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Why is Eddie so far to the left?

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  • Why is Eddie so far to the left?

    Hey all,

    I've been doing a lot of critical listening lately, which I define as sitting in my studio in front of my monitors (with eyes closed) and listening to various pieces of music. I devote my full attention to the experience, and over time I've found that my ability to pick up details increases (along with my stereo sensitivity), and I've learned a ton about pop/rock arrangements. I would recommend this to anybody seeking to improve their recording/mixing/mastering/production chops.

    Recently I was listening to some classic Van Halen albums, and I noticed that Eddie's guitar is pretty far to the left. From Van Halen's debut album up through 1984, it's pretty consistent. There are tracks on Diver Down that have the guitar up the center ("Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and "Little Guitars"), and a few tracks on 1984 use a stereo delay or doubling ("Top Jimmy" comes to mind). But they are the minority. Classic tracks like "Unchained", "Panama", "I'm the One", etc. have the guitar panned pretty hard left, without much counterpoint on the right side. Doubling of the guitar seems rare on those early albums, so you don't often find a guitar sound on the right side.

    I don't think this was done to ease cutting of the lacquer, as there were far hotter albums back then. I have to conclude that it was what Ted Templeman and Donn Landee wanted. Maybe it was to provide a stage-like experience to the listener. But now that I hear it, I can't "unhear" it, and the music seems shifted to the left quite a bit. There is seldom anything on the right that balances Eddie's parts.

    Thoughts?

    Todd
    144 dB
    Listening to: Wynton Kelly, Chris Joss, 70's/80's pop/rock, EDM
    Working on: Piano technique and synth composition/production
    Main axe: Kawai MP11

  • #2

    Thoughts?


    That was done so that when VH stuff is played over the ceiling sound systems in grocery stores, the guitar only appears over there at the beer aisle.

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    • #3
      Maybe he likes it that way.
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      • #4
        My guess would be that without stereo delay or doubling, there weren't a whole lot of options to create a stereo soundfield with a one-guitar, no keyboards band back in the analog days. They were probably just trying to do the most with what they had.
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        • #5
          That was done so that when VH stuff is played over the ceiling sound systems in grocery stores, the guitar only appears over there at the beer aisle.


          Perfect answer.^

          There was a lot of talk about that in Templeman interviews over the years. He didn't want to do the typical think of faking a second guitarist with a double and pan. That would gloss over some of what makes Eddie so unique. So, after thinking on and trying some stuff, he decided to be bold and mix him lifelike, and take great care to get some sort of balance on the opposite side through delay and reverb spilling over. They do use doubles, but rarely that panned hard deal. This tune show the technique clearly. And I like how the solo is panned wide, totally bucking tradition for the style...

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          • #6
            There was a lot of talk about that in Templeman interviews over the years. He didn't want to do the typical think of faking a second guitarist with a double and pan. That would gloss over some of what makes Eddie so unique. So, after thinking on and trying some stuff, he decided to be bold and mix him lifelike, and take great care to get some sort of balance on the opposite side through delay and reverb spilling over. They do use doubles, but rarely that panned hard deal. This tune show the technique clearly. And I like how the solo is panned wide, totally bucking tradition for the style...


            Very cool for you to be able to dredge that up and give an authoritative answer
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            • #7
              Another great guitarist "Nuno Bettencourt" tends to mix his and Extreme's tracks that same simple, stripped down way. If I could play like those guys (give my left nut), then I would do it too. I still prefer those early VH albums over the rest.
              I like Z Cars
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              • #8
                Hey all,

                I've been doing a lot of critical listening lately, which I define as sitting in my studio in front of my monitors (with eyes closed) and listening to various pieces of music. I devote my full attention to the experience, and over time I've found that my ability to pick up details increases (along with my stereo sensitivity), and I've learned a ton about pop/rock arrangements. I would recommend this to anybody seeking to improve their recording/mixing/mastering/production chops.

                Recently I was listening to some classic Van Halen albums, and I noticed that Eddie's guitar is pretty far to the left. From Van Halen's debut album up through 1984, it's pretty consistent. There are tracks on Diver Down that have the guitar up the center ("Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and "Little Guitars"), and a few tracks on 1984 use a stereo delay or doubling ("Top Jimmy" comes to mind). But they are the minority. Classic tracks like "Unchained", "Panama", "I'm the One", etc. have the guitar panned pretty hard left, without much counterpoint on the right side. Doubling of the guitar seems rare on those early albums, so you don't often find a guitar sound on the right side.

                I don't think this was done to ease cutting of the lacquer, as there were far hotter albums back then. I have to conclude that it was what Ted Templeman and Donn Landee wanted. Maybe it was to provide a stage-like experience to the listener. But now that I hear it, I can't "unhear" it, and the music seems shifted to the left quite a bit. There is seldom anything on the right that balances Eddie's parts.

                Thoughts?

                Todd


                I really enjoy mixes that put players in a spot and leave them there. A player of that magnitude deserves his own side of the radio so...

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've noticed that the VH guitar was over to the left ever since I first heard them as a kid and absolutely love it that way. There were a lot of options by the time Van Halen was recording, so this was clearly an artistic choice on Templeman and Landee's part, not a limitation. I still love "VH I" and "VH II". Fantastic snotty punk energy, great riffs, great guitar, fun vocals, and this amazing leap-out-of-the-speakers quality.
                  Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                  • #10
                    That was done so that when VH stuff is played over the ceiling sound systems in grocery stores, the guitar only appears over there at the beer aisle.


                    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                    • #11
                      My guess would be that without stereo delay or doubling, there weren't a whole lot of options to create a stereo soundfield with a one-guitar, no keyboards band back in the analog days. They were probably just trying to do the most with what they had.




                      We're talking about the late 70s. Stereo delay and doubling certainly did exist then. And a lot of other options too. It was obviously a deliberate choice to keep it stripped down like it was, and that's part of what made early VH stand out, at a time when nearly everyone else was going overboard with lush production.
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                      • #12
                        That was done so that when VH stuff is played over the ceiling sound systems in grocery stores, the guitar only appears over there at the beer aisle.


                        OK, that was funny!
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                        • #13
                          On the classic AC/DC albums the Young brothers are panned hard left and hard right. Sounds awesome.
                          Being right all the time is kind of boring.

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                          • #14
                            My guess would be that without stereo delay or doubling, there weren't a whole lot of options to create a stereo soundfield with a one-guitar, no keyboards band back in the analog days. They were probably just trying to do the most with what they had.


                            Home studios, including cassette 4-tracks, had the capability of panning as well as many other options back then, so you can be quite certain a professional recording studio had many options as well.
                            Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                            • #15


                              We're talking about the late 70s. Stereo delay and doubling certainly did exist then.


                              Obviously. My point was that if you don't WANT to put delay on the guitar or double-track it, how else are you going to create a stereo soundfield with a single guitar in 1978?
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                              https://www.gigmasters.com/Rock/Jump-Start
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