Producing Music 101: Get it Right at the Source

Hey, what’s up guys? I’ve got another video for you this week.

In this one, it’s not so much a plug-in or a mixing thing, more of a production kind of philosophy mindset. Getting it right at the source, really.

So I’ve got a track here and I wanted to kind of break down some acoustic — I did a lot of acoustic doubles, hard left and hard right, and I wanted to kind of solo some stuff and let you listen to how tightly they are played and kind of see how big of an impact that makes on the production and mix itself.

So with that said, this is what the track sounds like.

[mix]

Okay, so we’re still tracking this. Nothing is really mixed. I’m just kind of getting tones and layering stuff. Let me say this — a lot of people send me stuff to listen to, which is cool, continue doing that stuff, I don’t always have time to get to it, but continue sending me stuff, I love checking out what you guys are doing.

One of the biggest things I hear is that stuff just isn’t played well. It’s not in tune, it’s not in time, and particularly, if you’re doubling parts, it’s just not clean. I wanted to take some time to solo stuff in this track so you can actually hear what clean sounds like, right?

So I’ve got a click on. Here’s this rhythm acoustics.

[acoustics]

Right? It’s not muddy, it’s played well, it’s strummed evenly, left and right parts are both even. I mean, there’s some volume differences, which you’re going to get, and really subtle dynamic things, which you’re going to get doubling rhythm acoustics, but for the most part, it’s really clean, the guitar is in tune, all of the chord changes happen on the right beat.

[acoustic guitars]

Right. That’s what it’s supposed to sound like. Now check this out, we’ve got a little acoustic lead part.

[acoustic lead]

Everything sounds great. You know, if that wasn’t clean and I was going to start throwing a delay on it, it’s just going to muddy up the delay, because the parts aren’t even in time, so you have to take time to play things correctly, you have to take time to make sure these things are clean, and it’s a lot of detail work.

Take the time to tune in between takes, every two or so. It goes a long, long, long way to making sure these things are done right. The end result, you know? If you want your choruses to hit hard, grab peoples’ attention, be compelling, slap people in the face, and make them want to hit the next track, these things have to be played right.

No EQ and compression or reverb is really going to make up for that. So it’s kind of what I’m trying to get across. Even this, I’ve got an electric part that kind of doubles this.

[acoustics and electric]

Everything is in time.

[acoustics and electrics]

Sits behind the beat a little bit, but…

[mix]

Such a big part of getting things to feel right is that they’re played right at the source, so take extra time to record stuff, get the tones you want.

If you’re not a player, I highly suggest becoming one. And I’m not saying that you have to devote your life to being the next Jimmy Hendrix or Vivaldi or whatever, but maybe instead of taking $1,500 on the next preamp, maybe you take $300 and throw it at some guitar lessons or some piano lessons or something and learn what it’s like to be a player, learn some musical instincts.

That’s really what this is all about. Learn what in tune feels like, learn what it feels like to play the phrase correctly in time, with the click. It’s going to take your productions to a whole, whole, whole new level more than a new plug-in or a new microphone, or something ever will.

With that being said, I’m an okay guitar player, but I’m not a great guitar player, so for a track like this, I’d hire a guy to come in and he can knock it out quick. He’s got great tone, great technique, great gear, he comes in and he plays this stuff. Don’t use your friends, because they’re your friends. If your friends happen to be really good players, that’s awesome, that’s always a bonus.

But use people that can play, use people that are passionate about what they do. You’re passionate about mixing and production. If someone else is passionate about playing guitar, pull them in on your stuff. If you know great keyboard players, pull them in on your stuff. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. It’s going to add — if they’re great, great, great players, they can do this stuff clean with a click, it’s going to make all, all, all the difference in the world.

A lot of times, they’ve got really good ideas too. Feel things out, put stuff down, see what works, what doesn’t work.

Anyways, that’s really all I have to say. I’m going to play this track out a little bit so you can hear it. It sounds like this.

[mix]

Cool. So that’s it, guys.

Another thing too, I’m kind of running low on ideas for videos a little bit. Let me know what you guys want to learn about. If you’ve got any questions about production stuff, videos like this, or if you want to do Q&A things, or more mixing stuff, more plug-in stuff, I’m open for whatever.

Hit me up on all of the social media stuff, Facebook, Twitter, subscribe if you haven’t subscribed already. We’ve got new videos every week, and that’s all I’ve got guys. I’ll see you in the next video.

Mixnotes

Mixnotes

Mixnotes is a YouTube channel with tutorials on mixing, recording, business, plugins and more. We've partnered with them to feature some of their videos on The Pro Audio Files.
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