Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp


Lesson Info

Guitar Tracking with Ollie

One thing that I noticed when I was tracking Ollie yesterday is that, we were experimenting with different pick sizes for different things, and we might do that now. First, let's just get you playing through it and see what's going on. Okie doke. Okie doke. (metal guitar music) Basically, the reason we're doing this is to illustrate that, you get two sick guitar players in a band who both know how to play the song, they both play it live, but they sound completely different just because they're different people. That's why you never want to have each guy playing on one side in a recording, 'cause it just wouldn't be tight enough. Is this enough lead-in? (metal music) Yeah, that's fine. Cool. (metal music) You've got a different style of playing that. You don't ring your notes as much as he does, for instance. (metal music) Like right there. (metal music) Here, try it again. I am supposed to. It's just a case of me rushing, I think. Yeah, just do it again. Just try to chil...

l out. (metal music) Ready? Mm-hmm. (metal music) Let's double that, and then what I want to do is, I want to isolate a few parts, and get them sounding really sick, and fly them back in like we did last night, okay? Cool. Cool, ready? (metal music) Mm-hmm. (metal music) Here, let's punch in the very ending though on both sides, the chord and the run. (metal music) Separately, or in one take? In one take. I'm gonna play through the riff and punch in. Do you want me to start at the beginning of the riff, or halfway through the riff? I can probably do it halfway through. Okay, cool. (metal music) One more time. I'm not hearing the final note. I lost it. Yeah, ready? (metal music) In a situation like this, I feel like it might be advantageous to put on a click so that we can really isolate it, you know, find the sweet spot on that riff kind of like we did last night, and just get it absolutely perfect. I'm gonna skip forward to a click that we made. Try to play just that chord into that run the way that you were doing. Just on a loop? Yeah. (metal music) And then the run. Ready? Mm-hmm. (metronome clicks) (metal music) Okay, so when you do it like that, what it enables you to do is to really focus on how precise your technique is because you're not distracted by a bunch of drums. I think that, especially for faster styles of music when there's blast beats, and double bass, and tons of fills, it's just hard to find the sweet spot on the guitar, and it's hard to sometimes know how accurately you're playing or not. Sometimes, you just want to put on a click and drill certain parts like this so you can actually even hear what you're doing in the first place. (metal music) The one before that was good. Yep, this one? That one, yeah. (metal music) Yeah, that was good. And then the third from the start as well was really good, I thought. (metal music) That one's better. Yep. (metal music) Also, I want it to be said that this recording technique is used on lots of records. It's a way to make riffs pop, especially when you have really busy drums going on underneath, or just a lot of other sonic information going on at the same time. Let's see. (metal music) See? There you go. (metal music) Let's do one more thing. Let's try to get some badass slides like we did yesterday. There's a few types of guitar sounds or tricks that I think are very useful to do to a click as well, like slides, squeals, things like that, things that you really need to jump through the speakers and have almost sound like an effect. It's really good to put on a click and just go 'til they're absolutely perfect, and double them up, triple them up, quad them, whatever. Let's get some of those slides. (sings guitar slides) You want just a slide? Play them together. (metal music) Yeah, so we can get it in the right feel. (metal music) I think you were using the ... This is when I used the thicker pick. Yeah, so try that out. (metal music) That sounds pretty good. We just switched to a thicker pick, and sounds better. (metronome clicks) (metal music) Try to get it a little cleaner on the slides. I'm not hearing just the string that you're sliding on. (metal music) There you go. (metal music) That's a little better. (metronome clicks) (metal music) See what we got in the end there. Brown, did you hear any offhand? Yeah, I think it was the fourth or the fifth one was pretty good. 'Kay. (metal music) That one as well. (metal music) This slide? (metal music) Yeah, that one's good. (metal music) They're both good, yep. Yeah, so put those together. (metal music) That just sounds pretty sick. To me, that slide is one of the most characteristic parts of the riff. That's why I would do this, possibly. (metal music) I just really bring it out. When you do this, one thing that you need to make sure of is that the feel still matches the feel of the song. Notice, for instance, as you can see, we have Anup not exactly playing to the grid. It's important to make sure that you don't just bring these back and put them right on the grid. They still do need to be behind, kind of like the drums. (metal music) Now I just want to get a really good du-duns like we did. Cool. (metronome clicks) (metal music) That one and the last one were really good, I thought so. This one. (metal music) Yeah, that one. (metal music) Yep. Now, one thing I do want to mention is that, if you do record a few parts like this, just because you want to have all the slides pop out doesn't mean that you should just do it once and then copy-paste the same slide. I still do think that you would need to record as many individual slides as there are in the song so that it still does sound like more of a unique performance. Also, there are some bands that record their entire albums like this, which I think is just dumb. I think that this is something that you should use as a tool to get certain parts to pop, but this isn't something that you should do because you have no choice. If you have no choice, then the guitar player should probably not be tracking. This is something that we're doing, again, just because, A, I want to demonstrate it, but B, I just want this to pop a certain way. (metal music) Like that. (metal music) Okay, now I'll play Brown, and you just hear the difference. Ollie's sounded really good too. (metal music) (metal music) Both of them sound really good, so in a situation like this, you go with who has the right feel for the song, not with who sucks and who doesn't suck. Sometimes, if you get into situations where you do have one guy that sucks and a guy that doesn't, then obviously the guy that doesn't plays everything, but in a situation like this where both guitar players are super proficient, you just go with whoever fits stylistically. With that said, you wanna pass the guitar back to Brown, and let's track a chorus. I'll let you tune up. Thank you, Ollie. I think, as well, with stuff like this, the person that wrote the song is generally the one that has the right feel. Absolutely. Sometimes, that doesn't always work out either. Sometimes, that doesn't always work out. In my own band, I often let the other guitar player track stuff I wrote just 'cause ... He was sick. Just 'cause he's a better guitar player than me by a long shot, just no matter what I would do, he'd always be better and sound better. I tracked a few things. It doesn't always work that the guy who wrote it is the guy that sounds better, but more often than not, the guy who wrote it is going to understand what it's supposed to feel like. You know where that idea falls off, though? Is with bands that write in Guitar Pro, because if you're not writing in an instrument, it doesn't matter who wrote it. I think that this especially applies for bands that actually write at the guitar, which is how I think you should write anyways. Okay, ready? Yep. (metal music) One more time. One more time. Can we mute that list little bit of the riff. Obviously, I'm hearing the left at the moment. Sure, would you like to hear the right first, by the way? Yeah, let's do the right first. Okay, that's not a problem. We have the means to make that possible, believe it or not. The technology is available to us. Okay, ready? Yep. (metal music) I can definitely get that a little bit cleaner, but that wasn't too bad. It's getting there. I feel like there's certain notes here that I would want to get quads on them specifically, like when you go to the single notes. What, you mean like the ... (metal music) Or do you mean more like the ... (metal music) Yeah, those. (metal music) I'll show you. (metal music) Yeah, the (sings guitar part) All that stuff. Yeah, we can do that, but let's get this take, the first two, and then we'll work on that. Ready? Yep. (metal music) It's getting there. My question to you about this is, how much ring and guitar noise are you cool with in this riff? How much is ... (metal music) Needs to ring out the chord. So when you hear (metal music) Like that. (feedback rings) That, that's a mistake? No. No, that's not a mistake? No. Okay. (metal music) Let's listen through what you just did. (metal music) It's really close, it's not quite there. It's really close though. It's just the du-du-duns aren't quite tight enough, but I can get it all. Just run it. Ready? Yep. (metal music) That was pretty good. I think so. Why don't we punch in? 'Cause there was a lot of good stuff in that take. Yeah, that one was all good, actually, apart from that one little bit. Yeah, all right. You ready? Yeah. (metal music) Definitely do that better as well. Wait. (metal music) That was cool. Okay, yeah. I want to keep that. That was exactly what I was hoping to hear. (metal music) Yeah, that's great. (metal music) I hit a wrong note in that chord. (metal music) We'll get up to there, but we're keeping that. Can I tune quickly? (guitar notes ring) Ready? Yep. (metal music) Let's do the other side. I think that something that's been lost in modern recording is the fact that real guitar players that play on high gain make noise when they go between riffs, when they're switching chords. Guitar is a noisy instrument, and that finger noise, that guitar noise is something that helps you realize you're listening to a real guitar player and not a MIDI guitar. I think it's when you listen to a Michael Jackson vocal track and the breaths are in time with the entire performance, and it actually makes the performance better. I completely agree. I actually hate cutting out the noise between the stops as well. It just gives it character. Now, I understand, stylistically, there's some artists where you wouldn't want that, maybe on something like Meshuggah or something, you want it to sound like a machine because that's the artistic style of the band, but that's not to say that there's nothing wrong with leaving that stuff in. All it does is make you sound like a real guitar player. On the original Nothing, though, you can hear all that. Mm-hmm. Sounds like a band in a room, it sounds great. Maybe Fear Factory. I'm just trying to think of a band where it's super clean, but it's okay. All right, you ready? Yep. (metal music) A lot of that was really cool. I did the same thing I did in the first one. (metal music) I hit the wrong note. Right around here? Yep. Can we do the first half? Yeah, that's fine. The second half's pretty good up until the end. Yeah, let's do it. Ready? Yep. (metal music) I think that that walk down is better on this one. (metal music) Yeah, that's cool. Yeah, that was tight. (metal music) There's some weird stuff, the very beginning. It didn't come in strong enough, I think. It's just the (sings guitar part) Let's just do that, and I'll run into the next bit, and see how it sounds. (metal music) (metal music) Much better. There you go, yeah. (metal music) That bit back there, second (sings guitar part) We'll get that too. (metal music) I don't know which side it's on. I don't know if it's on the left or the right. (metal music) (metal music) Yeah, it's the left side. Yep, all right. You ready? Yeah, just go from the start, and I'll just do it, I'll just play in. (metal music) (metal music) Yeah, that's better. (guitar notes ring) Sorry. It's okay. Good. It's totally okay. I think there's something at the end I want to get as well, but let's check this out. (metal music) I feel like, right here, right on the ... (metal music) I'm not hearing that walk down to the next riff quite precisely enough. I'm just not sure what side it's on. I did it in both. You did it in both? Okay, cool. (metal music) Yeah, I want to hear that as pronounced as the one that happens halfway through. (metal music) It's slightly different though. It's a variation. I know it's different. I just want it that defined. Yeah, just play it from there, and I'll play along. All right, ready? Yep. (metal music) That was cool. (metal music) That was way better. Okay, other side. (metal music) (metal music) Much better. Cool. Cool. Save. (laughs) It's been autosaving this whole time, but you know what? You just made me paranoid. Now I just make sure that the autosave preferences didn't change. Anyone who's not doing this needs to do this. Lots of people who I talk to online, who follow my Nail the Mix service or whatever, who I know that are learning how to mix often tell me that whatever DAW they're using crashes, then they lose all their work. There's no reason that should ever happen because every DAW has an auto backup. I set mine to every one minute, and I keep the hundred most recent backups. I'm straight for the last hundred minutes. It's normally set default to five minutes. That's way too much of a gap. A lot of good stuff can happen in five minutes. Yeah, it's saving. So we can copy and paste all that, right? Is it the same thing next? Yeah. All right, yeah. Apart from that bit. I think Ollie gets that little link better. (metal music) In his one, I thought it was better. What's this post-chorus jam thing. That's no rhythms. No rhythms? Oh, okay, hang on a second. (metal music) In that case, I want to make sure that those slides are ... (metal music) Yeah, those are good. This is all cleans right here? Yeah. You want to keep Ollie's this? (metal music) Yeah, I mean, you can keep the whole thing. Keep the whole thing, yeah. The whole thing sounds great. (metal music) Yeah, I like it, and it's got a different feel to it. Then it repeats the same thing again. Repeat Ollie's thing, or bring in your second half? It's up to you. Is it the exact same thing? It's the exact same thing as the second half. Except for the tag at the end? The tag at the end's the same as the second half of the first, but yeah, you can make that choice. It's up to you. All right. Ollie, guess what. What's happening? We're gonna copy-paste what you did and see what happens. Just for reference, I normally don't copy-paste anything. I normally play things twice 'cause sometimes, depending on how the song's going, it can feel different a little bit. Absolutely. Obviously, we're on a bit of a time constraint with this. There's actually tricks that you can do to get away with not having to redo quite everything. It just depends. For instance, say that you want to copy and paste a chorus, but you don't want it to sound identical, maybe just copy-paste one side and redo the other one, or switch sides. There's different things you can do to save time. However, what you just brought up is a really good point. If the feel is different, copy-pasting really won't work. Actually, in this case, since the drums are not edited to a hundred-percent grid, and they're not sloppy, of course, but they're loose, they're real drums. This might not even work. It might not even work, so we're gonna just have to listen. (metal music) I actually think it works better on the second half than the first. (metal music) That's only part that felt a little weird to me, right there. (metal music) I almost feel like, because of the way that the fill is, it might be better to play that a little more muted. (metal music) Ollie would need to do that. Just because the fill is so busy, I feel like tightening up the guitar part a little would just make it easier to mix. You cool with that, Sir Ollie? Yeah, man. Let's punch in that. I think that, last night, we even worked on that some, getting that run at the end super muted. Didn't we do that? I think we did. Yeah, I tried it. This thing? (metal music) No, the chord, and then into that. (metal music) I think that might've been a you thing. How much of this do you want me to ... (metal music) Like that? (metal music) Yeah. (metal music) Including the high note? Yeah. (metal music) I want to do it to a click so that you can really get it, really get that sweet spot. (metal music) Yep. Mind you, one thing that I'm always doing when I skip forward in the song is making sure that the tempo is the same. It sounds obvious, but in the heat of the moment and trying to get things done quickly, if you skip around to blank space with a click back to the song, you may forget to check the tempo. Yep, 145, 145, we're good. Let's just get that tight and heavy. (metronome clicks) (metal music) There were some really good ones in there. There were some really good ones in there. The second one was really good. Yeah, I think second to last one. You said the second one? The second one. That one behind there, that one. (metal music) That one? Yeah. I don't think you got quite as much low end, though. Listen here, how much low end he's getting. (metal music) Okay, yeah. See what I mean? He started digging in more. (metal music) This is a perfect example of why sometimes taking riffs like this make a difference. If you listen here ... (metal music) Not much low end. As he went along, he was finding the sweet spot more and more on the guitar. (metal music) Subtle, but that's got a lot more low end in it, and that's actually why I wanted to do it like this, wanted it beefier. Let's just see if there's another one that you played real well. (metal music) That one's cool, but it's not got as much low end. That might be cool for the variation on two sides. Yeah, let's see, or you could do it again. I do like this one that is selected. Let's just see. (metal music) That sounds great. (metal music) The one before that was really good as well. (metal music) Yeah. (metal music) Yeah, that's tight. All right, I'm gonna bring it back, put it in the song. (metal music) The reason I had him do it tighter like that, again, was because the drums ... (metal music) Are doing something a lot faster. It could become a mess if the guitar's really ringy, and the guitars and the drums are doing something very fast like that. This helps separate the drums from the guitar so you hear everything, and makes life better. Cool. Thank you, Ollie.

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp will give you access to one of metal’s most in-demand producers and educators. You’ll also get to watch the talented and seasoned performers of Monuments show you how to record flawless takes and how to prepare to enter the studio.

Recording Metal with Eyal Levi: A Bootcamp is the definitive guide to recording and producing metal. From soup to nuts, start to finish, A to Z, you will learn everything you need to know about recording and producing a metal song.

Eyal Levi will take you inside the studio with Monuments as they record a song from scratch at Clear Lake Recording in Los Angeles. In this bootcamp you will learn how to:

  • Prepare for a session in preproduction by choosing tempos and organizing the session
  • Record flawless drums from selection and reheading/tuning to mic choice and placement to editing
  • Record rhythm guitars
  • Record clean and lead guitars
  • Record bass guitar
  • Record, edit and tune lead vocals, harmonies, and screams
  • Mix and master from session setup to final bounce

What comes with purchase of the class?


Intro to Bootcamp
Purpose of Pre-Production
Technical Side of Preproduction
Pre-Production: Setting Up the Tempo Map
Pre-Production: Importing Stems
Pre-Production: Click Track
Creating Tracking Templates
Intro and the Tone Pie
Drums - Lay of the Land
Bearing Edges
Wood Types
Depths and Sizes
Sticks and Beaters
Drum Heads
Drum Tuning
Drum Mic Placement Intro
Basic Drum Mic Setup
Cymbal Mic Setup
Touch Up Tuning
Microphone Choice and Placement
Drum Tracking Intro
Getting Tones and Final Placement
Primary Tracking
Punching In and Comping Takes
Guitar Setup and Rhythm Tone Tracking
Amplifiers - Lay of the Land
Amplifiers & Cab Shoot Out
Guitar Cab Mic Choice and Placement
Guitar Tracking and Signal Chain
Finalizing Amplifier Tone
Guitar Mic Shootout Round Robin
Intro to Rhythm Tracking
Setting Up Guitars
Working with a Guitarist
Final Guitar Tone and Recap
Guitar Tracking with John
Guitar Tracking with Ollie
Final Tracking
Tracking Quads
Intro to Bass Tone
Bass Tone Setup
Bass Tone Mic Placement
Bass Tracking
Intro to Clean and Lead Tones
Clean Guitar Tones
Lead Tones
Vocal Setup for Tracking
Vocal Mic Selection and Setup
Vocal Mic Shootout
Lead Vocal Tracking
Writing Harmonies
Harmony Vocal Tracking
Vocal Warm Ups
Scream Vocal Tracking
Vocal Tuning and Editing Introduction
Vocal Tuning and Editing
Routing and Bussing
Color Coding, Labeling and Arranging Channels
Setting Up Parallel Compression
Setting Up Drum Triggers
Gain Staging and Trim
Drum Mixing - Subtractive EQ
Drum Mixing - Snare
Drum Mixing - Kick
Drum Mixing - Toms
Drum Mixing - Cymbals and Rooms
Drum Mixing Recap
Mixing Bass Guitar
Mixing Rhythm Guitars
Basic Vocal Mix
Mixing Clean and Lead Guitars
Mixing - Automation
Mastering - Interview with Joel Wanasek


  • I'm just part way though and I'm blown away by the quality approach Eyal takes to getting the best out of the sessions. I love how well everything is explained and Eyals calm manner is just awesome it really makes you want to listen to the gems of wisdom he offers.
  • Amazing knowledge is being presented here. If you want to start out recording, this should be your first step, it'll save you lots of time and get you awesome results. Highly recommended class.
  • Wow is all I can say. This bootcamp goes in so much depth from tuning drums, setting up guitars, to recording and mixing. I have learned so much by participating in this bootcamp. It has taught me some new recording techniques and signal routing for my mixes. I just want to thank Eyal, Monuments, and Creative Live for taking the time to do this. It has been amazing and I will keep going back to these videos.