Efficient, economical, and exacting are the key features that allow these pop-rockers’ finely-tuned setups to pump out buoyant ballads and bangers.
“‘Stumbled into guitar’ is a good way of putting our start with the instrument. [Spencer Stewart] and I formed the band in 2015 and that’s when I got my first electric guitar,” admits The Band CAMINO’s vocalist and guitarist Jeffery Jordan.
That sort of sideways T-bone collision into guitardom allows this pop-minded duo to avoid typical tonal tropes like worrying about tubes versus modeling, or imports versus custom. Their focus was and continues to be translating their danceable melodies into guitar-driven rompers and producing the best live show possible.
“We definitely enjoyed a pedalboard-and-amp-era of the band, but the tech has come so far and we’re able to eliminate so much room for error and potential inconsistencies, allowing for a freer performance,” adds Jordan.
As we quickly found out in our Rundown with Jordan and Stewart, the band’s approach favors execution over exhibitionism.In mid-September, just before the band commenced their headlining Screaming in the Dark tour, in support of the just-released The Dark album, co-frontmen and dueling guitarists Jeffery Jordan and Spencer Stewart invited PG’s Chris Kies to rehearsal for a gear talk. The main chauffeurs of CAMINO explained how grabbing guitar later in life allowed them to avoid a lot of gear gossip and find tonal solutions that enrich their performances. Plus, they both discuss the stable of studs from Fender, Gibson, and Epiphone that give bounce and beauty to their merging of indie-rock and electropop.
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A Flashy Fender
Jeffery Jordan’s first electric was a Strat. He’s long enjoyed the Fender side of things, and one of his main rides for the upcoming tour would be this MIM Fender Telecaster. Two things to note on this T would be its glow-in-the-dark paint job and the addition of the EverTune bridge, making this not only an onstage stunner but a locked-damn hammer always ready to smash. Both Jordan and Stewart exclusively use D’Addario NYXL1052 Light Top/Heavy Bottom strings (.010–.052) on their electrics. They’re normally in standard tuning, but they do explore open-D for a few songs.
This Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster joins the party if the Tele can’t dance. It comes stock with a set of EMG 60/81 pickups, but Jordan swapped in a couple of Lace Sensors. The bridge is the gold version that offers a classic ’50s Style single-coil sound while the neck Lace is a silver model giving Jordan a fat, ’70s single-coil sound with increased output and more midrange. Again, an EverTune bridge has been added for tuning stability.
For the first time, Jordan will be hitting the road with a Gibson. Three songs are allocated to this regal raptor—a Custom Shop Firebird Custom, decked out with a mahogany body laced with multi-ply binding, elegant gold hardware, and a set of 498T/490R humbuckers.
The subtler side of The Band CAMINO is handled by this Gibson J-45 Standard finished in a smoldering tobacco burst. It runs through their Neural DSP Quad Cortex thanks to the included L.R. Baggs VTC electronics.
Dancing in the Dark
Spencer Stewart joined the electric guitar cult in 2015 when forming the Band CAMINO with Jeffery Jordan. He started the band’s existence with a Strat before being seduced by a Gibson Lzzy Hale Explorer. Ever since he’s been cruising and bruising with ’buckers, but one of his current main rides revs and roars with Fishman Fluence pickups. He prefers to record with these guitars because the Fluences are so dynamic and versatile. Originally finished in a stealth black, Stewart jazzed them up with glow-in-the-dark paint and blacklight speckles that make them both dazzle onstage. The red one takes lead, while the blue one hangs in the second position.
Any songs in open-D are reserved for Stewart’s Firebird Studio ’70s Tribute, still rocking its stock mini-humbuckers. He loves its tone and the added bonus of it being a light-feathered bird.
During a quick stop at a morning radio show in L.A., the band left their acoustics in the rental vehicle. When they returned from the brief session, the unattended acoustics were gone. Stewart lost an Epiphone Masterbilt and Jordan was out a Fender flattop. Before an in-store performance and album signing at Nashville’s beloved Grimey’s, Gibson offered Stewart a chance to check out this Gibson Hummingbird Studio Rosewood. Needless to say, he’s not giving it back nor letting it out of his sight.
The Same But Not
A recent venture into a Nashville Guitar Center yielded a déjà vu moment when Stewart saw this Epiphone Masterbuilt DR-500RNS—very similar to the aforementioned looted acoustic. He took it as a sign, and plunked down the plastic to be reconnected with an old friend.
With less than 10 years under their belt as electric guitarists and growing up with tech, Jeffery and Spencer don’t have a lot of the mental pitfalls more veteran players fall into when thinking about live guitar tones. For these two, it’s all about the precision, practicality, and polished sounds they can achieve for a maximum performance that connects directly with the audience. The one-stop solution for those needs is this rolling buffet that starts with Neural DSP Quad Cortex units. Every moment of their show is programmed in these tablet-sized titans. The other hardware in their rack includes Shure PSM 1000s (in-ear monitors), Shure P10T-G10 Dual Wireless Transmitters, Shure ULXD4D Dual Channel Digital Wireless Receivers, Radial Gold Digger 4 Channel Mic Selectors, Sennheiser AC3200-II Active High Power Broadband antennas, Focusrite RedNet A16R MkII 16x16 Analog Dante Interfaces, Ferrofish A32 Pro Dante Multi-Format Converters, Midas XL48 Preamps, and Universal Audio Apollo X6 Thunderbolt Interfaces. This setup can either pilot a moon mission or make for a smooth, flawless rock show.
iTrack Dock is a Lightning iPad recording interface, featuring dual Focusrite microphone preamps plus two line inputs and an instrument DI.
High Wycombe, UK (June 4, 2014) -- Focusrite announces a revolution in iPad recording with the introduction of iTrack Dock - the complete music recording solution for iPad. iTrack Dock is a comprehensive studio-quality Lightning iPad recording interface, featuring dual legendary Focusrite microphone preamps plus two line inputs and an instrument DI, independent stereo monitor and headphone outputs, and a USB port for class-compliant MIDI instruments and controllers. iTrack Dock provides everything required to record, monitor and control music on Lightning iPad - with precision Focusrite digital conversion at up to 24-bit, 96kHz sampling. It even charges and powers the iPad at the same time.
- The Focusrite recording dock for your iPad: Sleek Focusrite industrial design provides the perfect platform to dock, charge and record music with the new generation of iPads - iPad(4th Gen) / iPad Air / iPad mini / iPad mini with retina display.
- Record and monitor at superior resolution: iTrack Dock is the best sounding iPad-based workstation, featuring premium Focusrite A-D/D-A conversion with over 105dB dynamic range, operating at up to 24bit, 96kHz sample rates.
- Legendary Focusrite mic preamps: Two Focusrite mic pres, as featured in the Scarlett range of USB audio interfaces, include 48V Phantom power for use with condenser microphones. iTrack Dock also features Focusrite's unique "Gain Halos" - a ring of light around the input gain control - to easily set the input gain: green for healthy signal, red if it's too hot.
- Dedicated maximum headroom guitar DI: iTrack Dock provides a guitar input with plenty of clean, clear headroom to capture both quiet and loud guitars with stunning clarity.
- USB MIDI port connects and powers a MIDI controller: USB MIDI port for class compliant MIDI controller connectivity (MIDI + power) - perfect for connecting a Novation Launchkey or Launchkey Mini.
- Works with any Core Audio app: From GarageBand to Cubasis, Auria and beyond, iTrack Dock expands the functionality of any Core Audio application - and with its built-in Core Audio driver there's no setup required.
- High quality outputs with over 105dB dynamic range: Balanced main monitor outputs plus a stereo headphone output, with more than enough power for headphones and powered monitor speakers.
- Latency-free direct monitoring: iTrack Dock's direct monitoring sends your input signal straight to the headphone and main monitor outputs for perfect timing.
- Stereo line inputs: Connect synths, drum machines, CD players and more with balanced stereo line in.
- Versatile recording app included: Includes the Tape by Focusrite app for iPad, which offers instant recording, mastering and sharing without the complexities of traditional music-making software.
Perfect for songwriters, musicians and home recordists who want to take advantage of their studio gear alongside the simplicity of iPad, iTrack Dock was designed to provide a comprehensive recording, monitoring and control solution for iPad users. iTrack Dock is easy to use and provides all the control and functionality you'd expect in a traditional recording interface.
With two Focusrite preamps, main and monitor outputs with 105dB dynamic range, and all controls on the easily-accessed, angled front panel next to the iPad, iTrack Dock brings powerful, professional audio to any Core Audio app including GarageBand, Auria, Cubasis and Focusrite's Tape app, which is included in the box.
Compatible with any Lightning-equipped iPad and instrument, microphone, class-compliant MIDI controller or audio device, iTrack Dock allows you to capture music in pristine 24-bit 96kHz resolution. iTrack Dock powers and charges the iPad, and powers a USB MIDI device - such as a Novation Launchkey Mini keyboard controller - all at the same time. Plug and power a class-compliant USB MIDI controller directly into iTrack Dock - there's no need for USB hubs or camera connection kits.
iTrack Dock features easy-to-reach, dedicated monitor and headphone controls. Input level controls incorporate Focusrite's unique 'Gain Halos', for accurate instrument and microphone level monitoring. Latency-free direct monitoring is also provided.
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The Saffire PRO 24 DSP is a useful recording interface for medium-sized recording needs.
Developing a sense of how your recorded tracks should be mixed with others only comes after much trial and error, and I’ve been working on that. To get guitar tracks into my computer, I’ve been using a simple Line 6 TonePort GX1 audio interface with a single XLR input and a 1/4" input. It’s a very rudimentary tool designed for people like myself who just want to get ideas solidified without frustration. However, as I’ve progressed as a musician and amassed a much larger array of gear, I’ve come to the point where I’m ready to move on to an audio interface with more power and sophistication. Enter the Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 DSP FireWire audio interface.
Under the Hood
Focusrite is a trusted name in the audio industry, and the new Saffire PRO includes two of the company’s famous recording preamps—as well as a lot of other goodies. There are a myriad of options and connections, including a standard MIDI in and out jack around back and ADAT and S/PDIF digital inputs. An included wall wart or FireWire 400 cable powers a total of six 1/4" line outs and two 1/4" line-in jacks—the entire shebang. The Saffire also has a really cool monitor simulation feature called Virtual Reference Monitoring (VRM), which lets you hear recorded tracks in different room environments. You can even choose different speaker types and positions. This is infinitely useful for final mixdown because it enables you to hear how your recording will sound in, say, a large hall, living room, or bedroom studio. This is achieved with an internal DSP system that takes the processing load off the computer. By freeing up what would normally be a large amount of resources, the computer has a lot more power left to take care of chores like mixing in real time, thus decreasing dreaded latency issues. Additionally, the DSP system also handles real-time effects such as equalization and compression, including reverb from Focusrite’s plug-in suite.
Taking the Saffire for a Spin
The Saffire was designed specifically for players like me who are ready to capture a musical moment while keeping the inherent tone and character intact—and while keeping it simple. I tend to record on the run, since I like to capture a musical idea as soon as it hits, which usually means anyplace where setting up a full-fledged studio would be impossible. Anticipating this, I decided to test the Saffire with just my Apple MacBook Pro and a set of Sennheiser headphones. For mics I used a Sennheiser e609 and a Rode NT1-A, both of which I’ve had really good experiences with. The Sennheiser is a great mic for guitar cabs, and the Rode has performed very well with capturing room sounds. Together, they’re a great combination. One difference between the Saffire PRO 24 DSP and the previous Saffire PRO 24 is the inclusion of an additional headphone jack on the front plate. This is great for running a separate signal to another musician sitting in the recording space, while the other can be used by whoever is performing the actual recording duties.
Sensing how powerful the Saffire PRO 24 DSP was, I decided to try out some recording possibilities that I’ve been curious about for a while. I remember years ago seeing a photo of Josh Homme’s rig from Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, and it was set up in a very peculiar fashion: three half-stacks set up in an open box formation with a single condenser microphone placed in the middle. Homme has always had a very unconventional guitar tone, but it works extremely well for the music that he plays, and I’ve always wanted to tinker with that type of setup to see what I could get out of it. So I set up a similar rig using a 1971 Orange Overdrive 80 head with a Bogner 2x12, a Quidley 22 with a matching 2x12, and the aforementioned Vox combo. In the middle was a single Rode NT1-A capturing the high frequencies from the Vox, the mids from the Quidley, and the low end from the Orange. The Focusrite’s compression and superb low-noise mic inputs handled the onslaught very well, completely capturing the Rode’s great tonal qualities without any sort of latency whatsoever. I would’ve liked to see a FireWire 800 port included in the Saffire, but the 400 seemed to handle the recording just fine without issues.
The Final Mojo
For someone like me without major recording experience, the Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 DSP was a real treat to use. For years I’ve been trying to capture a good recording on the fly, with only minimal success. A good interface is truly essential to this, but portability has always been an issue as well. With the Saffire, it was as simple as using time-honored mic placement techniques and just hitting the record button. Obviously, there are a lot more applications that it can be used for that I haven’t touched on, but that’s part of the fun of recording. I’m certainly going to be trying out even more ideas with it soon.
you need a simple, fast, inexpensive way to record with great-sounding results.
you need more inputs or have a large studio.
Street $399 - Focusrite - focusrite.com