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this stuff is harder than it looks

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Egad. I just spent six hours with headphones on, tracking a reasonably complicated baritone guitar part. It's not like the old days anymore, when the boys would smoke a few joints and lay down whatever they could. These days it's all about efficiency, especially when you're paying 2400 bucks a day (not including the engineer). The equipment isn't even all that great, they have a 56 channel Neve board and six or seven racks full of outboard gear in each room. On the other hand, they have their own kitchen and a pretty good chef. Tonight I was munching on an exquisite tiramisu between takes, and surfing TB while the engineers were doing their thing. Nice work if you can get it. Unfortunately I'm a basket case now, I can't do that stuff for more than a few hours at a time without going completely bonkers. The breaks are essential. I get "zoned in" after a few minutes with the 'phones on, and I have to do something else for a while to refresh my ear. There's a couple of neat things about this studio, one is, all the rooms are made entirely of hardwood, and there's not a corner in the entire place, it's all curves and odd angles. The other thing is, this place is smack dab in the middle of Hollywood, but if you were driving by you couldn't even tell it was there. It looks like an ordinary house. But once you get inside the gate, you can tell something's up. There's all these guys walking around with Neumanns dangling from their shoulders, and once in a while you'll see someone racing between rooms with a Marshall on a cart, that kind of thing. I got four more days (or rather, evenings) of this stuff coming up, and I'm probably going to be a blithering idiot by the time it's over. TB is my one salvation, my lifeline, my one link with the outside world. Somehow it's an anchor to another reality. I don't even know why I'm posting this. It's probably all that rock 'n' roll coming back out of me. Time to catch a few Z's... :)
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    wow, sounds like fun. what's the studio you recorded at?

    you know that a large element of the price was the location, right? when we were in chicago we had access to a 56 channel ssl 4000 + protools rig at engine studios for 2 grand a day, and that included neil kernon as chief engineer.

    still, sounds like a lot of fun. keep posting logs of your studio adventures, they make for great reading :)
  3. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Wow! We recorded our album at Paramount Studios in LA @ $1200/day. BTW, somebody's gotta pay for the Neve! :D
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    That sounds like fun. Recording studios can be the most boring places on earth if you're not careful.

    By the way, by band recorded at Nothing Studios in New Orleans... for free. (it's normally $2500 a day, not counting engineers and programers) It was fun for about the first hour or two, and the next 3 days were boring as hell. Ugh. If only I had known about TB back then...
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    It is boring and seems so unnatural. I always hated being one of the first tracks to get laid down, (bass). Give me a stage anyday!!!! We were so bored, we went into the hallways and sprayed each other with fire extinguishers just to keep from going crazy between all the takes.

    FWIW - The first album I ever did with a band was laid down on the studio gear Chuck Berry donated to Webster College, (Webster Groves, MO)....his Earth Studios gear. It was just 8 track and we got student rate, $400 per hour, because the guitarist was a student there at the time.

    As you might guess, it sounded awful by today's standards. They tried miking my huge-ass amp and I ended up blowing three pairs of Sennheisers before they figured I'd better record straight into the board because the VU's wouldn't stay out of the red.......YUCK!!!!
  6. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Boring is an UNDERSTATEMENT!!! I roamed Hollywood Blvd. when I wasn't recording. The guitarist and I ended up spending like $1700.00 in Amoeba Records! :eek: Great store.
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Isn't there some law at recording studios, whatever can become a hassle will become a hassle? I seem to remember that being true to every single recording session I've done :p

    But hey, sometimes the downtime in between takes or songs is totally awesome.
  8. Easily done. A good part of my earnings has hit their pockets over the years.
  9. Although I've recorded at several studios, I've only worked at one "big" studio, Smart in Madison WI. It's cool looking at all the gold records and such on the walls. When I first got there I had to use the bathroom, and as I'm 'going' the thought that went through my head was "Kurt Cobain pissed here." While I was loading in I was thinking, "Smashing Pumpkins Gish was done in here..." The board was some old fancy pants board that Hotel California and dozens of other huge hit records were recorded on. Later on I went upstairs looking for pizza and ran into Garbage (the band- the drummer owns the studio).
  10. neptoon

    neptoon Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Melbourne, FL
    cool, man...i recorded at pigboat records...and that place is ass :D
  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    You poor baby.... :crying:
  12. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    I've always like tracking first. I've only recorded in a couple "big" studios. I like hearing my lines growing with each track that is added. I've always had crappy gear too, and now I want to go into a really good studio with my good stuff.
  13. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    These are significant reasons why project and personal studios have become so popular in the past 15 years or so.

    I used to do free-lance tech work at a recording studio in the late 70s/early 80s. It was interesting. Sometimes it was heartbreaking to hear a really good song mangled by adding lots of superfluous tracks. I remember one that had something like six guitar tracks, four string synth tracks, a triangle track, a harmonica track, and it just ended up sounding really bloated, although it sounded pretty good with just the basic tracks.

    In my own recording experiences, and those of recording or helping record others, many of the best results come from the band just playing all together live. The result usually ends up sounding more like a band than just a group of musicians playing together.
  14. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yeah, I dig that. Simpler is a lot better, a lot of the time. You can do orchestral stuff, but it takes a good engineer. I really admire the Queen stuff, for example. But almost all of my stuff is clean and simple. Using that 535, boy that thing is amazing. It's coming across almost exactly the way I'm hearing things in my head, which is a rare thing to happen on any kind of consistent basis. Some basses don't always do what I want 'em to do. This one does. Playing it puts a big sh*t-eatin' grin on my face. And listening back to the track is a smiley too. Tomorrow we're doing the fretless stuff, and I'll get a chance to try the new Roscoe. That one's been sounding pretty good too, it had a couple of days of live work recently and it performed like a champ. The fretted one didn't come back in time, that's really the only reason I got the 535, 'cause I originally intended to use the myrtle body Roscoe for this gig. But once in a while fate comes over to one's side, and this seems to be one of those times. I'm feelin' pretty lucky these days. :)
  15. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Wow, found it. Boy, these threads do tend to get buried after a week or so. Well, my bad. Four days in the studio, a day full of demos and endorsements, and three days on the road, all in the way of an explanation for my recent short vacation from TB. :)

    The gig went well. The most important discovery was, I really like that MTD 535. The next most important discovery was, that the MTD strings leave something to be desired. And last but not least, there might be something wrong with my WW MI-100, and I'll probably have to send it back to Walter for maintenance.

    And generally speaking, it never ceases to amaze me how different something can sound "raw", as distinct from "in the mix". The fretless tracks sounded pretty ratty when played back by themselves, but they sounded absolutely perfect in the mix. Our engineer at Conway was superb, very solid and not too clever (exactly the way a good engineer should be).

    He did have one amazing brainstorm though, which was to mike the Kay with a PML EC-73. For those of you who don't know that mic (which is probably most of you, since they stopped making it in the early 70's), it's about as big around as my pinky finger and maybe half as long, and it has a pint size vacuum tube in it. The upright sounds really rich through that mic. It works a lot better than a Fishman or a Neumann condenser, for that particular purpose. He just clipped it under the bridge and it picked up everything beautifully.

    The most interesting track was the first one, the one with the baritone guitar. We tried some pretty intricate slap stuff on that one, and it came out perfectly, with just enough dynamics to add some texture to the mix. Those Alembics are such a pleasure to play in the studio, it's like you can't do anything wrong with one of those. Even a guitar (which for me is like a different universe), the fatter strings make it feel just close enough to a "real" bass so my stomach stays right side up while I'm playing it.

    There aren't really any other wild or amazing stories to tell, this was one of those rare times when everything seemed to go smoothly, and all we had to do was show up and execute. What a treat! Last time we did this, one of our number went flying through a plate glass window. To this day we can't tell if it was deliberate or not, and he's not talking about it (much), so...

    Don't really have any deep new thoughts to share, and didn't really have any epiphanies this time around. Not even any horror stories or near-death experiences. Few words of wisdom to impart to the masses. Well, maybe one. For the new people, just keep reminding yourself that there's a lot more to playing the bass than just following the kick drum with your index finger. Although, in a pinch, that sometimes works out mighty fine. :)