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<br>Bill Szymczyk <p>On Recording the Drums and Vocals for Hotel California</p>

Bill Szymczyk

On Recording the Drums and Vocals for Hotel California

Excerpted from an article by Dan Daley at Sound on Sound.

Eagles records were a benchmark for drum sounds in their time. Bill Szymczyk says he and Henley invested a lot of time experimenting with microphone choices and placements, but that most of the time they reverted to fairly common configurations. There was a lot of flavor-of-the-week with microphones back then, he says. But it would usually come back to a Shure 57 on the top of the snare, either U67 or 87s as overheads, sometimes AKG 414s.

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It was the usual stuff, and always on just four tracks. One of the reasons the drums sounded good was because they were a kit, not a whole bunch of separate tracks. We didn't use a lot of room sound on the drums, but we did use the EMT plates a lot. We actually used the first electronic drum on 'Heartache Tonight'. I had gone to a bar in Miami and heard this band using a SynAir and we decided we'd use it to double the snare on that track. It was groundbreaking for its time.

Szymczyk also began to use comping to get the Eagles' signature vocals. "Studio C at Criteria had this one-of-a-kind MCI console. It had LEDs that could turn channels on and off much more quickly than the usual buttons. It was instant. I'd usually do five takes of the lead vocal and then start comping my way through them, picking out lines, phrases and words. And we did it all without automation."

The Eagles's background and harmony vocals were stacked on two or three tracks, panned modestly at about eight and four o'clock. They were always recorded ensemble, around a single microphone. "The great thing about them was that they really could sing and they could connect with each other as they sang. But it was also the most tedious part, because when you have four voices on one track, that's four chances for one to make a mistake. Sometimes we'd do the same phrase for three hours to get it right."

However, it was all worth it, says Szymczyk — the madness, the pharmaceuticals, the arguing. "What stays with me now is how proud I am that those records we made have withstood the test of time," he says, with genuine emotion. "It's very gratifying to stand in a restaurant or a lobby and hear 'Hotel California' playing in the background."

Further Reading

...along these lines can be found below.

See more recordings by Bill Szymczyk and more entries in our Favorite Engineers series.

This listing will help you to get The Most Out Of Your Records .

Here's a link with advice for setting up your Table, Arm and Cartridge that can be found in a section containing Audio Advice of all kinds.

We have a large number of entries in our new Listening in Depth series.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in The Four Pillars of Success.

Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.

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