Music Production Breakdown: Dirt Magnet by Mark Marshall

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Music Production Breakdown: Dirt Magnet by Mark Marshall

In this week’s production breakdown, we’re
going to talk about a composition that I wrote

for the usage in the TV Show, “American

They wanted something that was kind of clanky,
bluesy, Tom Waits-y sort of vibe, and to get

this started, I knew that the drums were going
to kind of be an important part.

The drums always are in Tom Waits music.

He likes a lot of noisy and almost profound

The EZ Drummer, has a library called “Twisted
Kit,” which is really, really great for


It has a lot of — you see like pots and
pans, stomps, claps, and just all kinds of

different clanky things, which is really cool.

Before I get too deep into that there, let’s
actually listen to the track.


As you heard, the second 30 seconds of the
song progressed a little bit more with more


This is a pretty standard trick for this sort
of sync licensing that you do all the song,

and then the second 30 seconds, they want
a little more in it, right?

So at this point, I’m not adding any more
melodies or anything like that, I’m just filling

it in and making it sound a little bigger,
and I added a little more percussion.

Let’s start with the drum groove there, because
I started talking a little bit about this


The groove starts off with…


Pretty clanky, right?

Now, I added an additional track below that.

I was adding some more…

I labeled that one “Clank.”


Yeah, this is the part you hear off the top.

[clank tracks]

Let’s listen to the bass guitar.


I used this UAD Ampeg plugin.

I’ve been using this a lot recently.

Pretty simple, I think I pulled the stock

I have a few customized settings on here,
because I’ve been using it since I recorded

this, but I didn’t have any of this stuff
setup, it was fairly basic.

Into an LA-2A, which I had set as following,
and at the end, the chain was the Studer A-800


That’s pretty common for me to use those three
plugins in conjunction.

The bass does make a big difference.

I think you’re going to have to mess with
different settings or different options, depending

on the bass you’re playing.

I really like Fender P-Basses for recording.

I find them to be the most versatile.

At least with the music I’m doing.

I tend to use two of them.

This particular recording, I used a 1971 P-Bass,
and yeah, it does sound a little different

than my more modern P. Not that my modern
P doesn’t sound good, I just think that the

71 is a little punchier in some ways, and
it’s not as out of control in the low end.

I think the new P-Bass may just be a little

Again, not better, not worse, but different,
and having knowledge of your instruments is

kind of why I have so many different instruments,
but having this knowledge can kind of simplify

things when you’re doing a recording just
knowing what each instrument really delivers.

I think for a lot of this TV stuff, the thing
is, regarding the mixes is that you’re not

going to spend as much time with it as you
would you doing a record, so anybody who makes

their living from mixing records might hear
some of this stuff and be like, “Oh, well

here’s what I’d do, I might do this, I might
do that,” but the name of the game is just

print them out really quickly, so I try to
make a lot of decisions that I know are going

to be — neutral is not the word, I’m not
necessarily looking for neutral, but I’m looking

for predictability a little bit in the sense
of I know how all of these elements are going

to add up together.

Like, for instance, I want to be able to do
one of these in under an hour, right?

Because they’re royalty based, and eventually,
it’s about how much of them you get in TV


If you’re spending six hours on the mix on
one of these, it’s eventually going to be

a really slow process for you to earn income
from them.

That doesn’t mean that I cut corners in the
sense that I don’t care or anything like that,

but I try to do a lot of pre-mixing going
in so that I don’t have to sit and tweak for


There’s really not much on this track, so
let’s talk about the guitars.

Both of the guitars were cut with a ’68 Gibson
ES-335 with the original humbuckers.

You know, the 335s I think are really fun
to record with, because the fact that they’re

semi-hollow, it just gives a little bit of
a more woody tone I think around the notes.

I also use a lot of solid bodies, like the
Les Paul, but even staying in the Gibson family,

like an SG or a Les Paul, they’re just a little
bit I think more tight and direct sounding

with the note.

The 335s are hollow, like a 330 or 335, this
is just to have a little bit more of an aura

I think around the note, and sometimes, I
use them just for that matter, especially

I think when using amp sims, and I did use
an amp sim for these guitar sounds.

Let’s look at what one I used.

I used this Vintage Amp Room from — it’s
one of the UAD plugins.

Softube makes it.

If I look at the settings, this has been kind
of my go-to setting when I’m using pedals,

so I’m trying to get it fairly clean, and
so I can plug my pedals in and use that as

a basis for a tone.

I find that really helps a lot, like when
I can use the pedals as the front end, but

the tremolo is off, and you’ll notice I cranked
the treble.

I pulled the master volume back a lot, because
I really didn’t want it to overdrive that


These plugins, I’ve mentioned in other videos,
but they’re pretty hyped when you open them,

and I find that’s not often where I will even
get an amp to be when I’m using it.

So this is, I think, a little closer to what
I would have.

Some Fender amps, definitely not a Twin Reverb,
but maybe a Deluxe or a Vibrolux or something

like that.

I always use the Studer A-800 plugin.

The only thing I do is I always turn the noise

I don’t want the noise, but everything else,
I just leave it stock.

It’s 15ips, and then I just roll with it.

It just makes everything sound better.


There’s a couple of components to this guitar
sound, aside from the amp sim and the 335.

I used this Effectrode Tube Drive pedal.

I use this a lot when I use amp sims, even
if I have the gain really low.

There’s just tubes in it.

It runs at amp voltage.

It feels like an amp with some tube sag in
it, and it really brings it to life in a way

I think that it’s hard to do with an amp sim,
and I’ll often try to get like, that Vintage

Amp Room pretty clean, and if I want any sort
of overdrive, I’ll use it from this pedal.

So I’m using this pedal to some degree as
a preamp.

I use it a little bit more on that.

You can hear overdrive in a little bit.

The settings, I think I had the bass boost
cut, and I didn’t have the treble boost on.

I was also using the Tube Drive into this
Strymon El Capistan to get a little bit of

that Mark Rubbo slapback echo kind of tone.

I often will roll off a little bit of the
high end for the guitar, especially when recording,

and I didn’t have much of the wow and flutter
up on that one.

I think I had it all — I really like this
knob a lot.

I’ll often kind of crank it so it warbles.

I changed one element in the second guitar
part, which we’ll hear here.


You listen to that tone, there’s just something
a little different about it, and I think your

mind would be wondering, “Is it a fuzz?

Is it an overdrive?

How are you getting that sound?”

The answer to that is I was using this Germania

It’s great.

Pretty much a Range Master treble booster.

They are really cool pedals, and they act
differently than a fuzz, and a distortion,

and an overdrive.

They were used a lot in the late 60’s, early

Jethro Tull, Aqua Lung, that’s a very Range
Master heavy sound, as well as some of the

early Black Sabbath records.

Actually, Tony used a Range Master.

To me, it’s just the Range Master has more
attack, so sometimes, a fuzz is a little soft

and a little pillowy, and an overdrive is
just a little too sharp.

I kind of think the treble booster can — as
far as the attack goes — can do some interesting


Like, it’s fuzzy, but it still has a little
bit of a stronger attack.

I use this in front of the tube drive pedal,
because really what the Range Master does

is it’s like a booster pedal, but it’s not
just a clean boost.

It adds some frequencies and harmonics, and
some distortion, but it’s designed to just

really slam the front end of your amp.

Now, this doesn’t really work so well with
digital recording, because your converters

aren’t going to like that, right?

They’re not a valve amp, so they’re going
to freak out if you start hitting it.

This can I think add up to at least 20dB of
gain, which is not a good combination.

So, to get around that, I used the Tube Drive
pedal after this treble boost, because I — it’s

going to act as a valve amp, because it does
have valves in it.

So I cranked this up pretty good.

It was hitting it pretty hard.

Now, I turned the gain almost all the way
down on the Tube Drive, because I didn’t want

a lot of overdrive coming from the Tube Drive
pedal, even though that’s what was going to

happen, I didn’t want to add a lot more.

So this is kind of just slamming it, and it
acts — I think a lot like kind of how Jethro

Tull was getting those sounds with the Range
Master and the treble booster.

There are a couple of companies that make

This guy is not making these anymore, but
if you look up a lot of Range Master clones,

there’s companies that make replicas of them.

It’s kind of a really cool flavor to have
in your tone locker.

Last thing I added to counter that lead guitar
part, the treble booster part that we just

heard, was I added an organ.

A Farfisa Organ.

[guitar and organ]

That’s it.

Very simple production.

It doesn’t need a lot of elements, as often
these type of cues are in the background,

so the fact that they’re not super busy is
actually better and less distracting.

Music Production Breakdown: Dirt Magnet by Mark Marshall // Production breakdown of the song Dirt Magnet by Mark Marshall for the show American Pickers.

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