Roots bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs (right) has spent recent years collecting critical accolades and turning out stellar works such as Live at the Charleston Music Hall, a disc captured live with his band Kentucky Thunder. Known for their hot licks and high-energy interplay, Skaggs and company count on monitor engineer Jerry Lloyd.
Is there a common thread among what everyone is looking for in their mix?
Sure — “More of me.” Ricky likes more of what I refer to as a “listening mix.” That is, you could actually listen to it and enjoy it. He pretty much has everything in there.
Bluegrass musicians have always been notorious for feeding back and having poor equipment. You've done quite a bit to reverse that tradition.
When we started playing bigger venues and using larger house systems, we had to turn it up onstage. To avoid problems, we switched to in-ears with Shure PSM systems. Today, we're using mostly PSM 700s. Now we can get as loud as a rock show, yet retain our clarity. All I have to do is turn it on and we get the same consistency every night.
How do you mike Ricky and the band?
Ricky's using an SM86 on vocals and a large-diaphragm KSM44 on his mandolin. Beta 87As are for backing vocals, banjo and fiddle. Upright bass is mostly DI, but we will use a KSM32.
What's your console?
A Roland VM7200. They don't make this desk anymore, unfortunately. For us, it has been totally dependable. We've had it since we went to in-ear monitors three years ago.
Is there life after monitors?
You mean like when I'm supposed to be off? We had a slow start touring this year with Ricky spending time in the studio, but now it's getting pretty busy. I love wood working. My dad was a carpenter, so I grew up around it.