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My Recording Studio Diary

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by The Golden Boy, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. In this day and age a recording studio isn't as needed as it was in the past. With all the fancy-pants software and stuff you could do a better quality demo at home than you could do in a lot of studios.

    The singer/guitarist in our band works at a recording studio/theatre in town- so we got an 'in' as far as a decent rate and such. Now we've got 11 or 12 new songs it's about time to commit them to wax. (or plastic CD type stuff~~)

    Although I've failed miserably in every attempt to write a journal this far in my life- I figured I could attempt to toss some stuff out in case one of my fiascos could prevent someone else from having the same problem... We're two days into this already...

    Sunday was supposed to be setup, but another band ran over so we didn't. The way we record is we try to get the drums and bass on the initial bed track, the drums we get perfect, the bass we can punch any fixes... Guitar and vocals do a scratch track. There's going to be one song with a keyboard intro, but for the most part it's all about drums then the bass. So it's important to get the drums miked well and get all the extraneous rings and rattles out of the drums. I've already spent a load of prep time trying to get the best sound from my rig. The big problem with Sunday was an intonation problem with my bass- see that in the setup section under "Unnatural Intonation Problem." Argh!-

    Monday I take off of work at 11, get my rig picked up and get everything hauled up the stairs and while they set up the drums I get my rig in place. The cabinet is going in one room and the head is going in another. I hadn't remembered this from last time- here's the problem. I had adjusted all the EQs for it to be bridged- now I'm just running one channel of the SM-900...

    I'll continue this later- but I'll leave you with this thought Jim Beam and recording don't mix well... :scowl:
  2. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    This is a cool idea for a thread, I like.
  3. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    so...you are recording the bassa and drums at the same time?

    how does the engineer deal with leakage into the mic for your amp?
  4. I just got back from day 3:

    If anyone's got any suggestions or tips they've come across, it can only make people's recording experience and this thread better!
    The cab is in an entirely different room on the other side of the building from the drum room.

    OK, I left off at my EQ prep not taking into account the head and the cabinet being in a different room and to run the amp bridged you need a Speakon cable. The studio has a HUGE long speaker cable with 1/4" ends- but that only allows me to run one channel of the amp. The SWR SM-900 sounds much bigger and badder in bridged mode- ideally I'd like to record that. Long story short, my SM-900 sucks because it overheats if it doesn't have an auxilliary fan cooling it, so running it in the same room with the cab (with the 3' Speakon cable) is kinda ruled out.

    After attempting to work out the intonation and EQ issues with my rig and the drums are set up and miked up we start running through tunes. Again, we really want the drums to be as 'perfect' as we can get them. There are a lot of fixes available through ProTools, and that's the only good way to 'fix' drum stuff. Punches can be really difficult and in the amount of time you take getting the punches right you might as well have run another full take. (or 4...)

    Most of day 1 was setup, with running a few takes of a few songs. Day 2 more of the same. I don't know if anyone else does this, but every single time I go into the studio to do more than 2 songs, the first two songs- after every take you want to go out and listen to it. It never fails. Even if you KNOW you or the rest of the band played crappy, you still want to listen to it. If you're on a budget- you may wish to discipline yourself not to do that. After the first two songs you kind of calm down and know to start over or run another take.

    Another big budget consideration is what you're recording onto. The first time I had a professional recording (incidentally I found out the engineer on that project is Forum member Joe P!) it was done onto a 4 track cassette tape. The next few times were on 2" reels, and then to ADAT and now it's done to ProTools. Using cassettes we used the best ones available- maybe $5 a pop. The ADAT tapes were like $8 a pop, but I think I remember the 2" reels being $80 for the reels. And they're not that long. For the first "album" I did I think we used 2 full reels of 2" tape. Ouch. I did some work at Smart Studios (loads of "big" records were done there- Nirvana's Bleach, Smashing Pumpins' Gish, all the Everclear stuff, all the Garbage stuff- a LOT of big name stuff) and they were combining ProTools and 2" reels (and the same board used to record "Hotel California :) ). A lot of depth and warmth to that recording...

    This post is getting long so I'll wrap up with Day 3. We finished the drum tracks and start combing over the bass tracks. First, I HATE my tone. After listening to it through the monitors and my headphones, I loathe the tone I've dialed in. That means I get to redo EVERYTHING I've done the past 3 days. Yay. We spent around half an hour with the engineer tweaking the EQ and repositioning the mic. By this point it's around 7 or so. By the time we've re-recorded the first song, punched, re-punched and ProTooled the thing to death, it's 9. Two hours, one instrument, one track. Man. It's work- and it had better be worth it!!!

    Comments? Suggestions?
  5. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Hey GoldenBoy, hows it been going?
    Where you recording at? I am recording with aShadeBelow this upcoming weekend at Axis in West Allis.
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    This is great! I'll be in the studio starting next week -- not a pro job, just a demo for myself and one for my band, as well as various other collaborations that crop up during the program -- so this is very helpful.
  7. Hey vegaas!

    We're at Walls Have Ears with Bill Stace engineering. It's on the East Side (Oakland & Locust) above the Miramar Theatre. Where's Axis?

    I did forget to mention while we were sussing out the bass sound, we decided to go with the cabinet sound entirely and just disconect the DI sound- because the cab sound was just that much better.

    So on day 3 I managed to actually finish one track. Day 4 started out a bit odd. The studio is above a theatre, movies and plays and such are often there. There is a show tonight with an Australian band, and they were rehearsing in the theatre. Problem is that the room where my bass rig is shares a wall with the theatre, AND is directly behind a PA speaker. Here is an issue with sound bleeding. We move the cab to a hallway- put the mic 5-6 feet away and knock out a track. At this point in the whole recording process you realize what a huge difference ProTools makes. I hate using a click track and so does our drummer- so things are always a bit 'off.' You can look at it as the track 'breathing.' ProTools allows you to move sections, move the beat, move this, move that. Where punching a fix for drums would be insanely difficult, ProTools fixes are nearly completely transparent. Our engineer is fixing drum and bass stuff as I lay down tracks. After we finish the first track a bunch of interruptions keep entering the studio. The contracted sound guy (RockerPat) decided to stop by and evaluate the electricity for the show for this evening. That took some time. A band that had equipment stored in a room in the studio (right off the hallway I was using) needed to pick up their stuff. That took some time. A guy that was going to rent out a storefront next to the theatre was moving in- that took time- some other theatre production guy needed something- that took time. After all that we had to re-tweak the mic on the cab- after going through a take he thought maybe it would sound better a bit 'dirtier.' I had been using my Jazz for the past 3 days, and he had casually mentioned that he liked the sound of Thunderbirds earlier in the week so I brought mine. So for the first time in around 8 years or so I recorded tracks with my Thunderbird- old strings and all. To my surprise it actually sounded pretty cool, a little "fartier" than I like but cool. Everything told last night I got through 1 song with the Jazz and two with the T-Bird, which brings my total to 4, out of 11 or 12. I guess I'm taking tonight off, so hopefully I'll be able to hit this either this weekend or sometime early next week. Man- this is just blazing by... :eyebrow:

    Anyone have any questions or anything?
  8. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    I recorded at Walls Have Ears with my old band Crawlspace. I thought it was a decent studio. Although your stories sound like some of the things we went through. There were people coming and going the whole time we were there. :scowl:

    Axis is in West Allis. Its like 62nd and Greenfield, right above the Paradise Theatre.
    My day of recording had a disappointig turn of events. My Eden WT 600 gave out on me while recording today! :mad: I will have to bring it in to Uncle Bob's Monday and see what the damage is. I ended up using their Peavey Musicaman head through my Eden cab. It sounded ok. The bassline and drums are done in our marathonish 10 hour session today.

    Hope all goes well with your recording. Let me know when its done so I can get a cd.
  9. Who runs Axis? I saw John Blick walking out of there one time. Speaking of John Blick and blown amps, you may wish to call either John or Timmy at It Sucks When It Blows since those are the two places that Bob's farms the stuff out to anyway. Besides that, it's fun calling information and asking for "It Sucks When It Blows" in Greenfield.
  10. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    I forgot his full name, all I know is his first name is Vinny. He is thinking of relocating into an old funeral home. Now that should create an interesting atmosphere to record in.

    I will get the number for It Sucks When It Blows. Great name.
  11. It Sucks When It Blows is the old Rock and Roll Hospital. 112th and Greenfield.

    What are you doing for recording without your head?

    By the way, I'm going back to the studio on Wednesday afternoon.
  12. OK, I've been really lazy about this, and I was in the studio last Wednesday. I know I got 3 tracks done in around 4 hours, that's about it.

    I went in today around 3 and left around 7:30. Today was one of those days that the groove just wasn't there. I worked for most the time on one song. It just wasn't happening. Bill, the engineer, said the drums were off, but it just seemed like it was me.

    I decided to switch to a different song, and Bill suggested that I switch basses. I had been using my Jazz all day and switched to the Thunderbird. It was really cookin' and I really prefer the sound of the Jazz, but the T-Bird really hit the spot. I got most of the song (maybe all) done, depending on how stuff comes out after the Pro Tools working.

    I'm scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 3 again. It should be good.
  13. Hey Dave, what's up? Keep us posted on how things are going.
  14. Hey Richard!

    Sorry folks, I've really not kept up with this. Again, another dismal failure of a journal attempt.

    I "finished" bass tracks last night.

    Seeing as how it's been about a week since I was last in, and there were a few different projects in the mean time, everything needed to get set back up again. After looking at the list, it seems I saved the songs I didn't really like for last.

    There's a song called "Stay Awake" and man, that's an appropriate title... There's those songs you play that really don't have a lot going on, so you try to come up with something to keep it interesting- that's this song. There's a chorus/bridge type thing that goes D-B-C-G, and I had this run that was kind of busy to play, and while it was melodic, it still didn't sound good in the setting of the song. So the engineer suggested I dumb down the part. He's recommended me doing that with several songs, and for the most part I've agreed with him. I decided to approach it like the bass runs in the "ahhhhhh" sections of the Beatles' "A Day In The Life." It turned out much better than what I originally had.

    There's another song that's not bad, but there's a part that reminds me of a relatively recent top 40 hit. That song just wasn't happenin' and the engineer suggested that I try his fretless Ibanez. I tuned it up, gave it a shot, and about 4 tries later I had a take. I haven't played fretless electric bass in years, so I was pretty surprised when it came out so well with only 2 spots where I needed to punch in. We also recorded 2 covers to throw in as bonus tracks or whatever.

    All in all, it was long- and you always get to realize just how much you suck, but I really hope it comes out to be a kickazz rock-n-roll record.
  15. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Freebie, just to get subscribed to this thread. Resume talking amongst yourselves.
  16. BTW- as this came up in another thread...

    Last week our guitar player had finished most of his tracks and kept telling me how awesome the bass tracks turned out. I haven't heard anything other than when I was recording and I don't know if I want to hear anything until it's mixing time.

    Every time I do this I try to get out of mixing. It's so defeating- but it's even more defeating having someone else do your mixing for you...

  17. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Cool thread. I can relate, as I'm in the middle of putting together a coverband demo. The singer for this project has worked in the recording industry for years, so this simple demo is probably going to be technically better than anything else I've ever recorded. I don't mind saying that I'm getting my ass kicked on what I thought would be a really simple recording project.

    Golden boy, I'm using my SM-900 as well, but mixing it along with a direct signal. We determined that with the mic'ed signal representing less than half of the mix, fan noise would be tolerable. Funny that we both faced the same issue with the same amp recently.

    Drums and one guitar were down when I came in. I'd learned the cover songs thoroughly but was caught by surprise on some of the missing cues - a long break with the guitar part missing, where I had to count several bars and hit my cue. No problem, but I flubbed the first take because I didn't expect it. Then there was Cult of Personality, the old Living Color song. The chord changes count differently on every verse, so I'd simply learned the arrangement by vocal cues - but suddenly, no vocals! Quickest solution was to have someone cue me for the changes - how embarassing! Beyond that, I got called out on small matters of feel and asked to change parts I was doing correctly (e.g., play more legato) in order fill more sonic space. Never worked so hard on a dang coverband demo in my life! Made me realize just how demanding studio work *can* be, and made me glad I'm not trying to be anything more than a weekend warrior!

  18. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I was in the studio today and yesterday myself. It went pretty well, we did all the tracks for the 3 we hadn't yet recorded (in addition to the 2 we're already finished recording). We did everything live off the floor -- bass DI'd, guitar mic'd with a Sennheiser 609A, the drums in an isolation booth (acoustic, not soundproofing) and vocals in an iso booth with an AKG C1000S condenser. It all went very well, everyone was grooving pretty hard. And I got a bit of mixing done on a guitar-bass-drums-digeridoo jam I recorded a few weeks ago.
  19. Hey secretdonkey!

    Are you using the DI in your amp or a seperate one? I've heard that most DIs in most amps aren't the most bestest. The DI in my amp was screwed up right from the factory- another in the long list of complaints about my amp... I have used it to record a demo- otherwise I've just used it for live work.

    Another thing I didn't mention is that I used my 2x15 cab to record with. I really like the sound of 15's compared to 10's and the SWR cab sounds really sweet.

  20. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    The DI was a Summit tube DI. I've got a Radial JDI DI box on order for live use, I'd have been curious to compare it to the Summit... :)

    I let our guy make tweaks to my amp to get the sounds he was after. He commented that even if the sound on its own was worse than my baseline tone, it filled in gaps missing in the DI sound.