New Zealand''s Martin Winch talks about recording his acoustic version of Led Zeppelin''s Kashmir
Martin Winch is one of those great discoveries whose music has a way of warming the heart. With his nylon guitar playing, one cannot help but feel inspired to participate in the experience. His appealing style of ambient, acoustic and electric guitar melodies—reminiscent of Larry Carlton’s tone and feel—really draws you in, to say the least. When I stumbled upon this guitarist from New Zealand, I thought he would be a wonderful addition to the Guitar Masters compilation series.
A veteran of the music business for over thirty-five years, Winch has released five solo albums on his own, and he teaches all styles of guitar. His home recording studio has produced and composed music for commercials, documentaries and AV productions. One of these is the popular New Zealand Toyota commercial “Welcome to our World,” which showcases his various styles, ranging from country to raunchy rock, from folk to jazz.
He’s worked in several New Zealand groups, including Dr. Tree (Jazz Album of the Year 1976), Mike Harvey’s Salty Dogg, and later the famous “1860 Band” in Wellington. He also appeared at two Montreux Jazz Festivals with the Roger Fox Big Band, and was honored with the of “Guitarist of the Year” award in Auckland, New Zealand in1999. Winch was also a part of The Club 21 resident band Billboard in the mid-eighties. I talked with Winch about his wonderful acoustic rendition of the Zeppelin tune “Kashmir,” and got the low down on his recording techniques:
Setup for Recording “Kashmir”
My initial demo of “Kashmir” was an electric version more like the original, but I decided I hadn’t changed it enough to warrant anyone being interested in it. So I just started programming Middle Eastern drum samples to give it a more exotic flavor. I decided to try it with acoustic guitars rather than electric, and it seemed to work. The solo sections, although they don’t sound like it, are still based on the chords that Led Zep used. I used MIDI from an old Atari computer program for all of the other instruments. It will die on me one day, but until then I will continue to use it. The main sound modules I use are a Roland 1080 fitted with sound cards for bass and drums, and a Yamaha Motif rack. My studio is pretty small, so there is not enough room for drum kits and big amps.
I used my own home studio to record everything, with a selection of mics by AKG, CAD and Studio Projects (all condenser mics). My mic preamp is locally made by DJR, featuring Neve-style EQ options. I generally record in stereo with two mics on the guitar quite close, to avoid any fan or other noise from the PC.
On the recording of “Kashmir” I used four acoustic guitars: a Seagull Grand Artist (parlor style guitar) for all the rhythm chord parts; a Matsuoka nylon guitar for the first ad lib section; and a Martin D-35 for the second ad lib section. The slide melody was played on a 1980 Epiphone semi-acoustic with the action raised up high using a large Allen key under the strings! There is also a lick in there recorded on a Hofner 6-string banjo.
My recording equipment is all PC-based, and I use Cubase to record with. I have lots of software for effects and mixing. I have Yamaha NS10s and a pair of Yorkville ported monitors for near field mixing, and some large RCF speakers for the big sound. I am completely self-taught both on the guitar and as a sound engineer, and have spent most of my life doing one or the other. (I will be sixty next year and am keen to keep going with music!)
Recent and New Projects
I am currently planning an album of easy-on-the-ear tunes, with lots of strings and me playing mostly nylon guitar. I have, in the past, had some success with this type of album in New Zealand and Australia, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get a release in the US.
Luckily, Martin Winch’s version of “Kashmir” is on the compilation Get the Led Out! Led Zeppelin Salute, which is available in the US. Plus, for a healthy sampling of his tunes, you can visit his site at martinwinch.com.
Emmy Award winning guitarist Brian Tarquin scored a Top 20 hit in the nineties with “The Best of Acid Jazz, vol. 2 ” on Instinct Records and enjoyed several top 10 hits on the R&R charts. Founder of the rock/electronica band, Asphalt Jungle Tarquin has scored TV music for such shows as CSI, Smallville, MTV, Alias, 24, All My Children and many others.