Recording overdubs with guitar and amp in the same room is unacceptable?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Franklin, Mar 13, 2018.


  1. Franklin

    Franklin Member

    Messages:
    4,508
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Here is a question I am sure has been asked before. I was asked to do a couple of guitar track overdubs for someone at the studio they are recording at. When I was told I don't need my amp/not to bring it I wondered why it would matter. It turns out they wanted me to record electric guitar straight into the board and add whatever needed afterword. So I asked if it would be possible to do a traditional type recording with a mic and amp, but got: "No, direct in only". So I asked why to which there was no answer other than that is the way it will be.

    I am no tone snob, but I thought that was not something I wanted to be a part of and definitely not have my name on.

    So after playing some stuff on electric the engineer showed me what he could do; he added some reverb and distortion and it sounded like total crap to me. There was no use trying to explain what I wanted to achieve, he was hell bent on only using digital after effects.

    I had to tell my friend I am recording leads with an acoustic and not going to play slide and he can add additional rhythm parts on his own. He wanted nasty swampy slide guitar and neither of them could understand that it wasn't something that can be added in post production.

    Long story short, I recorded my parts on acoustic and even did some slide and one additional rhythm with the electric. They did of course add effects and all after and to me is sounded like crap. The engineer convinced my friend that it sounded good and if not it was because I played like crap and used an acoustic. Well, either it sounded good or it didn't!?!?

    Maybe I was wrong for not playing an electric. Maybe a great sound engineer can even make it sound acceptable with the right guitar and set up?

    Here is where I am totally dumbfounded; the engineer said to me that recording overdubs with guitar and amp in the same room is unacceptable. He refused to believe there was any value in the amp's output being picked up by the guitar's pickups. Sure, maybe not what the engineer would want in an ideal setting, but WTF?

    Engineer: "There is no value whatsoever in playing in the same room as your guitar"
    Me: "Ever hear of feedback"?
    Engineer: "Yeah, and feedback is bad. Always"
    Me: "Not all feedback is squealing noise. You get a much different tone, sustain and compression when you play the amp at the cusp of feedback. You know, when you take your hand off the strings and the amp will start to feedback? Yeah, that's where I like to be for my own recording stuff"
    Engineer: "Ridiculous. I've been playing guitar for 30 years and recording for 15, I've never met anyone who would do that"

    I have had to convince another engineer years to let me record with the amp in the same room as the guitar before, but he too was dubious; "Ok. You're the customer....."
    Guess what, it sounded awesome.

    So obviously I was not going to convert this guy. What am I missing from an engineering standpoint that this guy could not explain to me? It wasn't a matter of only having a 1/2 or hour studio time. Am I being obtuse or was this guy just trying to make his life easier? I don't get it, but I am no recording engineer!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  2. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    9,550
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Location:
    River City / Star City
    I guess he's never heard of Jimi Hendrix?

    The guy is spewing bull sh*t . Unwitting perhaps, inexperienced guitarist, whatever, he's ignorant of what guitar heaven is.
     
    strike3, eigentone and BigBadOrange like this.
  3. BigBadOrange

    BigBadOrange Member

    Messages:
    189
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2016
    If "engineer" does not know how to get a good tone out of mic'd amp, I would seriously doubt their credentials. (at least as far as recording guitars go). I would go further and say that making the talent comfortable/happy is also important which he/she also failed at. Third, the engineer certainly could have set up to reamp which would have probably made both you happy and didn't. and last, perhaps point him to a sustainiac whose entire purpose is to mimic a guitar picking up amp vibrations at high volume.
     
    Elantric, Average Joe, kludge and 4 others like this.
  4. Franklin

    Franklin Member

    Messages:
    4,508
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'm thinking it had to do with him being lazy or the guy I was helping was getting some deal on the recording and the engineer wanted to do as little as possible. I think he was just BS'ing for some reason, and the real reason probably was something really stupid. But it was almost insulting dealing with that guy...

    Thanks. I was afraid I was missing something stupid. :)
     
    soundchaser59 likes this.
  5. Digitalman

    Digitalman Member

    Messages:
    1,846
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2006
    Location:
    St Petersburg, FL
    I thought you’d get to the part where he re-amped and miced it. But I guess not.
    Are there any miced amps in your friend’s recording?
     
    dansworld, Franklin and soundchaser59 like this.
  6. pedalparty

    pedalparty Member

    Messages:
    873
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Location:
    Morristown, Tennessee
    hahaha guy sounds like a tool.
     
    Franklin likes this.
  7. Unnecessary

    Unnecessary Member

    Messages:
    2,289
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Lazy engineer. I LOOOOOOVE working in the box, but if I'm gonna record like slide, or filthy blues, I'd rather the guitarist get in the live room with the amp cranked and mic'd and I'll run a splitter of the guitar for a DI line if I'm worried about it not fitting later. I'm guessing he just didn't wanna leave the control room.
     
    wookyoftheyear and Elantric like this.
  8. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,993
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Location:
    North Carolina
    One wonders how cheap this 'engineer' must be in order
    to keep a gig?

    Frankly I would have asked my employer (your Friend) if that's
    what he wants. And if it's not I would have asked him if you could record
    the way you felt most comfortable. If the friend said do whatever you
    want I'd tell the engineer to STFU - and tell him how you want to record.

    As @BigBadOrange noted - the guys a moron who doesn't know the basics
    about recording, about guitar or about what business he is in.
     
    asintoras, Franklin and scotth like this.
  9. 335guy

    335guy Member

    Messages:
    5,207
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    I've been recording electric and acoustic guitars in pro studios since the late 60's. Nearly every time, I have used an amp on my electrics. And so have most pro players. I have never heard an engineer say:

    Yes, I have recorded direct before, and so have other guys. But to refuse to allow a guitar player to use his own amp because of those BS statements is simply ludicrious.
     
    Elantric and Franklin like this.
  10. Laservampire

    Laservampire Member

    Messages:
    549
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    [​IMG]

    "See I told you it was a stupid idea"
     
  11. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,889
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Location:
    Pittsboro NC
    It's a wonderful thing that we enthusiasts can, these days, go about recording via many different methods. However I do not understand anyone who considers themselves to be a "recording engineer" relying heavily upon digital models of guitar amps, etc, rather than having the passion/curiosity to learn how to mic every common instrument properly, including guitar amps.

    Admittedly I am biased, as I am in the business of "building a sound"...and getting the absolute most out of a limited deck-of-cards is a passion for me, and a key bit of the fun. I enjoy exploring and making the most out of a limited set of guitars, amps, mics, etc.

    I totally understand 100% why folks would use modeled amps.....no live room, no place to use a real amp, cannot get loud in the apartment, etc. But for a hired pro to default to fake replicas of a sound is something that I cannot understand.

    I hate like heck to see a trend towards relying upon somebody else's idea of what sounds good, via modeling etc taking the place of acquiring true audio engineering skill.
     
    Franklin, Laservampire and liv_rong like this.
  12. Laservampire

    Laservampire Member

    Messages:
    549
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    I wanted some really awful sounding guitars for a project recently and ended up recording direct into a Tascam digital 4 track with a Strymon Deco on full saturation. And in the context of the song and the mix it sounds amazing. Nothing wrong with a bit of experimentation!

    Re-amping a plugged in acoustic sounds like an awful idea if you're striving for a good sound though.....
     
    Terry McInturff likes this.
  13. Franklin

    Franklin Member

    Messages:
    4,508
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    No mic'd amps. Mostly acoustic guitars with bass, drums and keys.

    He wasn't saying he never mic'd an amp, just that playing live in the room with your amp cranked was a bad idea and no one ever does that.

    Whatever. We'll see how the final recording sounds. It probably wasn't as horrible as I imagine, but I know I'm never doing that again!
     
  14. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

    Messages:
    6,597
    Joined:
    May 26, 2013
    That's pretty funny. If you don't mind, I might share it on facebook.

    Really though... never is a word that should never be used when it comes to recording. Some stuff you need an amp and other stuff you can get away with going direct and using plug ins. When going direct I prefer to already have the sound dialed in that they want as it helps me to play better. I couldn't imagine going completely dry for something that is suppose to have a bit of dirt on it.
     
  15. cochese

    cochese Member

    Messages:
    1,907
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    My question would be what type of studio was this? Was it a small project studio in someone's home or a bigger facility with a control room, main room etc. I've been to some project studios where it is not feasible to record real amps or drums.

    If he had a main room he could have just had you track with your amp and phones. At the one studio I record at I usually record with my amp in his vocal booth but I'm situated next to it and the client and engineer will usually wear phones to prevent the track from bleeding into the guitar track though sometimes they will just monitor through the near fields if the amp isn't that loud. They can put me in another room but it's just easier to communicate with the client and engineer by being in the same room. Even mic'ing a real amp in isolation and monitoring through studio monitors isn't always ideal as it's easy to lose the "feel" and usually they don't know how to mix for the guy tracking versus the client.

    It sounds like maybe this engineer was either totally new school "in-the-box" or maybe just inexperienced. Many times an inexperienced recording engineer or live sound tech will try to bully you to hide their own insecurities and lack of skill. For myself I don't get bullied easily. I think this is also going on with a lot of live performance venues where younger sound techs don't know how to differentiate between mixing a live band and a CD.

    One piece of advice would be to get more information before going to any studio. Find out if they are equipped and willing to record a real amp. Do they already have amps there etc.
     
    scotth, Mark Robinson and Franklin like this.
  16. Geetarpicker

    Geetarpicker Member

    Messages:
    2,547
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    When going for volume induced sustain its the body of the guitar, bridge and strings that need to be close to the speaker to create a feedback loop. That said sometimes the pickups themselves can be microphonic enough to start squealing before the sustain occurs, though potted pickups can usually tame those sort of problems. There are plenty of classic studio recordings (Hendrix, Boston, Free, Santana, etc.) where having the guitar near the cab was crucial to the sustain, and the guitar parts could not have been played the same without it.

    The engineer seems to basically lack experience with recording rock guitar. Perhaps he has only been around guitar players that when they had feedback going on it was totally out if control, and unmusical. Perhaps players with a lack of proper string muting skills, microphonic pickups, etc. Sounds like he’s an engineer you best avoid working with, unless you want to put up a fight!

    Another aspect I’ve noticed with reamping and post processing sometimes it doesn’t work so well due to the players touch during the specific performance. What I’ve noticed is the dynamics of the player may be considerably different when one is playing clean vs playing into a distorted amp. For example when playing into a cranked vintage Marshall playing with a snappy attack of your picking hand may actually sound great. Take the same performance and solo the direct clean signal from the guitar and it can sound very odd. The opposite can happen, for example if you play a guitar part totally clean, then later put it through a grainy amp emulation as it may sound flat and lifeless. Point is an experienced player will probably vary their touch when playing clean vs crunchy, vs high gain which simply might not translate to a different amp or processing after the fact.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  17. Franklin

    Franklin Member

    Messages:
    4,508
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    Location:
    Connecticut
    It was a "real" studio with a control room, large main room and several isolation booths. I don't know if he was just the engineer or also the owner. The guy was just a tool IMO.

    I've recorded in many studios in the past 20 years and only ran into one unprofessional engineer before. He was difficult to work with, and had "personal issues" that spilled over into our recording project.

    I think it bothers me now because I feel stupid for not pushing back hard enough. I knew he was wrong, but felt like I was not going to win that fight.
     
  18. taez555

    taez555 Member

    Messages:
    7,762
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Location:
    Laniakea Supercluster
    Here's a list of all the recording studio rules, when it comes to the proper way to record something....

    1.
     
  19. dansworld

    dansworld Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,401
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Location:
    Florida
    Although I have routinely recorded in the same room with the amp, I mostly recorded sitting in the control room for comfort's sake (with the amp cranked up in the studio). The proximity of the amp is naturally helpful for feedback and all that brings if that's what you are looking for, however, so in these situations hanging out with the amp is nice.

    But consider this- if the engineer is looking for total control of his mix then he will ask you for what he wants, and probably insist on it, especially if it is his session. I would have assumed that he wanted your raw direct track for re-amping purposes as well, but I have learned not to question the engineer because they (usually) have an idea of what they are going for. Over the years I have learned a ton of new things I would have never thought of by listening to and watching seasoned engineers.

    Although yours sounds a little batty to me. Who the heck would say that feedback is always bad?
     
    scotth likes this.
  20. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

    Messages:
    8,956
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Engineer was not really an engineer.
     
    Elantric likes this.

Share This Page