Complete Pedalboard…Maybe

Got me a few more pedals. Well my girlfriend did for Chrismas and my birthday but I think I’m there!

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Ok signal flow…

Guitar – Buffer (bottom right) – Tuner (top right before was) – 2 loop bank – Loop 1 – Rotovibe – Cry Baby – Whammy – Pog – Loop 2 – OS-2 – Big Muff – Small Stone – Ph-50 – Small Clone – Flashback – Hot rod/Polara – Windsor.

The buffer is to try and gain back some signal degradation from the 10ft cable I’m using so I can move around. Should ideally be using 6ft. The Korg Pitch-black Tuner I’m not a fan of, it seems to just be really lenient and not very precise. Admittedly its winter so I’m in a cold garage with a little heater in front of me so some of the guitars cold, some of its getting hot air and that plays havoc with tuning, especially on the firebird. The reason being the tension of the wood against the strings really does change due to the temperature of the wood. But thats not such a massive thing with the Les Paul its just not a great tuner. Doubles up as a mute though.

This is mostly a repeat of what I’ve said in previous posts but I like the Rotary and Wah before the distortion/fuzz (Big Muff/OS-2) plus the octave effects work better as close to the guitar as possible so all expression and octave effects go in the first bank. That way I can then bypass 4 effects at once. The Big Muff and OS-2 are in the second bank so if I’m getting that Billy Corgan Buzz Saw Tone I can turn it all on or off at once. Also the pedals are at the back of the board and I can turn them on/off from the front which is more ergonomic. Then if I had a third bank I’d put the Modulation (PH-50, Small stone – Phasers/Small Clone – Chorus) in it but I don’t so they’re in series after the distortion. I like the sound of the Phasers after the OS-2 which is used as a boost.

This is where it gets fun! The Flashback (Delay) and Polara (Reverb) are both stereo I/O. So a mono signal enters the Flashback, then if I want to use a Stereo Ping Pong Delay then one output goes to the Hot Rod and the second to the Polara. Reason being the Hot Rod has a built in Spring Reverb. The Peavey Windsor doesn’t so the Polara can give it one. Ideally I’d prefer the reverb to be in the effects loop but I don’t want to run 2 more cables to and fro 1 amp. Already got about 15ft of cable, don’t want another 10! Id rather have the polara in the loop because then you have a nice clean reverb, not a distorted one as its sounding off before the Pre-amp. But its all sounding pretty good.

The really fun part is putting the Polara on reverse and using the volume pot on the Guitar to create a bow like sound for songs such as ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘How Many More Times.’ This setup is how I would gig however the possibilities are endless for a studio environment. For example there are Wet and Dry outs on the POG which so you could run one to one amp and the other to another. Or you could put the Reverb before the Delay and then a stereo output to both amps with the Reverb down on the Hotrod to get a more coherent tone of the amps in unison. Or you could throw away the pedal board and play just with 1 amp. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

Les Paul

Christmas has come and gone…I got myself a present. My very first Gibson Les Paul!20170111_140841

No idea what to call it. Think I’ll wait until I get another 1 or 2 to decide, more on that later. This is a Les Paul 2016 Traditional T. Believe it or not the T stands for Traditional. The alternative is a LP 2016 Standard. Traditional Traditional, what are gibson thinking? The finish is an Ice Tea Sunburst and in different light you can see different levels to the flames which ill show later.

I picked this LP as it is true to the late 50’s Les Paul’s where it has weight relief in the form of 9 hole (earlier LP’s had no weight relief and weigh a god damn tonne, newer ones have limited/full on chambering where they rout out huge amounts of wood. In fact the Gibson Memphis LP’s are damn near completely hollow usually with F holes. Weight relief will effect the tone, dramatically, as you are cutting out chunks of wood so there is less substance to oscillate when the strings are struck. You tend to get a lot more sustain from the wood being there so I prefer them heavier. However the early 50’s LP’s were so damn heavy that after a while of use, your shoulder will ache. To be honest I even have that with my one.

The top is 2 pieces of Maple stuck to a single thick piece of Mahogany. The neck is set in (glued into the body) with a single piece of Mahogany and a Rosewood Fingerboard. The inlays are acrylic with cream inlays around the whole body and neck. One way to spot a fake LP is looking at whether the Inlays cover the sides of the frets.

What I really want this to look like is a 59 LP which will require changing a few things. For examples the knobs are more like the earlier ones Gibson used, I prefer the bell shaped ones as they feel more ergonomic. Also the Jack plate is made of metal, originally they were nylon I believe but ill keep this as its a bit more sturdy.

Also the Pickup covers are Chrome as well as the bridge pieces. The original Covers were made from nickel, which if these were, would be quite easy to relic using some chemicals. Instead ill just replace these keeping them incase I ever decide to re-use them. Also I have top wrapped the strings. There are multiple purposes for this, most notably it will stop the bridge from caving over backward if the strings are resting against the back of it from the tail. Also it arguably improves the tone and loosens the tension of the strings making them feel ‘slinkier.’ Also it looks awesome. A trick I learned from Mike Hickey (Joe Bonnamassa’s Guitar Tech) for top wrapping which you can see in the image below is cutting the balls off a dead set of strings, running them down each new string which will offset them by a few mil to to pull the winding further back into the tail piece. That’ll stop you catching your hand on the sharp ends and stop the strings snapping from the tension. The other thing to note however is the angle at which the strings are from the Stop Bar to the Tunomatic bridge; if its too shallow then you will get buzzing. Once you adjust the height of the Tunomatic bridge for playing action, then adjust the stop bar to fix any unwanted buzzes.

The Machineheads are in fact the vintage 50’s style tuners that Gibson used. The Tektoid nut has been nicely rounded off which is a really great touch to the headstock.20170111_154719.jpgI originally wanted a gold top and there was one on Dawsons where I got this, but it was more money and not really what I wanted. It was a Standard so had the later machine heads and cost £300 more than this. Once Christmas and New Years had gone by, both Guitars dropped by £300 also so I grabbed this up as they only had 3 left, on a 12 month interest free finance at £1399. Its a lot of money but breaks down nicely to around £116 a month and is a worthy investment.20170111_154627.jpg

I also bought a strap and some strap locks; the trick with these, in some cases, is to use the screws already holding the strap eyelets in place, not the ones provided in the pack. The reason being the hole will already be the right size for the screws, using new ones may crack the finish or be too small causing the straps to pull out. However, over tightening the old ones may cause them not to grab so if the screws provided are slightly bigger then they might be better.

One thing that i found irritating was the disk around the toggle switch that says Rhythm and Treble was slightly the wrong way around. Also the angle of the toggle switch, so I took the cover off the back, taped the disk in the right position with black insulation tape and held the switch in the right play. Then I used players to tighten the switch in place but it damaged the metal ring slightly. Not massively obvious but a bit annoying.

The strings that were on it were 10’s so I got it out the box and played them for about an hour and replaced them with 11’s. From the get go this Guitar really stood out against the others in my limited collection. Its incredibly loud and going from the LP to the Firebird is a drop in intensity and volume. The LP just roars! Opening up the backplate it has ceramic Capacitors which still give you that gentle curve when adjusting volume or tone, not a drastic one. There is also a plate that the electronics are connected to that acts as the grounding which i found interesting (as opposed to soldering to the top of the pots.

I wanted the tone in the bridge to be a bit heavier, the covers on the pickups can negate noise and protect the pickup but also dampen the sound somewhat. So the idea was to take it off. I took the pickup off and you can see in the cavity just how the top piece is about 15mm thick in the centre! The cover is held in place by the two bits of solder either side of the pickup which are dense and were difficult to melt. I kept a soldering iron on them and used a stanley blade to cut through as quickly as possible trying not to heat the pickup and the coiled wire at all. Too much heat may cause things to move within the pickup which may cause damage. Once the solder is cleared you can just lift the cover off. The Pickups are also covered in a coat of wax after they are wrapped to hold everything in place, some of which was coated over the top of the pickups once they were bear so i used an old credit card to carefully scrape it away so it looks nice and clean.

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The finished product with my preferred knobs. I saw a video from Stu Mac on youtube where they had a bridge pickup from an old Telecaster that wasn’t working very well, its output was incredibly low. As they opened it up they thought it may have been rust from a single pole piece that had spread but instead it seemed to be a dink in the coil possibly from a pick sliding through the side. They had to remove all of the wire and re-wire the pickup which is a long painstaking process so I’m extremely conscious not to do a similar thing.

Pheonix

Pheonix is the name of my Gibson Firebird V 2016 T. As said in the previous post I bought it for £850 and it has really opened my eyes to a lot of things to do with playing Guitar. Unfortunately I crushed the end of my little finger beneath a concrete block working with the bricky’s which was extremely painful but even more painfully I havent been able to play guitar properly for a couple of weeks. Things like this really open your eyes to what you’re doing in life.

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I completed my UCAS application with the exception of the Reference which my former boss Dave the Bar Manager will be filling out when we finally get together. I’ve applied to a couple of University’s but the one I’m gunning for is West London to do Mixing and Mastering. Managed to write my Personal Statement in 15 minutes at about 11 at night whilst I was in bed. My dad said he thought it was incredible, obviously hes biased but I guess I showed myself how eager I am to more forward now. Been sitting still or stepping sidways going from job to job which have nothing to do with Music. The Bar work was fun and I drank a lot for free, which I shouldn’t have done but had they paid me accordingly i’d have played by the rules. Labouring is good money but hard work and not particularly rewarding. Its nice to have weekends to myself though. The biggest issue is how its weather dependant, living in england that’s pretty dire!

I saw a video of Joe Bonamassa talking about tone and it got me experimenting. He says leave the pedals out (we know how much I love pedals!) and just use the toggle between Pups and the Volume and Tone pots to get different tones. He uses a Les Paul and explains how its a plethora of different sounds. A Firebird has the same pickup arrangement and a bit of a different Tone to a Les Paul but hes really opened my eyes. With a track like Since ive been loving you, as a novice I’d have the Volume and Tone up on the bridge and player the first part of the opening, then when it gets louder engage a pedal for an extra push. However, simply using the neck with the volume down slightly will clean up the tone and add a lot more mid range, then switching to the bridge will add the distortion and extra high end.

Using the neck with the Volume up and the Tone all the way down will give you a wolly dull tone (Dull can be negative when used to explain a person’s personality but with a tone can be desirable) similar to that of ‘Out of the Tiles’ Led Zeppelin. taking the Volume down slightly on the bridge to clean it up can give you a twang that matches that of coutry music extremely well. I much prefer this arrangement of pickups found on Les Pauls and Firebirds compared to that of the Stratocasters. You can set the guitar up in 2 ways then just switch. I’m not particularly a fan of 3 pickups on one Guitar but I guess I’ll warm to it eventually.

The Firebird uses Minubuckers and I’m 100% satisfied with the neck, I have been playing with the Volume and Tone Turned down to about 8 fingerpicking a little blues number I’ve made up and it sounds lovely. But even then switching to the bridge for a lead tone seems to almost duck. For me its not kicking enough so I may look at getting a Seymour Duncan or Dimarzio Minubucker with a lot more kick.

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The guitar itself its impressive to look at, particularly with its 9-ply Mahognay-Walnut through neck which runs the length of the Guitar and a Rosewood fingerboard, then 2 Mahognay wings for the bass and treble that are reversed. This is quite an interesting design as it came from the Explorer but a Car designer got his hands on one and sanded off the edges resulting in the Firebird. Something else that I found quite interesting is that Gibson, as well as imprinting a Serial Number to their Guitars, place a magnetic tag beneather the Fingerboard that can be read at their Offices to confirm the Authenticity of a Guitar. Thats right, people out there try to fake Gibson guitars to make more money.

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Another notable feature on this Guitar is the Very different Tuning Method. The Steinberger Gearless Tuning Keys unscrew on the front of the Head allowing you to pass a string through the pin, then tightening the screw locks the string in place. When you then wind the Keys on the back it pulls the pin down into the Head creating the tension on the string as opposed to winding it round the peg. They stay in tune and tune very finely.

Finally I use D’Addario Regular Light Guage strings ranging from 10 to 46. On my Big Mumma, which I’ll talk about in another post, I use 11 to 49. I dropped a Guage after watching a video of Billy Gibbons doing Guitar Moves (WATCH IT!), he says BB King told him to use lighter strings because the strings he did use made it too much work. He now uses 7’s! I cant imagine using anything that light because I somewhat follow the Jack White way of doing things where you make things more difficult to make yourself better thus settling at 10’s.

Guitar Rig

History of the last year or so…

It has been about a year since I last posted so thought I should get back into this. I have done hardly anything to do with sound except play Guitar so now need to reboot my career as…what ever the hell it is that I want to be. Haven’t figured it out but will do soon hopefully. I’ve been to a few gigs, saw Garbage twice, Placebo in December, Gary Numan in September but not a gig. My dad and step mum paid of me to go along to a rehearsal which is a 3 hour session where you can chat to the band and play all the instruments. I’ll ask him for a job and throw loads of humour at it. Whats there to lose?

I have been playing a lot more Guitar than before but think I need to play more so need to work out a job that accommodates that more. I was working on the bar and got bumped up to bar supervisor, effectively a bar manger but paid a lot less so ended up being really pissed off and left to start labouring for a brick layer. Ive been doing that for a few months and have gained a lot of muscle and the cash is really good but its prodominantly  12 hour days, 6 day weeks at the moment. Not giving me much time at all. This week has given me time to think and I’m realising I’m not very happy with the way things have gone over the past few years but I’ve learned skills that I can take anywhere in the world and get paid in case I’m in a jam. And I partied hard and finally got with the girl I need to be with from the beginning!

The Guitars

Pressing on, my Guitar Rig is pretty awesome. Got myself a brand new Gibson Firebird Reverse; but need to take it to a specialist to get the neck sorted. Buzzing really badly on the E, A and D but cant relieve the truss rod so the frets may need stoning. Still sounds noice! Almost like a Les Paul but les sustain (if youre playing a real les paul which has minimal weight relief or non at all!) and a bit woolier. Very Jonny Winters. I got it on a 12 month interest free finance for £850. My girlfriend Nicknamed it Pheonix. The reason why I went for one goes back to when I was trying a 70’s Twin Reverb in Wunjo guitars in Tin Pan Alley,  which was up for £700. The first Guitar I picked up was a vintage Firebird. It felt right dispite its length and it played like a dream. Together they sounded incredible! I asked the dude how much it was to which he replied its around £4000. I imediately put it back seing as I couldnt even afford the amp. Youll have to excuese the state of my garage in this post, I promise I will tidy one day!

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I had been using the Squire Esprit, which is like a double cut Les Paul except a bit wider and heavy as an elephant round your neck so I named it ‘Big Mamma.’ It has 2 Duncan designed Humbuckers in the bridge and neck with volume and tone for each. It has been a faithful companion, never got bored of playing it. I flipped the neck pickup to try the Peter Green thing but it literally did absolutely nothing.

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As well as that I have a Squire Stratocaster which is the signature Simon Neil version. Didn’t realise that until way after I bought it. I got it before I knew anything about guitars really 🙂 Took the scratch plate off and went to town on the shine with sand paper to give it a worn relic look knowing that it was only a £400 guitar so wasn’t bothered about resell price or anything. The pickups in there will be made from Chinese Pot Metal and the Bridge single coil sounded Tinny and awful so replaced it with a DiMarzio Tone Zone BC-2 (DP226). This is a Humbucker the Size of a single coil. I wanted to get the Billy Corgan Buzz Saw Tone but I’ll talk about that later. My ex girlfriend (when we were together) named this one Lexie the Slut “because I finger her more.”

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Just to clarify for people who don’t know, because I didn’t until recently, the Difference between an American and a Chinese Stratocaster: The Chinese ones are thrown together but the Americans take time on their Strat and cost a lot more because of the quality of parts and the cost of labour. The metal parts in Squiers (pickups, bridge, machine heads, electronics) are made of Chinese pot metal which is where they will throw a lot of nickel and other low quality metals (in terms of conductivity), as well as a small amount of steel, to make their steel go a lot further. The conductivity of the electronics is almost at the diminishing point, the gear ratio of the machine heads is very low which is why they can be hard to tune, the wood will be a similar version of Ash or Alder such as Birch because it is cheaper but does not oscillate in the same fashion therefore impacting tone. That is why a Squire Simon Neil Strat costs around £400 and a brand new Fender USA Strat costs on or around £1000. This is not to say that every Squire will sound shite compared to a USA but it gives you a reason.

I had an ESP explorer in red but could not get on with it so bought the better version (Firebird) and gave it to my girlfriends little brother. I also have an Ibanez Gio which was my first Guitar which came with a tiny crackly amp that never sounded good and a video of a Guitar Lesson…All for £100! I’ve relic’d that too and striped out the electronics. Going to put a Seymour Duncan Humbucker in the bridge, not sure what one yet, and just use a single volume knob to turn it into a Jerry Cantrell style of Guitar. I also switched the bridge for a Floyd Rose and installed a locking nut on the headstock.

The Amps

My first proper amp is the Peavey Windsor Head and 4×12 Cabinet that I still use. I purchased it for £300 from a Guitar shop just up the road from my house after I got a huge Tax Rebate. Its a 100w Head with a single channel and Effects loop plus a Boost which boosts the Mids. In the Pre you have the typical gain and 3 band EQ, then in the Post you have the Master Volume, Resonance, Prescense and texture. The texture is very interested as it lets you fade between a class A or A/B amp effectively halving the power to 50w which really makes the amp compress more like lower powered amps do. I tend to keep it all the way up to class A/B because it pokes the high end right out.

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It has 3 12ax7’s in the pre of which I have the Electroharmonix version because I love EHX! The edgier scratchy tone they give works really well with the Big Muff. It also has 4 EL34’s, of which I use groove tubes, in the post. The 4×12 is a beautifully balanced cabinet which tends to favour the higher mid ranges but I went on to buy a Laney 2×12 cabinet off a guy who lived near me. I swaped out the Celestions for Peavey Valve Kings and it screams! I use both of the cabinets and its loud but a really nice blues rock tone for the sorts of things I play.

I went to Tin Pan Alley again the other day in search of something of the Fender variety and came back with a 1960’s Harmony H305a. Bought it for £300 as well and its very different. It has 4 Inputs, 2 Gains (2 Inputs per Gain) and a crossfade between Bass and Treble. Thats it. I’ts a Combo with a 12″ cone made by Jensen. With the Gain and Treble up all the way it sounds Awesome! Extremely Bassy when you play a bit quieter but when you play hard it breaks up into a beautifully vintage driven tone. It has 2x 12AX7’s, 2x 6V6 and a single 5Y3. It’s the sort of thing that Jack White would sit on his portch whilst watching the cows in a field, sliding blues on a Guitar he made himself out of wooden shoe. I didn’t find what I was looking for when I got it but I found something Extra that is special that I couldn’t leave behind.IMG_1229

What I was looking for whilst I was there was a Fender Blues Deluxe or Hot Rod Deluxe. Or Ideally both Side by Side. The Tweed Blues deluxe from what I have seen has a brighter tone but the Hot Rod Deluxe has a bit more gain available. I play a lot of Blues Rock and so both amps should suite really but I wanted to head towards something with higher Gain for when I play heavier rock. The Windsor, is relatively heavy but cumbersome which is where combo’s are ideal. Some people would just say why not use pedals? To which I reply: Be minimalistic and have a much true-er tone. I’m not saying I dont use pedals, because lord knows I love them! But less is sometimes more, certainly for blues. I have seen both the Blues and Hot Rods on Gumtree for £450 which makes them a very affordable amp and they’re always ready for collection somewhere with 30miles of your house. They’re that popular. I’d like to investigate some 70’s Silverface amps but the Twin Reverb I tried was Fecking Deafening! All of which however are Combo’s which make them so much more convenient for gigging. I did infact travel down the road and bought a Hot Rod Deluxe II from a dude who in fact did the same course at college as I did.

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I have also been looking at the JCM800 2203’s because 2 of my favourite Guitarists use them; Billy Corgan and Tom Morello. Marshall are absolutely loved, which in fact puts me off them, but I cant deny how awesome their amps sound! By put off i mean in the way Josh Homme is put off a Gibson Les Paul, as it seems almost everything has been done with them. He wanted something different to everybody else. They JCM800’s do However cost around £750-800 second hand and thats just for the Head. I’ll get one one day! Then a Vox but I’m talking in like 5 years time once I have all the Pedals and Guitars I want!

The Pedals

I have always liked Pedals. My first was a Digitech RP50 Guitar Modelling Processor. It had everything I had never dreamed of! Distortion, Reverb, Delay, Phasing, Flanging, Compression, event Whammy and Autowah! This was great because it taught me about different effects that existed and I got to play with them all the time! I remember putting on the Whammy effect and talking through it with a Microphone that came with a Karaoke Machine my Dad got. A couple of years after that and after getting Big Mamma, My mother bought me a Boss ME-20 which is another Multi Effects Pedal but with an expression pedal for Volume/Wah. I could use them together too and was able to play things like the opening to ‘I am the Highway’ Audioslave. I put reveb on the RP50 and put the ME20 before it so you can strum a chord and then fade it in using the Volume Expression Pedal. I’d play things like ‘Bulls on Parade’ RATM, and even tried to get the same sound as ‘Black Hole Sun’ Soundgarden, using the Whammy and then a Rotary effect on the RP50.

When I bought Lexie I bought the Boss Dyna Drive, Mooer Blues Crab and some patch cables. As well as a strap and strap locks so the lad in Absolute Music had Quite a good sale that day! The Blues Crab is an emulatiuon of the Boss Blues Driver which I got because they didn’t have it in stock. The Dyna drive is a nice blues wooly pedal that breaks up a bit when turned right up. I went on and got an MT2 which is just disgusting. The only thing that its kool for is a phaser effect which you can do by turning the mids up and down as it has a 4 band EQ on it. This is similar to what Jeff lynne did on an ELO track I believe, not sure which however. I eventually got a Whammy during one of my trips to Tin Pan Alley for all of my Tom Morello needs. This was before I got into Jack White so when I started listening to the White Stripes I was like YES! I CAN DO THAT! Until I heard Blue Orchid and realised I needed a POG! I got the Boss OS-2, Digitech Grunge and a Cry Baby Wah off Amazon and I had myself a myriad of pedals!

I did however need a place to put them so had a wooden board and taped them on there but they’d still move. So I built a huge pedalboard out of MDF with 3 levels, one of which was cut short to allow room for the expression of the Whammy and Cry Baby. I replaced the ridiculous coloured plastic coated, low quality, chinese pot metal patch cables I had with the Cheapes Stagg Patch Cables off of Amazon and the Tone was vastly improved. At this point I didn’t really know what I was doing because before I had a tiny amp that was just zeroed and clean to just amplify what was coming in to be heard. I tried doing this with the Peavey and realised many moons later, that I was wasting a great Head. I got rid of the overcumbersome pedalboard I built as much as it pained me to do so. I took all the pedals away, which were in series straight into the front of the amp, and plugged my guitar in and played. I primarily have been playing Big Mamma as shes my most faithful companion and although shes taken a back seat whilst I get accustomed to the Firebird, I know shell make a huge return. Together Big Mamma and the Windsor head sound fantast. Quite an Edgy tone which can turn from blues to rock just with the change of playing style. I began experiment with the wah, whether it sounded better in the pre-amp or effects loop and began to learn about the science behind it. I was at college at this time so was learning about gain stages, EQ, effects, how they all interect and why they interect in a certain way.

I got a Big Muff due to how much I was listening to the White Stripes and just used it with the Whammy and POG. This is where my love for EHX began! All of this was In series with the Whammy first, then Big Muff, Then Pog.  I now actually put octave effects before distortion as it can sound extremely muddy the other way around. The Whammy always comes first though as it tracks the guitar a lot better than when its further on down the chain, again due to muddying other effects and signal degredation. Then adding in the Wah Pedal it makes sense to put on in the effects loop as it is a band pass filter that sweeps with the expression pedal. If its put before the distortion or Pre-amp then its just EQing, if you will, the Guitar. After distortion or Pre-amp it has a lot more harmonics for it to play with. I actually at the moment use it before, as when its in the loop it can sound a lot more intrusive. You have harmonics that remain constant when its in the Pre but when its in the loop everything jumps around so I want it to stay sounding grounded. I did actually try putting the Cry Baby after the Big Muff which sounds wicked! I wouldn’t use it all the time though but may leave a cable on the Pedalboard so I can quickly change it for a single song or something because It does sound awesome.

Taking this understanding of effects, it makes sense to keep distortion in the Pre but other effects such as a Phaser can sit nicely in the loop, as well as flangers, rotary effects and other effects that change the EQ. Next thing to understand is where you may want to put Reverbs, Delays and Tremelo’s. The last effect in a Chain effects everything that preceeds it more than the other way around. If you were to put a Tremelo after a Reverb (like a Fender Twin Reverb) then the Reverb would cut in and out with the Tremelo. The other way round and there will be a consistent flow of sound as the Reverb Shimmers. This works the same way with a Delay and a Reverb.

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After I gave the ME20 away.

The Pedalboard!

I eventually got a Pedaltrain Novo 32. I was looking at the Terra 42 and thought that it may be excessive but now im not sure whether or not i made the best decision. The truth is I wont know until I get in a band and get gigging and have to lug the thing around, as well as, put it to the test seeing which pedals I actually use to see whether or not they have a place on the board. A lot of Guitarists will in fact use a range of different sized boards depending on the Style of gig they’re delivering and how far they’re travelling. Carrying a Terra 42 on planes on a tour of america consisting of 20 dates in small venues would be awful. However travelling around the UK in a van playing larger venues would be more managable. Same goes for Combo’s.

I am pretty OK with a soldering iron and my OCD makes this job a lot easier, so I cut a lot of cables to length after deciding on the placement of my pedals which somewhat works around signal flow. I tend to put the expression on the right (Wah, Rotovibe, Whammy) and everything else on the left. With the 2 effects loops you can put pedals to the back of the board where it tends to be harder to hit their bypass switches and then turn them on from the bottom (Big Muff and OS-2). When routing the cables beneath the board its wise to, where possible, run power cables from north to south and signal cables from east to west so that they barely cross eachother. You can cause a lot of electro-magnetic interference when they are run side by side so its a good method of prevention. Everything running through the first loop is on the right, then the second loop at the top, then the right hand side of the board is all in series. This is how its worked for me so far but I’m itching to change it at the moment.

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Please excuse the low quality camera, I am looking to get a new camera for the purpose of images for the blog but I’m also thinking about a VLOG on Youtube.

Another trick is to wack cardboard over the top of the board and place the pedals where you think they may work best on top, so they dont stick down, use it for a week or 2 then decide whether you are to keep it that way. It’s much more of a pain in the ass to pull them all up and then try and sit them roughly in the right place, bit the slightest adjustment to the right means pulling it off the board completely. I bought some shrink rap also to cover the solder inside the patch cables but tend to cut them in half so they barely poke out the bottome of the jacks making the cables difficult to bend around the place. I use insulation tape beneath the board to stick the cables down to the board so nothings flapping around. I also moved the Power block from the top to beneath the board which gave a lot more space.

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How the board was before.

Another Great idea is pedal Risers which are relitively inexpenisive and may save your bacon during gigs. They do what they say on the tin raising the bottom of the pedal upward raising the Bypass switch making it much easier to reach without touching the pedal below it. They come in different sizes and I even bought one pre-emptively for the Flashback X4 when I finally get one which will go on the top left of the Board. You can also see I hage added a buffer to the board which is the point of entry for the signal.

The New Beats – Tobacco Road

This is a great Track the lyrics are so dark, its beautifully written and played and the band did a great cover. They wanted to put their mark on it which is a cr*p load of reverb but like the other tracks i worked around that for them. There is a Piano played in the original version but these guys skipped that part and just had 2 Guitars. This was recorded the Same night as the other songs so I wont go too much into the capture but the mixing instead. The kit, of course, is pumping with the BF-76 with all buttons in blasting the room into the mix through the 2 overheads that were distant as well as the Glynn Johns closer up. I EQ’d the bass again to stop it booming at 150Hz which was an issue as it was jumping out of the mix. I boosted the High end of the lead Guitar to let the lick it plays to open and at the start of each verse grab your attention and it would then sit better with the Rhythm. I DI’d the Guitars and actually used the Clean DI signals in the mix also. Lead DI is panned hard left, Lead Dynamic Mic is central, Rhythm DI is panned half right and the Rhythm Dynamic Mic is panned hard right. I zoomed into the waveforms from the DI and Mic to make sure they match up and arent out of phase. This can be an issue as the signal from the DI comes way before the signal from the Amp because of all the distance of cable it travels.

I inserted Reverb into the Vox Aux as it would make the Reverb more obvious as per the performers taste. I talk more about this in a later post. When the Mix is done I bounced and created a new session the imported the song. I didn’t know much about mastering at this time but I managed to make a very punchy mix just by using the BF76 set to pump with a faster attack and slow release. In my opinion I would have re-mixed and re-mastered this track but it sounds great. I used an EQ in the Master to boost 215Hz by +2dB, 5K by 3dB and then a high shelf from 15k ramping up to add some sparkle. To finish I then used the Maxim to push the level of the songs overall level closer to 0dB in line with the other tracks.

50ft Wide Kit.

I find this really tough so thought I’d put it up here. When doing the Griffo assignment for college one of Mike Seniors responses to a mix was that the spread of the Toms was far too much and said it was the Classic 50ft wide kit. For a drummer to actually achieve the sound that the mix is relating back he’d need very long arms and the kit would need to be placed very wide. I totally understand where hes coming from but this seems to be very much like recording and mixing needs to create a very perfect image of what its capturing which again I understand but I personally think there is beauty in the manipulation of the captured sounds to create an atmosphere that is beyond physical reality. It opens up a whole new sonic world. I’ve achieved a very wide kit using Glynn Johns due to the proximity of the left Mic with the Low Tom. I thought that it adds interest to the stereofield. Listening to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac would not be anywhere near as interesting if the drums weren’t as spread as they are. This is all pretty abstract/contextual as it really depends on the tonality of the song and kit plus performance aspects.

Thing to Remember

This is a simple post with information on things to remember/do both in the Studio and Live Sound. This is geared more towards Studio however. First of all keep tidy both in the Studio Floor and Engineering Room. Its useful to get Mic’s on stands, get them near where the Instruments are going, if the band isn’t in yet, and then get the boxes and containers for the Mic’s out the way. Studio 1’s cupboard is useful. Make sure when you’re setting up that the performers can actually move around somewhat, without knocking or moving Mic stands, tripping over cables or their own gear. They say its cleanliness but really its tidiness thats next to godliness. Run the XLR’s from the wall box, take a longer route around the room and then to the Mic stand, coiling up the excess in an eternal loop at the bottom of the stand. Its easier to just run cables straight to the stand but you want to limit tripping hazards as much as possible, especially in a live sound performance where you’re in a small pub and the toilets next to the stage but you’re working with a band so big that the people have to squeeze past the keyboard to go to the toilet. Always run from the wall box so that there is no excess there, plug the XLR in to the appropriate channel and then let it run down the wall to the floor and then along the floor. That will leave enough slack but in an organised fashion that if you’re chasing a cable, you can pull it and see it raise.

Scheduling and creating a channel list is useful so you know how long you have until you need to be set up so whether you can carry on the way you are or need to get a shift on. Writing up the input list before setting up makes sense so you’re not just leaving XLR’s next to the wall box ready to plug in then chasing them again to find out which is which or writing on tape which you later have to remove leaving the plugs all sticky and horrible. Remember to do things as standard that make it more obvious if you are chasing cables or things that make it easier to operate the desk. For example Left on odd numbers, Right on even numbers works great for overheads. When you’re panning on the desk if its the other way around its really confusing. Similarly with Vocal Mic’s on stage, going left, middle and right with channels 13, 14 and 15 makes so much more sense than going 15, 14 and 13 so the faders as you look at them are reversed to the Mic’s, as you look at them, on stage. The Drum kit is the largest instrument, usually with the most Microphones so start there. Usually start with Kick and end with Overheads but sometimes you might chop and change.

1 Kick In D6
2 Kick Out STC-2 Phantom
3 Snare Top SM57
4 Snare Bottom SM57
5 Hi-Hat Beta 57
6 Hi Tom SM57
7 Mid Tom SM57
8 Floor Tom SM57
9 OHL ATM4033a Phantom
10 OHR ATM4033a Phantom

If I were Micing the whole Kit this is the sort of thing I’d do, it makes sense to start from the Kick, then to Snare, then Hat, then Toms, then Overheads. If I only had 2 Toms however then I’d move the over heads and not have a unused channel in-between so id make it either look like this:

1 Kick In D6
2 Kick Out STC-1 Phantom
3 Snare Top SM57
4 Snare Bottom SM57
5 OHL ATM4033a Phantom
6 OHR ATM4033a Phantom
7 Hi-Hat Beta 57
8 Hi Tom SM57
9 Floor Tom SM57

Or id even start with the Overheads first but the above keeps ever couple of mic’s together (2 Mic’s per Kick, 2 Mic’s per Snare, 2 Overheads). Another thing to note is Phantom but first you should always remember to 0 the desk when you take control of the Studio. I bet you 9 times out of 10 you will not have a completely zeroed desk because the people who used it before you couldn’t be bothered to do so because it was more important for them to get down the pub after their session. It’s a simple thing but its you’re responsibility to leave the studio better than you found it because part if your job in life is to show other people up for not doing it properly first. I do this at my other job on the bar too, the managers have given me more responsibility because I’m picking up on the things that others, including the managers, aren’t doing. Anyway. Some desks have Global Phantom (almost an oxymoron I think) so its one button to make sure its off, but the TLAudio M4 in Studio 1 has Phantom per channel which is really more useful. Make sure its off on every 1 of the 32 channels, which in this case is a pain because they thought it would be a fantastic idea to put it on the back below the XLR input. Genius. If you start plugging and unplugging Microphones whilst Phantom is on then you are hot plugging the microphones which can cause damage to Dynamics, Condensers and Ribbons. This is called hot plugging and it works similarly to adding/removing components within a computer whilst the system is still powered up.

When you set Gain the best way is to bring the Channels fader to unity, then increase the Gain until you hit an appropriate level to hear the Mic, then as you continue to increase it bring down the Channel Fader so it remains at that volume. Push it over the limit driving the Signal into distortion, then bring it back so you know the signal is as high as possible before hitting distortion. This will give you a good Signal to Noise Ratio. we know that you have headroom on the Analog part of the system so if 1 beat in 100 distorts the desk can handle that peak as it works in dBvu (Decibels relative to Volume Unit, measurement of a Voltage.). However PT works with dBfs (Full Scale, Digital measurement) and thus has no headroom so you need to make sure that your highest peaks are within the confines of the gain settings.

Headphone mixes are such an integral part of the studio in most cases unless you’re recording a live band just to capture them playing off each other as they are all in the same room together as if its a practice or performance. In Studio 1 there are 3 methods of getting a headphone mix to the Performers. The first is the Main out from the desk which feeds into the Headphone Amplifier and so what you do on the faders is what the live room can hear. Its good to start from here then if you need something tweaking for 1 or 2 but not the rest you move on to the first 2 Auxiliaries which can switch to Pre Fade and make 2 more separate headphone mixes independent of the Main Mix. The Aux outputs are on the Patchbay and you can patch them into the individual channels on the Headphone amp then crossfade between the main input and the Auxiliary input. The third is by creating Auxiliaries on PT setting their outputs to outputs on the Interface which are present on the Patchbay and then feeding them into the separate channels of the Headphone amp. This is done by using sends from each individual channel in Pro Tools to the Auxiliary Headphone mix but this is my least favourite as its not as easy to locate the channel that they want turning up/down as quickly as when you have a desk full of auxiliaries in front of you. unless you have multiple screens at home  in which case you can use the red button at the top right of the faders that appear from the sends, create an auxiliary mixer from there on a separate screen and you can adjust quickly and easily. GENIUS! Studio 2 however I prefer for headphone mixes as you have multiple Auxiliary’s that you can put in Pre fade and just grab some jacks to plug into the front of the headphone amp. That gives you the freedom to have 4 independent headphone mixes all on the same board.

Thats all folks.

Some other Recordings

I recorded a band called The Remnants along with Ben Keane. It didn’t really work as Lead and Assistant Engineer we both did both jobs. I’d generally pick the Micing and Techniques then he’d run the desk but we’d end up doing everything together so we work well as a fantastic team. We both take home the stems and both mix. The Remnants stood us up on payment after we stupidly had already given them some of the tracks that were near completion. They had a product, not one that was complete but they, to this day, use it. They could be very immature and although I didn’t completely dislike them completely I found them to have a very immature almost Del Boy attitude that they were the next big thing and going to make loads of money. They signed to a ‘Record Label’ which was a guy who had a Facebook page who put on events at the Buffalo bar and so they though that he had loads of money. He didn’t.

I may sound like I’m moaning but the only person that I’m annoyed at for them getting away with not paying us is myself. I had no contract written up and signed, I wasnt a registered sole trader/LTD company and so even if they had signed a contract I’d probably get done for tax evasion as it would seem that I wasn’t going to register the income from the Recording had I taken them to court. It was a huge S**t sandwich and myself and Ben had to take a bite but since then I’ve become registered and written a contract for the bands to sign, we now take a deposit on an agreement we make before anything actually takes place. 1 bad experience has allowed me to prepare for the future but I still have the tracks we recorded. The only thing that could still come round to bite me on the back side is the tracks they use that are incomplete being heard by people and when they say they could do a better job, giving us a bad name.

Here is a before and after of a session with them which I’m sure gives you an idea as to what they’re like…

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Enough Said. That’s after recording ‘Mean Woman Blues’. We recorded another track with them previous to all this which we agree’d to do for free as it was our first ever recording with a band from outside the college which they were overjoyed about of course but that was when they had a different Bassist. He had a similar sense of humour to the rest of them but seemed more mature and professional. He subsequently left the band after falling out with them and started his own. Since then hes been in touch and wants to get back in the studio with myself and Ben so we  must be doing something right!

We recorded 3 tracks and were told that it would just be 2 of them playing acoustic Guitars and singing. When they turn up they also have a Bassist which they didn’t tell us about so we set up the Hartke Bass amp. I was attempting a technique/some research into using a Condenser on the front of the Acoustic Guitar over the nexk for highs and then an SM57 behind to pick up the lows which worked well when we attempted it with one Acoustic Guitar and the Sontronics Sigma Ribbon mic on the front but I think with all the noise in the room it was just a bit too much bleed so sounded messy. Instead I placed the Sigma between them, STC-1 over the sound hole on one Guitar which was perfect, STC-1 over the 12th fret on the other Guitar, NT-2 Each for vocals, D112 on axis central on the Hartke and a 57 towards the edge of the cone also. I tried duplicating the Sigma, panning one left and one right then inverting one to represent each side of the Mic similar to the MS configuration but it just sounded messy. There were enough Microphones in the room as it was.

For one of the tracks we dubbed an electric piano that they got a guy in to play using 2 DI boxes for the L+R outputs on the Keyboard. It got frustrating working with them as they were happy with inferior playing such as Guitars going out of time it was like they were too lazy to re-record them and get them right. From this I learned to be more pushy, I guess at that time I was just trying to get the experience and now I’d rather work with people who want good results. Their Drummer was sick at the time hence the 2 acoustic track but when he was well again they came in and played a full track. These tracks they were playing were kinda 50’s/60’s so I used Glynn Johns on the kit. I just used Maxim to Master these as I didn’t want to spend much more time on the Mixing or Mastering after they buggered off but I thought I’d get the tracks on here for a listen.

Also heres a picture of Studio 2 where we recorded ‘Shes Got it All.’

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Microphones and a 4×12

The college got a new Marshall 4×12 cab so I though I make a post making a comparison between 5 different types Microphones. There are 4 on axis close to the centre of the cones and then one further back more central. I was going to re-amp anyway because I needed to get some new Guit tones for a few projects but all I got initally was obstacles unfortunately. My thinking was to use an interface with PT on my Macbook to play the clean DI tracks into the Amp and then record them using PT in the control room. This would mean that I’d have to bounce those tracks afterwards and then import them back into the sessions on my Macbook but it would negate noise. I made the mistake of not bringing my own interface that I know works and the Mbox’s would not work despite installing the drivers and restarting over and over. Studio 1 uses PT 9 so I needed to create copy’s of the Sessions in the PTF format instead of PTX so they would open on PT 9. Then ship them over to the Studio mac, send the DI signal out of the Interface and patch it to one of the Jack returns on the Patchbay back into the studio. So out of PT output 9 from the 96I/O, convert from bantam to 1/4″ jack, into E to the wall box and from there into the Amp. All we got was noise and hardly any signal so we patched from the same output from the 96I/O the the Auxiliary 1 output from the desk and then to E. With it turned up on the channel pre-fade plus the Aux master turned up there was still a lot of noise. The third and final option was to go from the 96I/O to the headphone amplifier Auxiliary input which worked a lot better but there was still a lot of hiss on the track so the outcome was not used on any project but instead this post to show a point.

I used a Shure SM57, Cad M179, Samson C02, AKG D112 all on axis and close to the speakers then a Behringer ECM8000 further back and central to the cab.Untitled

The above are all Cardioid (M179 is alterable but i left it Cardi to match the other close Mic’s) except the ECM8000 which is Omni. The reason why I moved it back was to capture more of the sound in the room. I wore headphones even not plugged in when i was entering and leaving the room to act as ear protection because I turned it up loud. Not how the excess of the Cables is nicely coiled in an eternal loop beneath the stands to you are able to move them easily, it looks neat and you’re not tripping over the excess.

The SM57 is a smaller diaphragm Dynamic Microphone, the D112 is a large diaphragm Dynamic microphone, the C02 is a small diaphragm Condenser and the M179 is a large Diaphragm condenser. The ECM8000 is a very small diaphragm condenser but it hs a very long narrow neck to avoid the sound bouncing off the microphone and into the capsule shaping the sound. This is to give an accurate (flat) representation of the input signal. These Microphones are used for analysis but I used one on a Guitar cab for a Guitar solo and it sounded awesome!

Here you is a track for you to compare the sound of each microphone. SM57>D112>C02>M179>ECM8000 and excuse the hissing.

The song is Angelie by Drew Allen so Beautiful playing! The D112 you can hear immediately has much more low end due to its larger diaphragm than the 57, the C02 and M179 are much brighter then the 57 and D112, the Dynamics sound more high mid rangey than the Condensers which have much more sparkly high end. Its understandable why a 57 would be more desirable for a Guitar Cab in a recording which has a Drummer smashing Cymbals as the increased High end of the Condensers would be treading on the toes of the sparkling Cymbals. The D112 works well for Metal Guitars as the rumbling low end is what Metal Guitarists crave. But for this re-amp as the track consists of Guitar and Vocals Id probably use the C02 as the Low end rumbled a bit too much with the M179.

The ECM8000 captured a lot more of the room and less of the hiss so a nice tone but i think if there were 2 of them pointing towards different parts of the room then panned left and right it would create an awesome stereo effect to sit on top of one of the close Mic’s. That’s something I wouldn’t use in a rock recording with multiple layers of Guitars but again for a track that’s just Guitar and Vox i think it would add so much more interest into the use of stereofield. With the shape of the Studio 1 live room and the amp near the center of the room if you walk around you can hear the sound being shaped differently so you could really accentuate some stereorield using 2 of these babys and keeping something close like a 57 for reference. If you distant Mic a Guit it just gets lost in the room so its better to keep something close also.

Reggae Skyfall

This was a Masterpiece from start to finish with one small exception, more on that later. This track was recorded during the day on a Tuesday in the first year as we the Engineers needed practice in Studio Recordings as well as the Pop students needing to record the genres they were learning about. In this instance Kaia & The Motion created a Reggae version of Skyfall by Adele. We had only used Glynn Johns for recording the Drum Kit in the Booth in Studio 1 but in this session we could go weapons free; so we decided to Mic up the Kick, Snares, Toms, Hi-hat and Overheads. We used the Audix D6 on the Bass as we had always used the D112 previously, we used a SM57 for the Guitar and Avantone CK6 for Vox. We put the Guitar Amps in the Drum booth to avoid the bleed from them on to the Drums and Vice Versa. Kaia sang in the Drum booth, all performers had headphones on and could hear one another.

The session started at 12 noon and ran until 16:00: We arranged it so the first hour was setup time (12:00 – 13:00) to decide where to place everything/everybody, which mic’s to use, get everything in place then set gain; 13:00 – 15:00 Recording; 15:00 – 14:00 set down.

Instrument Mic Phantom Input
Kick AKG D112 N A1
Snare 1 AKG C418 Y A2
Snare 2 Shure SM57 N A3
Hi Tom AKG C418 Y A4
Lo Tom AKG C418 Y A5
Hi-Hat Shure SM57 BETA N A6
OHL AKG C1000S Y A7
OHR AKG C1000S Y A8
Bass Audix D6 N B1
Guit Shure SM57 N B2
Vox Avantone CK6 Y B13

Again, this was kind of weapons free and we had never used the AKG Drum pack containing the C418’s before and we soon realised that they are, for a Cardioid Mic, more Omni-directional than an Omni-directional Mic. They hear everything everywhere! They can hear the traffic on the M4 tool road from Poole. There were 2 Snares as one had the snares down and the other up, so the opening snare hits are with the snares down to contribute to the Reggae style. In the mix I put in an edit line after this part and deleted the rest of the track. The alternative would be just to gate it but that’s counterproductive as it would take time to do. The reason why i dont want to keep the rest of the track is because the C418 is hearing the rest of the kit so I lose control over mixing the kit by leaving it open. I gated the Toms going over parts where the toms actually play to make sure the Attack is quick enough to not impact the transients as well as make sure the Hold and Release are long enough hear the whole of the toms ringing out. This also means listening to louder parts of the drum parts where the toms are not played at all to make sure that the leakage isn’t triggering the gate to open causing additional sound that will again contribute to losing control over the kit.

Low Tom Gate: Attack 20Ms, Hold 300Ms, Release 200Ms, Ratio 3:1. You need to make sure that the Attack and Release are set so that you suddenly dont have another avenue into hearing the kit that is abruptly shoved into your face and removed again. Also as the Tom rings out its amplitude will drop below the threshold and the gate will want to close so holding for the length of the ring and then releasing is the best way to Gate a Tom. High Tom Gate: Attack 10Ms, Hold 200Ms, Release 150Ms, Ratio 3:1.

I brightened up both snares with a High shelf from 1.8kHz at 6dB. They sounded a little bet dull. I bussed the Kit to an Aux input like I normally do and compressed the whole kit with D3; This was a very soft Compression with a 3:1 ratio and slow release so its not too intrusive just to stop peaks. Not my normal harder compression. I also used the AIR Multi-Delay on the Kit Aux and set 2 slapback delays left and right with a slight time differential between them to make the effect more obvious but only at 10% wet on the mix. This also only starts as it is bypassed with automation until the Guitar comes in. This opens up the kit a bit more and sits well with the vocal processing I created. Ive used a lot of processing on the kit in previous sessions so I wanted to keep this one clean and left the Kick untouched as I wanted it to remain more natural and not as punchy as I normally make them sound. I tend to find a lot of reggae recordings sound more like the kit is in the room and not like you have your head inside each drum as its being hit.

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The Bass Guitar has a lot of lows and quite a lot of bite in the high end which is a desirable sound but I used EQ and Compression just to flatten it out a bit. I scooped around 135Hz by 2dB just to lose some of the lows as it was killing the kick drum and breaking right through the mix. Then boosted a high shelf from 1.8kHz just for more bite. This came after some light compression which was set to knock down some of the harder notes as the overall level was inconsistent.

The Guitar was not my favourite. We left the performer in charge of his amp and the tone wasn’t all there plus a lot of Reverb which we cant remove post recording. Unless you can get it perfect first time you may as well record clean and then add Reverb later so you can tweak it or wont have to re-record the part if you don’t like the inital sound. Or DI the signal and Re-amp without telling them, create a better sound and they’ll take all the credit without realising it thinking it was their initial settings. We are here to make fantastic sounds not to take fame and/or glory. The playing wasnt all that consistent also, there were a lot of timing issues which baffled me seeing as he was only having to play every beat. The Amp EQ left the guitar sounding a bit dead too. Anyway! I EQ’d to scoop the low mids around 270hZ by -8dB with a Q of 1 (drastic reduction) then bosted around 3.5kHz by 2.5dB with a Q of .42 to brighten. This made a huge difference and came after some comression which opened up the tails of the Reverb more making it almost resonate.

The Vocals, of course, were beautiful like the singer performing them. Kaia is a fantastic singer except she wears a lot of Jewelry which jingles when she moves and she dances when she sings. Its totally acceptable however, when she moves she gets into the groove of the song which adds to her performance and the only issue with the moving is rumble through the Mic stand which can be negated with a high pass filter. When I added this filter it gave me a great idea to completely cut the lows altogether. This was acting more as a producer than Engineer. What this lead to was an elaborate process for the vocals to take to create an atmosphere to further add to the atmospherics the Drum Kits Delay effect had started. I duplicated her Vox track twice then kept one central, one panned hard left and one hard right. The left and right are bussed to their own Aux, the right track is delayed using medium time adjuster, by 2051 samples creating quite an obvious differential. The L+R Vox Bus has the HPF removing all Lows and then flows to the main Vox Aux. The Central Track travels straight to the Vox Aux but busses were used from each of the 3 L+M+R to 2 separate Aux’s; one with Reverb, one with Delay inserted: which then bus to the Main Vox Aux. Untitled2

This is what you end up with. Its a hell of a lot of processing for vox and not what id do normally but i wanted to showcase what i can do with bussing. The Vox Aux is compressed to try and keep everything working consistently together and create cohesion. its a 5:1 ratio so still relatively soft but i didn’t want to compress too much so the Reverb and delay become more obvious. The reason why I had them flow to the Vox Aux instead of just to the Master was literally to see how it would compare. The alternative if i wanted control over all 3 at the same time would be to group them so when i turn the Vox Aux up/down the Reverb and Delay Aux do the same. Her movements were from here audible so I from here went to Gating the Central Vox and L+R but towards the end of the track you can hear her feet on the floor. In a way I think that if you pick up on it it compliments her performance. Shows shes really into it and that’s great to see.

For the timing issues on the Guitar instead of elastic audio I used tab to transient and put in edit lines at the start of each beat, then moved them into position and applied the slightest fade ins/outs where the gap is between each part. If you don’t put the fades in then you hear a pop where the speakers are having to move from a positive/negative position of the waveform back to 0 point very quickly. The fade in/out negates that. Or you can insert your edit lines at the 0 crossing.

I then set the locators and bounced the track in 16 Bit 44.1kHz interleaved so it bounces in the appropriate resolution as well as one stereo file. I created a new session using the Master Template I created, put the bounce into the Sessions Audio Folder, then imported the track through PT. I initially used Parallel followed by Peak Limiting again and this is how the session looks…

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I now have 4 screens and i still want more. the Left and Right screens are the same resolution but the centre is 1920×1080 and the top right is smaller. This is so useful for mastering because I can have the Mix view in the centre Blue Cat and Phase scope on the left, the Edit window on the right and then the 2 Compressors running Parallel, The EQ and Peak limiter that they bus to at the top right. I like being able to see everything at once. I have my mouse sensitivity up high too so it doesn’t take stroking your desk over and over to get from bottom left to top right. The soft Compression is running at 3:1 with a 20Ms Attack, 150Ms Release and 3dB Knee so the impact of the compression taking place isnt so obvious. The hard Compression is run has a 10Ms attack and 130Ms Release and no knee plus a 20:1 ratio. The Hard compression is reducing overall level so 6dB makeup gain was used to get the output signal in line with the input signal. On the faders the Level of the Hard compression is much lower than the Soft compression by around -10dB. As its compressing the song the effects on the vocals and kit become more obvious which they are not intended to be, I dont want the Delay on the Kit too obvious otherwise the kit sounds much more 80’s Synth Pop rather than Reggae. The splashy cymbals are very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin which I really like. But the tonality of the song has been impacted by the reduction of dynamic range as slight as it may be so I bounced this mastered version for keeping and then created a new Aux, inserted Maxim and then just used Peak Limiting to increase overall volume and the song sounded, in my ears, much better. He are both of them…