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Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Lesson 13 of 29

Riff Building

Joey Sturgis

Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

13. Riff Building

Lesson Info

Riff Building

you can basically call this rift building. Um, we're just having him perform tiny little parts. And then we're, you know, throwing it into the riff where we see fit. And then that's basically effectively building the most perfect version of the theme. Do one more of those. It's the third note. Can you pick? Yeah, but don't call me in the dark, E Like the last one. Now, the last one had a little bit of an overhang, but we're gonna end up cutting it off. So won't it won't really matter. And I'm still all of the stuff that I'm doing right now is based on the tread transients and not the actual pick attack. Because in a minute, what we're gonna do is we're going to actually, we're gonna reveal all of the pick attacks all at once. So we're cutting off the pick attacks right now and just moving all the actual notes and then we'll reveal the pick attack. Okay, so I like that. Okay, so that thing, the chicken chicken, I want you to just give me a couple of those a little bit tighter. Yeah. Mov...

e your hand to the close closer. This way. Like right? Yeah. On the up and down. Keep going a little tighter. That was good. That last one. Cool. All right, so let's put that in place. And now see what we got. I know the riff repeat. So I can just delete all these takes because of the same before. The only thing that changes is the tail every time. So I'm gonna take this whole first half and repeat it. And now I've got the entire rift. Cool. That sounds pretty good. And then, ah, then all you need to do is reveal the pick attacks. And, uh, the way to do that is you just select everything, and then I usually choose, like a 64th note. But it just depends on the tempo. And then I do a ah, a trim left. And that basically reveals the tiny little pick attack that happens before every note. And then we just do cross fade on that and you should get And then once, once you've got a perfect version, then you just, uh, do bounce selection. And then that basically turns it into a solid piece of audio. Pretty close. So I mean, that's pretty much it for the editing section. But let me, ah, let me talk a little bit closer about some of these things. I wanted to just play 11 note for me. Just open people. So let's look at this really closely. Typically, what I will do is I will just cut right on the grid and then move the note afterwards. I find it to be easier because it eliminates a step. So if you actually just if you're actually cutting based on the ah, based on the pick attack like this, then you've got Teoh. Move this around and then if you need to copy and paste it somewhere, you have to actually go back into grid relative mode, um, so that it will stay If you're in grid relative mode, it'll keep the amount of distance between where the event starts and where the grid is, and it tends to be a little bit harder to work with, especially when you're rift building. Because when you're rift building, you know that you want you know, you want certain notes to just be a certain length, like for example, uh, like 1/16 note. So you have these little blocks that are like 1/ note wide. And then you can just, like, move them all around where you want, like this. And they're just like Lego blocks, almost. And then, ah, then you can reveal the pick. Attack afterwards by just doing a trim like that. It's a lot harder to work with the the whole note with the pick attack and then, like trying to position it in place and then trying to get the next one in place like it's a little bit sloppier. So I like to just work with the blocks that stick to the grid and then adjust. So finding the pick noise before the transient is just a matter of choosing how, how many spaces in front of every note do you want to keep? And I could show you like the distance. I can show you the difference of what it sounds like. So let me just put this on loop so the more distance I get, it's more pick attack again. So if I if I completely remove it, it sounds like this. So if you can hear that, but it's here, is it be better if actually repeat it. So when the when there is no pick attack, it sounds like a keyboard. And then when there is pick attack, you hear the transition from pick hitting the string and then releasing the note. And then, of course, in order to make it sound realistic, you have to have the cross fades, because without them it just sounds like. But you would never want to take just a single note like that and repeat it because it will sound. It sounds fake because there's no variation in each note. So this is just I'm just trying to demonstrate the transient part of it. So don't you know, don't take a single note and, like copy and paste of Launch and then be like, OK, here's my part. It sounds silly. Um, so we talked about selecting all the regions in this segment and then doing a trim adjustment at the beginning to include the pick, attack and cross fading the pick attack, which allows it to sound a lot more realistic. And then we kind of demonstrated what the Rift Building Waas. Does anyone have any questions on the Rift Building or or a guitar editing in general? Yeah, we have some from online. Um, would you please elaborate on what exactly? Trim left function does sure that do. Ok, um so we're looking at these blocks of audio here, and right now they're all perfect 16th notes or Ah, see, What do I have? I've got perfect quarter notes here now, would you? When you select all the notes, you have these these nice little trend functions and the trim function will move the starting point of the event to the left. So the more I click it, see, it keeps moving it to the left like that, and you could also do it to the right side. And that's just revealing more of the original audio. So if I take this block out away from the pack and in, grab these handles and move it left and move it right, that reveals more of the original recording that we that we captured. So what you're doing, essentially by trimming left, is your revealing more of that more of what came before the transient. So we've got the transit exactly in time. But we've cut off the pick attack because of pick attacks right here. So by doing the trim. You reveal that pick attack and then you can hear it when it plays back. It's notice that that first note has a little bit more of an attack at the beginning. And then, ah, by doing it for all the notes, you can hear how that pick attack comes in and defines every note. Yeah, well, that's cool. Do you lie in the pick? Attacker? The transient? I like to align the transient, but you know what? There's no rules. And if this was a slower song, you might need toe do something slightly different. Um, now a lot of the tempos of metal core kind of allow you to typically just aligned the transient and have the pick attack in front of the beat. That's how I prefer it. But if you have the pick attack after the beat, what I've noticed is that it starts to sound kind of lagging, and I'll show you so if you were just doing on Lee the pick attack as your alignment. That's what it sounds like versus the other way, but But, ah, that's very subtle, but there's certain riffs like you'll record a riff and try it one way, and you'll instantly here like Oh, wow, every note sounds late. I need to align it more to the left. Sometimes you'll record it and it will be like, Oh, all the notes sound early. Now maybe I need to push it to the right. But as long as you're consistent So if I'm doing the same thing in every note block, then I have the ability to shift the whole rift to the left or shift the whole drift to the right, you know, trim to the left so that my all my cross fades of the same distance. As long as you're consistent, you can kind of moving around afterwards. Cool. Um, can you? Andrew wants to know what your signal levels should be. Should be negative for or negative 60 be or where where does where did your guitars come in? Yeah, I try to have the guitar player play, and we did this before we came on the air, but I play the guitar really allowed in trying to make the loudest noise that I can and then I'll turn it up until it starts to clip and then just back it off a little bit so that it's not clipping at all. Even if you play the loudest sound on the guitar, it's not gonna clip. And that's kind of where I set my level. Okay. The other thing that you could do is, if you're if you're working with a specific amps, Um, like, for example, Pod Farm, it will tell you in the manual. It says the hot spot or the sweet spot for the guitar signal is in the yellow going so it'll have a meter and you can look at the meter on this on the screen and make sure that you're in the yellow area. Awesome. Um, Jordan Earth wants to know this question. Got four votes? Uh, when you're tracking, Do you always use a D. I with guitar and bass treaties? Can you just plug straining to your interface? I always use a d. I box, and I feel like, especially the countryman in particular. This is this is the D I box that I use. It's called the Countryman. Um, it's just a very high quality D I box, and I feel like it does make a little bit of a difference in your tone. It's not going to change the sound of your tone. It's not gonna change the collar of it, but it is going to just make it, I guess. More representative of what's actually coming out of the pickup when you're using a like a lower quality D I box, it tends to ah, um, be like maybe muddy or kind of blurry. And what I've noticed about the countryman is that it just sounds perfect. And there's really I don't know if there's a better d I box anywhere cool. Anything else? There's one question about whether you tune the guitar to the attack note or the release notes if you to like when you're if you're picking it out of tune, right like okay for hard. And if you have some fluctuation in your pitch, yeah, I tend to go in and actually ah, attitude in the notes. Eso If if you're working on a part where let's say, the guitar player, let's actually see if we can get a note that starts out sharpened and goes flat. So just play it really hard. Just open note. Just one open, Yeah, real hard. So I'm going to Let's say this is the note that I actually want to use in the song. For whatever reason, maybe it has special qualities or something, but it's causing a problem for me because it starts out sharpen, it goes flat. You can actually just pitch. Correct it. Because if it's a mono phonic note, which means it's only one note vibrating at a single time and there's not any other notes on top of it, then you can. You can opportunity now if you're If you're working with a cord in the cords attitude, there's nothing you can do. You just have to punch it in again. But I'll show you how to tune this note with altitude so you would select the note and then you would right click it and go to plug ins and find your auto tune plug in. And then I would go to graph mode and change my input. Type two instrument and my tracking is going to be on 100% relaxed and then I'm going to it track pitch and then hit preview. Once it's played through. Once you just hit, stop and turn track pitch off. If you actually look at the pitch. You can see how on this red line represents the pitch of the note. It started out shark, and then it went back down to the note. So to correct that, you would click on this note correction tool right here and then just draw a box around the note where you want it to be. It could actually change the note if you need Teoh. Um, or you can just, you know, put it on the note. It looks like it didn't detect part of the note, though the beginning is missing from the note, it is interesting. Um, let me try doing it one more time. Uh, with attitude in particular, um, the input type matters a lot because it will change how opportune behaves. So sometimes if you're working with, like, lower tuned music, you have to put it on bass instrument, even though it's not a base way. Go. So that time it detected it. Let's clean it up by doing this. Okay, so now you can hear the difference. Um, guitars. I like to use pretty much zero retune speed just because I'm trying to get it to be just one flat pitch I don't want to fluctuate, not there's some vibrato in there. You would probably want to preserve it somehow. Um, and I could actually demonstrate that to let me see. How's my poor attempt at demonstrating by brought off? Um, it'll get the point across, though. So if we look at this note on auto tune, uh, so we can see that this note was actually sharp, but we want to preserve the, um, the vibrato. What you can do is you can actually use this selection tool, which is like a range. It looks like a text selector almost, and you just select the note like this, and then you hit the button that says Make curve. And what that does is it traces the exact pitch, but it allows you to move it around so I can move that note a little bit lower, which will put it a little bit more in tune. Now, if you if you look at this, you can see that it starts out in tune. But it kind of ends flat so I can select this whole green thing and grab the handle on the right side and start to skew the pitch. So if I skew it a little bit up now, it starts on the right note, and it ends on the right note. But if you wanted it to, like, rise and pitch, you could do like this. So that's how you would pitch, correct it, and then you hit process, and then it, of course, it keeps it in the audience. Awesome. Um, silly question, but what would you What would you dio or would you do your editing while the guitars is still there or wait till after they've left? It's you said earlier. You do all your editing it sort of as you go. Yeah, um, you know, that's a great question. It's not actually not a silly question at all. Okay? And I'll tell you what I do. And it's worked pretty well for me. Is guitar players are generally patient because they're sitting in a chair? Um, they're not standing there, not really over exerting themselves, and they're not using a ton of like, you know, it's doesn't it doesn't cause physical harm to play guitar. So in that sense, yeah, you can do the edits as you go because it's, you know it's not painful for them to sit there, and a lot of people have IPhones. So while you're sitting there editing something that could just be on their IPhone, which a lot of musicians enjoy anyway, now, if you're working with like a vocalist, it might be a completely different story. You could be sitting there editing in between each vocal take and the vocalist gets bored, and then they start to selling crap or their voice has, like, a sweet spot that's only good for like an hour. And if it takes you longer than an hour to get through the song, then you're gonna end up with crappy spots. So as far as guitar goes, I like to read it as I go. Editing afterwards is way more difficult because if you need certain notes to be longer, the guitarist doesn't there anymore to play them longer for you. So it just makes more sense to do it while you're there. Cool

Class Description

Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His style is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in Studio Pass he’ll show you how he produces it.

There is no magic bullet to Joey’s sound. It’s simply the combination of a million little decisions that add up to something incredible. In this class – for the first time ever – Joey will demonstrate his entire process: pre-pro, engineering, mixing and mastering, from A-Z. 

You’ll learn:

  • Writing and arrangement tips that take a song from good to great
  • Recording, editing, and mixing tips for guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths
  • How to get stuff to sound loud, super clean, and tight

Joey is a hands-on engineer – he’ll talk about how he works with bands to develop their writing and ideas so they are working with the best possible raw material. He’ll show you the specific signal chain he uses for mixing guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths. And he’ll give extra focus to vocal tracking, editing, tuning, compression, and effects.

If you want to transform your recording and engineering process, don’t miss your opportunity to learn from chart-topping metalcore producer, Joey Sturgis.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment


What is Vocal Production

Autotune Pitch Correction Modes and Tools

Understanding Pitch Graphing

Timing and Quantization

Vocal Mixing

Separating Lead & Background in Mixing

Mixing Harmonies & Adv Production Technique

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have been following Joey's work since the early Prada days... This is one of the best discussions any producer has ever contributed to digital audio. I love the amount of transparency. He simply reveals everything and guides you on a very wise path on how to become a in-the-box producer like him! Turns out, the answer is -- a ton of hard work! Plus, this has to be the best use-case on his own awesome and super-affordable plugins. I have watched almost every popular producer/engineer workshops and have also sat-in on Eddie Kramer, Alan Parsons and Quincy Jones producer workshops and believe it or not... This is the best one yet.

Adam Train

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the bands Joey records. The only reason I bought this class was because I enjoyed the Periphery one so much. Joey takes modern production techniques to the absolutely extreme. He takes punch-ins and editing to a level where it's not even funny any more. If you're looking for tips on recording and mixing in general, this class is not for you. If you're looking for editing tips to see how far you can possibly push the strive for perfection, this is pretty spot on. If you're a beginner, don't take this class to heart - Joey's workflow is borderline psychopathic - go and get the Periphery session instead. If you've been recording for a while and you're looking to see how far editing can take you, it's worth a look.

a Creativelive Student

Easily one of the best investments I've made. There is so much information here that you'll have to watch it multiple times to really catch everything. Looked up to Joey Sturgis for a long time and this is literally a dream come true to get a behind the scenes look into his talent. He delivered the material in a very understandable fashion and was extremely clear with all his examples. I love creative live =)