Are you a pseudo bass player like me? Then today’s video tip will help a lot. Great bass guitar recordings have little to do with complexity and riffs and way more to do with intentionality. Take a listen to two ways I’ve played the bass lines to this song and discover the two secrets to getting a tighter and punchier bass guitar sound in your recordings.
If you are recording in a modern home studio comprised of a computer, an audio interface, and software, then one of the simplest things you could do to make your tracks sound better is to stop recording so hot into your DAW. That’s right, many of you are recording signals that are way too loud, giving you worse sound and for no real reason.
Digital Vs. Analog
The confusion is rooted in old analog workflows that simply don’t carry over into the digital world. Now, most of what we know of great recording technique comes from the analog world, and it’s really helpful. Nothing about mic placement, arrangement, room acoustics, performance, and effects has really changed in the digital world.
Audio is audio and sound is sound, and the great engineers of the last 50 years still know what they are talking about and we would do well to pay attention to how these masters of their craft captured the sounds that they did. Technique is everything, the medium might change, but philosophy of recording doesn’t. With two exceptions.
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Looking for that warm, punchy, and fat drum sound? Try this fat mic technique on your next recording. By simply adding an additional mic just over the center of the kick drum shell facing down to the floor, you can capture a more focused and rounder tone to the kit that can be EQ’d and compressed to taste for mixing back in with your other drum mics. Take a look at how I used the fat mic technique in a recent drum session.
Here’s how I used to approach mic placement in my home studio when I was getting started: I’d put the mic where I thought it should go, get some signal, and then say “Well it sounds alright to me,” and I’d hit the record button. But the big problem here is that I was doing what so many of us beginners do: we settle.
We put up a mic on our guitar amp and say “Well it sounds like a guitar amp!” and then move on. It wasn’t until further along in my quest for sonic greatness that I stumbled on the simple hack to avoid this complacency and ignorance. And I’d like to share it with you today.
The Two Position Rule
When I first began recording I thought mic technique was simple: just put the mic in front of your sound source and hit record. The better the mic and preamp, the better the sound, right? Boy was I wrong. Although not difficult, mic technique is less about the gear you use and more about getting the mic already have in the optimal spot for the desired sound in your head. And as we looked at earlier this week, there are multiple ways to get more out of your current lineup of mics.
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One lesson I’ve been slow to learn is that great recordings start in the mind before you ever set up a single microphone. To many artists this sounds obvious. How can you sit down to paint a picture of a mountain if you don’t already know what you want that mountain to look like. There are millions of ways to portray a mountain, so at some point the artist must commit to a vision of that mountain in his head before he pulls out a pen or paint brush.
In the same way, great recordings begin with a clear vision of how they will sound sonically. We can’t simply grab mics and start recording without any commitment to how we want those tracks to sound, specifically. Let’s flesh this out a bit more.
Time To Put On Your Producer Hat
Having a home studio and being able to create music on your own is truly a gift. It’s freedom to create without any limits of time or money. However, one of the big challenges of home recording is having to wear multiple hats. I’ve referred to it as a battle before. And one of the most often overlooked hats is that of the producer.
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Welcome to Recording Month! All of last month we talked about nothing but songwriting, and hopefully it was helpful for you. Starting today (and for the next 4 weeks or so) I’ll be covering recording specific tips, tricks, and mindsets to help you capture the best sounds possible in your studio. And the best place to start when it comes to getting a great recording is with your microphones. Here are four ways to get more out of your current lineup of mics that will really help.
I’m going to be honest with you. I like traditional pop/rock song structure. I like a couple of verses, followed by a chorus each time, a killer bridge or solo section, and so on. I think that general format (and it’s variations) has stood the test of time in modern music for a reason. It works and people like it.
But if you’re like me, it’s good to change it up every so often to keep your album sounding fresh. Sure you can change instrumentation or something major like that throughout an EP, but the simplest change is to the actual structure of one of the songs. Here are a couple of suggestions.
Hit The Chorus First
We all love the chorus of most songs because typically that’s where the hook lives. That’s the part everyone hums over and over again. It’s the part you simply can’t wait to get to. So why wait at all?! Why not simply start your song with the chorus?
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The other day I asked the question, “Which comes first? Music or lyrics?” Personally, I’m a music first guy. Even more specifically I’m a vocal melody locked up tight first kind of guy. Today I thought it would helpful to give you a glimpse into my songwriting workflow in hopes that it will inspire and motivate you to go make some more music. Enjoy!
I’ve written a lot of bad songs in my day. Some were just a bad idea to begin with. Some were half decent, but not my best work so I scrapped them. Others however have fallen in a tricky spot where they really are a good song, but they weren’t quite 100% ready. They weren’t what I call, well chiseled songs.
Cut Out The Fat
The saying goes “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” Another one is, “Everything in moderation.” I certainly have found these to be true when it comes to songwriting. Too many of us write songs that have great moments, but just too much of them.
Whether it’s a super long intro, too many verses, or that last unnecessary repeat of the chorus at the end, we can easily fall into the trap of writing a good song but not cutting out the fat. Sure the fat on a good steak can contain flavor, but it’s still not meat. People want meat in a song, so give it to them.
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It’s the age old question of songwriting: which comes first the music or the lyrics? On the surface this is purely a matter of preference. Clearly wonderful songs have been written from both angles. But if you dig a little deeper you discover the subtle nuances of each approach and how they can affect the song’s final form.
Poetry Set To Music
If you’re of the mindset that to write a good song you must first start with lyrics, chances are you’re a word guy or gal. You like words, ideas, themes, etc. And the greatest expression of all three of those things is in poetry. It may seem old fashion to some, but poetry has been one of the all time greatest expressions of art in world history.
It would be no surprise then that to write a song is simply to set your poetry to music. This mindset is built on the foundational assumption that music only serves the words. There is a definitive order of priority and rank. Both are important and vital to a great song, but the music must exist to put the lyrics on display.
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