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live recording vs. multitracking for acoustic guitar and vocal?

Hi, I'm a singer/songwriter recording my first demo at college and I'm getting some conflicting advice. I'm only recording acoustic guitar and vocal and wondered how best to do this, live with no headphone mix, to a click track and add drums later or should I still overdub? any advice welcome and much needed, cheers, TC


timshel Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:10

I mean....well...I would...because...of course you should know that....this piece of equipment...phase cancellation...

If you're playing all of these parts by yourself, you'll have to do a Stevie Wonder and multi-track.

If you can get some peoples then do it live. Acoustic guitar with drums in a small room can be tricky though.

So make a guide track acoustic/vocal track to a click and then have the drummer/bassist/whatever else you're adding play to that guide track.

Click or no click. Depends on the musicians.

audiokid Thu, 10/18/2012 - 11:11

Your question is a bit vague and a bit off from how I would be doing things but that's what makes us all different and special in our own beautiful way.

If your songs main parts are Vocal and guitar, then that's what I would be most concerned with and make big and balanced. I plan way ahead.
Is your song supposed to sound like a guy busking on a sidewalk or Pop, what is it? The object is also keeping in mind, could anyone listening to this song play it as soloist or duo?
You mention drums:
If you are adding drums, are the drums big or in the background? How much space do you need allocated in the mix.

I would most likely "program" a basic drum track ( hat, snare, kick) leaving out all the bells and whistles and play along with that rather than a click track. Then add the fills in later. But again, that's all dependent on what your goal is.

Less is more. Hook and groove...

I would also be using headphones and creating a killer space inside the headphones. But, again, what is your ultimate goal here? Pop or playing on a sidewalk, processed or very organic sounding?

Hope that helps.

RemyRAD Thu, 10/18/2012 - 19:44

You are not going to be able to perform this live to a click track with your guitar and vocal and add the drums later unless your click track is only in your headphones while playing live. And are you playing live in front of an audience? You're in college and you're grammar is worse than mine? Either way, without proper information, without your pencil and paper's, books and professors your going to have problems getting this in on time. LOL I know it's not funny. Your information was sort of like saying " I think I'll go to college? " Yeah, and for what? I mean I think I'll also go to the bathroom sometime in my lifetime? That is if my pants aren't already too full? So I'm getting conflicting information as to what to do? Of course you are. You are not providing proper information to get proper information with. You said you were in college right? Not the janitor in college, right?

There are multiple techniques in which to approach this. All are good when done well. All sound like crap when done crappy. Like a college paper ya know? That's English for you know. OK? Good.

First things first. Budget. Ya had to have a budget to go to college didn't you? OK. Cheap, student, got that. So were going to do this on the cheap. But we're going to do it right on the cheap. What is the cheap? Certainly under $1000. Whoops?? Your budget is $100? OK, you still have choices.

In the old days, like your professors used to do, we sometimes utilized a single microphone. That was called monaural. And it works great. That's where you play and sing at the same time. What a concept. Just like Elvis. But even there you have choices. You can be smart and purchase a SHURE SM58 and a M-Audio (or equivalent) USB audio interface. That is you can get the 58, the 58 and only the 58 along with anybody else's USB audio interface. But that's only a single microphone and you might want two? So get a second 58. Don't need the metal ball for your guitar? Unscrew it baby. That's a 57 without its hat on. It's almost like getting two for one. In fact it is. It's great math.

The above can be had for less than $300. It will also include AWESOME software. No extra anything needed. No extra plug-ins need to be had. You will need a pair of head phones, microphone stands and Cables. If you want the click track, it'll be in the software package. And then it'll be in your headphones. That's only necessary if you're going to add drums. Otherwise screw the click track just play and sing. You might just want to count it in yourself? You probably only need to go up to four? So that shouldn't be a problem? Hope your math isn't like your English? You know we have a Virginia Tech math professor here so you better watch your P.'s and Q.'s. I was lousy in both English and math by the way. But I know how to listen and I know how to tweak. And tweak is less important than listen. You can't tweak when you have nothing to tweak and you learn how to record and mix without tweaks. And that can come off very nicely. So you don't need a whole bunch of mathematical gobbledygook time delays and a data oriented dynamic range compression. Even though it can be a lot of fun to play with. They can both enhance and destroy. Usually destructive in early hands. Kind of like Jethro Bodine just deciding to become a Brain Surgeon! (Thankfully he did not do my brain surgery, the doctors at Georgetown did) So, you really don't want to be slicing and dicing your new sushi fried audio too quickly. You want to utilize the KISS principal (Keep It Simple Student) when recording and mixing. Less is more. Simple is better. Mono is fine (because you can make stereo with the reverb). And with that you graduate.

You have 60 seconds to complete your recording. The clock starts... now.
Mx. Remy Ann David

DrGonz Fri, 10/19/2012 - 05:10

I say go to bathroom today and record the whole thing in there within a couple hours. Now all joking aside bathrooms are great places to capture a live acoustic recording. You won't have to go far to take a bathroom break and the acoustics are really full. Actually if you have a wooden floored room in your house that might sound even better. Do a preliminary recording without any click track with just you a mic and your live jam. I do that every once in while just because I want to practice my performance. Keep doing this over and over again. Then later go into a studio and try performing with a click track to see what happens. Then report back here to let us know what happened. I really appreciate the idea of playing songs stripped down and basic. It all starts there anyway but we all want to go so far. When we come back to those rough takes a lot of times those are still our favorites.