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Recording with effects?

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Postby rparker » May 18th, 2012, 5:43 am

Another studio discussion starter thread. Kind of a simple question at first, but could go in many directions.

Do you record your guitar tracks with or without effects? Do you use some of them during tracking and apply others during mixing?

I'll start this time. I have been <ahem>tracking a very wet signal. I have been using EQ in both places, though. I've found using simple EQ Especially useful for creating space on the low end. Making room for my bass and drums, so to speak.

I do like playing pretty much what I intend to be heard. I don't have enough experience to know how to play something distorted, for example, without hearing it at the same time. I don't know the touch needed for each chord or expression unless I hear what I'm doing.

So, what does everyone here like to do?
Roy

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Postby EzraplaysEzra » May 18th, 2012, 6:03 am

It depends on the track for me. Usually I use a pre eq and OD and wah in the live track - then, almost always add post eq, reverb and any time or modulation effect. Then what ever else according to where it falls in the mix.
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Postby Nuno » May 18th, 2012, 6:41 am

Usually I don't use effects when recording, I add them later. But if I want a type of tone in my pedals or amps, I use them.
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Postby rparker » May 18th, 2012, 2:35 pm

EzraplaysEzra wrote:It depends on the track for me. Usually I use a pre eq and OD and wah in the live track - then, almost always add post eq, reverb and any time or modulation effect. Then what ever else according to where it falls in the mix.

I didn't realize until today that people used reverb after tracking as much as they do. You mentioned it here and I read the same in a book this afternoon. I understand why now, but never would have imagined. I makes sense. (The book said that grouping some tracks together using the same reverb is a good way to help make tracks fit together.)

One other thought/question. Do you change things up for a live recording session where all or most of the musicians are playing in the same room at the same time, or do you try to emulate a real live performance complete with mic'ing the room using effects as if playing to an imaginary crowd?

I also didn't really realize that this was a very broad question, but each situation seems to open itself up to other opportunities. This whole recording bug has bitten me pretty good. :D :D
Roy

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Postby EzraplaysEzra » May 18th, 2012, 4:07 pm

No, I treat recording and live sound as completely different animals.
Depending on the feel of the song I generally ask for a pronounced verb on the main guitar (post) and less or nothing on the remainder of the mix. For a vocal heavy song I either verb the entire mix minus vocals, or verb on the vocals only. I have not had good results using a universal reverb over a final mix. Huge generalization, Take the focal instrument or vox and try it with verb on top or verb underneath. Overall verb sounds very messy even in higher end settings.

PS I hate Pro tools because it is awesome. I could tweak every track all day long. I like analog because you really have to commit to a performance and bad playing stinks up a track like a fart in a car. The best way to get professional results with any recording medium is to commit to good takes and try not to make everything "sound" perfect. Also limit the number of tracks, if your doing a simple blues song shoot for 6 tracks or 10 even, before you even roll tape. Think in your mind that your working with an $80 roll of Ampex tape. Otherwise you will find yourself with stereo layers of kazoo voices though your guitar synth. I have seen it happen to the most discriminating songsmiths. The midi kazoo solo guy - that would be me. Let this be a warning to ya.
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Postby rparker » May 19th, 2012, 7:05 am

EzraplaysEzra wrote:PS I hate Pro tools because it is awesome.

I understand your point. To me, very much a novice, it served to push me. My studio skills went from noob to power-noob over-night.

Getting better in the studio also means that I need to get better with the guitar. Garbage in - garbage out, as they say. Then start comparing it to professional tracks of similar nature. Lots of questions emerged. How did they get that sound? How did they get the guitar to fit into that slot? How did they get the drums pushed back and later pushed forward in the mix? How did they play all of that without having it sound like mud? How did they make that solo scream without assaulting my ears? All kinds of stuff like that.

Each thing that I try to do is being met with another skill that I need to learn. I may never finish this song. :lol: :lol:

Nuno wrote:Usually I don't use effects when recording, I add them later. But if I want a type of tone in my pedals or amps, I use them.

I discovered something the past two nights. It's been my first real efforts to record something in Reaper using Guitar Rig as a plug-in. Reaper recorded the dry signal, but ran it back to me wet during live monitoring and again during playback. As with any other plug-in, I can save the end result off as one audio file (they call it a "stem") once I like it in order to save on processing bandwidth when recording other tracks.

I'm also trying to find that fine line between playing a good track that doesn't have any unfavorable spike noises and having to use a compressor, but in limited amounts - just enough to let dynamics come through and not kill the tone, but enough to knock down reasonable spikes. Much is a balancing act, I guess.
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Postby jwmartin » May 21st, 2012, 6:16 am

rparker wrote:I didn't realize until today that people used reverb after tracking as much as they do. You mentioned it here and I read the same in a book this afternoon. I understand why now, but never would have imagined. I makes sense. (The book said that grouping some tracks together using the same reverb is a good way to help make tracks fit together.)


This is one of those things I ran across a while back that really helped my mixing. In Reaper, I create 1 track with Reverb plugin and create a send from any track I want to have reverb. You can control the amount of reverb on each track by adjusting the level of the send and control the overall reverb amount by the volume fader on the reverb track. Like you said, it helps everything fit together and sound like it was recorded together.
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Postby rparker » May 21st, 2012, 7:22 am

I've got more than enough examples of bad fitting tracks to try this out on. :roll:

I was being particularly thick-headed about sends and receives in Reaper. One of those stupid blocks one gets once in a while. It was spelled out as if meant for a child to learn in Pro Tools and I finally got it. It's nice when one tool helps you learn the other.

I did that same thing you're talking about doing if you can get your wife's old laptop fixed. It's quite nifty, aside from a static thing that I need to get to the bottom of before the next trip. I bring the guitar and laptop with me anyhow. One side benefit is that it saves me from having to bring the small amp. 8)
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Postby Laz » May 21st, 2012, 10:10 am

Having just finished 4 songs in the studio, I can share some things I learned from the engineer:

- Record vocals dry, and then create a reverb track. Balance the lead vocal and harmony levels, and then use a common reverb on them combined, unless you're looking for a specific chorus effect.

- If you're using pedal effects, then record one track DI before the amp, another DI track "wet" after the pedals, and a third track for the mic'd amp. This gives you the most options during mix down.

- If you are using the Gain, Reverb, and output distortion from your amp for the tone, then you'll just use the mic'd track.

- Record the bass using a DI. Our engineer then played that track back through a real bass amp to give it a better "thump", and recorded it with a mic. These were then mixed together to balance tone and depth.

I asked for the raw tracks so I could mess around on my own. I use Audacity, and I'm having a lot of fun with it.
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Postby EzraplaysEzra » May 21st, 2012, 10:36 am

Regarding re-amping the bass, I used the epiphone valve jr. to re-amp every bass track I have recorded recently, I love the sound of it. Reminds me of my old B 15 fliptop.
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Postby rparker » May 22nd, 2012, 4:34 am

One of the suggestions I've read lately was to add some distortion to the bass track for some added personality. The first clear example I ever heard that clued me in was watching TR and his son, TF on one of their videos. TF laid down a Who riff right after or before the video ended. It was one of those, "so that's what it's supposed to sound like" moments.

Laz, was that bass amp a big one or a smaller, studio friendly size? Mine is a 6.5 inch Hartke. I do have an 18" Behringer Keyboard/PA combo amp. It can thump. I think I'll give that a go as well. 8)
Roy

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Postby Laz » May 22nd, 2012, 2:22 pm

rparker wrote:Laz, was that bass amp a big one or a smaller, studio friendly size? Mine is a 6.5 inch Hartke. I do have an 18" Behringer Keyboard/PA combo amp. It can thump. I think I'll give that a go as well. 8)


It was an old all-tube Fender, 2x10 or 2x12 on a diagonal. EQ was quite dark.
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Postby rparker » May 22nd, 2012, 3:31 pm

Laz wrote:It was an old all-tube Fender, 2x10 or 2x12 on a diagonal. EQ was quite dark.

Ahhhh. That's certainly a different ball game than my bass setup. :)

I bet it sounds great!
Roy

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Postby Laz » May 22nd, 2012, 6:34 pm

rparker wrote:
Laz wrote:It was an old all-tube Fender, 2x10 or 2x12 on a diagonal. EQ was quite dark.

Ahhhh. That's certainly a different ball game than my bass setup. :)

I bet it sounds great!


Not by itself, but mixed with the DI track really works nicely.
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Postby TRGuitar » May 30th, 2012, 7:55 am

This is something I miss about using my old Fostex 4 track paper weight ... errr umm I mean studio. Still got it. Actually it has a huge mixing board with sweepable mids and everything. I should try to incorporate it in my digital setup. Anyhow ...... you recorded everything dry and every chanel had 2 effects send and returns. You added them on mixdown and could twiddle the knobs as you listened. You could record through multiple tracks at once then mix them together so you could combine direct and mic'd signals and adjust their relative level on mixdown. I'd use 2 or 3 tracks to record a guitar and bounce it on to one. For guitar I would often use one close and one distant room mic. Then the computer became what it is and my $900 machine is a paper weight. :x :oops:
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