Archive for the ‘recording guitar’ Category

Monday November 16

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Wow! It’s been a while since I updated this blog. Stuff has been happening but it seems like a lot time lapses between events. All our schedules have been crazy. KC was called in to work several weekends in a row due to the GA flooding during a time we had scheduled to do his lead tracks, I’ve been on vacation twice since the last entry, and Ron and I have both been out of town on business a few times, and you know, life happens –  beautiful fall days for being outside instead of inside – you know how that works… Sometime back in August we put down the basic tracks. It took a couple of sessions, they went well enough, but there were a few hiccups that we needed to address in an overdub session.

Here are a couple of track excerpts from that session:

Spooky Tooth (cover)

Talk Talk

In October we finally got to doing the lead guitar tracks, and some second guitar parts. The first session didn’t go so well, and we decided to scrap those tracks and have a do over. During the do over session KC brought a different guitar (a 335) for some different texture. Things felt more relaxed and went smoother at this point. We didn’t get to all of the songs, so we needed to have another session. The next session we had Keith (the vocalist) come over to lay down some scratch vocal tracks so we had a better idea for the leads to come in and out for the remainder of the songs. And finally in yet another session KC finished up the lead tracks.

Here is an excerpt from the first lead session:

Lou Reed (cover)

Now all we have left is for me to do some bass overdubs, where I had some mistakes, and then we’ll finish the tracking process with the vocal sessions. Sometime this week Keith is coming over to do some of the tracks. During the scratch take, we realized quickly that we need a reverb unit to put on his voice while tracking. Having a wet effect on there tends to give him more confidence, and I can totally relate. Only once did I ever do my own vocal for a song, and I definitely needed something on my voice to get through the tracking process. And NO you will never hear that song, it was quite embarrassing, reverb and all.

Keith plans to pick up a NanoVerb to bring to the session. Ron and I will have to figure out the best way to use the NanoVerb as an effect for monitoring only while recording the signal to disk dry. I want the recorded vocal dry so I can start fresh in the mixing process. Again the beauty of digital recording is the non destructive editing process. You don’t have to commit to anything. You can experiment and change things, and that I am sure we will be doing.

Wednesday July 1

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

I opened the files in Logic to do some listening of our session and some rough mixes. I didn’t spend a lot of time with the mixing, just added some preset EQ and compression to some of the tracks and some reverb and a little delay on the vocals as well, just to get a feel for how it could sound. Not bad at all. I think the first thing that stood out to me was even though the Bearing Edge snare was punchier and drier, meaning less resonant, it didn’t cut through with a nice crack as well as the Supraphonic did. We have to go back to square one and try to make the Supraphonic work. I may try to retune it or put different heads on it to see if that makes an improvement.

Another thing I noticed was how dynamic the vocal track was. I think next time we’ll be tracking through a compressor to knock to keep the levels more manageable for mixing in post. I don’t want to over do it though, just enough to keep the level workable for the mix. The goal is to try to keep the dynamics and energy but without clipping or working with ultra quiet levels.

So bottom line so far, the drums and the vocals are the hardest to mix. I knew drums would be a challenge. I am quite content with the guitar and bass sounds. I think I will experiment further with mic placement on my bass amp, to see if I can make it even better, but I am quite happy with what I am getting for now.

Song file (cover tune):

Click here to hear a rough recording from this session.

Tuesday June 30

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

We just got together to rehearse and get used to playing with headphones on. We made some changes. The Supraphonic snare sounded great last time, but we were getting some unwanted resonance with that drum so Dave brought out one his snares made by Bearing Edge drums. It had wood hoops and solid brass lugs. It sounded punchier and drier than the Supraphonic and ultimately gave us less problems with unwanted noise. We also swapped mics on the snare drum. KC was able to get a hold of an Audio Technica 4053 which is a small diaphragm condenser mic with a hyper cardioid pattern. I could think of two possible spots for that mic – either snare drum or one of KC’s guitar amps. We ended up trying it on the snare first and ended up liking it better than the sm57 on snare, so that’s where it stayed. I was quite happy with the guitar sounds already so I figured I wouldn’t mess with that.

We rolled while rehearsing so I could get a feel for what we need to change if anything at all. I have a feeling we will need several more rehearsal sessions. We still need to hammer down some of the arrangements and button up some parts. But all in all it was time well spent and I think we all gained for the rehearsal session.

Tuesday June 23

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

We all got together to set up the guitar and bass sounds, and Dave retuned the toms a couple of times, and we swapped out the SM 57/58 tom mics for some small diaphragm condensers, and I had to take that 4033 off the bass drum to use it on one of the guitar amps. This mic is sounds excellent on guitar amps. We set up another Large diaphragm condenser for the bass drum. It’s not ideal, but workable. We also tried an SM57 on the bass drum, but we all favored the condenser.

Also Dave brought his own cymbals and hi-hat. They seem to fit more of the style we are playing. My K customs are a little dark and more jazzy sounding than Dave’s Vintage As and his Custom A crash which are very Rock and Roll!

I realized that I was so caught up in the process that I forgot to snap some pics. So basically here is what we have going on. I have a basement with a living room that is carpeted. This is where the drums are, and also Ron has the board and recording rig set up in this room. Also there is an office and a bedroom all carpeted, as well as a large unfinished section of the basement that has concrete walls on three sides and concrete floor. We used to rehearse at my house and KC would mention that the thick carpeting kills his tone, so we set his amps in the unfinished section of the basement for a more lively sound. I set my bass amp up in the bedroom that is through the office with the ability to have 3 doors closed for separation.

For the bass I used one of the available large diaphragm condensers on the top left speaker of a 4×12 cab (ampeg V4) about 12 inches away and set it to a cardioid pattern. Also I activated the 10dB attenuator. The amp is an old 60s tube driven Ampeg b25b – great sounding bass amp. Simultaneously I ran direct through a Tech 21 SansAmp DI, but I bypassed the gain stage. I had the effect “stomped” on but I was only using it for the EQ section and not the gain that most people use it for. I personally still felt that it sounded artificial and I just wanted a good clean DI signal that I could alter in the mix with software modelers later if I choose to. Although I most likely won’t use it at all, but it’s nice to get just in case.

For the guitars, KC played through an old 50s Gibson GA20t 1×12 combo amp and simultaneously through a more modern Savage Macht 6 1×12 combo amp. They were set up on side by side on a rug in between my weight bench (that never gets use). The Savage on the left miced with the AT 4033 with the 10dB attenuator activated about 6 inches away from the center of the speaker. The GA20t was miced with both an SM57 on axis about 1.5 inches away from the grill pointing towards the edge of the dustcap and speaker cone, and also about 18 inches back I placed another large diaphragm condenser set up in a cardioid pattern with the 10dB attenuator activated.

I also ordered a cheap headphone mixer, since we were going to try to isolate our amps in different rooms. A headphone mixer was the only way we could all play together and effectively hear each other and ourselves. Not only that, but I got one that could give four independent headphone mixes. How sweet is that?? Now if the Dave needs to hear more bass drum in his headphone mix, but KC needs more snare, and I need to hear my bass louder, it can all be done with a twist of some knobs on the great Mackie.

Once we were all set up, we quickly ran through a couple tunes to get an idea of what we would sound like to disk. I quickly realized that it will require quite an adjustment to get used to playing this way through headphones. KC, the guitar player couldn’t play that well – he thought he was playing a banjo because he couldn’t “feel” the sustain in his guitar.

After playing back some of the recording, we were all quite impressed with the separation we had having the amps in the different rooms. I thought there would be at least a little bleed from the drum mics, but we heard nothing, or almost nothing. That is good. That way if we need to overdub the guitar or bass parts we won’t run into issues with the drum tracks.

One thing we all need to do is get headphone extension cables. We were all crammed around the headphone amp, so it was kind cramped in that sense, but at least we were able to run some test tracks and hear it work out.

That night I was pretty excited and couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up listening to the tracks and made a rough mix in Logic:

Here is one of the songs. keep in mind these were quick tests. We didn’t even know we would get to that point, and it was getting late, so the songs are rushed (tempo), mistakes were made, and we didn’t even tune first, but it was all just a test anyway. Next time we’ll work on keeping the song tight and adjust to playing through headphones.

Song file:

Click here to hear the recording from this session.