a second partial capo on the fifth fret, leaving the bass string open. I also dropped the guitar’s A string to G. With this technique, only a single string is retuned, but with this combination tuning and partial capo configuration, the results offer an open lowered G and C. This technique puts a number of the hymns in the key of C when the G position is used. This first and fifth fret capo configuration allowed me to use a drop C bass on some of the tracks using my 1934 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe for the second or third guitar parts. When three guitar parts are used, the high parts are performed on Eldon’s 1930 Gibson L-1 and the low parts on the 1934 Smeck. Some of the tunes were also performed out of the C position with the same capo configuration. Sweet Hour of Prayer was recorded w/ the partial capo on the second fret with the bass string dropped one step. Out of the G position, this tune was played in the key of A and the partial capo on the second fret gives a drop D sound without retuning the string. The most contrastive tune on this CD is Wondrous Love. On this tune I kept the guitar in a standard tuning, but I used a Shubb partial capo to cover the third through the fifth strings on the second fret. This creates an open E minor suspended chord. This tune was also the only one recorded at 24 bits, the rest were recorded at 16 bits.

The production of the CD was very simple for all of the tunes that were not recorded on high string guitar. It took weeks and maybe a month before I decided on the right guitar and the right mic and mic placement. Once this was determined, the recording was done on two tracks. The lead guitar was hard panned left and the second guitar was panned hard right. The tracks were sent to Scott Zylstra at Frontier Recording for mastering. They were sent completely dry and Scott stated he used minimal EQ, effects and compression on this recording during the mastering process.

Lastly, the last additions to this CD were performed on high strung guitar. Once again, Eldon’s 1937 Smeck was used for the lead tracks in a modified highstrung configuration. These hymns include: Simple Gifts, Borning Cry Medley, Jesus Loves Me and Hail Holy Mother. The modification of the highstrung guitar used is the third string remains a standard gauge wound string, instead of the normal unwound high G string. Mandolin was also added to the tracks on Simple Gifts and the Borning Cry Medley. I was fortunate to be able to use a Standard F Style Nugget which belongs to my good friend and music partner Dave Eggebrecht.

Finally, I added a little string bass on the high strung guitar tunes, Borning Cry and Hail Holy Mother. I backed off the volume quite a bit and I’m not even sure if it’s audible, but if you think you hear a bowed bass, you do, courtesy of my son’s E-MU sampler.