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Adam D’s Tips for Tracking Raging Guitars

Although he’s pretty outspoken and crazy onstage, Adam Dutkiewicz is pretty skittish when asked to name the most unique aspects of the Killswitch guitar sound. “Oh, geesh—I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t think we do anything special. There are other guys out there who can run circles around us. We’re more of the songwriter kind of dudes than the guys who are, like, ‘Hey, check out how good I am at guitar.’ We’ve always been concerned about making a great song.”

Dutkiewicz’s entirely too self-deprecating point seems to be that he thinks he can’t shred on the level of, say, All That Remains’ Oli Herbert. And yet, when it comes to studio savvy, Herbert and company are the ones dialing up Dutkiewicz—and not just to capture raging guitar tracks, but bass, drums, and vocals, too. In fact, the “Big Dude” is the go-to producer for many of the heaviest hitters in modern metal, including Shadows Fall, Every Time I Die, As I Lay Dying, and the Devil Wears Prada. We asked Dutkiewicz to detail his top tips for tracking great guitar parts.

“First off, know what you’re going to play—be able to execute it,” he says. “Then get a good amplifier, get a good speaker cabinet, get a nice microphone, and get a guitar that intonates properly and has decent electronics. It’s pretty much like a good meal—it’s only going to taste as good as the ingredients.”

As for what makes a “good” metal amp, he says he’s used many makes and models over the years, including an early Peavey 5150 and a circa-2002 Framus Cobra. “Really, it’s just about finding a head that you really like the sound of and dialing it in so it sounds balanced—without too much low end. That’s the curse of a lot of guitarists these days. They think their guitar has to be this massive, chunky thing. But the bass guitar should be in charge of all the low end.”

Sealed, straight-front 4x12 cabs loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s have long been Dutkiewicz’s staple, as has the industry-standard Shure SM57 microphone. “I’ll spend an hour or two in the studio just moving the mic around to different speakers and listening to how it reacts to the cone,” he explains. “I usually back it up about six inches from the grille—because you get a lot of proximity effect the closer you get to the cabinet—I point it toward the most focused-sounding part of the cone. Just listening to the speakers really makes a difference.”