Recording At Home: A Little R&R.

Posted in Commentary, How To's, Making Music with tags , , , on December 7, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Writing and recording at home is challenging. Resources are scarce.  My room is all but untreated (unless you count the odd painting on the wall, a kingsize bed in the room, no echo chamber, no mixing board, no vocal or drum room and no access to real tape other than Scotchtape). I just read an article in which someone thought that his Mom’s cooking rivaled or surpassed anything he’s had in a “proper” restaurant. Oh yea, peasant cooking… rustic cooking at it’s best is a real pleasure. Same thing with Rustic Recording.

Here are tips for getting the most out of your recordings. You won’t win a Grammy, but isn’t Coldplay nominated this year?… You see my point?

1) Use mic distance to your advantage.

Recordings aren’t just stereo or mono.  Create depth using multiple mics as well as by using reverb and EQ to great effect. The brighter the sound, the more up front it appears. Using lo-pass and hi-pass filters as your “go-to” tool will keep things sounding natural and make sounds that compete for space easier to manage and fix.

2) Go DI for bass.

Bass signals plugged in direct to your daw will end up lifeless, but you can “fix it in the mix”. I always go DI and end up duping the original track 2x. Now that I’ve got 3 bass tracks:

  • Leave the DI track as is.
  • Route track 2 through an ampsim.
  • Route track 3 through a fuzz or distortion box.

Blend these tracks to create a tasty bass track.

3) Perfect your performance before you hit record.

If you can’t play it all the way through without that red light on, you’re not ready to have a go at it. Seriously- learn your material. Make sure you can sing it and play it.

4) Buy the best instruments you can afford and use them.

And this doesn’t mean that you have to subscribe to the myth that your guitar needs to be a 1959 Les Paul in order to be considered “best”. I like Elliott Smith and was pleased to learn that the entire Roman Candle album was recorded using a cheap Domino parlor guitar.  Best= what works best for the material. New instruments might not work as well as something old or beat up even (have you seen the hole in Willie Nelson’s Martin?).

5) Drum machines suck.

They’re repetitive and lack soul. Pepper any drum machine track with real tambourines, claps, woodblocks, etc. anything that sounds real- even shaking a key ring full of keys will go a long way to impart that touch that only a real human can. Or better yet, just find a real drummer.

6) Don’t marathon mix.

Take breaks every hour. Let your ears rest for 15-20 minutes. It will make a big difference. Ear fatigue, especially when listening to high volume rock tracks, is a death sentence for quality.

7) Audition your mixes before and after.

There are people who can actually mix well using headphones. Just be sure to A/B them on car stereo, home stereo, etc.

8) Elevate you demos with proper mastering.

Home recordings can sound cheap because they often aren’t mastered properly. Even Ozone (when used sparingly) can yield great results.

9) Mistakes= Happy Accidents. Keep Them.

You are making music for real live flesh and blood people to hear. Your music should sound like it was made by one. Mistakes happen. Nothing is perfect. Remember that.

10) Always, always experiment.

Do something you haven’t tried. It might make your song better.

The Beatles Isolated Vocal Track to “Nowhere Man”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 14, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

I’ve always loved this song. This is another outstanding vocal track by an obscure band from Liverpool. A for effort, boys.

The Beatles Isolated Vocal Track to “In My Life”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 14, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

I hope you enjoy this as much I as I do. It’s great stuff.

Dave Weir and Weir Guitars

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 10, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

If you think you can’t afford what amounts to an American made custom shop guitar built to your specs, you’re dead wrong. I’m waiting on a custom guitar from Dave Weir (of Weir guitars). I really have to spread the love around for this guy. Dave’s a builder out of Escondido California and everything he sells is handmade, except for the pickups he uses. His care and consideration throughout the entire configuration process are top shelf. Just keep in mind that Dave thinks outside the box a bit. He doesn’t clone Fender or Gibson guitars like some others. He only makes one guitar with variations on his guitar template which he calls the “Poorboy”.

Here’s what Dave built for me (he calls it Poorboy #28):

  • Ipe (pronounced eee-pay) 1-piece neck and fretboard with no trussrod (Ipe is 70% stiffer than Sugar Maple and the wood is so dense with a super low moisture content that it will basically never bend, etc
  • African Mahogany solid piece body with a dark non-cereal varnish/”French” finish (I love the nod to Christmas Vacation there). The finish goes from copper to red to brown with black striations depending on how the light hits it. I noticed two inconsistencies on the finish but I’m really splitting hairs here- it’s a beautiful guitar
  • Nickel-silver side dots at 3,5,7,9 and 12 with nothing on the face
  • 1 GFS Minitron. Dave used a “Nashville” bridge pickup (it’s brighter than a standard neck pup)
  • Gig bag included
  • The frets are Stewmac 0141 Medium High .095″x.045
  • The bridge and tail piece are aluminum. No volume or tone controls. The output jack is wired straight to the pickup.

This Poorboy #28 can play nice, and it also has an aggressive growl to it.I like mini-buckers but this GFS pickup has a bit too much sizzle and I will most likely send it to Curtis Novak for a rewire. While a better quality pickup would benefit the guitar, I can honestly say that I’ve never played a guitar that has a better neck than this Poorboy #28 and it is every bit as sweet as my ’59 Gibson. Thick like a bat and easy to play. Flawless fretwork.

Any guitar player would be very hard-pressed to find a better guitar for the money (see cost below). If you are looking for something a bit different to round out your sound you owe it to yourself to check out Weir guitars.

Total price: $460.00 + shipping and I’m assuming price is subject to change at some point. Dave Weir also has a a life-of-maker buy back policy. If anything ever goes wrong or you don’t like it or your wife says you have too many guitars he will buy it back at the purchase price!!!

You can reach Dave Weir through his Etsy site (tell him The Buddha Rats sent you):

https://www.etsy.com/shop/WeirGuitar…eader-shopname

 Poorboy #28 African Mahogany with Ipe neck

Life Is Good

Posted in Commentary, Music with tags , on June 1, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Spent all day Saturday with some very close friends and a bunch of wickedly talented musicians. Partied responsibly, played all night and#lifeisgood.

Memorial Day

Posted in Commentary on May 24, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Here is to all of our brave men and women who sacrificed everything to make sure we are all safe and free. God bless you all and thank you!

I just want to to say something special to all the Mother’s in the world. Is that possible?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2014 by The Buddha Rats

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Caribbean, Parisian, Bolivian, Namibian, Eastern Indochinian, Republic of Dominican, Amphibian, Presbyterian, Outta sight, Late night, Hard workin’ ladies, Erudite, Brainy ladies and all you Hermaphrodite Lady-man-ladies. This is your day!

Enjoy.

 

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