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Recording a blues band

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Recording a blues band

Postby Georgia » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:20 am

Hi,

Im recording a blues band for the first time for my BA in music production. We have to record the whole band together in the control room. Some advise would be great on mics to use and placements to avoid any major phasing issues.

Its a three piece band, elec guitar, bass and drums. Vox are being recorded after.

We have a pretty good selection of mics at our disposal too
Would appreciate some advise

Thanks, Georgia
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Mike Senior » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:24 am

Georgia wrote:Im recording a blues band for the first time for my BA in music production. We have to record the whole band together in the control room.

Did I read that correctly? Are you being expected to record a full blues band in the same room you're monitoring in?
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:41 am



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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby adrian_k » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:26 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:

H


Right, something you might attempt if there was really no other option (even then...), but to be asked to do it as part of a music production course?

OP - really? Drums in the control room? Or drums in a live room, guitarist and bassist in the control room with amps in other rooms or just DI'd?
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Persuazion » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:30 am

That can't be what you really mean. And coming here to ask how to do it in the first place rather defeats the pont of learning. What are you planning to do? What do you think you should do? Have you learned anything up to this point? It sounds like you're expected to have.

Genuinely interested here.... Why do you feel you need to ask? Is your course not giving you what you want? What kind of thing have you been learning about up to this point?

I also see you mention music 'production'. So many people confuse this with engineering, it's just ridiculous. And courses and tutors shod be making the distinctions clear very early on IMO.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby The Elf » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:18 am

You tell us how you plan to approach it, and I'll give you some comments.

I'm sure the 'control room' phrase is a slip of the tongue - hopefully!
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Exalted Wombat » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:54 am

Georgia wrote:Hi,
Im recording a blues band for the first time for my BA in music production. We have to record the whole band together in the control room. Some advise would be great on mics to use and placements to avoid any major phasing issues.

Its a three piece band, elec guitar, bass and drums. Vox are being recorded after.

This all seems a bit odd! It's quite possible to have recording equipment in the same room as the performance - in fact, in a home studio I'd much rather have one good-sounding room than a pair of boxy cupboard-sized spaces - but it rather negates the whole concept of a "control room"!

It's great that the band will all play together, listening to each other and balancing musically. But why leave out the vocals? It's very hard not to over-play, crowding out the vocals, unless there ARE vocals to listen to! And, with the band tracking together, you're not going to have much scope for "arranging in the mix".
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Georgia » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:01 am

No sorry i mean live room. Everything at the same time in the live room!
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Georgia » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:10 am

Everything in the live room sorry, control room, live room diff things i know lol.

Heres the plan.. Im going to record the bass and drums in the same room, the bass is going to be cornered off using sound barriers. Im going to use the recorder man technique on the drums and the lead is going to be recorded in the corredor. The band said they all wanted to be in the same room so i figured they can all be in the same room but to capture a nice clean sound from the lead i will run a wire through the door to the amp in the corridor.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby The Elf » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:47 am

Have you considered the emotional impact of separating the guitarist from his amp?

When I track bands live I do so because they have a vibe going when they are all standing together, cue-ing off each other and hearing a sound they like. Detaching players from their natural sound will have an impact - not always for the worse, but it will have an impact.

Spill doesn't worry me when I'm tracking a full band. Sure, I want to minimise it, but I'm not going to make it a priority. Beyond that it depends on the style of music and how you want it to be represented. For a jazz combo I'd let the mic's breath, allow more space between source and mic and accept higher spill. For metal I'd be pushing mic's up everyone's nostrils!

For the drums, I wouldn't necessarily go 'recorderman' (which I think is overrated anyway if you have a close kick mic). I'd consider XY above the snare and get close mic's on the rest of the kit, including hat and ride.

Use baffles where you can, but make sure the band can see each other. If you start splitting them visually then you may as well consider tracking them separately - even if they play along while you get the drums down. But don't tell them this until afterwards - a player who knows their part is a throw-away often plays a throw-away part, which is no help to the drummer!

If you have the time/inclination, then tap a DI from the guitars. If all else fails you have the option of re-amping.

Hope something here helps.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:43 am

Georgia wrote:Everything in the live room sorry, control room, live room diff things i know lol.

Heres the plan.. Im going to record the bass and drums in the same room, the bass is going to be cornered off using sound barriers. Im going to use the recorder man technique on the drums and the lead is going to be recorded in the corredor. The band said they all wanted to be in the same room so i figured they can all be in the same room but to capture a nice clean sound from the lead i will run a wire through the door to the amp in the corridor.

Well...OK. Why the obsession on separation? They want to play together? Good, LET them play together. And at least give recording with vocals a try. The musical interaction is much more important than any small blemishes. Use the time you would have spent constructing this complicated setup to rehearse the song.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:07 am

Georgia wrote:Im going to record the bass and drums in the same room, the bass is going to be cornered off using sound barriers.


Okay -- but remember that it will be virtually impossible to prevent the lowest frqeuencies of the bass from spreading throughout the room anyway because the long wavelengths will ignore any managably sized baffles!

So in addition to the baffles, you'll need to minimise spill by close miking the sounds you do want -- drums, guitar amp, vocals etc -- and high-pass filter the drum overheads which have to be placed at a distance.

Im going to use the recorder man technique on the drums...


I suspect you'll find you need to close mic the snare and kick at the very least to gain sufficient separation and impact if the band are playing 'as live'. The recorderman technique is okay if you're tracking the drums on their own in a nice sounding room, but I'd be surprised if you'll get what you need for a blues band using that technique in session with everyone playing together.

...and the lead is going to be recorded in the corredor.


That would certainly help with minimising spill... but the guitarist might be too happy about it. Be ready with a plan B! I'd keep the amp in the live room, but use baffles and screens to minimise its bleed to other mics, and close mic to minimise spill from the kit/bass. Also, record a DI to give the option to re-amp if necessary, as the Elf suggests.

Of course, there are many ways you could approach this, and they all involve differnt compromises and priorities. None are absolutely right or wrong -- they're just different ways that will deliver slightly different results. You challenge is to find the optimum way to satisfy your requirements and the band's.

I wouldn't get too bogged down in trying to get ultimate separation. It's almost impossible to achieve, it's usually unnecessary, and you're going to mix everything together again anyway... so work with it. If the band play together there will be spill -- it'll be part of the vibe. Place the musicians, mics and screens to control the spill so that it works for you.

The only need for total separation is if you plan to replace parts by overdubbing later. In that case spill from previous takes will lie embedded in retained tracks under the replacement parts which probably isn't helpful... But if you don't plan to replace parts, total separation isn't necessary, it just means that if someone messes up, you'll need to do a retake of the whole band, rather than fixing it later with an overdub. But most bands are okay with that, and you'll probably get better performances as they work off each other anyway.

And I'd also record a guide vocal at the very least during the main take...

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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:17 am

Do remember that your primary job is to enable a good performance. That done, the rest is easy. Without a good performance, the rest is impossible!
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:22 am

^ +100

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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby grab » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:17 pm

Re screens for guitar amps to reduce bleed, if you've got limited kit then don't be afraid to improvise. I've used bench seats and sacks of lentils successfully for this purpose.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby tacitus » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:10 pm

Damn! I left my sack of lentils in my other jacket ...


(sorry, couldn't resist)
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby BoogieBear » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:20 pm

Reading this might help! :-)

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct12/a ... s-1012.htm

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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby mjfe2 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:50 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Im going to use the recorder man technique on the drums...

I suspect you'll find you need to close mic the snare and kick at the very least to gain sufficient separation and impact if the band are playing 'as live'. The recorderman technique is okay if you're tracking the drums on their own in a nice sounding room, but I'd be surprised if you'll get what you need for a blues band using that technique in session with everyone playing together.

In general I'd agree with Hugh here. But it's worth pointing out that a good drummer (i.e. one who can balance the kit in person) can yield good results with two mics, even when the rest of the band are in the room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii6Ht7ng9vI If anyone's interested I have some of the original multitracks from this session and the drums were recorded with two mics, so basically a variant of recorderman!
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 11, 2012 7:24 pm

mjfe2 wrote:it's worth pointing out that a good drummer (i.e. one who can balance the kit in person) can yield good results with two mics, even when the rest of the band are in the room


Yes... but only if the room sounds nice or is semi-anechoic and only if the acoustic sound from the other band members is well balanced in itself, because essentially, you're using the drum mics as simultaneous room mics. It's all about both the level and the spectral balance of the spill.

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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby chew_rocket » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:33 pm

I personally prefer to track live with everything in one room. No need for baffles. Play with the placements of mics and the bleed can work to your advantage to act as 'glue'. When it starts to sound instantly awesome, tighten those mic stands!
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Magic Matt » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:18 pm

chew_rocket wrote:I personally prefer to track live with everything in one room. No need for baffles. Play with the placements of mics and the bleed can work to your advantage to act as 'glue'. When it starts to sound instantly awesome, tighten those mic stands!

This method sounds fantastic when done right in my opinion. Some bands even insist on recording this way. You can't beat the energy of live performing as a band - I find when things are recorded separately the band can sound almost sterile - no real interaction between members, everything far too planned.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby BigAl » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:01 pm

Mike,

It's not impossible to get good recordings in this way. I've done it many times over the last 30 years.
Recording isn't always about control rooms and theoretical perfection.
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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Tamika Caleigh » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:04 am

Yep Georgia, this is a definately great idea!. How many Mics do you regualry use for a live recording?

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Re: Recording a blues band

Postby Mike Senior » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:53 am

BigAl wrote:Mike, It's not impossible to get good recordings in this way. I've done it many times over the last 30 years. Recording isn't always about control rooms and theoretical perfection.

Sorry -- I think my comment may have come across wrong. I've nothing against recording a whole band in a control room at all. What surprised me was that this should be a requirement for the *first* band recording of a college course. Surely when you're learning about something as complicated as recording a band, a proper live-room/control-room setup makes a lot more sense so that you can actually hear what you're doing? Having to deal with the vagaries of in-room headphone monitoring only adds to what is already a pretty steep learning curve, I'd say.
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