So the story is told that a young recording engineer was working out of one of the nicest studios around. He had tons of guitars, amps and microphones at his disposal. He learned that Eric Clapton would be coming in to record a few tracks. In preparation he used his free time to experiment with all sorts of guitar and amp combinations trying to get that elusive “Clapton Sound.” He tried every microphone and mic placement he could think of, none of which seemed to work. The date of the session continued to creep closer and closer and the engineer started to get nervous because after hours and hours of extra work, he was no closer to getting that guitar sound he heard on Clapton’s albums.
Finally the day came and in walked Eric Clapton. The engineer was sweating bullets but none the less greeted “Mr. Slow Hands” with great enthusiasm (I mean, who wouldn’t, this is Eric freakin Clapton!). When it came time to record, they set up Eric’s amp and the engineer said a silent prayer to himself. He put up a lowly SM57 right in front of the speaker. The engineer was holding his breath as he waited for the guitar god to play something. Clapton thought a moment and began to play a few warm up licks. To the engineers great relief, out of the speakers came the “Clapton Sound.”
How many of us have heard a great guitar tone, or a great drum recording or an amazing singer, and thought, man I wish I could sound like that! While emulating others is a great way to learn and get better, there is no possible way that you could ever sound exactly like them. As our engineer in the story found out, if you want that “Clapton Sound”, you better get Clapton on the phone and book him for your next session.
By that same logic, there is no one out there who sounds exactly like you either. You are a unique snowflake (I know, super cliche but it’s very true). You have your own unique experiences, influences and style. You have your own unique interpretation and viewpoints of the experiences you’ve had and the influences on your life. No one thinks the same way you do. No one acts exactly like you do. No one moves their fingers, hands, vocal chords or other body movements with the exact same rhythm and control as you do.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that you shouldn’t try to be a second rate version of someone else, there are already too many cheap copies out there. Be a first rate version of yourself. Find your own sound and style and one day people will be trying emulate your elusive sound.
Cary Crichlow, Senior Producer and Engineer
RCR Recording Studios