Have you worked with a rock/alternative band? tell me......

Discussion in 'Recording' started by tofumusic, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. tofumusic

    tofumusic Guest

    Since I come from mainly an r&b/hip hop recording background I'd like to know what the process is of recording a rock or alternative group/band.. ? What's a typical session like? Which instruments are recorded first? Typically inthe sessions I assist in I see the producer sit down at an MPC and a keyboard with various sound modules and get a tune going. .Then it's tracked into Pro Tools and a basic mix is put on it. If it's liked by the singer/group it's presented to they sing/put lyrics on it and it's mixed again when the tracking is perfected.. then mastered, etc..
    I'm not sure about rock/alternative though.. and that's someting I'm into. . so what's it like? :)
  2. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    you can have so many options!
    tracking live! or drums/bass/guitars/vocals

    basically what you need when producing rock is get very good tones of the instruments! sometimes they need to be raw, others clean, etc... tone is very importante as well as live feel!
    the bass/drums combo must be well attached too!
  3. tofumusic

    tofumusic Guest

    I see.. . So what kind of outboard gear do you find helpfull in a rock/alternative setting? I was speaking with someone earlier this week about producing alt/rock and he was saying that it can't be just saftware, like alot of r&b/hip hop is these days, you HAVE to have outboard. . is that true? I'm thinking a pod for the guitars, and maybe a u87 for acoustic/vocals.. an sm58 for drums and you're set, right? lol.. I'm betting I'm incorrect.. please enlighten..
  4. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    really depends on your goal! if you want very decent recordings forget the sm58 on drums! (where have you heard that?)
    pod for guitars is an option, but some decent amps with mics you can use both with drums and guitars too!
    what you need is this!
    at least a good pre-amp!
    if you like the u87 try the avalon 737 with it! people say they work well together!
    for drums kick akg 112 or audix d6
    snare - sm 57
    toms - seinheiser 421s
    overheads - akg 451 or 414 or u87
    hi-hat- akg 451

    for acoustic guitar you can use the 451 and the u87 on it
    guitars the sm 57 and almost all
    bass- direct and the akg112

    if you can afford some good outboards try lexicon reverb, a good compressor
    really depends on your budget!
    just don't forget the room needs treatment too!
  5. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Hopefully the guitarist will bring his own rig - I know I've been playing guitar for the better part of 20+ years, and as far as I'm concerned, the POD is a neat effect.. but I'd never use it as my primary guitar sound.
    If you can get one cheap enough, it's certainly worth having around for the times that you need something that just sounds over-the-top and heavily processed... but it'll never replace a Bassman or a JCM800.

    For guitar rigs.. SM57 up close (or 421 or Royer or R84) and maybe a condenser a few feet away. That SHOULD get you a good sound on most good sounding guitar amps.
  6. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Quakertown PA
    Everyone has their own way of doing this, but here's what works for me.

    Record the whole band performing the song together. I use 1 mic on the drums, DI the bass and guitar and mic the vocals. Don't worry how it sounds these are just scratch tracks, and are not used in the final mix. These tracks are only used as a headphone mix for each musician, minus their part. In other words the drummer hears everything but the drums. This gives the song a live feel and I think works better than playing to a click track. I then mic the drums properley and record it (drums take the most time). Next I do bass then guitars and finally vocals. Take your time micing and get the best possible sound on tape. The extra time spent here will be apparent later. You can't fix it in the mix as easily as electronic music. Try to do little or no EQ'ing or processing when tracking, it gives you more options later. I only use a tiny bit of compression when tracking. To fatten up guitar parts try sending the guitar to more than one amp at a time and record each amp to a separate track then mix those tracks together, it's LOUD but it works. The other posts tell you what kind of gear to use. Hope this helps
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    I am not surprised that someone who has been doing rap hip hop wouldn't know how to record a rock band. I would venture that any compitent rock producer / recordist would not have similar problems figuring out how to record a RAP session ... plug the sampler into the mixer and go ...

    Here's the way rock and pop MUSIC is recorded. First do not record scratch tracks and then over dub everything one at a time as was suggested. This is a hangover from rap production and will give you a performance that is lifleless and stale. You need to capture the energy of a rhythym section playing together. Set up the drums in an iso area ... baffels, gobos what ever ... most studios that specialize in rock production have a drum iso booth/room ... mic the kick, snare, toms and overheads left and right and in some cases the hi hat. Take a di and/or a mic off the bass cab ... mic up the guitar amp(s) .... have the band play ... get levels / eq's, to the recorder and a headphone mix.

    It's very important to get a mix that everyone can live with. How the phones sound can drasticly affect how the band plays. Once you have levels and a phone mix, record what is known as basics or rhythym tracks ... get the best takes you can and then before you move on to another song do fix's or punch ins/ outs to repair any clams.

    Usually if you're doing an album or an ep you will record all the basics first (this can take days sometimes) and then once you are sure you have everything you need for the rhythym tracks, you can have the band stike the set up and move on to overdubs, vocals and mix ...
  8. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    Agreed. Up until recently all I had ever done was rock/alt/metal. When I did my first rap session I couldn't believe how easy it was. Stereo output from MPC into PT then add vocals, couldn't be easier.

    And just for the record I hate rap.

    Well I have two ways of doing it.

    My favorite way to do it is have a scratch rythm track (or whatever the drummer needs to keep time) recorded to a drum machine. Then I later I send that scratch track to a drummer and record him playing to it, then add bass, guitar, and eventually vocals.

    I like doing it like this because it makes the song much easier to edit. Easier to fix mistakes or rearrange the song. Just gives you more creative options.

    But this doesn't work for all bands. Some drummers can't play to a rythm track that was recorded to a drum machine. If this is the case I record the drums rythm guitar and bass together. If you do this make sure you get as much isolation as possible. Then when your done, add your guitar dubs, vocals, ect. later.

    Some things to remember:

    -You will be recording many different sources at once so you will need many mics and pre-amps, along with a recorder that can take in lots of inputs at once (16 is good). Also since your recording a drumset you will have to take phase into consideration (something you probably don't do when recording rap)

    -You will not get a good drum sound overnight. It will probably take a very long time before you can get a good drum sound. It takes practice, experience, and a good sounding room.

    -You will not get a great guitar sound overnight. While it's not that difficult to get a decent guitar sound, it's not that easy to get a great one. You will have to experiment with different mics, pres, guitars, heads, cabs, mic placement, phase (more than likley you'll be using more that one mic on a guitar cab). And BTW, dubbing the guitars helps make them sound fat.

    - DI the bass. This is the quickest way to get a decent bass sound. There are many other ways of doing it but this is a good starting point, and make sure you get a good DI box. I use the Avalon U5, sounds great!

    - Mixing rock music is much more complex then mixing rap. I've done both and can tell you rap is a piece of cake. When mixing rock you will have to not only control the dynamics and levels of each insrument but you will also have to make space for everything. Each instrument needs it's own room, while also working well together. When doing rock the low end often tends to get crowded.

    There is very, very, very much more I could go on about concerning rock recording but this is a good starting point. And remember this is just my way of doing things. There is no set way of doing it, whatever gets a good sound for you is the way to go.
  9. tofumusic

    tofumusic Guest

    lol.. . Yes rap is quite simple but as with all music, it takes talent to make good anything.. Be it rap, rock, yodelling whatever. Some just takes a little less than others .. It can be challenging, as I've witnessed, to creative just 4 bars that are catchy, that sound good and then sit at a keyboard and find a very catchy tune that people will remember and want to shake a leg to (haha i said 'shake a leg'). Some people really put their hearts into rap and that whole process, and I can appreciate that. Plus it sales.

    Thanks for all your posts, they've been a big help. I'd like to see a post like this one, but for country music. I'm guessing country would be way more elaborate, but I dunno.

    Has anyone here had any experience with country? There are some really GREAT country songs out there that I'd LOVE to figure out how some the 'tricks' were done. . Like for example in "What a beautifull mess I made" when it sort of fades out and then in again, but it starts the fade in delayed or something.. I thought that was real clever and added alot of space to it. . I'll site some more songs in my next post, as I've heard some very creative songs but can't remember the titles off hand. Thanks again for the posts, I hope to have the chance to try each of them out.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Production techniques for Country music are essentially the same as with rock ... actually, these days (IMO) most Country music is really only Rock music wearing a cowboy hat ...

    Until recently, most country records were done using the rhythm section method I described previously ... but perhaps even more so ....

    Nashville players in the 50's developed the "Nashville number system", where chord changes were assigned numbers (1, 4, 5 etc.). Several musicians would set up in the studio and work out what is known as a "head arrangement" and once the different parts were figured out and approved by the producer the recording would start. Most of the time the singer would record their parts along with the band ..

    Many elements all being recorded at the same time can be very challenging to the engineer. There is much to deal with at one time, watching levels ... making sure everything is loud enough to "tape" so that there is no added noise but not clipping ...getting the correct tonal balances so that all the elements will define properly ... gain riding the vocals (this is more so with country music than any other genre') ... it can be overwhelming ... it can also be very exciting and in my book there is nothing more satisfying than when a successful take is completed.. It can be a real rush ...
  11. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Quakertown PA
    I agree with you that the best way to get a live feel is to capture the rythm section as a whole but in my small '25 X '25 room I can't seem to get enough isolation (mainly bleedthrough on the OH's). I tried some homemade gobos and this helped the amp mic's alot but the OH's are still a problem. Do you have any suggestions for those of us who would like to record this way at home or is this method best left to the pro studio.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Use directs and Pod thingies for the guitars and bass ...put the players in headphones where they can hear their instruments.

    A performance is more important than a tone .. you can always "reamp" the bass and guitar parts later and dial in the killer tones then... The main thing is to get a groove thing goin' ... by having a group of musicians all play together at the same time.. it's a give and take deal where the whole group "breathes" together.. It's a "bee-uautiful ting " ...
  13. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Quakertown PA
    Thanks Kurt, I'll try that. We've always wanted to record our tracks together, sounds like you've given us a way to do that.

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