View Full Version : Some Basic Questions
06-16-2010, 01:17 PM
How do you guys out there record your bands. I do not like the straight into the compute method. I would rather have the band just play, with all of our drums amps and vocals mic'd. OR would it be better to do it instrument by instrument... separately. AND if so, which do I start with? We are a jam band, and use a lot of improv.
06-16-2010, 01:40 PM
I'd guess that, if 25 people respond, you'll get 25 different ways. There is no one right way to do it. I'd also guess that if you polled 25 successful producers, they'd all say, "It depends on the band."
Coming from a jazz/blues/jam band background myself, it's always "live w/ the whole band in a single take." I know that's not how a lot of rock/country groups do it though. In rock, we used to lay down a scratch track w/ the whole band and then each member would record their part individually over that.
It depends on the musicians and what you need, I guess. If the musicians can cut playing the whole thing right the first time and you like the vibe you get from it, do that. If the guitarist/engineer wants double tracking, then you pretty much have to do it.
For mostly improv stuff, I don't know why you complicate it: just record it live. Add in extra ambience later (more percussion, for example, if after listening you think it needs something).
I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts on this -
06-16-2010, 01:50 PM
There is no right way. There's only works, and doesn't work.
Here are some relevant approaches for you to consider:
1. Completely live, everyone in a room jamming together. The advantage of this is a very live feel and the best interaction between performers. The disadvantage is that it's almost impossible to hide mistakes. One botched note or chord can ruin a whole take. Also, punching in for fixes can be difficult, even impossible, depending on bleed.
2. One layer at a time to a click track. The advantage is that it allows the greatest precision and downstream editing/punching. The disadvantage is the musicians are largely decoupled from each other, which can hurt the feel a lot.
3. Scratch track. Jam out a version with all the key parts (drums, bass, vocals, guitars, whatever), and then re-do all the parts as overdubs. The advantage is that it combines the best of the two previous approaches (live feel and editability). The biggest disadvantage is that it can be very time-consuming.
3.a. A variant of #3 is to jam with the intent of capturing key groove things (drums, bass, rhythm guitar) and overdubbing vocals, leads, etc later. This reduces the time required and can give a better feel, but requires some advance effort to minimize bleed.
I've used all three of these approaches effectively - often all three on the same album. Do what works. That's what's important.
06-16-2010, 01:53 PM
I should add that if you're tracking live, don't play parts you don't have to play! Every new instrument is another opportunity to screw up a take, and an afternoon of 15 failed takes is very depressing for everyone involved. You can overdub stuff like percussion, additional guitar parts, backing vocals, etc after the fact.
06-17-2010, 01:24 PM
Regardless of the band or style of music I like to get everyone tracking together as much as possible, including vocals even if we know it'll be replaced later. At the very least bass & drums have to go down and live together as a unit.
It never seemed very fair to me to have the drummer going at it "for real" while everyone else just muddles through, anticipating their overdub time. Forget that... do multiple takes of everyone playing together and then edit between takes to comp a master, if needed.
Sometimes everyone has cans and their respective amps isolated. Sometimes we'll have the band setup in a circle, complete with a PA for vocals and cut basic tracks like that. With mindful positioning of the band, volume control, and choice of microphones its possible to have almost total isolation...
The first thing needed before recording anything is a plan.
A plan and a concept.
If you don't know what the end destination is you'll wander around and never get there.
06-19-2010, 11:59 AM
Most of rock's great records were recorded live, not instrument by instrument. I like Bob Rock's method personally. Record the band live and use that as a scratch track. Re-record all the instruments individually. Given this is a jam type band you may want to limit how much of this you're doing.
Focus on getting good sounds with minimal mic'ing to help prevent too much bleed. John Glynn's drum approach, with an additional kick and snare top mic should be all you need. Throw a condenser in front of the bass amp in cardioid, throw a few dynamics on the guitars, or if you have them ribbons, just make sure you use something to block out sounds coming from the back of the mic since ribbons are figure 8's.
If you get a good performance, this should work well, with only needing to really retrack vocals.
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