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Steve Lukather Soldano X88R preset

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
FOR THOSE WHO JUST WANT TO ROCK, THIS PRESET USES A USER CAB, SPECIFICALLY OH 412 MAR-CB V30 57-04, WHICH YOU CAN GET HERE:
https://www.ownhammer.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=164&products_id=374

The preset, scene description and (out of date) sound clip are at the bottom of this post.

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BACKGROUND

If you're a fan of Steve Lukather, chances are that your favourite era (both regarding his tone and playing) is the late 80s and early 90s, often referred to as "the Soldano era". Being probably the biggest geek about Lukather's tone out there, I've spent many years and way too many hours researching, hunting down clips, acquiring bootlegs and harassing people close to the man for inside information about his past gear It seems only fitting that I put all this together into something I can share with my fellow Axe-brothers. I will run down the entire rig and how I've replicated it in the Axe.

GUITARS

His main guitar was his Valley Arts "The Robot": A mahogany strat-style guitar with maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, a Floyd Rose, a EMG 58 humbucker in the bridge and two EMG S single coils. Whenever he needed a clean tone, he would use what became his signature model from Valley Arts (Custom Pro): A quilt maple-bodied strat-style guitar with maple neck, ebony fingerboard, a Floyd Rose, probably a EMG 85 humbucker in the bridge and two EMG SA57 single coils.

THE ROUTING

The general routing for his rig is pretty standard for how Bob Bradshaw of Custom Audio Electronics usually did his rigs at the time. All the effects are post preamp, except the wah. A rack compressor was used directly after the preamp, but only for clean sound. The chorus of choice was often used as a stereo splitter, and then it was reverb and pitch in mix 1, and the delays in mix 2, everything parallel to the dry. I've added a solo boost (vol/pan block 1) after the cab, just because most people will probably find that useful in general (even though Luke never used one).

WAH

His wah was just probably just a standard Dunlop Crybaby that Bradshaw modified to handle long cable runs better. The standard Cry Babe wah type works fine.

PREAMP

The basis of his tone was the prototype for the Soldano X88R preamp with the black faceplate. It was a custom order by Bob Bradshaw from Mike Soldano. The prototype had 3 outputs (one for each channel), a different transformer than the production model, was PTP and not PCB and god knows what other differences. Channel 1 was clean, and only used for rhythm. Channel 2 is dirty rhythm, but he also used it for some solos, like the first ones in "Without your love" from the Paris 1990 concert. Be aware that his dirty rhythm tone has a lot less gain than you might expect. Channel 3 was never used for anything other than lead, and has tons of gain. I've set the tone/gain/bright controls to the same settings as he used, and then tweaked away on other settings until I thought it sounded more like his.

Fun fact: Bradshaw sold the preamp many years ago to "some dude in Japan".
Fun fact no 2: Soldano will build an exact replica of the preamp if anyone wants to order one, but it will be VERY expensive.

POWER AMP

He used a HH V800 Mosfet solid state power amp at the time. Because of this, the power amp simulation is off.

CABINETS AND SPEAKERS

His cabinets were late 70s/early 80s pre JCM Marshall 4x12, with the small check grill cloth, that had been painted black. He used the original 1980s Celestion Vintage 30 speakers, most likely 16 ohms. He did NOT use Marshall "Vintage by Celestion", that's a different speaker and comes stock in certain Marshall cabs. Lukather bought his speakers as an after market replacement, so it was the Celelstion-labeled V30s. These speakers are not available nowadays, since Celestion changed the design of the original V30 in the early 90s. After that, only Mesa Boogie got the original design from Celestion for use in their cabs, although they primarily used the 8 ohm version (8 and 16 ohm speakers sound quite different). The sound of the speakers changed once again when Celestion move the production for most of their speakers and their components to China in the early 2000s. That meant that certain components of the previously 100% English-made Mesa Boogie V30s are now made in China and different from before.

Nevertheless, after much comparing and a lot of research, I've chosen to use the OH 412 MAR-CB V30 57-04. Get it here: https://www.ownhammer.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=164&products_id=374

RACK EQ

There was usually a rack EQ of some sort in the rig (usually a Rane ME 15 graphic EQ, but I've also seen a parametric EQ in the rack. I think he used this as a general tone shaper. I've started with his settings and tweaked it to fit the IR better.

COMPRESSOR
Lukather used a DBX 160X rack compressor after the preamp, and only for clean sounds. He used a 4:1 ratio, and I've dialed in the compressor block to sound more like his, partly by ear and partly by technical information/specifications.

CHORUS

In the early version of his Soldano X88R-rig, he used a TC Electronics 2290 for chorus. In the later ones, he used the TC Electronic TC 1210. I have good picture of his settings from the mid 90s, so I've used those. I suspect his setting didn't change anyway, Luke is a "set and forget" kind of guy. I had to use both chorus blocks, since the TC 1210 is two separate choruses in one. He used chorus for all his clean sounds, and certain lead sounds, like in the end solo of "Without your love" from the famous Paris concert in 1990, and also the lead for "Little Wing" from the same show.

PITCH

In the earlier versions of the rig, he used a Yamaha SPX90 for pitch shifting. I've chosen to replicate the Eventide H3000SE in the later versions of the rig. I've used the same setting as in the original factory preset numbered 231, called "MICROPITCHSHIFT", which use the layered shift algorithm. The pitch shift was always on.

REVERB

Lukather used a Roland SRV2000 reverb, probably the hall reverb. I've dialed in the reverb using some knowledge about the unit, and by ear. The reverb was always on.

DELAY

Lukather used two Lexicon PCM70 for delays, both running V2 firmware. One was running the preset called "Pan delays", the other one "Circular delays". Both are multitap delays, and "Circular delays" also use some diffusion. Besides all of the recordings of Lukather, I have demo clips from users of the PCM70 and the actual settings of the presets in a chart. I've spent many hours figuring out the "mystery" of his delays.

Lukather used "Pan delays" as his main delay. "Circular delays" was often added in parallel to the other unit/preset (think Little Wing from the Paris 1990 concert). It was rarely used by itself, I can count the number of times I've heard him use "Circular delays" by itself on one hand. He also used two different volume settings for the "Pan delays" . Bob Bradshaw changed the input level of the PCM70 running the "Pan delays" preset by hand, quite easy to see since he by had marked these two settings on the front of the unit. These markerings where not present during this era though, so I have dialed in th relative levels by ear. When Lukather used the louder version of the "Pan delays", he never added the "Circular delays". You can hear this on "Without your love" from the Paris 1990 concert. I've added a vol/pan block in front of multidelay 1 to simulate the two different levels.

In this general period of time, Lukather's delays were synced to the songs tempo. From what I can gather, Bradshaw switched the delay times of the PCM70s using a small midi controller backstage. I've synced the delays times of the two multidelay blocks to tempo subdivisions that match up correctly. Remove the tempo information for the stock times. Sometime after he stopped using the X88R prototype and switched to the CAE 3+, Lukather also stopped syncing his delays to the songs tempo

POST PRODUCTION TONE SHAPING

I've added a filter block and a PEQ block at the end of the grid to do the final tone shaping. I've chosen to simulate the Neve 1081 preamp/EQ using the Waves V-EQ4 plugin. Bypass these and the cab block if you're using a real cab.

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SCENE DESCRIPTION
  1. Typical clean tone.
  2. Clean tone with both delays for ballads.
  3. Typical dirty rhythm tone.
  4. Dirty rhythm with both delays (Little Wing-style).
  5. Dirty rhythm/lead with loud "Pan delays" (Without your love-style).
  6. Typical main lead tone with "Pan delays".
  7. Lead tone with both delays.
  8. Lead tone with chorus and loud "Pan delays" (Without your love-style).
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SOUND CLIP

Here is a short lip of how the preset sounds. Unfortunately, I don't have an EMG-equipped guitar that will truly do the preset justice. The guitar is a dual humbucker Fender Lead III, the neck humbucker is split for the neck tones. Forgive the playing, quick "one take" before I was heading out.

 

Attachments

  • Lukather Soldano X88R.syx
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BBN

Fractal Fanatic
That's a great lead tone! I'm going to try this out. Thanks for sharing and putting the time in to type out all that detail.
 

Smittefar

Axe-Master
Impressive work and effort. Thank you. I must admit though that Lukather's sound and playing in the Paris concert and Little Wing in particular is my least favorite version of Lukather through the years. I much prefer the late seventies and early eighties.
 

ChrisMetal86

Experienced
Very nice work! I rarely ever use other peoples patches, but I will def be downloading this later today! That lead time is killer!
 

craiguitar

Power User
My favourite era for Luke's live and recorded sounds are from the El Grupo live album, and the Santamental album, so early to mid 2000s I guess. During that period it was 2 rigs, the Rivera signature amp, and then he later went back to the CAE3+ and VHT power amps circa early 90s. In both those rigs, he'd reduced the use of effects significantly, and to my ears, everything sounded a lot more immediate. Of course most of it comes from him though, whatever gear he's using.
 

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
My favourite era for Luke's live and recorded sounds are from the El Grupo live album, and the Santamental album, so early to mid 2000s I guess. During that period it was 2 rigs, the Rivera signature amp, and then he later went back to the CAE3+ and VHT power amps circa early 90s. In both those rigs, he'd reduced the use of effects significantly, and to my ears, everything sounded a lot more immediate. Of course most of it comes from him though, whatever gear he's using.

His effects where pretty much the same, minus reverb, minus syncing the delays to the songs tempo, and also only using chorus/pitch on clean tones (and less of it). So yeah, basically just PCM70s for ambience most of the time ;) I can work out a modern (2000s) CAE 3+SE version of this, if there is enough interest for it. It's not to hard compared to this Soldano preset, especially since I've done a lot of the ground work already regarding effects etc. He did use some stuff like a vibe, tremolo, leslie etc with the last CAE 3+SE rig, but those are pretty straight forward.

El Grupo is the CAE 3+SE. Santamental is a Marshall, modded to sound like CH3 of a 3+SE (many of the guest artist on the album used the same head actually). I think the last major thing he did with the Rivera was the Carlton live record. I've owned a CAE 3+ with a VHT Classic power amp, a CAE 3+SE (with mods) with a VHT 2/90/2, and also a Rivera Bonehead. The Rivera sounds nothing like the CAE preamps, it definitely got it's own thing going on.
 

Firesource

Member
Impressive! I'm a huge fan of Steve Lukather, and I love his version of Little Wing from the Paris Show. The delays create a huge sound.

With that said, my favourite Lukather tones (and favorite live playing) are from the Live in Poland DVD - everything is so much more upfront, and it really suits his style that he reduced the gain.
 

spv

Inspired
This is really well thought through ... Loved the write up. Can't wait to load it up; am a huge Lukather fan! Thanks for sharing this!
 

Black Bitch

Fractal Fanatic
His effects where pretty much the same, minus reverb, minus syncing the delays to the songs tempo, and also only using chorus/pitch on clean tones (and less of it). So yeah, basically just PCM70s for ambience most of the time ;) I can work out a modern (2000s) CAE 3+SE version of this, if there is enough interest for it. It's not to hard compared to this Soldano preset, especially since I've done a lot of the ground work already regarding effects etc. He did use some stuff like a vibe, tremolo, leslie etc with the last CAE 3+SE rig, but those are pretty straight forward.
Ouh... there is a lot of interrest - I love Steve Lukather and you done a hell of a job man - I would love a preset of the CAE 3+SE rig :D
 

Rexgtr

Experienced
Looking forward to trying this out, thanks for sharing your work and info guitarnerdswe.

Anyone know what Steve Lukather has in his current rig? Is it still the Bob Bradshaw designed setup?
Seems many cats traded in their expensive custom Bob Bradshaw switching systems for the AxeFx + MFC which bares some resemblance but likely weighs a lot less. :p Thanks again to FAS and Clif as i didn't think I would ever own such an awesome inspiring setup as I have now.

I read Steve's switched to using Dimarzio pickups now.
http://www.dimarzio.com/player/steve-lukather
 

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
Looking forward to trying this out, thanks for sharing your work and info guitarnerdswe.

Anyone know what Steve Lukather has in his current rig? Is it still the Bob Bradshaw designed setup?
Seems many cats traded in their expensive custom Bob Bradshaw switching systems for the AxeFx + MFC which bares some resemblance but likely weighs a lot less. :p Thanks again to FAS and Clif as i didn't think I would ever own such an awesome inspiring setup as I have now.

I read Steve's switched to using Dimarzio pickups now.
http://www.dimarzio.com/player/steve-lukather

Bogners with all his effects on a pedalboard built by Racksystems in LA. It's been over five years since he ditched the rack and EMG:s.
 

R.D.

Power User
O.K., I’m late to the party here and I guess I have a few questions ( ? ), because I’ve done an extensive amount of research on Luke’s tone too and a lot of what I’ve come up with does not agree with some of what you’ve presented … ?

First, I’ve never read that Luke used “reverb” in ANY of the iterations of his LIVE racks ?

Second, from what I’ve researched and read it was always the PCM-70 ( Circular Delays ) for that type of ambiance …. I’ve also never read that he used tap tempo on the Circular patch ? That was always set it and forget it, based on the stock patch ….

Back in 2009 there was a formuite ( tonygtr ) that seemed to have the complete data on Luke’s entire rig, CAE Preamp settings, what years he used which of the various chorus units, etc; He also had the details on how to set up the Multi-Delay for the best recreation of the Circular Delays ….

And since this was back before the XL & XL+ with the additional improvements of X/Y and 2 instances of the Multi-Delay, he came up with a way to simulate the PCM-70 Panned Delay using the Dual Delay ( instead of the Multi-Delay ) ….

Now, we didn’t discuss specifically the Soldano preamp, but he said that by 1991 he had switched over to the 1st iteration of the CAE 3+ ( prior to the SE upgrade ) …. This is pretty much confirmed by comments that John Suhr has made on many forums, that when VH recorded F.U.C.K. that Eddie was using Luke’s 3+ preamp slaved into the output section of a Marshall amp …. That album was released in 1991, so most likely recorded in 1989 & 1990 ….

So, I guess it depends on which of Luke’s tones that you covet the most as to which pre-amp you’d want in your Luke preset ?

It would appear that the only solo record he released w/ the X88R would have been Lukather ( 1989 ), and maybe not even that one ( see VH comments above ), especially since Candyman didn’t get released until 1994, he would have definitely made the switch to the CAE by then ….

Little Wing ( 2005 ) at Les Paul’s 90th birthday would have been the CAE as well ….
 
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