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Recording Acoustic, Electric & Bass Guitars

Transcript
Warren: Hello, lovely people. Hope you’re doing marvelously well. I’m sitting here with David of The Workday Release. How are you, my friend?

David: Good, how are you doing?

Warren: Alright, we’re going to do some guitars, acoustic with you, electric with me, and some bass.

David: Yeah.

Warren: On a new song called…?

David: Cursed and Cursing.

Warren: And you play drums on it? So it’s going to be a lot of fun.

So we’ll show you the mics that I’m using, DIs, and the amps, and all kinds of other fun stuff.

David: Cool.

Warren: So it should be good. Let’s get on with it and check out the track!

[music]

So here we are with David from The Workday Release.

Alright, so what do we have? We have the lovely Yamaha LL16, which is my go-to recording guitar. You have one of these as well, don’t you?

David: I have one. Thanks, Yamaha.

Warren: Very nice of them. A Yamaha endorsed artist. There you go. And of course, we have a Lewitt 340. LCT 340, which we stole from over here on our overheads. So basically we use them on our overheads, and we use them for acoustic guitars.

Those of you who watch my acoustic videos will know, but we’ll put a link somewhere. We like to record it down here. I have a story.

Don’t I always have a story? So I used to work in a music store when I was a kid, when I was a teenager, and I worked at this music store, and it was a great, great music store. It had tons of everything. Martins, classical guitars, and everything, and John Williams came in one day. John Williams is Australian, incredible classical guitar player. And he came in and looked at the 20 or 30 very expensive classical guitars that we have on the wall, and he didn’t play any of them initially. He just walked up — they were on the wall, and walked up, and he picked them off the wall and he went, [hitting acoustic guitar], and he was checking the resonance of the top head, and he did that on like, 10 or 11 guitars, and then stopped and sat down and started playing. Of course, we’re all like, goosebumps, and like, “John Williams is playing! Ah!”

It was an amazing moment. When I was a kid, it was like John Williams and Julian Bream were these two incredible classical guitar players. It was all about them.

Anyways, so I remember thinking to myself at the time, that says something about the resonance of the body. I get it if it’s like, really beautiful, and the top’s laid properly with all of the struts and it’s all done properly, and it’s all going to resonate in a different way.

Not that I’m an expert, but there’s some logic to it I think. Something like that.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, so it started me thinking about this, and so I used to mic the body and then a good friend of mine, whom hopefully is watching, called Julian Butcher, who’s known as either spew or jute, for real, English nicknames. We love them. He is an engineer, and his brother is an engineer, Matt Butcher. Does Gorrilaz, and Blur, and all this kind of stuff.

Jute was a BBC engineer and used to record so many shows and stuff, and he’s a real genius, and he would mic the acoustic guitar there, and he told me, “Oh, that was like a BBC thing.” So I was like, “There you go!” Validation, the BBC. So that’s what I do.

Now, I don’t always do that, but what I do find about it is that you have to angle it away from the sound hole, so you’ll see that the angle there is a little bit away from the sound hole. The other thing you can do is put it between the 12th and 14th fret. Especially large diaphragm condensers, put it on there, but I like to put it on the body just here, and I find it’s very percussive, especially since you’re doing just fingerpicking in the verse, and it seems to exaggerate that sort of percussiveness, whereas on the strings alone, anywhere near the sound hole, obviously super boomy, but on the strings alone, it tends to be a bit one dimensional. There’s something about picking up the wood that just sounds better to me. Just sounds more percussive.

I can always make it with the right compression sort of jump out of the speakers, which you kind of want when you’re doing fingerpicking.

Anyway, so that’s the LCT 340. So it’s going into an old Brent Avery 1073, which I’ve had for a million and a half years. No, I think Brent started making these 1073s, correct me if I’m wrong, late 90’s, early 2000’s. So this is a really special one, I’ve had it forever, I love it. The EQ is engaged, and basically, it’s a high pass at 80, which for acoustics is perfect for me, so I’m high passing at 80, there’s no other EQ on, except for a little boost on the high end, and I don’t remember actually off the top of my head if it’s 10 or 12kHz. Answer below. 1073, is it 10 or 12kHz? My mind is blown.

So anyway, a little tiny bit of high end boost, and high pass at 80. That is going to the Spectrosonics, which is the 610, which is arguably one of the best sounding compressors ever in the history of compressors. It’s really colored, but it’s spongey as all heck. It sounds like the 70’s to me. I got introduced to Spectrosonics from working with Jack Douglas. Those of you who know me, I do a lot of work with Jack, and Jack had done obviously Rocks, and Toys in the Attic, two of the arguably best Aerosmith records. He also did New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Radio to Ethiopia, Alice Cooper, so many great records in the 70’s, and a lot of those New York studios had Spectrosonics consoles, and Spectrosonics compressors.

In fact, that classic kind of Aerosmith stuff was a lot of Spectrosonics, and APIs. So really kind of weird that Spectrosonic consoles and compressors, and APIs. Also, if you go and watch some of the interviews I did with Shelley Yakus, you’ll get a little bit more about the New York scene.

But anyway, amazing sounding compressor. Amazing. Okay, so what do I have? I’ve got my Yamaha Revstar. Huge fan, as you know.

[guitar]

Plays ridiculously well. This is kind of my secret weapon, the boost kick. I sort of discovered this because I was working with Rev amps, which I love the Rev amps. Really, really good. But I couldn’t get my crunchy tone. The crunchy tone, which you know from most session guitar players, or most guitar players, is when you can play hard…

[guitar]

And get distortion, but then…

[guitar, softly]

Maybe have an almost clean tone? It’s that kind of…

It just sounds very, very clean — or pretty clean when you play softly, but then…

[crunch guitar]

And that tends to sustain pedals. It tends to give choruses, and delays, etcetera, a little more girth. So the boost kick for me is I can turn my amp up a little bit, not have the preamp too heavy, and then…

[guitar]

Now, I can get really beautiful. What I love about this is the punch, the attack, the edge allows me to get a bit more low mids.

Now, what we’re going to be doing on this… On this track, I’m going to do a little bit of arpeggio stuff. I don’t want too much drive, but at the same time, I don’t want it to be so tiny and clean, so I’m trying to get that half-way house.

Maybe a bit too much edge. Then I can use the vibrato. So what I can do is I can double the parts. We can have one with no effect, and then one with the vibrato. That’ll give us a lot of width. What we’re trying to do with this song of David’s is make it feel big, wide, expansive without going in and going…

[heavy guitar]

Without doing power chords or anything like this.

Okay, next up is the EchoTone, which is my favorite delay ever.

[guitar with delay]

Such a great delay. Just a really good sounding delay. What I really like about it is this tone control, frankly, I can just turn it down and darken it up. It’s like having a good tape delay, but without the “kkkk” and buzzes and stuff. And I’ve got an EchoPlex over there, so I know good tape delays.

[guitar]

So this is going to be good. So what I want to do here is we’re going to work on bits that we know we like. Now, there’s no bass line. This is just drums and acoustic guitar, and a scratch vocal, but the vocal is what I really need to work from, and the bass line, I kind of want to work around the guitar idea. I don’t necessarily always have to do things traditionally like drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals, whatever.

We’ve found that doing this record so far is if we don’t do things in a deliberate, obvious way — the problem with putting bass down first for this, I think if we do it, I’d probably just kind of go…

[guitar]

And drive through, and we’d end up with something really dumb, where we have these really melodic bass lines so far, because we’ve left it until the end.

So there’s no rules, and our rule here is to have no rules. So let’s just try this first chorus.

[mix]

So that’s the pedaling on one chord, so save that and let’s do the one following the chords exactly.

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[mix]

Yeah, I think I like the pedaling through that.

David: Through the intro?

Warren: Yeah. So let’s pedal through that, and then we’ll go to the major chorus. Duplicate that, and I’m going to try doubling that, but I’m going to double it with that vibe on from the Carl Martin. So we’ve turned on the TremO’Vibe.

So we’re going to double this. So we’re going to have one panned left, one panned right, we’re going to pan reverb opposite each other. Let’s try it.

[song]

Cool. So I’m going to redo the first one, because I changed the ending of that one. So we’re redoing the first one with the TremO’Vibe off.

[music]

Cool. So yeah, that’s — we could do — for shnits and shniggles, we could do…

[guitar]

We could do this as a three part, just reinforcing that. That’s super low, just for the heck of it.

[mix]

Cool, I like that a lot. Yeah. It’s like a layering of guitars that — even if they’re super low, just to create a little bit of creepiness. A little dreaminess. Here we go.

[mix]

I like that chorus. Cool. Alright, now the pair.

[guitar, low]

Trying to decide whether I like that sustained, or…

[guitar]

Alright. Take the D and just detune it to a C#. There you go.

[music]

Cool. Alright, take the TremO’Vibe off.

[mix]

Let it sustain. Cool. I’m on the fence about the low one. I think it just starts to make it mud, but just bring those two low octave ones down like, six dB each.

So we’re going to go to the chorus now.

[chorus]

Cool. Trying to get the rhythm of the vocal, so one more time.

[guitar]

Cool. So while we’re on this guitar here, let’s just do that with the octave down.

[mix]

Cool. Now I’m going to put the TremO’Vibe back on, and we’ll double up those parts.

So the Marshall is going into a Tone Tubby cab. That’s being miked by a 57. Go figure. That is going through a 312. BAE 312. Then that is also going through the right-hand channel of the Spectra Sonics 610.

So again, it’s got that little extra shnizzle. There’s not a huge amount of compression going on, but just enough to kind of control some of the high end a little bit, because obviously, you know, the Marshalls are pretty bright. Luckily, the Tone Tubbys dull them down a little bit, so it’s kind of a nice balance because of that hemp speaker in the Tone Tubby is pretty fantastic.

Okay, so I’m using my T40, which I love a lot. For a start, it’s got tons of sustain, but it’s also got — I mean this in a loving way, a nice, nondescript bass tone. A tone that just fits in the track. I use it a lot if I just want just low end fatness. If I use my jazz bass, and I just have a Mexican jazz bass, if I use that, it’s got tons of nose and personality.

I want some drive. I’m going to push it along, but I don’t want grit, I don’t want mid-range, I just want low end, so I think this will do the job.

So let’s experiment. Let’s try the first chorus.

[song]

Okay. So I like this kind of idea. You can see, dumb as all heck. I’m basically playing with one finger and one finger, but…

[bass]

I’m going to try that. That low E might kill it, it might be great. But we’ll keep it. Let’s try it.

[music]

Cool. This is going to really be about pushing into that, [mimics song]. It’s going to just add energy to it. You know, I’m getting away from like…

[bass]

I’m just like… that, [mimics bass] is going to give us a lot of energy. But I’m going to nail this shnizzle. One more time.

[music]

I like that a lot. I like that. Cool?

David: Pretty cool.

Warren: Yup. Okay, good. Yeah, I like it, just kind of energy, and rawness.

Okay. Okay, so I’m using the ACME bass DI. You know, I love this thing. Why do I love it? Because frankly, it was the Motown bass DI, it’s got a huge transformer in it, weighs a ton, and frankly, if it’s the only thing that I have to use, it sounds incredible.

So many of my friends now are buying these things because they sound phenomenal. It’s just plug it in, off you go. But we are also using an amp. So this Ashdown here I actually got off Craigslist for about $200, and it sounds great and it’s being miked by a Lewitt LCT 550.

Okay, so bass mic, 312. Bass DI, another 312. Now, what I often do is I’ll compress and limit. So what we’ve got is we’ve actually got a 165 on it going into a BAE 10DC, and that is just on the bass mic, and so it’s just giving us a little bit more control over the dynamics. Especially seeing as I was slapping the shnizzle out of that, that was probably a good idea, as you noticed, I was just banging it for energy.

Marvelous, so I hope you enjoyed that. A little behind the scenes. This is my every day. We recorded drums a little earlier, but I just wanted to make this video specific about guitars and bass, and stuff like that.

But this is what we do each and every day. Obviously, there’s still more guitar overdubs to do on the song, haven’t done any verse stuff, but I wanted to kind of get you an inkling into the tones, and just kind of the thinking that I do behind it.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the video, please leave a bunch of comments and questions below, and oh, if you haven’t already, go to Produce Like a Pro, sign up for the email list, of course you can try a free trial of The Academy, thank you ever so much for watching, and have a marvelous time recording and mixing.

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Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at producelikeapro.com.

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