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Steve - you've made me weird!

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Warlock, Apr 23, 2004.


  1. Hi Steve - I thought that would be glad to know that yesterday my wife presented me with a RC-20 - I'm now looping. After my first attempts at looping and overdubbing she said 'That's plain weird!' :D

    Great fun though - any tips for a new looper? Anyone, please? :confused:
     
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    welcome to the wonderful world of weird.

    The biggest difference that happens when you're looping is 'thinking in layers' - trying to hear what's coming next, so you don't fill up all the space with the first things you put down. It's one of the best lessons in how to EQ for space you could ever have, but get used to it getting very muddy very quickly at first... ;)

    the main trick is keep it simple - think 'composition' to start with rather than 'chops' and you'll do OK... avoid the temptation to over-egg the pudding.

    have fun!

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  3. Thanks for this advice Steve. I've noticed that already it's forcing me to think about how and where I play on the scale to get the best layering - if that makes sense?
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Sounds like you're getting the hang on it! The two main things you'll notice (probably) are that your sense of harmony gets much more acute - I think that's what you meant about 'where on the scale' - certain notes sound better together when layering, and if you want the full-on Brian May twin guitar sound, you need to accurately map out the same line up a third in the key that you're in...

    The second one is texture - too much bass, it all sounds muddy, but if you roll too much bass out of any one sound, then that layer will just sound tinny... it's a balancing act, to be sure...

    One day you too might able to sound like you might as well be playing to a CD... ;)

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  5. Touche Steve :0) I've already had the comment from my good friend and neighbour that I'm all smoke and mirrors- God does my playing sound fast now! I must admit that I have always struggled with great ideas - found them difficult at first and then been totally won over - I'm getting there now.

    On the technical side, getting the right key for the layering is definately the test. I am able to set the delay just right on the GX-700 to ge tthe two basss sound and then I'm adding twiddly bits over the top. It's good fun and thanks for the inspiration and I know this is going to cost me!

    TTFN,
     
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    At first! :rolleyes:
    i still have that trouble... I find the box (also have RC-20) actually comresses the sound and it comes out 'thicker' than it went in. I roll off the bass and boost treble fully to compensate.
    Dave, do you find the same thing? Just wondering if it's my levels, inputs, outputs, etc, etc - or if it's the box itself?
     
  7. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    if it's sounding like audio compression, then probably worth backing off the input signal into the box.

    If it's digital compression, that's just the sample rate of the unit, and not a lot can be done about that...

    what are you running out of it into? you might find that removing some of the midrange works better than cranking the treble for getting pleasing sounds... :)

    keep at it Howard!

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    digital vs audio... honestly, i couldnt tell you! :rolleyes:

    i'd guessed it's the sample rate as it's noticable all the time. but then i've not exactly worked on optimising my set up - and i'm running my zoom bfx pedal into it.. which is hardly 'hi-fi'!

    i should have a play about with it again soon.
     
  9. Howard/Steve,

    All is fine with this box - in fact it sounds better coming out of the RC-20 than I think it did when it went in 'is that really me?' sound. I have the Boss Gx-700 going in to it and I have cracnked back the levels.
     
  10. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    it's great that you're pleasantly surprised what comes out of the looper - you must be the eternal pessimist... :)

    Not overloading the inputs is pretty crucial when looping, especially as the layering can often get pretty thick, so any compression is just going to lose you clarity...

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  11. Justyn

    Justyn Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    I'm always amazed at what comes out of my looper. It's not that I don't think there are good ideas going in, it's just that sometimes what goes in is such a simple phrase and if you mess about with it right (read: over time you develop a complex understanding of harmony and layering) what it develops into can be so, well...cool.

    Sometimes it makes me giggle.

    J.
     
  12. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I spend a fair amount of my time on stage laughing at what's going on - partly cos there's something inherently insane about doing a solo bass gig, and partly cos, as you say, the noises that come out do make me laugh...

    It's one of the things I love about looping - there's an alchemical reaction that takes place that brings out music that's great that the sum of its loops - you put two layers together, particularly ones that are unsync'd in separate units, and something wonderful can happen... That's why my CDs are all recorded live - I wouldn't trust myself to be able to recreate those moments in a planned way, you have to facilitate them, then get out of the way...

    You've gotta love that! :)

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  13. I'm in the same position in many ways.

    After getting my new DL4, I wrote about 9 differents songs - or rather, the first half of them. I just can't seem to find a way to put in codas, at all. I've got one written fully that sounds nice, but it just seems that with a lot of my ideas there's a strong build-up at first and it sounds nice (so I feel, and so I'm told :)), then I have a sorta twiddly over-layer (or not in the "techno" or "samba" tunes), and then... then... it just doesn't work any more. I just can't end songs. I admit it, I have a problem!

    Anyone got any tips? It's just the way you almost have to go from polyphonic straight to monophonic that it just kinda takes away the power of the song. Sometimes it doesn't, but it seems that most of the time it just sounds a bit too similar/familiar.

    Just something to work on I suppose!

    Anyway, Steve, cheque's written - is the Manring CD still in stock?

    Thanks,

    Mark.
     
  14. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    That's the tricky bit, Mark - turning a cool hook into a song... and endings is just about the hardest part of that.

    If you listen to my first album, they all end on fade outs - I hadn't really thought of anything else to do, so just used to fade them all... Fades can still be a cool way to end a tune, nothing wrong with that...

    Other options - if you're loop is only one layer, say a chord progression, then you can just stop the loop, play the part so that people can't tell it's stopped except by looking at your mittens, and then play something else as a tag on the end.

    With the DL4, you've got the option of bringing an expression pedal into play. One very cool way of blending sections of loop tunes with the DL4 is to set your expression pedal so that all the way up you have the loop volume up, and the delay quiet and with only a few repeats. Then, set the pedal all the way down to be loop off, but delay much longer and louder. That way you can slowly fade the loop whilst building up a big layer of floaty Floyd-esque delay loveliness over the top.

    For more on what's possible with the DL4, check out 'Conversations', my album with Jez Carr, which was all improvised 'live' in the studio, and the DL4 was the only effect I used. Also very highly recommended for DL4 action is Theo Travis' album 'Slow Life' - all solo live tracks with just an Alto Flute and a DL4. The DL4 is also the only pedal Theo uses on 'For The Love Of Open Spaces' (which you should have already... :) ) Theo is the DL4 master. He manages to get a heck of a lot of mileage out of it.

    there are all kinds of mangled endings you can do with the backwards and halfspeed/doublespeed functions..

    experiment, nothing is off-limits, and see waht you can come up with!

    you can get Slow Life from www.theotravis.com

    and Conversations and For The Love of Open SPaces are obviously available from my e-shop... www.stevelawson.net/store/
    cheers

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net