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baretta

Recording Tips & Techniques

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Hi Guys

I said I would share some recording knowledge with you. If you don’t want to be disappointed don’t read on.

First off there are no trade secrets, no trade tricks, and no super computer. If you are still not disappointed and want to stick with it all well and good.

Sticking with it is probably the best expression to use because it’s all about take, after take, after take till you get it right.

I’ve learned two basic things over the years of recording. One, don’t get red light syndrome. In other words when the record light comes on don’t panic. You’ve practised your take so just relax and play it naturally like you know you always do. Second, be satisfied with your take knowing that it is the best you can do at the time and don’t look back in anger. There is nothing worse than letting someone hear your work but before you play it to them you start making excuses about the one bit in the middle that I didn’t quite nail. Get the take right and then be satisfied.

Just to give you a bit of history of my recording experience. The first time I dabbled with recoding was in about 1962 on a Grundig stereo reel to reel, the one with the little bar shaped green light in the middle for monitoring the signal. I used to mess about just recording myself singing with an Eko Ranger acoustic guitar. Then I met a pal who also had a Grundig reel to reel. We recorded ourselves singing and playing John Henry, and other songs. Then put the condenser mike from the one tape player on the floor next to the speaker and then played again adding harmonies, and other bits of lead guitar and used the second recorder to tape the live playing and the play back of the other machine. My first experience of multi-tracking and I still have the recordings (now saved on digital media) to prove it. You can imagine how many times we did it to get a balance. Then of course there was no punch in facility either so it was all one take stuff. Boy did we make some mistakes. You can imagine the air was blue after making a mistake almost at the end of the song and having to do it all over again. But it was great fun and I learned allot. From then on I was bitten by the recording bug. I also used it as a tool to improve my playing ability.

Recording equipment and techniques improved in leaps and bounds particularly in the mid 70’s to early 80’s. At that time there were all sorts of programmable drum machine emerging as well. This too opened up new possibilities. We were only used to preset drum patterns for strict tempo like the waltz, quickstep, samba, cha-cha-cha etc. etc.. So if you wanted a drum track on your recording you had to pick the nearest beat to it. Can you imagine trying to play Route 66 to a quickstep? So when you could programme a drum machine to a decent 4/4 – 16 to the bar it was heaven!

Then came the Tansai 2 channel stereo cassette player with a built in drum machine and bass line and the facility to overdub one track. You will notice I said 2 channel? So you recorded one take and then pressed the dub button and it played back the monitor track while you recorded again on the other track. This was bliss! I have a recording of me and Jez Woodroffe of Black Sabbath fame doing The Beatles – Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Yesterday with a string arrangement played on a Moog Synth both done on that machine.

Then came the Tascam Portastudio 4 track 144, 244, 246, I had them all, and still possess the 246 to this day, that’s still my baby. These machines were really the start of my really good recordings and where the story really starts for you guys to relate to.

At first with the 246 I used a culmination of programmable drum machines and live snare drum (only because I could do the snare fills better than programming) to achieve a good basic rhythm track.

Using the first track of the 246 I put on it, lets say Route 66 for example, a ghost track vocal and guitar usually played to either a click track or the previously programmed drums. Track 2 & 3 would be the bass line and rhythm guitar. Then if the drum track was not on at that stage it would be recorded onto track one, no luxury of stereo drums then I’m afraid. So now we have 3 tracks completed. We then do a mix of the 3 tracks and bounce them onto track 4. Once happy with that mix we now have 3 tracks spare again because the whole rhythm section is on track 4. Obviously the danger now was that whatever was put recorded on tracks 1, 2, and 3 would over record anything on there. So you had to be sure you were happy with the rhythm mix as there was no going back. So now we can continue to build up the tracks using the bounce method. You then record on 2 & 3 and bounce 1, 2 & 3 onto 4 and so on. This way you can get 10 good tracks without much noticeable loss. I got really clever as well by doing a live take while I bounced tracks. So you could bounce drums and bass and at the same time mix the rhythm guitar into it as well. Relating to people who still have 4 tracks even if it’s digital it’s a good short cut to use.

As far as today’s hard disk multi-track recording is concerned all that is irrelevant as we have a multitude of tracks at our disposal and bouncing is a thing of the past. Never the less the techniques used at the time stood me in good stead for the present. All those hours of getting the sound right first before recording because you only had one chance to get it right were worth the effort.

So with the luxury of the multi-track PC/Mac hard disk recording combined with software like Cubase, Cakewalk and the all the other multitudes of tools to use we come to how I do it now.

The truth is exactly the same, with my ears!!

I have uploaded a picture to “show us your equipment” of my screen with an arrangement of Rollover Beethoven playing. The is also the mix down mp3 file of Rollover Beethoven uploaded to “Lets Hear You”. Combined with this file I will endeavour to cover the recording process in greater detail.

I will post the recording techniques tomorrow as I need to list the tracks individually and their relevant settings to start the explanation.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this so far. I’ve never done this before so I want to get it right for everybody who will read it.:winkthumb:

4095.attach

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The 'Roll Over Beethoven' track that Baretta mentions can be found here.

Thanks for going to such trouble Baretta. I'll make this post a 'sticky' where it alwas stays at the top of the page for easy access.

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Baretta,

Some great history and insight from your experiences. Two things stick out in my head in this discussion.... "get it right" before recording and "let your ears guide you".

I await your second installment! Very cool.

**

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baretta,

Thank you for the post and si16 for keeping it on top. Unfortunatly, looks like my good friend Steve (smort) who is using a MAC, protools, and garage band, may be right.

When he recorded "Sweet Duo" Its a lot easier to do on a PC/MAC then on a PC.

I see cubbase and cakewalk come up a lot.

Thanks so much for the post.

eddiez152

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LC,

Thank you for your input on my kept, private post you sent me some time ago,

I refer to it a lot. I'm dying to record a take to send you in private, on something you did earlier. All super great guys.

I would like to add something here. I admire all of you who have successully crossed the hurdle in

recording. Would have loved to this in my younger years but life's took me in another direction.

Now I'm just trying to make up for lost time. So pardon me if I seem any bit of annoying on the subject.

kindest regards to all who are making this site so great.

eddie152

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Thanks Les I appreciate your comments. Your music is FAB too! I've been listening to your tracks on the radio - featured artist is great for you, well done! I hope I can pass on something for someone somewhere then it will be worth it. I need to think about it though because as you say your ears guide you and you can't really teach that. People need to train their ears to pick out subtle things going on in the music. For example a bass player will always listen to the bass line first then listen to the whole thing again and so on for each instrument. Because I play all the instruments on my backing I have to strip the song down to the bare bones for each instrument and sometimes there are alot of hidden gems that you don't hear unless you do that. The Beatles stuff is notorious for it. I must remember to mention that as it is a valid observation, thanks!

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As a cheaper and simple alternative have you tried Cool Edit Pro 2 maybe known as Adobe Audio but the former is a nice program to use for just audio multi track if you never use MIDI. I use it as my WAV editor it's far more user friendly and cheaper than Steinbergs WaveLab.

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Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us here, baretta.

1962, eh? I'd just bought (well, my parents bought it for me) my second guitar, a Lucky 7, and just realized that standard tuning has a kink ... when I brought my first guitar home I figured they'd made a mistake in the shop and tuned all strings to the fifth fret of the next string down. Needless to say, any chord diagrams of pics of my hero (Hank Marvin) holding down chord shapes sounded awful in EADGCF tuning!

Thanks again for taking the time to contribute to this forum, baretta.

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I started playing in '59 on a Framus it cost my Mom & Dad £3 that was a weeks wages for my Dad. It took me 2 days to turn round to left handed before I could try yo play it. You make me feel old mate!

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Hi Guys

First off there are no trade secrets, no trade tricks, and no super computer.

Darn it I can't find it now, but there IS a trade secret.

A plugin with just one knob, titled "suck". So if you want the music to suck less, you just turn it down. It was great, but I can't find the link. :(

I look forward to hearing about your recording techniques. I'm always interested in hearing other's methods and especially GEAR!! (Pictures are more than welcome!) :D

baretta,

When he recorded "Sweet Duo" Its a lot easier to do on a PC/MAC then on a PC.

Easier?.... How so? ;)

-tkr

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Great posts Baretta. I think that Roll over Beethoven was probably about the second song I tried to learn. Still haven't mastered it. Lot of folks in here are using cheapie, read free, software like Audacity and Krystal with humble PC's but I'm certainly going to be following this thread and learning what I can. My guess is that applying the right principles is going to be more important than having the best software. Thanks for posting.

PS. Great, (or should I say?) fab version of ROB. :thumbup1:

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Excellent groove you've got going with this tune, Baretta. Nice and tight the way it should be...I'm looking forward to the explanation of the mix of your tracks.

I have a question up front. You have Guitar tracks 1 and 2 going, and from the wave forms I can see some differences, but it basically looks like G2 is a mult of G1. Or if it's not a mult, are G1 and G2 stereo tracks of the rhythm? Did you mult the track and then effect G2 differently?

I see where G1 is panned L20 and tucked under a bit. Is G2 more center and 'the driver' of the two tracks, or is it tucked under just for stereo field purposes? Just curious. There's so many different ways to go.

Anyway, I came into the game around the time 4-tracking was the thing. I had a Fostex 250 and came up with a huge pile of tapes! Yes, bouncing is a thing of the past but you're right about the lessons and tricks learned. If there's one thing that's still relative today it's that the experiences taught us to keep the signal as hot as possible so as to not amplify tape noise (today so as not to amplify any noise). The other thing that's still relative is when we were recording live during a bounce, it sharpened up our performance skills!

I'm looking forward to reading more tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this stuff!

Steve

P.S. Check out this thread that just started re: Community Mix, if you're interested.

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G1 & G2 are the same 12 bar vamp played twice, double tracked and panned L/R. Only difference in the mix is for volume and balance. Same with vocal1 & 2, just double tracked. Stereo drums, mono bass and a mono muted guitar playing a little background riff.

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G1 & G2 are the same 12 bar vamp played twice, double tracked and panned L/R. Only difference in the mix is for volume and balance. Same with vocal1 & 2, just double tracked. Stereo drums, mono bass and a mono muted guitar playing a little background riff.

Ok, thanks.

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Darn it I can't find it now, but there IS a trade secret.

A plugin with just one knob, titled "suck". So if you want the music to suck less, you just turn it down. It was great, but I can't find the link. :(

I look forward to hearing about your recording techniques. I'm always interested in hearing other's methods and especially GEAR!! (Pictures are more than welcome!) :D

Easier?.... How so? ;)

-tkr

:smilinguitar: I have been looking for one of those VST Suck plugins for years, if only there was a stomp box version! :yeahhh:

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Thanks for posting this I have been looking for something like this for a while now. I look forward to reading your second post, and more if they follow. Ryan

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Thanks for the heads up on Beretta. It was a good read all the same. Do you know anyone else that is posting on sound recording, and or YouTube Videos?

Some friends and I would like to give it a try.

Ryan

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