Hey everyone! i know that a lot of our community members are recording or getting their songs ready to have them recorded for “Praising Him Loudly: Volume Three” (or PHL3)! As I was getting some of the finishing touches on a song for One God One Faith, it dawned on me that there might be some cool tips to share with everyone. I don’t profess that I know every studio trick, but I hope that some of these tips might help:
1. If playing bass or guitar, tune inbetween every take. It might be a pain to do, but there is nothing worse than recording what you thought was the best track of the session, only to find out that one of the strings was out of tune. This is a very common mistake – believe it or not – not only by new players, but I have heard older, more experienced players do this as well. You might be in the “zone” but if you don’t take the 30 seconds to tune, you’ll sound like you don’t know what you are doing.
2. For a thicker guitar sound – think picks, strings and pickup selector. I know everyone knows the story about one of my guitar/recording students. He was about to drop $2000 on a rack-mounted EQ for his home studio in his pursuit of the ultimate guitar tone. When I threw 6 or 8 picks at him that were various sizes (thickness) he realized that the rack-mount EQ was unnecessary and he found the thickness in tone he was looking for – $2000 or $3?? I’ll take the $3 solution any time! Also – make sure that you are using new strings on your guitar before you record. This makes a huge difference. A cool trick is to stretch the strings once they are on. Sometimes new strings will go out of tune a little. The best solution is to fret the 1st string at the 3rd fret and pull up gently at the 12th fret – then fret the 4th and gently pull at the 13th fret…and so on until you are pulling at the 17/18th fret or so. Repeat this with all the other strings and then retune the guitar. If you repeat this whole process 3 or 4 times, then the new strings on the guitar should stay in tune. If you have one guitar and you want a thicker sound, play one track with the neck pickup, another track at the bridge pickup and a third with both pickups. Pan the neck pickup to the left, the bridge pickup to the right and have the track with both pickups panned right up the middle. This approach will give a much thicker sound – and if you experiment with your panning, you can get an even fuller stereo spread with your guitar tracks.
3. If you are in a rut and can’t think of something thats cool – whether you are starting from the ground up or just adding a small part – listen to music you don’t normally play. For example, I can’t stand country music! But if I’m in a rut, one of the techniques I use is to listen to a country song and figure out how to play it. Once I have it down, then I add some “evil twistedness” to it and make it more metal. In less than 15-20 minutes, I will have created something out of my goofing off over a country song. This technique works for me about 70-80% of the time. Where did I get this?? From a Guitar World magazine article written by Kirk Hammet of Metallica…it’s one of the techniques that he uses!!
4. What does rope have to do with recording drums?? If you are on Twitter, you saw that I alluded to this on a tweet about 2 weeks ago. Recording live drums is one of the hardest things to do properly. One of the number one problems is microphone phasing with the overhead microphones. This takes a lot of experience and more detail than I can put in this post…maybe I should dedicate a post to this topic in the near future?!? One quick and dirty trick is to measure the microphone distance, and for this you need some rope. There is a rule called the 3:1 rule. This states that if you want to avoid phase issues, you should have no microphone closer than 3 times the distance of another microphone to it’s source. In other words, if an overhead microphone is one foot above the cymbals/drums, there should be another overhead mic a little over three feet away. Another way of stopping phasing is to use the overhead microphones in an xy configuration. A really cool video going over this technique is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD_IPYqN9Vk – this is a pretty cool youtube channel for recording drums.
If you are more daring…you might want to try this – “Brauerizing” – named after the great Michael H. Brauer who has worked with many amazing artists. I could describe it to you, but the best article on this is right here: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov08/articles/itbrauer.htm – I have tried this and it works amazingly. But be forewarned…you really have to put time into this and experiment. This is not the type of technique to try if you are under the gun and trying to make a deadline. It took me about 2 weeks of experimenting with the equipment I have to make this work and sound fantastic. You can do it! But, like all things you need to put time in to really reap the rewards of this drum recording technique.
5. Experiment with different microphones. Try using different microphones for different jobs. Mic a cabinet with a sm57 – angle it at about 30-45 degrees and place it in the middle of the speaker cone. Then move the mic towards the edge of the speaker cone and listen. Try different angles. Then try different mics…if you are using a condenser mic, you might want to have it a little further back – like 3-5 feet so you don’t damage the microphone. Sometimes, I’ll have about 6 mics in various locations in my recording room and I’ll listen to them to see if there is a higher or lower/cleaner or dirtier sound to the microphones. In an interview I had with Billy Gibbons, he said that he was using an amp cabin concept. He took his guitar signal and split it to 5 different amps. He put a microphone in the middle of the room and put four amps surrounding the mic and a fifth amp on top to make a cabin of amps around the microphone. Whether you like ZZ Top of not, you have to admit that he had/has an amazing studio sound when he plays guitar.
6. Lastly, remember what a great rock icon once said, “You get the biggest sounds out of the smaller amps!” ‘Nuff said! If you know who this guitarist is, drop me a line and I’ll let everyone know who won this little contest! LOL!
Anyhow! I hope everyone is excited about PHL3! Please check back from time to time again for more recording tips. I also have some really cool reviews coming down the pipe and more interviews with some of the bands in our community as well.
Yours In Christ!
PRAY THE ROSARY EVERY DAY!!