Recently coming off of an eleven-month worldwide tour with Italian pop-star Eros Ramazzotti, Hamilton feels he has truly perfected his signal chain for live performance. The “recipe” begins with his own signature Fender Custom Shop Artist Series Jazz Bass V feeding into a REDDI, then out via its Thru jack to a Fender TBP-1 preamp, MB 1200 power amp, and 810 cabinet. The direct inject signal from the REDDI is simultaneously fed into an A-Designs EM-Gold preamplifier module, out to a Pete‘s Place BAC-500 compressor, and then on to the FOH console.
“I‘ve really been fascinated with how rich and clean the EM-Gold and BAC-500 combo sounds through the REDDI,” Hamilton enthuses. “It sounds so good that I‘ve had a number of front-of-house engineers tell me that they don‘t have to do anything to my signal. I love that because it means that the audience is hearing what I want them to.”
Hamilton reports that he is just as pleased with the results he gets from these modules when recording--both in world-class studios and with his tiny mobile recording setup. “With my MacBook Pro, M-Audio monitors, the EM-Gold and BAC-500, I was able to do quite a bit of session work while out on Eros‘ tour, either in my hotel room or backstage after sound check. The audio quality that I now get with this little modular setup is just ridiculously good. Listening to the tracks, you would never know that they weren‘t recorded in a dedicated studio. And it all fits into a small suitcase, instead of hundreds of pounds of Anvil cases.”
When recording his 3/4-scale upright bass equipped with a Fishman Pocket Blender, Hamilton relies on this same signal chain, but pairs it with a mic channel using a few more A-Designs 500 Series modules. “For a bit more sonic variety, I like to also put up a Neumann FET U47 that feeds into a P1 preamplifier and then on to an EM-PEQ Pultec-style EQ in the event that I want to tweak something before it goes to tape. In the past I‘ve had to fight engineers to let me use this channel setup, but once they hear how good the sound is, they ‘get‘ it. It's the best upright sound. Period.”
Although Hamilton wasn‘t initially a big 500 Series fan, the musician has come to change his tune. "I have loved the REDDI for a long time, but I wasn‘t really sold on the 500 Series until I tried the P1. I picked one up because I had used a Pacifica in the studio with Tony Shepperd and really liked it. So I tried out a P1 and an EM-PEQ, because the BAC-500 wasn‘t available at the time, and I literally fell in love. That setup with the REDDI was fantastic. When I started recording my upright with it, it was a done deal. For me, there was simply no other way to go.
“Now I‘m fascinated by the variety of sonic coloration that A-Designs‘ modules offer. Unlike some of the early Lunchbox units, the EM Series and other modules--like the BAC-500 and new Electrodynes--all have such a character. I don‘t want to play through so-called 'transparent' DIs and outboard gear. That only makes me work harder because it provides absolutely nothing. A-Designs saves me from the mundane.”
Over the past six years, Hamilton has turned many other musicians, engineers and producers on to A-Designs‘ REDDI, including fellow bassist and mentor Stanley Clarke, Paul Jackson Jr., Tonight Show music director Rickey Minor, producer/engineer Tony Shepperd, producer Matt Serletic, drummers Curt Bisquera and Ricky Lawson, and many others. “A funny thing happens whena person gets a REDDI. It‘s like a boy getting his first pocket knife--he has come of age and won‘t let anyone touch it. Most of the people I know that have them won't loan them out. I certainly don't. Even if I go into a studio that's on lockdown for a week, I'll take it with me when I go. And I even have another one at home that never goes out--it's just for me. The REDDI is just that important and integral to everything I do.”
In between his sessions and shows for others, the bassist is currently working on a double bass concerto, a trio CD, and a new solo disc--his follow-up to My Village. “My second record may be somewhat similar to my first with more soloing, but sonically much more advanced, where I incorporate what I like from A-Designs and Pete‘s Place to get the sounds that I hear in my head.”
Hamilton‘s discography and touring resume is impressive, having recorded and/or performed with artists as diverse as Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Johnny Hallyday, Enrique Iglesias, Randy Newman, Bette Midler, Patrice Rushen, Aaron Neville, Doc Powell, Seal, Barbra Streisand, Babyface, Christina Aguilera, Natalie Cole, Warren Zevon and many others.
A-Designs Audio is a boutique manufacturer of high-quality professional audio products, including the MP-A Series (all-tube microphone preamplifiers), Pacifica, REDDI (all-tube direct box), ATTY and ATTY2‘D (passive line attenuators), EM Series (500 Series-compatible microphone preamplifier and EQ modules), HM2EQ HAMMER (dual mono, three-band tube equalizer) and HM2 NAIL (hybrid compressor).