Recording A Song: Guitar
So I just got back from Summer NAMM, and I was thinking to myself, being in Nashville, sort of the home of — I don’t want to call it obviously country music, but also the home of a lot of guitar, non-rock, heavy rock guitar playing.
It’s amazing how many incredible musicians are there, especially guitar players. Every studio I went to and everybody I met had tons of great guitars, and there were so many incredible musicians there. So it got me quite inspired, so I thought to myself, what can I do for a video series starting today?
I thought, “Well, let’s do some basic production, just you in front of the computer.” As you know, I play guitar, I play drums, bass, keyboard, all that kind of stuff, and sing badly. Thank you for those by the way that liked my singing, I appreciate it, but I get to hang out with so many great singers, I don’t rate myself particularly well, but I appreciate the kind words.
So what we’re going to do is just going to do some really basic guitar production stuff using just sounds that are in the box. So I’m going to go to the most generic plugins that there are and sort of take it from there.
We’ll start with Avid’s Eleven. The most simplistic plugin they have. It comes with Pro Tools for those of you using Pro Tools, and let’s just see what we can build up using that. We’ll go for some different guitar production ideas just to inspire you. And of course, as ever, let me know what you think. Let’s get into a discussion, and I plan to do a lot more of these, because they’re very fun.
Let’s check it out.
Okay, so let’s create stereo auxiliary here. All I’m going to do is just find something really basic. Addictive Drums. I’m not going to — I’m just going to open something out. Just get something really straight forward and start doing a track.
Alright, so I’ve opened up and found the most basic, here it is at 79 BPM. Just —
I like it. So if for just shnits and shniggles…
I’m just going to — I am going to print this. So I’m just going to call this Drum Beat. Not going to separate it out for this particular purpose. I’m going to make it very straight forward. So I’m just going to buss this in Pro Tools. Quickly. Just do this.
So what I’ve done is I’ve bussed this internally and printed it. There’s a million different ways of doing this. I’m just doing this quickly and easily. The tempo is at 79, so let’s change our master tempo on our session to 79 so I just did it from there.
Okay, so we’re at 79. Tab to Transient. Step it to the grid. And then — this looks quick and easy to do. I’m just going to highlight the whole thing like this. I’m going to hit Option+R. So I’ve highlighted four bars, and I’m going to do — I don’t know, let’s do 40. So here it is.
So we are done. We have put a basic groove in there. Quick and easy.
Alright, next up. Shift+Command+N. Or Shift+Apple, depending on how old school you are. Let’s grab a guitar. Where’s my vocal coming in? 19? It should come in at 19. We’ll find out the hard way.
Okay, so now we’re going to call this Electric Guitar. And let’s grab the good old Yamaha Pacifica. A guitar cable. We’ll plug this into the front of a BAE here. Now you can go straight into the front of your interface. This is just my chain of what I’ve got going on, but of course…
Tune this little baby up.
[guitar DI, tuning]
Okay. Alright, so let’s find Eleven. Sound field is under that. Harmonic. There’s Guitar Amp as well. There’s Fuzz Box. There’s so many different ones here, but let’s go — I’ve got SansAmp as well. Comes free with it as well. Comes free with it which is great.
Cool. So we’re going to use Eleven Free. So let’s create an auxiliary channel like such. Which, if you’re a Pro Tools user is Shift+Command+N to create a new channel. I’m going to come in on 19.
That’s where my DI is coming in. I’m going to buss that out to, say, three. I’m going to create a new channel. Shift+Command+N. Defaults to creating a mono audio. I’m going to call that Guitar 1. Output that to my mains. Input that on three. This is so I can print it. I’m going to commit to the sound.
Now, you can — you don’t have to do that, but I’m going to do that. So let’s go to Eleven Free. Here.
Go into record here.
So that’s 4 by 12 Classic, Modern Rock. Okay, Vintage Crunch. So a quick look at that.
I’ll put this into my track. I’m going to go into Input so I can listen.
So, okay. We’ve got most generic setting here. Just literally went to Vintage. There’s Modern and Vintage. Classic 412.
So we’re doing, like, a really simple part here.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to do an A descending part. An arpeggio. So it’s basically like — what is this, taking an A Major chord and I’m going down in semi-tones. So it gives me loads of possibilities for melody ideas. I’m then going to a B Minor, to a G, and then same descending part again, and then B Minor to E. The E is the five chord of the A, for those of you that are into that kind of stuff, it basically leads back into the A.
So really simple idea.
Cool. I like it. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s quite alright. So for shits and shniggles, what I’m going to do is because I played the whole thing a whole section through twice, I’m going to do this. I’m going to duplicate it, so Shift+Option+D. Active playlists, alternate playlists, group assignments, etcetera can all stay on. Only something really basic.
I’m going to take take this front half, front 8 bars, and stick it on the back half of this take, and then the back half of this one and stick it on the front half of this take. Pan them left and right. That’ll get a stereo version of it.
I’m also going to take — cheat and take this bar here and put it here.
The reason why I did that is because I slid into my chord and I didn’t like it.
There’s some pitch issues there on the B Minor. And I like that B Minor, so I’m taking those two chords and putting them here. So basically, now what I have is —
So I like that. So now that I’ve built actually the perfect pair, I’m going to cheat even further and go Option+R and just duplicate that. Let’s duplicate it three times. So that’s Shift+Option+R. Now what I have is 32 bars of that section. Simple as that.
Now, I can call Guitar 1, I can go in here and call it Guitar 1 Right, and go back and call the other one Guitar 1 Left. So just L and R. We’ve got them panned left and right.
Now, to make my life easier, I could just literally duplicate this input. So Shift+Option+D, take off the alternate playlist and the active playlist, and that would just give me the input and output. So now if I go for a bass, let’s just say all I have to do is rename the input here, grab a bass, and everything is setup ready to go. It’s really straight forward. Move quickly, I just duplicate my inputs and outputs. So plugging in my bass. Go into record here.
Let’s find — I’ll just put it back into the center. Let us find on the Eleven what options we have. Now here, it looks pretty straight forward. I’m moving just between these two. So let’s see what this sounds like, first of all.
It’s kind of cool. Just going to add a bit more bottom end to it.
I’m kind of fine with that to be honest. I can add a little — you know, I can add some EQ and compression afterwards, but that gets me by pretty easily.
Alright, let’s have a go.
Cool. Well that was fun. So I’m going to cheat, because I like what I did. Copy it, paste it here. Get rid of that, and now I have a basic bass line and electric guitars.
Now, We’re still just staying in Eleven. We haven’t moved out of that. What I am going to do is I’m going to put a little extra compression on my drums, and we’ll go for something — let’s go for something really straight forward.
Alright, so I’m going to — let’s solo this up — I’m going to bring these drums a little more forward.
So I’m just adding a little bit of compression on that. You’re getting like, three or four dBs worth of compression just to help those drums poke out a little bit more.
Cool. Good enough for jazz.
Okay, so let’s grab another guitar. So all I’m going to do is use the same guitar, but on a different pickup, and have some fun with it. So again, I can just take one of these inputs, do Shift+Option+D and duplicate it, and let’s do some rakes. So I’m going to call this Guitar Rakes. Let’s put this in record.
I’m going to the neck pickup. It’s a little warmer sounding, because we’ve done a little bit more aggression on the bridge pickup so it just cuts a little bit. So I boosted the bass a little bit for that. Let’s do — let’s have some fun. Okay, so I’m going to crank up the tremolo here, just for the heck of it.
So I’m going to make this last chord of this four section a pure F# Minor. So let’s see what we’ve got.
Okay, so I pull that down and I hold Control, grab it, and with Control, I can’t make it go left or right, which is great, so just — it’s a quick and easy way if you’re using Pro Tools as your DAW to stop it to make sure it stays in place.
Okay, so I’ve panned that to the right, and I’ve got the new one to the left. So I’m going to do another kind of loose guitar track.
Just adding little arpeggiated chords. So don’t mind it being a little loose. Then this one chugging. Just chugging along. Still opening up more.
Cool. So there you go. It’s sort of like — it really depends on how constructed and Pop you want it to be, but I let that be, you know, sort of a developed guitar part. This to me sounds like a commercial for something. [laughs]
Alright, so I’ve created a new track there, so Shift+Option+D. I’m now going to call this Lead Guitar and we’ll go back to a more Rock tone. So let’s go back to where it started from, which is the modern overdrive.
Let’s get rid of the trem.
Cool. I’m going to track without any delays or reverb on it, but it feels like it could have a little reverb. We’ll see.
Now see, there’s a gate, so let’s bring that on.
So we’re going to move quickly. We’re going to take that and we’re going to duplicate it with Shift+Option+D, we’re going to pull this one down, one more time.
So what we can do is we can — I’ll do Shift+Option+D to duplicate it. I’m going to pan that like, 50/50. We’ll have some fun with this. So what we’ll do is we’ll play the bass part of it. So now I’ve got that. I’ll just do it like, seven times. Oh, don’t need to do that many times. Miscalculate. Start again.
So we’ll do this times three. So Option+R. Three. Okay. So now we have the bass part of it. The basic part of it. So let’s add just a third.
Cool. Again, Shift+Option+D. Pan that 50 as well.
Double the whole thing. So now, if I duplicate that and I pan that the opposite way, I can also highlight these and put them across. So Option+R, three. So I’m going to build up some harmony stuff here, then what we can do is we can mute it, and then make it develop more as the song goes along. As the idea goes along.
Okay, so now we’re going to go above that note.
I’m stepping out of the feel a little bit, but that actually doesn’t bother me. So you know, I’m sliding around a little bit. The little bit of random is kind of cool. In something like this, I want to keep my interest going.
Cool. So you can see, I’m having a lot of fun with this. I’m finding pedal tones on the chords, so again, so Option+R, three. Pan that.
So now I’ve got lots of different harmony stuff going on. Now, just for the heck of it, we can find something above. You know what, what might be kind of cool is to do this. So we’ll have the first part come in here, so this is our first stereo pair, so we can just group those together. We can do Lead 1, and our second stereo pair is here. Now I’m just doing Command+G to create a group. I’m just going to call this Lead 2. Then my third one is Lead 3.
So I’m going to do this. I’m going to mute — so we’ve got one going on here, and then two is going to come in. Then three is going to come in here. So now what we’ve done is we’ve basically got our first harmony, then our second one — our first part, and the harmony comes in, and then another harmony.
So now what I can do is have some lead stuff and have some crazy fun with this. Let’s put the gain up. Let’s put it on bright. Let’s make this a little bit more aggressive.
What we could do is we could put the tremolo on lightly.
Just to make it a little bit more aggressive and crazy.
So let’s have some fun. Start off easier on the first chord.
Alright, so that was getting a little carried away and probably wasn’t really in keeping, but let’s put some delays and stuff on it, just for the heck of it. We’re going to go for — what was our most generic delay here? Medium Delay, stereo. So here we go.
Nice. Pretty fun. We could turn up the feedback just a little bit, bring the guitar down a little bit, and here we have…
Cool. So, I hope that gives you some ideas. I mean, basically what I did there is I just quickly came up in like, 20 minutes of a basic song idea. I found a groove that I like. Now, sometimes that’s sort of the way I do things, especially if I’m writing just for the sake of writing. Just for the fun of it, I should say. I could find a drum groove then come up with an idea like that.
Or I start off with the idea, then add the drums afterwards. There’s no real laws, but everything there was done with stock Avid plugins. I mean, the only thing we’ve got is the Addictive Drums, and you could’ve used any kind of drum kit. You know. Or any kind of drum loop that you find with the idea.
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So check it out. I hope you enjoy that. Please leave loads of questions and comments below of stuff that you would do, and thank you ever so much for watching.