Guitar Hero’ Steve Ouimette Shreds Riffs with FOCAL Monitors
Possibly the Most Heard and ‘Studied’ Guitarist Today Creates Blistering Guitar Solos for “Guitar Hero” Video Game
At last count Guitar Hero games sold over $800-million around the world in the various flavors up to the latest “Guitar Hero: World Tour.” And when players try to match many of the game’s blistering guitar solos note-for-note, they are actually copying true life ‘guitar hero’ Steve Ouimette who crafts each solo in his Scottsdale, Arizona recording studio. Recently Ouimette upgraded his studio with FOCAL Twin6 Be monitors, and loves the new sound he gets when recording, monitoring, and mixing.
“I needed self powered monitors and wanted a set that didn’t require a subwoofer, a monitor that had a natural top to bottom, but no hyped frequencies. Mercenary Audio suggested I try out the FOCAL Twin6 Be monitors to see if I liked them. They said they’d take them back if they didn’t suit my needs, but it’s been over a year they’re never getting them back!” said Ouimette with a laugh.
Looking back over his own guitar slinging history Ouimette says, “My involvement with the Guitar Hero franchise began with ‘Guitar Hero III’ and has continued with Activision/Neversoft/Red Octane on every GH title since then. Last year I also produced the sound track for Konami’s ‘Rock Revolution’, which came out in October 2008, and included 39 cover tracks. In the last year and a half I’ve done 75 sound-alike tracks, producing them as well as playing guitar and bass. For all of the tracks, my partner, Ryan Greene was responsible for mixing as well as a good chunk of the engineering. It was during Rock Revoluton and Guitar Hero: World Tour that I began using the FOCAL monitors.” Ouimette has covered songs like the fan-favorite “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “School’s Out,” “Spoonman,” “Dr. Feelgood” and many, many more.
“I definitely get enough low end with the FOCALS, my room is set up in such a way that the acoustics are fairly controlled with bass trapping and diffusers – I know I’ve got a good sounding room, and the balance with the FOCAL monitors is perfect,” stated Ouimette about the low-end response of the monitors. “The funny thing was that all the acoustic treatment was done before the FOCALS arrived, and when the FOCALS were installed, the room just ‘woke up’ — ‘How is that possible?’ All of a sudden my bass response dropped all the way down to maybe 50Hz — nice!”
Regarding his wish to find a monitor that didn’t hype any frequencies, he added, “That’s the first thing even my wife said when she heard the new FOCAL monitors ‘hmmm they sound kind of flat’ — I said ‘perfect!’ that’s what it needs to be. There was a LOT of hype in the other speakers that I was using and I got used to kicking both the top and the bottom up. The next thing you know, here comes the ‘smiley [EQ] curve’ and I go to listen in the car and the mix is totally out of balance.”
“With the FOCAL monitors you can hear everything. If you can make it sound good on the FOCALS you can drop the mix into your car stereo, iPod, or through a television speaker and it just works. That’s worth a lot of money in time alone,” concludes Ouimette. “I love the FOCAL monitors.”
For Christmastime each year Ouimette has a tradition of writing and recording a rocked-out guitar version of a classic holiday song, last year it was the riff-laden “We Three Kings” which was also a free download for Guitar Hero gamers. The song arrangement inspired the YouTube public to show off their chops prowess playing the near acrobatic fills in their own video posts (you can see Ouimette doing his version: search his name with the song name on video.google.com). This year he tackled an over the top arrangement he calls “a fun little guitar jam” of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and offered it on iTunes. Simply with his celebrity as ‘the guitarist behind the guitar solos on Guitar Hero’ he’s sold thousands of downloads. Ouimette also has been anointed a writer of words and given a monthly column in Premiere Guitar Magazine, which can only increase his fame as one of the most widely listened to and studied guitarists today!
The future is very bright for this technical wizard, “ I am working on several new games but nothing I can talk about at the moment,” he teases.
Steve Ouimette is an award-winning guitarist/composer/producer and an 18-year veteran of the video game industry. He has created original music for HBO, AOL, Microsoft, and most recently on the wildly successful Activision Guitar Hero series of games with content ranging from full re-recordings of classic and modern rock songs to new compositions and sound design. He also recorded and produced the soundtrack for Konami’s Rock Revolution and continues to work steadily in the game soundtrack space.
Ouimette writes a monthly column as well as gear reviews for Premier Guitar Magazine and holds a B.A. in music performance and composition from California State University at Hayward. Visit him at http://www.steveouimette.com and http://www.myspace.com/steveouimette
Also visit the Guitar Hero website at: http://hub.guitarhero.com/
For more on Focal monitors please visit: www.focal-fr.com (choose the ‘Focal Professional’ link)