Remember the ADA? Nuno, Vito, Skid Row

November 23, 2011 | By | 11 Replies More

Been perusing a loooong thread on about the recording of various Extreme albums – because I was going to do a post on the most recent Extreme album and Nuno’s gear. But retrenching a bit because of this quote in that thread from producer Michael Wagener:

Funny enough, the setup we used on Vito [Bratta] was almost exactly the same as the one we used on Nuno (and Skid Row), down to the same settings on the ADA.

We also used [with White Lion] one of the first Groove Tubes 30W tube amps with a direct recording output, still got it, looks beautiful, red and Chrome, like an old Chevy. That amp is what you hear on the solo on “Wait” which he played during drum tracking – originally as a scratch, but we never got the same feel as the scratch so we kept it.

A great guitar player makes an engineer’s/producer’s life extremely easy and fun.

White Lion…cuddly

GREAT tune

The same settings?!

More on the ADA

Here it is....

The ADA MP-1 was a preamp that was all the rage back in the ’80s – the early “had to have a rack” days. Anyone who got guitar magazines back then might recall the ADA ads – Paul Gilbert, other guys, lots of guys were using them for a while.

(You might also remember that lead singers apparently had to look like girls, like Sebastian Bach at the time and the White Lion dude. The end of this era was when poison came out with bubblegum metal and all wearing makeup….)

Apparently the players liked the ability to control things: Distortion levels, distortion with articulation, channel switching, sustain, etc. Plus they also sounded good. Here’s one example: Paul Gilbert talking about the MP-1, starts at about 4:15, after all the funny stuff….

Here’s a link to what the MP-1 controlled (too much for here).

Here are the MP-1 settings Michael Wagener said used for the above bands:

Overdrive 1: 4.0 dist
Overdrive 2: 5.5 dist
Master Gain: 7.5 dist
Bass: 12
Mid: 6
Treb: 6
Pres: 12
Voicing: .tube
FX loop: off

He also said, “From the ADA it went into the McIntosh 2100 (transistor) power amp and from there into a vintage Marshall 4×12 cab with the original G12Hs inside [30-watters].

“At that time I normally used Fostex M11RP ribbon mics and Countryman Lavalier mics through a John Hardy M1 to record guitar.”

All the deets you need….


Here’s Bob St. John, who engineered most (or all?) of the Extreme albums on Nuno’s tone:

That “tone” is a question that is asked more than any other. I wish I could make people happy and say it was “this piece of gear” or “that piece of gear.” But that sound is what comes from Nuno.

Although you may be inclined to say that Nuno is a derivative of so many other ’80s guitar players, I feel that he is in a class by himself. That sound is more a function of his technique and the way he hears things and interacts.

I’ve recorded Nuno playing through Marshalls and Hiwatts, Laneys and Fenders, Ampfarm and a Rat pedal direct. They all sound uniquely like him. Go figure.

Wagener on tone:

90% of the sound of a guitar player is creasted by his hands, and it wouldn’t matter much which amp he/she uses, if it’s at least in the same distortion range.

I think these guys are mixing tone and style together a bit, but….


Category: ADA, Celestion speakers, Groove Tubes, Nuno Bettencourt, Skid Row, Vito Bratta/White Lion

Comments (11)

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  1. John says:

    … P0rnographitti was definitely recorded w/ an ADA MP-1… well most of the album was… aside from one or two tracks (which I can’t recall @ the moment) that Nuno recorded w/ a small Fender combo in a hotel bathroom. Anyway, the overdrive on the MP-1 is dry & gritty but has great clarity & note separation too, particularly on the unit’s “plexi” settings.

  2. John Davis says:

    Kansas guitarist Rich Williams is still using the ADA MP-1 in live performance. I had one way back when but was never all that thrilled by it. Eventually those rack systems would screw up during a gig and were a nightmare to troubleshoot on the fly.

  3. Rich Dickerson says:

    I’m still using my MP-1, and I don’t ever want to use anything else! We MP-1 users intermingle and share info at, which has a lot of useful information regarding ADA products, as well as a forum filled with knowledgeable and helpful members. Just so there is no confusion, it should be noted that is a fan site and is not otherwise affiliated with ADA in any way.

  4. van Sinn says:

    It warms my heart still seing articles pop up on the pro’s use of ADA gear, even all these years after ADA disappeared from the scene (and maintaining the gear on adadepot).
    The MP-1 really positioned itself as a one of a kind back then, and still makes it’s presence felt ;)

  5. Michael says:

    I have three of them personally, two stock ones and a modded one. I still use them a lot, especially for that 80’s metal tone, but they are very versatile and will get lots of tones.

  6. leftystrat says:

    I have an MP-1. Great toy, great tool.
    It was an important part of discovering that I really needed to be using output distortion instead of preamp distortion.

    It sits in a corner with some other stuff in my bag-o-tricks.

  7. marty says:

    I want to buy one. Mainly for the classic 90’s rock tone, but was also wondering if they sound nice with clean/crunch using a strat? Are they able to get a decent SRV kinda tone? I’m looking for something very versatile for tones mainly not so much “effects”..

    • DJ says:

      yes! Billy Corgan used the ADA MP-1 on early smashing pumpkins. amazing clean tones wiith a strat… the solid state section of the preamp is real glassy and smooth.

  8. Eastwood6 says:

    Had an MP-1 back in the 80’s too. Along with hair ;-). They were pretty unique among rack pre-amps as it sounded like an amp, not an effects box. And they had their own distinctive tone. I remember walking past a club one night that had a band playing, the guitar player was taking a solo and I said “MP-1!”. Stuck my head in, sure enough, there were those blue soft-touch buttons. Nice piece of rig. Along with the Marshall JMP-1 and the Hafler T3, probably the best of the rack tube pre-amp lot from those days.

    Yes, the MP-1 has a great clean tone, and you can dial in SRV type tones too with some tweaking. Used it with a Strat and LP, along with the obigatory Floyd loaded Charvel.

  9. SHG says:

    I used an MP-1 for years, got absolutely killer tone out of it. Wish I’d never sold mine.

  10. survivor030406 says:

    @ Marty, You know SRV endorsed Bill Lawrence pickups? Now known as Wilde USA. You might want to look into that.
    He also used jumbo frets. Just thought I’d add some info, to help. peace.

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