Top 5: David Bottrill
Three-time Grammy award-winning producer and mixer David Bottrill’s has a vast body of work (Peter Gabriel, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Silverchair, Rush, Toni Childs et al). Here are his five most essential studio tools.
By Joe Matera
26 July 2023
NEUMANN CMV563 MIC WITH M7S CAPSULE
It’s an older large diaphragm tube mic, sometimes called the Lollipop Mic or the Hitler Mic. The CMV563 with M7S, M8S and M9S capsules, that’s the thing I can’t live without it. I record just about every vocal with it. I even had Maynard from Tool actually hanging on to it with foam, so it wouldn’t shake the valve inside. It’s my No.1 piece of gear, for sure. It’s got a warmth to it. It’s like a U47, but an older version, when Gefell was part of the Neumann company and made them prior to the U47s. It just has that large diaphragm valve sound — warm and full — the way older vocalists like Elvis used to sound. I’ve used other microphones, like Telefunken ELA-M 251s and even the UAD Townsend version of it, but nothing beats the M7S. On any session, we always start with that mic and if it doesn’t work, then I can try something else, but it works 99% of the time.
ZOD AUDIO DI BOX
This is the latest thing I’ve acquired — a new Bass DI. I’m a big bass fan, I am a bass player and I love playing through it — it just gives me the most full tone you can get from a DI. My friend Michael Brook invented the Infinite guitar, he turned me on to it. I got it three years ago and I won’t use anything else on a DI bass now. It’s a great, big, heavy unit that I have to carry around, but it’s great.
UAD PLUG-IN BUNDLE
I do a lot of mixing work and the UAD plug-ins allow me to work easily. I’m an endorsee but I bought a bunch of the plug-ins because I just love them so much, then I get the rest as compensation for promoting the product line. The UAD system is indispensable for me and to not worry when it comes to mix recalls. I would love to have racks and racks of great old analogue gear, but the fact is, there’s no way I could precisely recall a mix, while with the UAD software, I can. It also allows me to work on a variety of projects during the week and be able to switch back and forth quickly and easily. Taking four hours to simply turn the vocals up 1dB, is a thing of the past.
MUSICMAN STINGRAY BASS
I love this thing — it’s just so warm and friendly. I had the great opportunity to play live with Peter Gabriel a few years ago. The invitation came while I was rehab’ing from neck surgery. I bought myself a five-string Stringray bass to rebuild my strength and work on my scales. After six months of that, my old boss Peter Gabriel asked me to fill in on a quick six-song show in Toronto. I said, ‘yes, of course!’. So, I worked hard on the parts and relied on this bass. Sometimes I’ll bring it along to a session and say, ‘here’s a great-sounding bass, if we can’t find the right tone for the project, try this one, maybe it’ll work’.
ELECTRO HARMONIX 16-SECOND DIGITAL DELAY EFFECTS PEDAL
There is this guy from England, Kanwal Dulay, and he builds replica versions of the EH digital 16 pedal. At one point I used them as looper pedals, switching between eight seconds at 8-bit and 16 seconds at 4-bit resolution. They have this beautiful old crunchy sound. Not sure if Kanwal is still making them. I used to build drones and little guitar loops and things like that with it. Sadly, they are out for repair at the moment, so I’m missing them.