Recording - I'm not worthy

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MKS, Nov 4, 2002.

  1. Was in the studio recording a demo with a friend yesterday and boy do I stink at bass... There's nothing like listening back to yourself to hear ALL the warts: ugly timing problems, not quite hitting the right note and getting that SQUACK! fretnoise, just plain playing the wrong notes and other general misdemeanours. GUILTY m'lud!

    We did practice things thoroughly before going in to the studio, but the practice was aimed at getting a good enough performance for playing live, not concentrating on recording quality... Hence I was only about 80% correct in the studio.

    The solution? Practice, practice, practice. Probably... Any tips on particularly helpful techniques to brush up on before taking studio time would be gladly appreciated.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Yes indeed, listening to yourself can be painful. Most painful is turning down all of the other instruments in the mix and listening to how "off" you sound in isolation. (Of course, the reason you sound "off" is always because the drummer's screwing around with the time :))

    Humbucking pickups, a medium-high setup and a lighter right hand approach minimize the extraneous noise that can show up in recording. I'd also recommend using strings that have been played for about a week to eliminate excessive brightness, though in some cases that may be the desired tone quality.
  3. I've got a small home recording studio in my room and since I started recording myself I've improved my playing a lot. At first it's quite terrible to listen to yourself but you realise what it is you're doing wrong and can fix it.
    If you have some way to record yourself together with some drums or a metronome I think it's a great way to practice.
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    You get used to it. It's like singing. The first time you hear your singing played back, it's agony. If you do a lot of it, you get used to how your voice sounds, and you learn how to sing to produce the result you're looking for on the recording. Get a tape recorder of some sort and do some home recording as practice.
  5. CS


    Dec 11, 1999

    I with the home recording approach. I have a 4 track cassette recorder which I use a lot.

    The squeaks and squarks can be eliminated by careful monitoring when you are playing. I hate headphones but always record with them if I'm playing and often use them if I'm overdubbing.

    Talking of which my current recording project consists of a drummer and me. I gave him a guide track sans amp and we had a splitter for the two headphones. I then recorded the bass at my leisure. I understand that you might not have a week to record 3 tracks but the more you do...

    In summary I'm saying learn at your pace and all it'll cost you is a couple of hundred quid and some tape, or a car journey to Luton (serious offer).
  6. Thanks for the tips guys. Genuinely helpful... :)

    I guess I should really devote more practice time to recording and listening back to myself. I can easily plug into my PC and record (using Cakewalk Sonar). I have a new regime planned for learning songs for the cover band I've just been invited to play with - set up a Cakewalk project with the original audio file and MIDI transcription. This way covers playing dead straight with the MIDI file or with the original (EQ-ing out the bass part as much as possible).

    Practice, practice, practice...
  7. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    The answer to your problem is not better recording tequniques, or equipment, or experience. It is lack of fundmental technique.

    The fact that you can hear the various aspects of your bass playing is far beyond many.

    Find a teacher who is a professional and go to work.

    Many students simply are not willing to do today the things that will pay later. i.e. develop a good sound and clean technique which will take a couple of years of hard focused practice.

  8. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    The studio is the ultimate humble-o-matic. The first time I went into the studio... good god, probably 8 years ago now, was EXTREMELY humbling.

    Keep at it. Practice like a mofo. It gets better.
  9. Jim, I do take some lessons from time to time with Steve Lawson (very infrequent though :( ). Since I recognise that essentially I'm a lazy beggar, what I think it boils down to is a simple lack of practice and discipline. I'm only trying to hide behind the technical solution. :rolleyes: Woodshedding is the only answer! :) The studio experience is basically just the kick up the bum I need to actually get on with it!

    Oh well...
    Back to the metronome (hi ho, hi ho...) :D

  10. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I hope your recording misfortune was not too expensive a lesson.

    You can analyze the experience like this too.

    Regarding the recordings; even though your timing was off, how did the song(s) come across?

    Was the emotion in the performance(s) right? Did it have the feeling(s) you were hoping to convey?

    Or did the playing/technical errors compound the agony?

    Where the bass lines you were playing appropriate? Analyze Those kinds of things.

    Studio work is sometimes the most difficult because, the feelings being conveyed sometimes record diffrently than they sound and feel un-recorded. (Make sense?)
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    yeah it aint the best if you listen to the bass on it's own!

    ...but the plus point is that no one listens to the bass on it's own, there's usually a load of other 'noise' to cover it up.. guitar and such like ;)

    I've had very little 'real' studio experience, but I have heard a lot of my playing recorded in gigs, rehearsals and on my PC at home.

    I have some recordings of which I am absolutely happy with every note I play during the 1/2 hour gig, including timing!

    ...and I have one demo where I'd only just bought my new bass and was playing real close to the bridge as. Consequently I had the most inappropriate tone in the entire world. Everyone else was kind of OK about it, but I was fuming!

    Regarding the whole accuracy thing I think as long as it grooves and sounds right in the mix, then you're winning. :)
    Listening to your bass recorded on it's own is certainly inspiration to practice, but it's also torturing yourself, needlessly in some cases!