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Old 09-28-2022, 07:10 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Default A Three Guitar Day

Today we continued working on the EP that we’ve been on for a while. A little background? A young singer/songwriter was brought on by my company’s label to produce an EP for streaming and download. The executive producer approached my boss requesting a producer and arranger to help develop the material. My boss enlisted myself and my colleague, Nick, to co-produce, engineer, arrange, and finish her four songs. It was a good choice.

Nick is a twenty-nine year-old graduate of Full Sail University. He has five years in the field and has begun taking side projects as a producer. To aid in this he has kitted out a nice Pro Tools rig with an impressive host of plug-ins to support his efforts. He typically uses Logic to write and Pro Tools to develop and mix. Nick’s parents started him off young with piano lessons and he taught himself guitar a while later. He owns several guitars including a nice Taylor 214ce.

We’ve used various paths to build up the songs. We started by bringing in the artist to the studio and having her run down her songs. We suggested song structure moves that would allow the songs to build and hold the audience’s interest and then she performed rough drafts with a keyboard or direct-in guitar and an ElectroVoice RE-20 mic recorded into my Steinberg Nuendo DAW. We’ve divvied up the work from there. We started with the most complicated song. Nick took a copy of the demo for that song into Logic and added a drum kit, keys, and strings. He then pulled it into Pro Tools and created a rough mix that he sent back to me. We brought the singer, Jessica, back into the studio and I coached her through voice overdubs for that song. I comped a master track and collated the rest of the takes into a manageable set of channels to export back to Nick. He inserted them into his Pro Tools session, timed and tuned, and we worked together to create the provisional final mix to be heard by the executive producer.

Right in the middle of that the artist took a maternity break to have her first child.

Since she has returned there have been various deadlines to meet, listening sessions with the executive producer, etc., that have determined the progress and flow of the operation but we are now on the final leg of the process. I told you something of the progress of another song last week, HERE.

So today we were working on another song, this one an Indy pop tune. I recorded the vocals with Jessica a couple of weeks back. Interestingly, the artist’s husband joined her on this track performing beatbox. One mic we don’t have in the arsenal is the Shure SM-7B that all the beatboxers love so we had him bring in his own. Those sessions went great. The original voice demo was recorded a week before the vocal overdubs with Nick playing guitar on my 2000 Taylor 314kce run through a direct box and into the board. He has wanted a chance to showcase his playing and this is a good opportunity. Today was guitar overdubs day. After playing it, Nick has managed to fall in love with my 314kce, so at his request we used it. I also brought in my 2011 Taylor 354ce twelve string to allow us some overtone complexity and more “chirp” or “chink.” Once again I chose the AKG C451B mic for the guitars. I also like the high slew rate preamps on the Yamaha PM-2000 console for transient material like guitars so we didn’t go through any of the other preamps we have a available. We were planning to either double- or triple-track the guitars (al la Dick Wagner) so I chose to record mono. The artist gave us a lead vocal sheet with chords but her chord selections didn’t match the actual way she sang. Instead, we arranged the parts as we went along. To make it easy, we did it in modules, section by section. For verses I suggested that Nick play a syncopated, palm muted style on the 314kce. We tracked three, with the intention that the middle one will be mixed below the voice. Why three? I have mentioned that studio musician Dick Wagner always tracked in threes. His theory was that with two, the brain works as a difference engine, hearing the disparities between the two lines. With three, the brains seems to stop comparing and hears the result as a chorus. I’ve found this to be true as well. As we built these clusters I immediately pulled the completed takes to three tracks that were panned left, right, and center, so we could hear the results. At the first chorus we kept the center palm-muted six-string guitar and recorded the outboard takes with non-palm-muted twelve string. We initially planned to go to three twelves but the centered six stringer added body. There was an eight bar breakdown in the center and I had Nick play it as non-syncopated strokes on the twelve stringer to help bring the intensity down. After that breakdown came a build and we had him go right back to palm muted syncopation on the six stringer. For the final chorus we went with all unmuted twelve stringers. We also used the twelve for the outro, where the song once again broke down to just guitar. I suggested Nick play it as if he was singing around the campfire, quiet and gentle. He pulled it off perfectly. I was comping the good takes as we went along so, Voile’!!! The guitars were done.

As I listened to the song during overdubbing I began to feel like it needed a bass guitar. Nick had put in a synth bass but I thought the song needed the energy of a live performance. I suggested the idea to Nick and he said “Great! But you play it.” I brought out the 2012 Fender Jazz bass and plugged it in through an Avalon VT-737 tube preamp and channel. I turned off the high pass filter and EQ on the Avalon and adjusted the compressor to provide about three db of compression at the loud peaks to level out my playing. I listened to the bass in context of the song and chose to run completely on the neck pickup with no tone control, to get a nice round bass sound like Kenny Passarelli of the Caribou Ranch rhythm section and Barnstorm. I had in mind the sound he got on Dan Fogelberg’s Souvenirs album. With a couple of rehearsals I was able to arrange most of the part, so the red light came on. I’ll admit that I can think too much while playing and engineering simultaneously and that distracts me. My mind wandered, so it took three or four pickups. By the end, Nick was really pleased because the stronger bass increased the energy of the song and helped develop it into what he had hoped for. Yay! Bass done.



Next, Nick wanted some tambourine for the song, so we set up for that. I used the C451B again. I jacked the down the gain on the record channel to its lowest settng. Tambourine generates some really strong transients and can REALLY easily overload the preamp, giving you a “chunk” rather than “chink” sound. Ugly. With the channel down and the mic back by about two feet the sound was great. We spent a little time arranging the tambourine parts and Nick rapidly banged out the takes. Another one down!

Finally, we grouped the six and twelve string guitar tracks, blended them, and came up with some EQ settings in Waves F6 Floating EQ that enhanced the nice guitar recordings. All this so we could make sure they would play nice in the mix. Nick took pictures of the settings and then we turned the EQs and processing back off and panned everything to the center. I exported each of the comped tracks and sent them back to Nick for him to assemble the mix project.

All in all, it was a really productive day of recording.

Bob
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Old 09-29-2022, 09:00 AM
strangersfaces strangersfaces is offline
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Thanks for that, Bob!

It'll be enlightening to listen to the songs once they become available for public consumption now you've let us in on the process used to achieve your desired goals.

Following with interest,

Lance
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Old 09-30-2022, 07:29 AM
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KevWind KevWind is offline
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Indeed very interested in hearing the results will monitor this thread.. Ha punny
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Old 09-30-2022, 04:25 PM
GuitarsFromMars GuitarsFromMars is offline
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Yes, mos def want to hear some mixes.
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Old 09-30-2022, 05:41 PM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Yeah, well, the mixes belong to the label, not me. Release is somewhere around January. I have occasionally been able to get permission to post clips or instrumental mixes but they don't really tell the tale. Today we added a few more tidbits to that song, little fills using the 314kce.

Bob
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