Posts Tagged ‘guitar recording’

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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So a few weeks ago I finally went back to work! As I keep saying, we/I’ve been kinda letting this slide for far too long now – originally when we had our first session back in June last year (!), I figured we’d be all wrapped up by September and have a release ready before the end of the year. How wrong I was…
Anyway, we were discussing it again recently and we figured the only way to get this thing done at all is to give ourselves a deadline so we’ll have something to aim for. We have yet to pick a date, but even the mention of the word deadline was enough to kick me into gear 😯
So where to start… I decided the most important thing to get out of the way first was the new guide tracks, since I wanted to have all the drum tracks laid down before getting Dan or Senior out to do their parts. I won’t bore you too much with the details on this – basically, I programmed drum tracks in EZDrummer (following some dodgy recordings from the practice room) and recorded bass and guitars direct (using Ampeg SVX and Guitar Rig 3 plugins respectively), then put some lackluster vocals on top (I wasn’t gonna fuck up my throat just for the demos :roll:). I reckon “Mommy’s Got a Virus” is fairly spot on, but “Dark Passenger” still needs a little tweaking because of all the tempo changes and whatnot…
…But last weekend I decided to ignore that and revisit the older songs and start putting replacing the old guitar and vocal tracks with new ones – you know, actual recording! Of course, having been inactive for such a long time, the garage was after filling up with a fair amount of clutter, so I had to spend a few hours cleaning it up to make enough room for my gear with enough space for me to rock out while I’m recording (very important, don’t y’know).

OK, it’s not perfect, but at least it’s possible to walk from one end to the other without tripping over something now 🙂
Anyway, once I’d gotten the place tidy enough, I threw a few mics on the cab and did a few test runs to see which mic I’d use for the recording session (you’d think I’d have a go-to guitar mic at this stage, but no… it’s a constant search for the best mic for the job, especially since I modded my amp recently so it doesn’t sound quite the same as it used to anymore). Now, I’m sure right here would be a great place to put a photo of my cab with 3 or 4 mics pointing at it, but naturally I forgot to take any photos of this selection process. D’oh!
Well, after listening to the results of my little shootout, I decided to go for the Sennheiser MD417 for the close-mic’ing of the cab, and I also used both my Karma Silver Bullets as room mics: one just a few feet away from the amp and the other one in the far corner (where it picked up a fair amount of bass frequencies, illustrating my need for some acoustic treatment – a project for another day…).
You can actually see the MD417 and one of the Silver Bullets in the previous pic, but here’s a close-up anyway, just for the hell of it:
Guitar setup
Everyone likes gear pr0n, right? 😛
Onward, to the recording session (several hours later)… Starting with “A New Hope” (cos, y’know, it’s super easy), I quickly ran through 2 tracks, including an updated intro which makes the song sound way more pop-punk – I’ll leave it up to the listener to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. After a quick EQ tweak, it was already sounding pretty good. I’m not sure if it was the guitar settings or the mic positioning, but the sound was quite treble heavy, but I’m not too worried cos I figure Senior’s Dual Rec will provide plenty of low end growl (as will the bass, obviously).
Next, I opened up the “Shut Up And Eat Your Freedom” project. I was still working on the drums on this one – it was the last song we recorded the drums for last June, and certain parts of the song kept slipping away from us, so it was recorded in several parts, with the intention of editing it all together at a later date. However, while that worked reasonably well with “TV Zombie”, by the time we’d gotten to “Shut Up…”, the drums (and therefore the mics) were after moving all over the place, so when I tried to comp the various recording together, the sound kept changing, especially in the kick drum as the mic moved further from the beater head. After spending at least an hour working on it, I tried to record a guitar track on it, but the timing kept slipping, no matter how much I tried to tighten up the tracks (well, I could have gotten them tighter, but then there’s be some obvious silent gaps in the overheads). I think as far as this song is concerned we may need to consider re-tracking the drums 😥
Once I’d gotten tired of working on “Shut Up…”, I tweaked the settings on the amp a little and had a go at “TV Zombie”. It went reasonably well to start, but I had turned up the amp a little too much without compensating in the headphones, so when the end kicked in, my timing got away from me a little, and second time around, there were a few too many fuck-ups happening. 😡
Frustrated as all hell, I looked at the time: 4:00 a.m. – I decided it was time for bed…