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Working on a demo...need help...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by invader3k, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Our band (Total Posers) is trying to put together a demo tape to give to bars/venues to try and get some gigs in our area. We aren't looking to do anything super fancy, just something decent enough to give out to people so they can hear what we sound like. We are planning on probably putting 5-10 cover songs we do on the cassette. I may edit the tape down to only having 1 or 2 minutes of each song segueing to the next, if you all think this is a good idea.

    We started this past Sunday, and things are going ok. We are doing the recording in our guitarist's basement (our usual practice space). We are using a Yamaha four track cassette recorder. I have a few questions.

    1) My bass sounds a little bit distorted on the recording. We decided to go with a direct insertion method, running an instrument cable from the pre-amp out to one of the inputs on the Yamaha 4 track. Sounds fine coming out of my amp, but ends up sounding weird on the cassette. Do I just need to play with the EQ on the 4 track some more?

    2) What type of cassette should I use, and what speed? Should I use a type II cassette? High speed recording? I can't remember from my audio class days in college anymore ;)

    3) What kind of quality should I be looking for? I know this is never going to be audiophile quality, but what do bar owners, etc, look for when they listen to a demo tape? Is it OK for the sound to be a little "rough", or will this result in our tape getting tossed in the trash can?

    4) Panning... At first the recording we did sounded really muddy, but then I figured out that all the tracks were not panned...just set dead middle. I panned the guitar far left and the bass far right, leaving the drums and vocals in the middle, figuring that is as close as possible to our live set-up. Any thoughts on this?

    5) Dunno if anyone can help with this problem...our guitarist uses a decent amount of effect pedals. When he plays clean on the recordings, the volume is fine, but when he uses any of his pedals, the volume all but disappears on the recording. This was when we were doing it Direct insertion from his amp, but when we miked his amp, it was fine, of course. Any reason the DI method didn't work?

    Any and all tips would be appreciated. Surprisingly the acoustics of the room haven't _seemed_ to have been a huge problem thus far, even though we are playing in small area with cement walls. We might try to isolate the amps from the drums a little though, if this is recommended?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. 1)Distortion often comes from overpowering the inputs on a recorder. You may need to lower the input level on your recorder. You don't need to record at maximum volume. You'll be able to mix everything later. Does your four track have clip lights or level indicators? Distortion usuall

    2)You can usually find tape suggestions in the manual for your 4 track (find it online if you don't have yours.)

    3)I've heard some very good recordings done on a four track, but that takes a lot of skill and preparation. the BBS at homerecording.com would be a good place to look for tips. I've never recorded a demo for distribution, so I can't say for sure, but I'd bet that a well done cassette demo would go over fine. Hopefully other members will chime in.

    4)That's not the typical way panning is done, but if it sounds cool then who knows. Be wary of solutions that involve 'fixing it in the mix' however. It would probably be better to experiment with eq settings and then re-record. Mixing and panning should be used to make things perfect, not to get them just good enough.
    (on the other hand, panning bass and guitar opposite WOULD give it a certain small stage effect, like when there's no pa.)

    5)If it sounds good through the amp, just put a mic in front of the amp. That's generally the preferred way to do it.

    Hope some of that helps. I'm sure others will have more to contribute.

    P.S. I know you didn't ask, but if you're recording vocals, consider using a compressor. Normally you can do that in post production, but maybe not in this case. Those things are just magical.
  3. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    1. What ^ said. Watch the meter on the bass channel. On my Tascam 4 track I could run it to PEAK at +6 before it would distort, but you'll probably only want to run it about +3. Running this high gives you a little bit of tape compression and makes a nice LOW noise level. And make sure +3 is the loud spots. You don't want it too quiet otherwise you'll only be turning up the noise when you raise the bass track. And PLAY EVENLY.

    2. I always used Type II tapes and if you want it to sound really good run it at high speed. And I always used 90 min tapes. Nothing longer.

    3. Make it as clean a precise as possible. Most of the time bar owners are looking for how tight a band is, but that may get over looked if the recording is really bad. If you can make it sound really good AND be really tight then that's a sign that you're a serious band.

    4. Panning- Whenever I pan stuff it's usually for separation. I would just make sure everything has it's own space without throwing it too far in one direction. Drums @ 1 o'clock, vocals @ 11-11:30, guitar @, 2 and bass at 10 ish. That way the track won't interfere with each other, but you have a little bit of stereo spread.

    5. The DI didn't work because the pedals are only meant to "effect" the sound, not to boost it. The amp boosts it. And guitar effects are meant to handle the large amount of signal from the amp in a loop setting too. If they boosted the signal, you'd have amps blowing once in a while. MIC IT. The sound is WAY better anyways. It's rock and roll. It's all about the FROTH of a good amp sound. Plus, it's considerably closer to how you guys sound live. which is sort of the point of getting the gig right?

    AND, I would take your three BEST songs and do them up really well on the tape. Bar owners don't have time to sit for 20 minutes and listen to a band that may or may not work out. Put your best song first, usually a snappy little number, then maybe a mid tempo, followed by a ballad(if you guys are so inclined). Just make it QUICK, CONCISE, and ACCURATE. get ALL of your contact info ON IT. Then include a good looking card and/or photo attached to it with all of your info again. Assume that these guys will lose some of your stuff, but also assume that they'll want to call you, so make sure they can't lose ALL of your info.

    Good luck.