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Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jdutheil » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:12 pm

Hi everybody,

I am currently mixing some recordings we did with my gypsy jazz trio, and I really need some advices. I'm quite new to mixing, so maybe there will be some obvious stuff in their !

To begin with, here is the link to the current state of the mix : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rh2Fan ... sp=sharing

What I've done so far :

- gain staging (during recording, I didn't feel a need to alter it after)
- levels and pans (I doubled the rythm guitar track to put it full left and full right - was it a good idea ?)
- some substractive EQ (low cuts essentialy)
- a little bit of EQ to put each instrument at his own place - but not quite sure if it was efficient there..
- some compression

For know, I'm not quite satisfied by the mix ; I mean, I really like the raw tracks and I don't feel like my mixing added much to it. I find the accordion lacks definition, and sound a little closed (sry I'm french, so dunno how to say that properly in english). Lead guitar can probably be better too..

I want to do the process steps by steps, and move on when one step is correct. I'm looking for reverbs now, but I'd like to have a good mix before playing with that stuff. Do you have some advice for now ?

As for compression, I don't really hear it, maybe I can put a little more ? What I'd like is the accordion and guitar to be really upfront when they are leading their part.

Here are some reference tracks :

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpe-2mtwKnk (For the accordion sound - listen at 0:37 to hear the same register as me)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwcJYsiWpK0 (For guitars - start at 0:40)

What I like from these references is that the leading instruments are really upfront, and it's like there is a lot of "air" around. Btw, the doublebass takes quite a lot of place in both and I know we won't have those low ends.

We recorded live with Prodipe static microphones, and there is no much bleeding.

Thanks by advance !
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:12 pm

Love it :clap: :clap: :clap:

I don't think you have a choice but to put the accordion and lead guitar in the middle so double tracking the rhythm is a good way to get some spread. I like the balance but would mix the lead guitar slightly higher and it really misses a bass. Also, especially compared to the reference tracks, it lacks 'weight'. I'm far from an expert WRT mixing but do know and love (and play) the style (though not half as well as you guys). I think I would start by trying to get the individual instruments sounding 'fatter' particularly the guitars to partially compensate for the lack of bass. I'd probably go back to the start look at mic position and the recording space to get the instruments sounding as good as possible at source.

Just a thought, what are the guitars? I found a huge improvement in tone when I changed from my Gitane Petit Bouche to a Rob Aylward hand built Petit Bouche, most of the difference was in fullness, the Gitane sounded thin in comparison.

edit :- I've just had a another listen to Lulu Swing (great tune BTW) from the duo album you posted about Jan 2020 and I think that sounds better with more body in the lower mids. The new recording is a little quieter though which may be fooling me...
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jdutheil » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:33 pm

Thanks for your answer ! I really appreciate that you like our music :)

What do you mean by "WRT mixing" ? Yes I agree with the need of a "fatter" sound, but don't really know where to go. For those recordings, it's not an option to record again ; any advice on recording is welcome ofc, but for further recordings. Those one were made with videos, and we'll still get them out.
Any idea on how to get "fatter" with mixing ?
Currently I put a low cut on rythm guitar around 60Hz, maybe I can delete it ? I think it might get a little muddy, since it's more a bass area ?

I don't know the exact models, but rhythm guitar is a really good guitar, whereas lead guitar is a midrange guitar. Our lead guitarist is planning to upgrade, but again, that won't be for those recordings :)

I didn't even think of listening to our duo recording in fact, I was quite disapointed with my final mix.. But that's an idea for the lead guitar for sure ! The trio mix is quieter for now yes, I'm still in beginning mixing phase so I want to keep a lot of "headroom".

Thanks again !
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby nickle15 » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:37 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Love it :clap: :clap: :clap:

I don't think you have a choice but to put the accordion and lead guitar in the middle so double tracking the rhythm is a good way to get some spread. I like the balance but would mix the lead guitar slightly higher and it really misses a bass. Also, especially compared to the reference tracks, it lacks 'weight'. I'm far from an expert WRT mixing but do know and love (and play) the style (though not half as well as you guys). I think I would start by trying to get the individual instruments sounding 'fatter' particularly the guitars to partially compensate for the lack of bass. I'd probably go back to the start look at mic position and the recording space to get the instruments sounding as good as possible at source.

Just a thought, what are the guitars? I found a huge improvement in tone when I changed from my Gitane Petit Bouche to a Rob Aylward hand built Petit Bouche, most of the difference was in fullness, the Gitane sounded thin in comparison.

edit :- I've just had a another listen to Lulu Swing (great tune BTW) from the duo album you posted about Jan 2020 and I think that sounds better with more body in the lower mids. The new recording is a little quieter though which may be fooling me...

Is it possible that the low cuts he mentioned with the EQ have also contributed to the lack of bass - or is it an issue that only gets resolved by adding an actual bass?
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:32 pm

Lovely playing!

One thing that strikes me about both of your references is that they make full use of the stereo field. Your own mix is almost mono. The obvious thing to do is to spread the rhythm guitars left and right, then if it doesn't sound strange you could even swap the positions of accordion and lead guitar during the guitar solos.

The other thing is that I think both of those mixes have a lot more high-frequency 'air' in the sound. I'd try applying a high shelving boost to your master bus, perhaps turning over somewhere around 3kHz. The accordion could perhaps also do with an EQ boost in the upper mids -- say, around 2-3 kHz.
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby RichardT » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:37 pm

Very nice playing! I really enjoyed it. Lovely performances.

The mix has a slightly boxy sound - what space did you record in?

I agree with others that you need a bit more bass on the rhythm guitars, and perhaps a little less string noise on the rhythm guitars, and a boost to the lead guitar volume (or it may be better to pull back the rhythm guitar a little at that point).

It also needs to have more stereo width to it, which will help with separation and clarity.

it does lack a little top end sparkle too, particularly the accordian.
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:53 pm

jdutheil wrote:Thanks for your answer ! I really appreciate that you like our music :)

What do you mean by "WRT mixing" ? Yes I agree with the need of a "fatter" sound, but don't really know where to go. For those recordings, it's not an option to record again ; any advice on recording is welcome ofc, but for further recordings. Those one were made with videos, and we'll still get them out.
Any idea on how to get "fatter" with mixing ?
Currently I put a low cut on rythm guitar around 60Hz, maybe I can delete it ? I think it might get a little muddy, since it's more a bass area ?

I don't know the exact models, but rhythm guitar is a really good guitar, whereas lead guitar is a midrange guitar. Our lead guitarist is planning to upgrade, but again, that won't be for those recordings :)

I didn't even think of listening to our duo recording in fact, I was quite disapointed with my final mix.. But that's an idea for the lead guitar for sure ! The trio mix is quieter for now yes, I'm still in beginning mixing phase so I want to keep a lot of "headroom".

Thanks again !

WRT - "with regard to" just another way to say "so talking about....."

I'd keep the 60 Hz HPF but to be sure try switching it in and out while soloing the rhythm guitar track.

Getting fatter might involve a gentle boost to the low mids, stick a few dB of wide Q boost on a parametric and sweep it up and down to find the place where it adds the required fatness. Better to achieve it at source though with mic position and room.

If the rhythm guitarists instrument is a good sounding one then we're back to mic position. There may be nothing wrong with the sound of the lead players guitar either, changing the mic position might sort that out too (but obviously you can't do that at mixdown).

The quieter track will sound less impressive but I didn't have an easy way to boost the level for comparison, for the next one, maybe you could do a temp master and boost the level to match the references?

Richard T and Sam Inglis have commented on the mono mix, you mentioned the rhythm guitar being double tracked but did you just copy and paste it or was it a different performance? It sounds like the first and unless you do something to make them different, say a very short delay they will just resolve to mono in the mix.

I shall be following your efforts with interest as I am attempting to record some gypsy jazz tunes myself. Hopefully I'll be asking you for mix advice next time. :thumbup:
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jdutheil » Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:08 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks for all that !

Here is a new version with your commentary taken in account : https://drive.google.com/file/d/11GX-A8 ... sp=sharing

I add some high end to the accordion, and to the master bus - maybe I went a little too hard, sound a bit high for me ?

I remove low cut on rhythm guitar, seems to sound better

For the stereo, I had rhythm guitar panned full left and full right, thought it would do the job. But I did use a bus to group them and apply same effects, maybe that was the thing ? I removed the bus and keep panning full left / full right, sounds a bit better ?
I also put the lead accordion to L25 and lead guitar to R25 to have some kind of play between the two ; I like the effect

Dunno how I can get more stereo only with those tracks, maybe you have an idea ?

Thanks again !

EDIT : I forgot to answer to RichardT - we recorded in my living room, so no treatment at all ;/
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:23 pm

An untreated living room is bad for recording acoustic instruments, that's probably 90% of the problem right there.

If you panned two identical rhythm guitar tracks left and right and applied identical processing they will resolve to mono. They need to be different, ideally two separately recorded parts so the subtle differences in performance will add to each other. But stereo is really hard with only three instruments as you always want the lead instrument central. What is the lead guitarist doing when the accordion is soloing and vice versa? If he's comping then pan him to the opposite side from a single rhythm guitar track and swap him with the accordion when the guitar takes a solo?
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jdutheil » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:25 pm

And here is the last version for today : https://drive.google.com/file/d/13JGQIT ... sp=sharing

For the rhythm guitar, when the accordion is soloing we have the rhythm guitarist on the left and the lead guitarist on the right (who is comping). The duplicate track enters only when the lead guitarist is soloing ; I added a little delay on the duplicate track, it's indeed far better !

I also put a 3rd replicate track of the rhythm guitar, in the center (with less volume). I found that having the basses in center was more appealing to my ear, what do you think ?

Next I'm going to add some reverb to style a bit all the things, I'll probably come for more help 'cause I struggle hard with reverbs (applying it as discrete as possible, just to give more size to my mix)

Thanks !
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:36 pm

I'll give the new version a listen tomorrow. In the meantime, though, do feel free to send a track in for our Mix Rescue column if you like. PM me for details or email sam AT soundonsound DOT com.
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:39 pm

I think that's getting a lot closer to the reference. The accordion is comping behind the lead guitar, why not put it opposite the rhythm guitar instead of the second rhythm track?

I would love to hear a mix rescue on one of your tracks, It would be super helpful to me...
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jdutheil » Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:00 pm

Hi everyone,

@Sam Spoons > The accordion can't make it for the lack of rhythm guitar, it feels like something's missing. That's why I duplicate the tracks ;)

Here is my morning version : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NEjwOd ... sp=sharing

I tryed to add some reverbs to the thing, trying to get that "air" sound. But I'm not quite close. Right now it sounds like there is practicaly no reverb, but when I send more volumes then we ear reflexions so hard. Like, when I hit the stop button there is still reflexion (doesn't happen in my references tracks). Any idea on what effects they could have use to obtain that kind of sound ? I mean, it feels "big" and wide but I can't hear a reverb

I also tend to believe that this last mix is a bit too bright ? When I listen to reference tracks they seems darker, am I wrong ?

Thanks !
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:25 pm

Lots of good suggestions here already... but adding my own two pen'neth, I'd suggest panning the lead instruments wider still. You've got barely 2dB left/right offsets at the moment. I'd aim for more like 4dB -- to make it sound deliberate and to play with the spatial stereo interaction more obviously.

I'd also suggest pulling the according level down 2-4dB. It's an instrument that really cuts through and as a result some of the syncopated interaction with the backing guitar gets lost. Try mixing with the speakers turned down low... at the moment the accordion really stands out when you do that but the rhythm guitars tend to get lost.
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Re: Mixing gypsy jazz trio : need advices

Postby jimjazzdad » Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:43 pm

I would love to hear what Sam Inglis and the Mix Rescue team could do with your track, if you are comfortable with someone else working on your recording. On the other hand, if you added some simulated crackle and hiss with a plug-in, it would really sound like something from Django's time...
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