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How I Got That Sound: Doug Showalter

Harry Styles ‘As It Was’ By Joe Matera
Published March 2024

How I Got That Sound

American music producer, songwriter and multi‑instrumentalist Doug Showalter has worked with a wide range of artists across multiple genres, from Harry Styles to 30 Seconds to Mars, Smokey Robinson and Gabriel Black. Here Showalter breaks down how he crafted the guitar sound on Harry Styles’ mega‑hit ‘As It Was’ in his Nashville studio, Mt. Molehill.

How I Got That Sound: Doug Showalter“My approach to recording guitars has evolved a lot over the years. When producer/songwriter Tyler Johnson asked me to contribute some guitars to Harry’s House I applied my current approach, which is to simply hit Record, jam along with the song a few times and improvise whatever ideas come to me with a few different guitars and effects.

“This style of capturing guitar parts, I believe, comes from my obsession with sampling. My love of sound runs tandem with my dedication as an instrumentalist, and over the last 10 years I’ve gotten heavily into sampling vinyl records, drum machines and cassettes as well as capturing sounds with my phone. Up until getting into sampling, my style of recording guitars was very traditional in making sure I always had my parts very well‑rehearsed before hitting record. All that time spent sampling really informed an approach to recording guitars that ended up working well for ‘As It Was’.”

Sample & Hold

“The guitar that ended up making the record was a G&L Legacy Strat through ’78 Fender Vibrochamp with a Strymon El Capistan delay pedal. On the engineering side, I used an AEA N22 ribbon mic running into a Shadow Hills Mono Gama microphone preamp. I feel the tone of the Strat mixed with the vintage tape sound of the delay pedal really complemented Harry’s vocals during the second verse of the song.

“For the second verse of the song, I captured two guitar parts including a sliding octave melody and a scratchy, more rhythmic part. Both ideas I only played once while improvising. Those phrases were then used to create samples that I looped throughout the second verse. I pitched up one of the octave samples using Pro Tools to match the chords of the song. This helped create a melodic phrase that sat nicely in the arrangement.

Doug Showalter: Once I had the parts I liked, I ran the direct signal of both guitar parts through a Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal back into Pro Tools.

“I always track direct and miked signals when recording electric guitar parts; this was especially helpful working on this particular song. Once I had the parts I liked, I ran the direct signal of both guitar parts through a Strymon Big Sky reverb pedal back into Pro Tools. This helped achieve a whole new texture for all the guitar parts when I combined them together. The end result was four total tracks creating one overall sound.

“All the sampling, re‑amping and use of effects helped achieve what I believe is a very unique sound. From the moment Tyler heard the guitar parts, he was super excited to get them into the track. I couldn’t be any prouder of my contribution to this song.”

Hear The Sound

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