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Guitar World
Guitar World
Matt Owen

“He turned his amps around so they’re off-stage. The ones facing backwards were unbelievably loud to get sustain”: Dave Natale has worked with Prince, Van Halen and The Rolling Stones – but Jeff Beck was the loudest player he ever mic’d up

Jeff Beck performs on stage at Symphony Hall on May 20, 2014 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Having worked with the likes of Prince, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and countless others across his career, it’s fair to say legendary front-of-house mixing engineer Dave Natale has been exposed to some great electric guitar tones.

He’s also been exposed to some very, very loud guitar tones along the way, too, and the question of which specific player is the loudest he’s ever worked with was put to Natale himself in a recent Rick Beato video.

When Beato asked who the loudest guitarist he ever mic’d up was – and who had the loudest stage volume – Natale immediately replied with one rather surprising name: Jeff Beck.

“Jeff Beck’s amps are pretty, pretty loud,” he says, “but he turned them around so they’re off-stage.”

In response, Beato recalls the time he saw Beck play live, and recounts seeing his stage set-up, which featured two Marshall combos and two Marshall half-stacks – one of which was facing backwards – that were all mic’d up.

Of course, it sounded “phenomenal”, but according to Natale, it was actually the ones that were facing backwards that were cranked the loudest.

“Jeff was the kind of guy that would come out and just turn knobs. It was exactly the same every day, every time,” he explains. “Because of that, different amps would sound a different way every day.

“Did any one sound bad? Not with him playing it. But it was different,” Natale continues. “The ones facing backwards were loud – like, unbelievably loud – to get sustain. I would use those a lot of times.”

Natale worked closely with Beck, and as such he holds his playing and legacy in especially high regard.

“It’s hard to describe,” he says of Beck and his music. “The feeling of when Jeff was playing, and you were standing there… To me it was like, the sound that I just heard – your hand shouldn’t be there, it should be here. How did you do that?

“The only hand you could see was [his fretting hand], because this one [the picking hand] had the whammy bar in the palm of his hand. He’d go on the volume control with his little finger, and he was fingerpicking.

“But having two Marshalls turned up the whole way… you know, that definitely adds to it.”

Visit Rick Beato’s YouTube channel to watch the full interview.

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