Under the Black Light

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by Luke Warm Water, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Hi Anthony, and any studio rats that might be able to offer their experience to a relative newbie in session work,

    This is a question about recording, actually two questions...maybe two and half.

    (Bear with me for a couple paragraphs.)

    I've always been a live player and have done studio work only occasionally. Recently I've been recording more and am starting to lay tracks at home to send out. (A work in progress, as I have never been a techy and am still learning the basics of the recording process.) As I've been recording at home, or even in some studios, I am using an active bass and going directly through a passive DI and into the interface. In doing this I get a very 'naked' un-eq'd sound in the headphones while recording - raw, thin, and revealing every ounce of imperfection and fret buzz...like shining a black light on, what you thought, was your clean kitchen. (Would be so much nicer to hear a fat warm tone that I'm used to.)

    When my bass just doesn't sound good to me, I struggle to play with any feel because I'm overcompensating and playing 'damage control style'...even when they assure me it will sound good in the end.

    First question - How do you mentally deal with this in order to relax and play with the same swag and feel you would live? Or what can you do to get around this?

    Second topic - Because I can hear/see every little inconsistency in my playing with attack, timing, tone, etc on the wave file played back - things that generally aren't an issue when recording live with an inspiring sound - it makes me wonder what a standard wave file would look like from a seasoned studio player BEFORE it is eq'd, engineered and all polished up.

    For example, if I record 8 punches, I'll immediately notice as I'm playing that 3 of them were just a touch soft, 2 were perfect, 1 was slightly rushed, and the other 2 were slightly longer and a bit soggy. After lots of metronome work, you just hear these things no matter how small they are. So the punches may all sound the same and seem great to the engineer, but any experienced bassist on this forum I'm sure could relate to pain of hearing their imperfect subtitles played back to them. "PLEASE don't post this! Give me another chance! ONE MORE TAKE, I BEG YOU!"

    Second question - On a professional level in the studio, how close to perfect should a naked wave file be? Or better put, where is the line drawn between a satisfactory take that just needs the standard engineer work, and a sloppy take that is below professional standard?

    (Not an definitive answer I realize, but I'm just trying to get an idea of what professional session playing is like 'without its make up on'. Other musicians keep telling me I'm being too hard on myself and ultimately shooting myself in the foot, and I keep telling them that I just need to practice more if I would dare dive further into this world in recording. Not sure who's right.)

    Thanks for bearing with...and please, the more thoughts and shared experience from all of you the better.

    Appreciate the time everyone! :)
  2. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    Hey LWW,

    For me, I just try to as prepared as I can be. When I'm prepared I'm relaxed. I try not to let how I'm 'hearing' myself affect my performance. And I 'know' what things can affect my performance. For me it's not tone, single/dual coil, active passive, etc,...

    For me it's volume. I'm not a fan of loud music. And I don't like hearing myself loud when I play. If makes me okay tentatively.

    And I'm really uncomfortable playing at the top of my ability. And that's one if the reasons I practice in a 'deliberate' way. I want what I do on stage or in the studio to be easy compared to what and how I practice.

    I try not to manipulate the file too much if I'm gonna' be working with a great engineer. I'd rather leave that to someone who REALLY knows what they're doing. But for my own stuff, I'll get the editing done but I don't process any of my tracks to 'tape'. I'll do all if the processing in the mixing stage.

  3. Luke Warm Water

    Luke Warm Water Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    San Diego
    Thanks Anthony. Appreciate it.
    Definitely with you on the volume thing.