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recent live cuts, feedback sought

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by c-ba55, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Here are some live clips from the last month. All are piano trio, straight jazz (60s style basically) recorded, mixed, and mastered by me with two rode NT5s as a stereo room mic, and a direct out from the bass amp.

    Problems I have with my playing are
    1) mushy sound. I'm playing a non-descript bass without an ebony fingerboard, and have a hard time getting it to speak.
    2) time is not as solid as it could be, particularly in bass solos.
    3) I hardly ever go up the neck (afraid of playing noticeably out of tune)

    How High The Moon
    Giant Steps
    All of Me

    Specific comments appreciated, good and bad.

    Any tips toward making the recordings better, I'd also like to hear. Putting the mics a little further back from the band is not an option, as some pool player would knock them over.
  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I think the bass sounds great in the mix, but when you take solos, it really starts to sound very piezo-ish. That may be because you boosted those parts on mixdown?

    I was just listening to some Oscar Peterson Trio and Ray Brown's bass sounds consistent all the time. In the mix, on a solo, or with just the drums. I don't know why...maybe it is just all in the fingers. ;)

    That is about all I have to add... :rolleyes:
  3. Your bass sounds very electronic to me, but the drum sound is really nice, and the piano is okay but a bit far back in the mix.

    You say you DI'd the bass and that is the problem. You've got way too much bottom end in the bass sound. I played it on a system with a subwoofer and there was a lot of air being moved by it. Either your pickup needs adjusted to favour the higher strings more, or you need to dial out some bass and dial in some more definition in the mid frequencies with your amp's tone controls. Or...

    You used three channels and you're a trio. Why not give each instrument its own mic? Leave one mic where you had it for the drums, put the other nearer the piano and either work on the DI sound or find a third mic for your bass. A good starting place is about a foot away and pointing at the F hole on the G string side.

    I don't notice any timing issues with your playing. As an ensemble you swing along nicely. The drummer's a real asset, I think: clean crisp playing with good snare work. I agree that your solos could use the fingerboard more, but hey - have you heard any of mine recently? :meh:
  4. Thanks for the comments!

    The recording setup physically, is like this
    bass drums

    Each week of course, the mics are pointed slightly differently, and capture a little different mix. I guess I should point out the first 3 are from the first good week, all of me is from the next week, and Jinrikisha is from the week after that (and with a different drummer from the first 4)

    The piano player also wants more piano in the recording. The piano is between the drums and the mics already, so I'm not sure what to do. Where, physically on a grand piano, is the best place to record?

    I have the bass DI mixed down at least 15 dB, and the low-end rolled off. I'm just using it to try to add some definition to the bass. On some of the recordings, I screwed up and didn't capture the DI, in which case it's just room-sound.

    I agree the bass sounds electric, and that there is too much low-end on the recordings. I may try turning my amp down and playing harder. If I dig in more, I'm forced to use good technique, and I get a little better sound. The amp itself is an Acoustic Image Contra, and seems to be reproducing the bass sound pretty accurately. The problem is we play some pretty fast tunes, and I can't play both hard and fast for 2 hours. I guess I could still use the amp to cheat on the faster ones while trying to be more acoustic on the medium & slow ones.

    As far as messing with the pickup, it's a K&K Bass Max, installed on the high side, and it's in there pretty tight. What could I do? Audience members have also reported not hearing the higher notes as well. That might just be technique, if I'm being too shy, in fear of harshness.

    I also should be financially in position to buy a non-sucky bass in the next few months.

    I guess I picked out songs where we don't get into timing issues. On the songs I didn't release, it rears its head once in a while. It's getting better as the weeks go by.
  5. Well the drums are sounding nice so I would leave one mic where you had it, or maybe at the same distance from the kit but further away from the piano.

    How to mic a grand piano - well there are as many answers to that as the number of chords you can play on one....

    You can put a mic on a foam pad inside the piano. Put it half way along the metalwork of the "harp" pointing across the strings towards the hammers. Drop the lid onto the really short stick, or if the rest of the band can't then hear the piano, the short one. This gives you a very close, present sound and no spill from other instruments. You'll be using a lot less gain on that mic, obviously.

    Or you can get more of the "piano in the room" sound: open the lid right up and put a mic about 5 feet high and 6 feet away in the "crook" of the piano - where a classical singer might stand. Move it towards the tail for more bass or towards the keys for more treble. This will give you a more classical sound which should suit a trio recording. Try to angle the rear of the mic so that you don't pick up too much drums on it - Point the rear AT the drums if it's a cardioid mic or AWAY from them if it's a hypercardioid.

    And finally, consider playing with less bass amp volume, yes - you'll get more definition in your sound with more attack, and work with your tone controls to get a good recorded sound. Or you might consider miking the amp's speaker, which can get over that "woofiness" you've currently got, but best of all, mic the bass.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
  6. buffalobillh


    Jul 20, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Samuel Shen Basses, NS Design, D'Addario Strings
    Sounds like you have a little too much bass. If you ran direct, take it up with the sound man. He should start out running you flat and work it from there. If your stage sound is what you want, get him to listen to it and try to reproduce it in the PA. Or you could mike your amp and have him run it flat. Most sound men don't understand mixing UB. Horns either. If you were playing country/western swing, I'd leave it alone. That's a long way from the jazz sound, however. Educate him in a nice way.

    As far as the mix, the drums are a little strong, IMO. Need a little more bass and more piano. Mic placement can fix that, or a better mix at the board from the soundman. Check levels before the job. Go out on the floor and listen prior to starting.

    Your solos aren't anything to apologize for. You don't need the whole fingerboard to create music. You're trying to communicate a musical message. If you need the entire FB, fine. If you can create music with a three note solo, it's still music. Express yourself as your soul directs you and as your ability allows. You can express a powerful musical message without being a freak all over the fingerboard. If you want to improve your technique to play better solos, that's your perogative. Don't forget that the goal is to make music with all that ability. Unless you specifically want to put on a show, of course. Entertainment and music can go hand in hand. Just don't apologize. Keep going. Keep improving. Keep making music.

  7. I've played a few gigs since I last posted here, but didn't record them. I tried playing harder, and it made an appreciable improvement in my sound. Tore up my fingers a bit, but a little tape takes care of that. Hopefully, I'll record again fairly soon.
  8. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Yeah, I really think, as others have said, that you have to be happy with your acoustic sound first. I use liquid bandage when I get a blister.

    The trick with the more uptempo tunes is to lighten your touch a little while sacrificing as litte volume as possible. You want to try to avoid turning up the amp. The hard thing is that lotsa players (especially drummers) get louder as they play faster. If this is the case I usually just keep doing what I'm doing and let others notice the volume problem.

    Your sound samples sound cool. Lotsa good stuff there. It might be the mix but I think your drummer could lighten up on the 4 on the floor thing. I play with a guy who does it and it works but it is so quiet it is almost subliminal.

    As far as solos. You have some nice ideas. You needn't worry about playing high. Leroy Vingear is one of the greats and keeps it down and dirty most of the time. Couple things to try. Think in term of phrases. Also think of the spaces between them. Start with short phrases and longer pauses. As the solo develops make the pauses shorter and the phrases longer. Also, try to vary the count that you start each phrase on. Sounds great.