Recording clean guitars (a success story)

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Impulse 101, Nov 21, 2004.

  1. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Over the last few days I've been working on getting a sound for the intro to a song I've been working on for a LONG time. (8 years on and off) It's a really pretty fingerpicked guitar melody that sets the mood for the whole piece, which is 17 minutes long right now. (Ah, for the love of old school prog...)

    I've been fighting with the way to record this track for a long time. My biggest mistake up to now was trying to record it dry. The effects are part of the sound and part of the performance. Without them I play it differently, and while the plugins sound good, they don't sound the same.

    I set up my Guytron and my Vox Valvetronix via a switchbone and layered some reverbs, delays and chorusing to get the sound I wanted. After playing with it for a while I came up with a tone that I can only describe as being made love to by a guitar. One of those epiphanal moments where the stars align and the sound is everything you ever wanted it to be.

    I knew that I had to get this sound into the computer as quickly as possible so I went to my standby mics for clean guitars. AKG414's. I used a ULS for the Guytron and a TLII for the Vox, then into an ART MPA Pro and directly to my ADATs and into the computer via an RME Digiface card.

    Both mics were placed about half way up the cone, with the edge of the mic being even with the dust cover of the speaker. I used the -10 pad so I could run the amps hotter and get about the noise threshold of my house. The pattern was set to cardiod.

    When I went into the control room I hard panned the mics and THERE IT WAS! The same tone, no monkeying around, no running back and forth. Just a quick tweak of the mic pre to get the levels under control.

    It took at least 20 takes to get the part cleanly in one pass. It's a delicate part for my ham handed guitar style and didn't want any edits on it so I just went until I had both the performance and feel that I was going for.

    I think I'm going to be doing a lot more "wet" recording. I don't usually record that way but I'm way too happy with the results not to do it more often. I took some pics of the amps that I'll post later and maybe a sound clip if I can figure out a good place to host it.

    JT
     
  2. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Very cool and congrats!

    George Martin has said in interviews many times that you know what you want going it, just get it and leave it at that.
     
  3. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    How about letting us hear it?
     
  4. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Ed,
    I will post it as soon as I get a good place to do so. I've had limited success with using my Yahoo account and I don't have a personal web page.

    Any suggestions?


    Scott, that is a great quote. George Massenberg (sp) recently passed on a good one to a friend of mine. GM said that he stole it from Steven Spielberg, "Options are the enemy of commitment." In the past I've always tried too hard to keep my options open. From now on I will be more committed. (or I may simply be commited:D )

    JT
     
  5. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    I can give you some space on my server if you like. E-mail me and I give you ftp access.

    As for Massenburg, here's a 6 degrees of seperation story...
    He used to babysit my boss.
     
  6. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Ed,
    That's very generous. I don't have an FTP ap on my PC that I know of but I could probably download one off of TUCOWS.

    As soon as I get home from work I'll give it a shot.

    You'll have E-mail soon.

    Thanks again,

    JT
     
  7. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Due to Ed's incredable generousity here is the track. Due to my own stupidity I mixed in a track from my Fender Bassman that added a little too much high end to the mix when I bounced the soloed guitar tracks to MP3. I'll continue to update it as I layer the parts to bring the mix into context.

    http://eddegenaro.com/Impulse101/NewApril.mp3



    JT
     
  8. glynn

    glynn Member

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    Cool, good tone dude. I dont hear too much high end at all
     
  9. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Reminds me of Skid Row "18 and Life," but I think it's more what's being played than the tone of it... though the tone is a little in that camp too. Interesting tone!
     
  10. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Skid Row? Wow, that's a long way from where it's headed. It always interesting to hear what other people hear in what you create though. Anyone's interpretation is as valid based on their own ear.

    To me the part is based more on a Floydian vibe than anything like hair metal. But then again I'm hearing the part as it will be when I layer it with all the other parts that it is designed to be the bed for.

    There is an acoustic breakdown immediately after this that flows into a metal style section that modulates around a bit. Then back into another Floyd inspired clean progression that serves as a bridge later on in the song. After that there is a section of odd time signature riffs section that finally flows into the first vocal verse which is based again on this progression but it flows differently in tempo and melody in order to accomidate the lyrics and the mood that I'm trying to create.

    Like I said I'll continue posting snippets as the parts come together. There's obviously a lot more work to do.

    JT
     
  11. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Just the intro to 18 and life is what it reminded me of, not the whole song. Didn't mean to offend you at all, so I hope I didn't. FWIW, I could definitely hear a floydian vibe as well!
     
  12. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    No offense at all man and I like Skid Row anyway. The context of the rest of the parts will be needed to make it into what it will be, this is just one part.

    JT
     
  13. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Right on man... The sum of parts of a song are always greater than a single piece... An engine without a car won't go very far! Hey, I think I just made up a quoteable quote!
     
  14. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    BWWAAAHHHHHAAAAAA!!!!!!!

    JT:D
     
  15. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Impulse, I'm flattered man! HEY, I just noticed, you're in MILWAUKEE!!! I live in Waukesha! If you have any interest in jammin' some time, just let me know... I'm always looking for other musicians to collaborate with, get gear ideas from, etc.
     
  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    From what I can tell over an mp3, I really like it!

    In fact, I might just do the unthinkable, and record some guitar tonight with a 414.

    What the heck, you've inspired me.

    :)
     
  17. saros141

    saros141 Guest

    I like the composition and the feel of the part. It's obvious in the playing that you've put a lot of time into it... very precise, no unnatural finger noises, etc. I like the resonance you get in the low mids too. In the right channel I hear maybe a little HF rattle or buzz or something, perhaps the 414 was picking up something vibrating? Could be the knock down to mp3 doing it? Looking forward to hearing more!
     
  18. Impulse 101

    Impulse 101 Member

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    Saros, I detect that little rattle too. I minimized it by pulling the Fender track back in the mix until it was almost inaudable but still had the desired effect of adding depth and definition to the part. I should have mixed it that way in the first place.

    Of the three amps I used the Guytron was the most full and least "buzzy". I did about 20 false starts on that part before I played it though all the way. It's very hard to punch in on because I finger pick it and it's almost impossible to match the dynamics. What you're hearing is two complete takes. The Guy and the Vox were one take and the Fender was another. I'm acually going to record a third take of my Heritage H535 that is just doubling the Chords and bass notes without the articulated parts. That will be way back in the mix. The more guitar parts the better to me. I want to keep the keyboard tracks to a minimum on this song.

    Les,
    If the 414 is good enough for Eric Johnson (he used to use them on his twins) then they are at least worth a shot, right? I only use them on cleans. I prefer my ATM29HE's, 57's and my AT4050 for distorted stuff.

    G'olPeach,
    I actually live in the north side of Racine County. Just below Oak Creek. I work in Milwaukee at WTMJ radio and TV. I do audio and video engineering. I'd love to jam or at least talk gear. My e-mail is impulse101@sbcglobal.net

    JT

    PS, Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy your turkey and football!
     
  19. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    Les-the 414 is a great and very underrated mic for guitar imo.
    I really like it for clean and smooth fusioney tones.
    It's a very natural sounding mic, not hyped liked a '57, works well for fat leads too.
     
  20. SturmerChilton

    SturmerChilton Member

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    A lot of studio guys get bent out of shape about going in wet. I find that more professional guys warn you of your limitations and then if they're sure they've made you aware of what you're up against they say "go for it" :D
     

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