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Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

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Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 3:47 am
by JRocker
I was listening to the radio today and on came James' 1993 hit, 'Laid'. For the first I noticed the amount of string noise and squeaks on the acoustic guitar. I had never heard this before, but obviously with radio stations compression, it obviously made it more noticable. I was wondering, why didn't the producer Brian Eno or anyone else notice this squeaky acoustic track? Have a listen to it and tell me if I am hearing it right or my ears are deluding me.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:08 am
by MOF
I found three versions on YouTube, which one are you referring to? They’re all electric guitar heavy, I don’t think a few acoustic guitar squeaks will be very noticeable.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:23 am
by JRocker
Listen to the original track on Spotify (especially through headphones) and you will hear the squeaks loud and clear from the moment the acoustic guitar begins at the start of the song and throughout.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:42 am
by djangodeadman
Maybe they were aware of them and didn’t think that they had a detrimental effect on the song. Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it is either necessary or desirable. Strings squeaks are a part of the sound of an acoustic (and to a lesser extent electric) guitar. Some players take action to avoid or minimise them, some don’t. Why the obsession with making everything clean and ”perfect”?

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:50 am
by CS70
JRocker wrote:I was listening to the radio today and on came James' 1993 hit, 'Laid'. For the first I noticed the amount of string noise and squeaks on the acoustic guitar. I had never heard this before, but obviously with radio stations compression, it obviously made it more noticable. I was wondering, why didn't the producer Brian Eno or anyone else notice this squeaky acoustic track? Have a listen to it and tell me if I am hearing it right or my ears are deluding me.

1993 was surely targeted to vinyl, so it's either been remastered or is the original ported to digital, so the sonics may not be exactly as they were intended back then for the final product? And, guitar squeaks are present in most acoustic recordings, it's part of the instrument sound and nothing to worry about, usually.. on the contrary.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:34 am
by Chet Leeway
CS70 wrote:1993 was surely targeted to vinyl.

No. The mid-nineties was peak CD era.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 11:21 am
by CS70
Chet Leeway wrote:
CS70 wrote:1993 was surely targeted to vinyl.

No. The mid-nineties was peak CD era.

Right. Gee I'm old :lol:

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 11:50 am
by Chet Leeway
JRocker wrote:squeaks [...] why didn't the producer Brian Eno or anyone else notice this squeaky acoustic track? Have a listen to it and tell me if I am hearing it right or my ears are deluding me.

Yikes! That's pretty harsh and overpowering. Bad judgment IMO. Maybe they thought it had an interesting sort of sitar-like quality to it? Maybe they felt they need a bit of high frequency content? For contrast, "Sometimes", another strum-fest from the same album, has a much more controlled and mid-heavy acoustic guitar sound, but also a duller sound. I think "Laid" was the main single from the album, so maybe they went for an extremly forward sound with an extra dollop of high frequencies for that reason.

BTW, that squeaky sound is typical of an acoustic guitar with pickups, isn't it? Maybe it was a placeholder track that they ended up keeping for some reason, like the strumming being just right? Or was it an oblique strategy? "Add something squeaky".

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:56 pm
by blinddrew
I'll need to fish out my original, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's been 'remastered' somewhere along the way with someone just hitting a limiter without thought to the consequences.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 3:43 pm
by blinddrew
Hmm. Turns out I don't have the original any more, just a minidisc copy of the greatest hits.
On that I can confirm that a) that is a horrible piece of acoustic guitar recording, and b) the recording is clipping all over the place.
Going back to the guitar, it does sound like a piezo pick-up there (a fairly good one, but still) but it doesn't just sound badly recorded, it sounds badly played too. It's not so much fret-noise as you'd normally get moving around the neck, it's fret-buzz as if something's not been fretted properly.
I wonder if the original recording was a bit too dull and they stuck some kind of exciter on there to try and brighten it up?
At the end of a long day.
On a friday.
After a few beers.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 5:31 pm
by andy cross
Listening to the original release on decent headphones there's a bit of what sounds like string buzz from a lack of sufficient finger pressure but none of the nasty squeaks associated with finger movement on the strings. Given the parties involved, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was recorded with the band playing together and quality of performance won over some very minor infelicities in the playing. Rightly so.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:09 pm
by Chet Leeway
andy cross wrote:Listening to the original release on decent headphones there's a bit of what sounds like string buzz from a lack of sufficient finger pressure but none of the nasty squeaks associated with finger movement on the strings. Given the parties involved, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was recorded with the band playing together and quality of performance won over some very minor infelicities in the playing. Rightly so.

Out of interest, could you compare the original (CD?) to the Spotify track? I have the CD, but it's somewhere at the bottom of a crate 1000 miles away from where I live.

I agree the energy in the playing is worth keeping even if the playing is a bit sloppy here and there, but surely it would be possible to tame the squeaks a bit?

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:10 pm
by shufflebeat
This all sounds like what I like to call "Ovation rattle" because, despite the old Balladeer sounding great acoustically and being a dream to play, every one of them had this aspect of their sound that drove us all to Takamine in the olden days.

I have no idea what kind of guitar is involved in this case.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 6:37 pm
by andy cross
Chet Leeway wrote:
Out of interest, could you compare the original (CD?) to the Spotify track? I have the CD, but it's somewhere at the bottom of a crate 1000 miles away from where I live.


The noise seems to be more apparent on Spotify, but still more buzz than squeak.

Re: Acoustic Guitar on James' 'Laid'.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2021 7:06 pm
by CS70
shufflebeat wrote:This all sounds like what I like to call "Ovation rattle" because, despite the old Balladeer sounding great acoustically and being a dream to play, every one of them had this aspect of their sound that drove us all to Takamine in the olden days.

I have no idea what kind of guitar is involved in this case.

One of my acoustic is a Custom Legend from 96 and it doesn't buzz at all.. on the other side, the battery compartment has a tendency of falling about.

Still an excellent tool for live gigs, thin and very loud before feedback.