Guitar Tracking


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Guitar Tracking

When you are tracking guitar, there is a definite difference between an actual car covered all of this, but there's a different, different definite difference between how you play when you're sitting in your standing and I find that for challenging left hand stuff, I do better when I'm sitting down playing because my, you know, my hands right here, I can see what's going on in a more comfortable, but I also when I'm playing, sitting down my right arm is tucked up, and I could be kind of precise with me picking, but I can't, you know, I don't have the extension to do big strums and if something's like a little bit more rhythmically challenging or picking, challenging to find standing up works better for me and this also grab my guitar real quick. There's also a big difference between how people, um, how people pick have a pick somewhere, you know, sometimes when people sit, they turn on this, uh, tardy I s o people sit have their pick sort of flat against the strengthened when people st...

and sometimes a right angle and they start picking with so you get all this extra scratching us, and I think I actually had a little problem with kenny. On the bass tracks for this record, where he was picking at kind of an angle to the strings, and it could be a little easier to play faster when you're sort of picking at an angle. But you get this kind of scratchy tone, and you can sometimes kind of just that based on whether you sit or stand, and one thing is important when you are sitting it tryto have something around in your studio, whether it's a footstool or block or something like that. So the guitarist or chair like this one that has a leg that you can put your foot on it's really good to be able to cradle your guitar when you're sitting down and make sure the person is comfortable, whether they choose to sit or stand and can can play well. And then, uh so the next thing you tried to cover this whole live from versus control room thing that's really about feedback, but it's also what? What the person it is most comfortable if they are always playing in front of their ramp and they do a ton of feedback, um then ah, you know, they're going to want to be in front of the office a couple bands have recorded a few times once called mickey's murder and the other one's called trench foot and both of those bands, like those guys, are just, like, super dialed in with what they're going to play, and they're not particularly meticulous about the performances, but they're very meticulous about the idea that interaction with your amp is just the most important thing in your in your performance, and they'll actually kind of wild. Both of those bands will, like, track the drums, and then we'll sequence the album like forget about sequencing the mastering will sequence the whole record before we even start tracking the guitars because they have this specific idea of what kind of space that may want between each song on the album, and then they'll just go in and just do the whole record in one pass, or they might do like side a well in vast, you know, occasionally going back to punch in, but for the most part, it's, just like they know that there's going to be like, you know, a short gap between song one and two and a couple of stick clicks, and they just wanted to feel like one big, long piece of music, so they'll record it as one big, long piece of music and it's it's kind of need to do it that way, and it goes really quickly if there. If they're that confident in there in there playing and not enough for meticulous about it, so sometimes I will record someone exclusively in the live room but for the most part of recording people in the control room and uh I didn't want to touch on adjusting how you play for better recording, which is I mentioned earlier when I was talking about the intonation stuff, which is really just you know how hard he's strumming, how hard you fretting are you you do nationally sit in a way that you pull on that back when you play or do you sort of play balanced on on the lower horn of the guitar? We're pushing the neck forward and how does all that stuff affect origination and how does it affect your ability to play in tune? And you know, just try to be observant especially if your engineer who happens to play an instrument try to be observant how the person you're recording is playing their instrument and say like, hey, you know what? You're if you just saddle it differently or angle the guitar levitt definitely may maybe you'd play better or maybe maybe we'll see them like playing a riff in some bizarre position when and you could suggest like, hey, you know what sort of plant over here you could play it over there and the thing would be a lot easier um if you have some knowledge about how to play guitar it's a lot easier teo share that information with that person and the same goes for drums or bass vocals piano whatever it may be the mohr mohr instruments you know how to play the greater your musical vocabulary b and the greater your ability to communicate with the people you're recording are because you have certain empathy for the position that they're in you know I'm not a particularly great drummer but I have a complaint well enough that I have a good understanding about what a drummer goes through when they're recording and why certain things are possible and what what things aren't possible so when communicating with them aiken kind of speak their language and say like hey let's let's try this or you know to a double stroke their you know tio dio flam here take a dump their whatever it happens to be and so you know, same with guitar bass vocals just you can if you have a rudimentary understanding of how to play all those instruments then you can you can be a better support system for those players help them adjust their plane to record better okay um so another thing about guitar tracking is think a lot of engineers when they hear mistake the flag goes off for like okay but stop dude you're doing this wrong then it's wrong people don't necessarily want to hear that right away let them do a few takes all the way through and figure figure the song out for themselves and let them build a little momentum let him get warmed up and let him get familiar with the actual take I mean, they don't know the song well, but they might not know the actual take that they're recording to wells let him get familiar with that and and let them build some momentum a cz they're tracking so don't interrupt them immediately let him get let him get through the song at least a few times before you start picking, picking it apart and then of course be supportive and provide constructive criticism as you're doing it. Um so then there's the choice of do you want to double track the guitars or not in in most cases of type of bands that I'm doing the guitars or double tracked and hard pant, you don't always have to double tracking certainly, um widens the sound but also kind of can um lessen the amount of intimacy you feel in the sound a single a single guitar, a single performance fewer microphones is usually amore pure sound and we'll give you more the sense of being there whereas like double tracking will give you more of a soundstage and more like a concert kind of vibe and quad tracking will do so even more, but with each layer that you add you're you're adding size, but you're removing punch so just keep that in mind as you add layers and add microphones and addie indian mikes and all that stuff um the, um so we'll skip over this idea of the voice for now we'll talk about that more in a bit um then creative versus clerical linearity what I mean by clerical linearity is sort of the admin stuff that you're doing as you're recording guitars, you're sort of thinking ahead about like, oh yeah, we've got to get these two people, these two guitarists playing on this song we need to get we have like maybe two or three guitar sounds that we're working on in this song and but we're doing a whole album and we're going to be using this, you know, tone one on a bunch of spots in the album and tone to a bunch of spots in the elm. So from an engineer's perspective, you're thinking about it, you know, just just the the clerical linearity is like set up this guitar tone record everything you got to do with this guitar tone, then move on to the next guitar tone do everything to do with that tone, but musicians don't usually think that way and if you have sufficient time to set up a bunch of little rigs within your within your space and you can you know, follow the way the creative winning garrity works. I think you'll end up with a better a better product, more cohesive product in a product that you arm or sort of invested in because you understand the artistic intent to the songwriter. So let let if it's possible, you know, let people complete on their guitar overdubs let people complete a song at a time you know, get through both the primary rhythm track and if if you're doing a secondary rhythm, track the secondary rhythm track and you know if this alternate tones for that song if you can do them on the fly doing on the fire if you have to do in later that's fine it's upto but sort of put that don't tell the client that they have to record in a certain way asked them what they prefer to dio and if they would prefer to really focus on a song at a time rather than a sound at the time then be malleable into it that way if there's two guitar players in the band that air sort of playing an even amount of stuff once guitar player one gets warmed up they might want to keep going. You might want to wait to go back to two seven guitars on those first songs with the second guitar player or maybe it's more important for them to do um to get through all all one kind of song, so just bear in mind as you're tracking a song. What? What will work best creatively for the client? Let them let them build. Not only momentum about their ability to perform the song, but the build momentum just in the creative process and letting them see through whatever it is. It's, fresh in your head.

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.


Keith Foster

First off, even though I'm neither a beginner nor a recording professional, this class is absolutely worth the money you spend on it - especially if you plan on making heavy music. There are enough tips, tricks and guidance in here to get your money's worth many times over. That said, as an indie artist who goes to a studio to record drum tracks, then does the rest ina home studio I found some of the things disheartening. Much of the class follows a "I do this thing using item / amp / microphone / plugin (X), it's pretty cool" vibe, and it sounds cool.... until you check the price. As an example, the 'stereo buss processing' section sounds fun to try, except for the part where the three pieces of gear cost about $8K. As a result I found myself figuring out how to incorporate the essence of what he was saying without the gear budget to do so. Maybe I'm not the intended audience but a little more concept and less gearhead would have been even better. That said you should totally get it, it's a low price for so many hours of great content.