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Tracking live guitar

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Tracking live guitar

Postby stoatstail » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:06 pm

Hi all,

I've got the chance to track a live 3 piece blues/rock band shortly and have a couple of questions.

To set the scene I'll fill out the plan a little.

I've got 8 inputs to play with and intend to use them as follows,

Drums - 4 inputs, Recorderman style

Bass - 1 input, DI'ed

Vocals - 1 input, mic. splitter on main vocal mic

Guitar - 1 input, SM57 on amp.

Input 8 was going to be an audience mic.

Due to a change in circumstances I'm only going to be able to record the first set, which will now be a trial run for a future gig recording.

This seems like a good chance to ditch the audience mic. and use the input as a guitar DI, so I was wondering whether to take the DI feed before or after the guitarist's pedal board. Given that I will have the mic'ed track as a reference, a dry DI seems like a good plan. However, I can see merit in recording the FX'ed signal as well.

Any thoughts would be gratefully recieved.

Cheers,
Steve
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:36 pm

Tap the DI before the FX. You can always re-amp back out to the pedalboard, but if the FX are printed you're stuck with it.

(And 'Recorderman' in a live environment wouldn't be my choice. I'd overhead X/Y and get in close to reduce spill)
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby stoatstail » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:48 pm

Qkay then, that's the DI sorted... I must be a cowardly then because pre board was the natural instict I had.

To be honest, it'll be the first time I've recorded drums, so Recorderman just seemed the easiest to set up pre-gig without being too intrustive to the bands routine. I assume you mean x/y overheads and keep the spot mic,s on kick and snare? Would you record the overheads a seperate mono tracks and bus to stereo in Reaper(in my case at least) or as a stereo track... or even both? Would you please define close in.

Cheers,
Steve
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby hollowsun » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:00 pm

The Elf wrote:Tap the DI before the FX. You can always re-amp back out to the pedalboard, but if the FX are printed you're stuck with it.
So if you were recording Genesis back in the day, you'd have recorded Hackett, Banks and Rutherford without their trademark and signature effects pedals ... and then added them later?!

I wouldn't!
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:08 pm

First time recording drums and... you're doing it live?!?!? You must be a masochist!

Recorderman is overrated IMO, but what it does do is capture an honest 'roomy' drum sound - something that will not help you in a live environment with the amount of spill you're going to be fighting. It is also quite intrusive - one mic will be peering over your drummer's shoulder. At least with XY you can get the mic's up and out of the drummer's way.

'Close in' is as close as you can get to achieve a balance between spill/separation and a natural drum sound. Too much spill and your options for processing the drums is going to be limited. Too close in and you're going to lose the natural balance of the kit as a whole. Good luck trying to finesse that balance in a live environment!

It makes little difference whether you track the overheads to two mono tracks, or to a single stereo track - it will sound the same when they're panned correctly, though you'd need to group them for dynamics processing, such as compression. I'd probably record to a stereo track, just because it's neater.

HTH!
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby The Elf » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:12 pm

hollowsun wrote:
The Elf wrote:Tap the DI before the FX. You can always re-amp back out to the pedalboard, but if the FX are printed you're stuck with it.

So if you were recording Genesis back in the day, you'd have recorded Hackett, Banks and Rutherford without their trademark and signature effects pedals ... and then added them later?!

I wouldn't!

Neither would I. And when I trust the abilities of the guys I'm working with I don't record a DI. But in 90% of cases that safety net is very useful. Far better to clean up the DI and pass it back to the pedalboard than have to edit through delays and reverbs.

(Actually, thinking about it more - I probably *would* tap a DI from the likes of those venerable Genesis guys - how much of a hero would you be in saving a take with one fluff in it for the sake of a quick edit/re-amp?! )

Don't forget that the DI is *as well* as the amp-ed sound - not instead of! Ideally I won't need it, though it makes editing of the amp-ed tracks very much easier with Cubase's multi-track/grouped editing facility.

And out of every ten guitarists I've worked with only 2 of them have the first clue about how to set up an FX pedal chain...
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby stoatstail » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:24 pm

Thank you Mr. Elf,

The gig has been brought forward and instead of being off work the following day, as was the case originally, I have to be up at 03:30 the next day now.

This is why I'll only be doing set 1 and why it'll be a practice run for a future recording... probably a fairly good chance for a first attempt at mic'ing drums... I hope. Also, there is nothing riding on the results, no cash is involved, just my time and their proformance.

To be honest I've become fed-up (a good falconry term, given your sig. The Elf) with having the equipment to record people other than myself but constantly being let down by a lack of commitment by folk who are enthusiastic initally.

I felt a New Year was a good time to grab the bull by the horns and be more proactive. These guys are kind enough to indulge me now, hopefully for mutual benefit going forwards.

Cheers
Steve
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby Sam Inglis » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:53 pm

Just a thought, but personally I would probably rather have an audience or room mic than a guitar DI. Otherwise you risk failing to capture the live-ness of the performance, and it could end up sounding just like a sloppy studio recording rather than an exciting live event. (Of course if the guitarist has a horrible sound and far too many effects then a DI would be more important).
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby stoatstail » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:16 pm

Sam,

When it comes to doing the real recording I will have an audience mic. This time has now become a chance to experiment and learn a bit more than is in my comfort zone.

It'll probably end up sounding awful but at least I'll know what I did wrong and be able to do better job on the next attempt.

Cheers,
Steve
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby alanjamesrobertson » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:34 pm

I recently recorded my band to 8-track (a complete one-off reunion gig after 20 years, I have never recorded a band in a live environment, I was playing drums throughout and couldn't even check levels once we'd started!). The gamble I took was taking a DI feed from the two guitar amps, post effects, and no guitar mics at all. This worked out OK as I was able to get reasonable results from cabinet modelling at mix stage. For one guitarist, this was definitely a good solution as he was fairly heavy on the wah wah and I don't think I could have repeated his performance - unless I'd DI'ed after the wah, of course. The other guitarist actually did have some pedal issues on the night which I'm stuck with for the most part.

So I suppose I'm saying - if your guitarist uses effects as part of his performance (wah, volume swells), might be best to DI after them?

And the one thing I really miss into having was a room mic on the night. HAd to waste two channles on decidedly ropey backing vocals.

Oh for enough channels to record everything three times!
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Re: Tracking live guitar

Postby stoatstail » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:38 pm

Okay, tonight is the trial by ordeal.

Having considered all the advice and done some research, here's the the final plan of attack.

I'm dropping the guitar DI in favour of an audience mic. The reason is this. Although this is now only a practice run, I feel it makes sense to rehearse the set-up that'll be used on the real session.

I've abandoned the recorderman drum miking in favour of an x-y pair of overheads with spot mic's on the kick and snare.

Everything else is as in the original post.

Thanks for the advice and suggestions and I'll let you know how it went shortly.

Cheers,
Steve
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