VITO BRATTA – Guitar World September 1989 – Part 2
GW Brad Tolinski: One of the things that distinguishes your approach to soloing is your thoughtful use of pock dynamics like on Don’t Give Up and Little Fighter.
Bratta: I like to balance out the creamy hammer on passages with staccato lines. The pick suggests real aggression and I really enjoy hearing players like Gary Moore who use the pick well. However it’s not one of those things I analyse closely – it comes naturally. I just try to play the things I wish I heard in other players.
If anything my playing tends to be too smooth, but I was never into that Ted Nugent sound. Ted’s sound is great, but it’s too harsh. I’ve always understood Van Halen’s description of getting a brown sound, and that warm round tone is what I’ve looked for. When I went on tour with AC/DC I was running 2,700 watts of power and you still stand in front of my amp. Angus was using the same kind of amp I was using, running pretty close to the same power, but you couldn’t even get close to his system because it was so biting.
All musician’s are fans. We are a sum of our inflluences. Any musician that tells you that the create music in a vacuum, that they are so original and free from the influences of life is full of shit. We develop our own styles as a result of studying what other musicians do. I own a 5150 combo, so I can relate to the smooth sound that Vito is after. You can study another person’s style and be influenced as to how you play. Here Vito is studying the person’s style for how it sounds. Angus and Ted have aggressive pick attacks which result in harsh – bitter sounds. There is so much thought going into Vito’s art.
GW Brad Tolinski: You seem to be using a little more midrange.
Bratta: That happened at the mixing board. For years I played in a band that didn’t have a bass player, so I created a sound that would appear as a “V” shape on a graphic eq. In other words, lots of bass and lots of treble. But when I went into the studio Michael our producer, said “Listen to your sound.” I asked, “Where is it?” You could barely hear the guitar. He explained that the cymbals were eating up all my high end and the bass guitar was masking the low end. Because my set up lacked midrange frequencies, my sound was being swallowed up. I started to realize that it was the midrange that cut through. I was forced into creating a new sound – one that more mids, yet remained creamy, round tone. The real trick was to avoid that “hinky” midrange. Some people like that weird “wah-wah pedal that’s halfway down” sound. George Lynch uses that a lot, but I never really liked it.
I owe a lot to my Steinberger as well. When I used to play Strats, I’d play one note and get a bunch of bizarre overtones. I’m not quite sure what it is, maybe it’s the graphite neck, but when you hit a single note on a Steinberger you hear just one note very cleanly – even when it turns into feedback. It’s just a great guitar and it helps me get the smooth tone that I look for. Everything is still evolving. I don’t think I’ve really developed a distinctive sound, tone wise. If I sound unique, it’s more in my fingers. When we did Big Game there was no attempt at duplicating the sound of Pride.
I have been in bands that don’t have a bass player for a long time. So you develop a certain style to suit, exactly as described by Vito. All of the rhythm tracks I write these days incorporate a root note with a revolving melody line played in unison. It’s very rare that I just chug away on a power chord or on a pedal tone.
One thing that a lot of guitarist don’t get recognised for, is that all the music comes from the guitar and because of that, they are the main songwriters. They are the main contributors sound wise. So apart from knowing how to play your instrument, the guitarist needs to know their equipment and their sound.
At a recent recording I did, I normally use the 5150 live, however the engineer at the studio had a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier head going through a Marshall Quad that gave me the dirty harsh sound I wanted for the recording, and then for the clean, I used a Hughes and Kettner Head through the same Marshall Quad. I had to go that way as the 5150 sound was getting lost in the harsh drum sound and the 5 string bass. We need to compromise and we need to do it quickly.