Recording Slugbait: Day 3 – Guitars (part 1)

Posted: March 14, 2014 in Recording
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Right, I’m gonna see if I can get this blog back on track and hopefully get it finished before I die. Maybe if I just split it up into smaller posts I’ll be able to get back on a roll…
It saddens me to say that Slugbait decided to call it a day back in December, but hopefully this split (which we all decided to put up on bandcamp as a free download just before they announced their retirement) and any live footage that was recorded at their shows will live on as a testament to their greatness.
Anyway, onto day 3 (which was about a month after the bass sessions, sometime in July anyway). I got a call from Sebdog saying he was on his way out so I met him at the bus stop in BV around lunch time. He had of course brought the now customary 6 pack of Tuborg. We headed up home to get things set up.
I already had my amp hooked up with the tubes warming up for most of the morning because I had been trying out different mics and positions. For the session I ended up going with a blend of m88 on the dustcap and the soundstar around the middle of the cone. I also had my new silver bullets in opposite corners of the room in case we needed some ambience (not something you need too often in heavy guitars, but since most of Slugbait’s guitarwork is lead driven and fairly dynamic, I figured it might be useful in places).
Anyway, once we arrived up, after greeting the family and having a brew, we got down to some tone searching (i.e. playing with the knobs on the amp and Seb’s various pedals until we had a suitable sound picked for each song), as well as making sure again that all the mics were working (there’s nothing worse than taking ages to prepare for a take only to find out about halfway through that there’s no signal being recorded, which happens much more often than I’d like). All in all it took less than an hour and we were ready to get going by about 2.
As with the previous sessions we started with 4 Men, No Mic (to this day I’m not sure what that means – I keep forgetting to ask). Unlike the other sessions though, we spent a lot more time on it since we wanted to layer the shit out of the guitars (who cares if it can’t be replicated live, the important thing here is that it sound good on record, right? 🙂 ). For this particular song we didn’t really go overboard – there were only 3 guitar tracks at most at any one time. That said, they weren’t really doubled tracks, since the song is mostly lead work (“fiddly bits” is, I believe, the technical term) and a lot of it was off the cuff which would make doubling pretty damn tough. It works though, so…
Next we started working on FFWP. This is a much heavier song, so we needed a couple of layers of nasty guitar in the intro provided by a proco Rat doubled with some of the amp’s own dirt channel. After a few attempts of going straight from the heavy section to the quieter parts (which used clean guitars) we decided it would be much easier to just record these parts separately (which should probably have just been our approach from the get-go :P). But it was because we broke up the recording into separate sections that I somehow didn’t notice that we only recorded one pass of the second heavy part of the song, something I didn’t spot until I listened back to the sessions myself the next day, by which time of course, our illustrious guitarist had left the building. In fact, I’ll just take a quick jump out of our timeline here in case I forget to bring this up later: after a few listens over the next few days, I felt that it definitely needed an extra guitar track to beef things up, since this is really where the song gets going. I decided rather than call Seb back for more overdubs (after spending 9 hours here already!), I’d just throw something simple down myself and see if it helped. I added a couple of extra channels with guitar rig 3 loaded (I was using the “gratifier” amp – supposedly an emulation of a Mesa rectifier, although I’ve never gotten it to sound anything like the one Senior uses) and ran my guitar straight into my interface (the first 2 channels have a high impedance input for connecting instruments). I had to listen to the bassline by itself for a bit just to check my tuning – I ended up in drop C. After that it was a simple matter of following the bassline as it played through, double it onto an extra track, then pan the 2 tracks left & right and have Seb’s guitar playing in the middle. Here’s a sample with and without the “girth” tracks:

And that’s where I’ll leave it for now. Next time we’ll jump back to the proper timeline…

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