Before You Start
We're getting into just before you start and kind of touched on this earlier but really being prepared and just having a goal or an idea before you even pick up the guitar like what are we trying to do what's the what's the essence of what we're trying to d'oh what what's the song about like not initially theme lies like a lyric content but what's the what is the focus of the guitar in the song like what is its essence is the guitar the primary focus in the song I mean obviously it all placed plays into each other but you know sometimes with as with any musician in the band you know you have to sometimes you have to realize it's not about you and you have tio either know what it's like all right this this good song is guitar driven I have to step up and we're going toe really get the tone and dial on the tone and make the focus the guitar or is the vocal is it more of ah singing cup of vocal or is it are we trying to serve you know are we trying to serve the vocal were trying to serve ...
the song um is there are the drums the focus are we trying to really lock in on the kind of a syncopated kind of thing with the drums or what are we trying to do and a lot of this is obviously stuff that you're doing when you know ideally and you're in a band and you're writing the song before you've kind of flushed all that out but if you're maybe if you're working at home and you're kind of like just recording yourself and you're you're isolated it's like you know you if especially if you're just a guitar player and then that's what you do and you're recording yourself you know, maybe you're making it too much about the guitar maybe you're not serving the song so it's really just having a goal and really tryingto get to the core of what what it is that you were going to be recording and really tryingto trying to serve that um and the other thing is a main thing is also don't try to force it you know don't try and put you know, fifteen notes and where five will d'oh you know, it's it's always an important thing and you know what the choices we make uh sonically um are gonna influence what we're playing and vice versa so you want a chime in on anything on that note um and again I went back to before saying about going on youtube and isolating guitar tracks, but you know what a great thing to d'oh you know, it gets to the core of, uh what influences you so it's like listen to records like what's a good guitar sound like oh I love you know somebody mentioned the blackout metallica is like ok that's a great guitar sound okay how do we get close to that without even necessarily knowing what gear is used if you don't know that I mean like nowadays you can probably find that but it's like how do you develop that the listening skill to hear that sound go oh man that's like ok just break the sound up into it's almost like into its individual components well the bottom men just deal with the bottom bottom in on this is really focused or is it's really loose and it's kind of like why and tubby and it's like ok so let's like dial and figure what the bottom and sounds like what is the mid range sound like is the mid range forward is the mid range does it sound like it's scooped is we're at the mid range is very down like metal that's a very common thing they you know even look like a graphic you know like making a smiley face but it's like the scoop sound where it's like less mids and more just really lows and high so you're dealing with that group and like that that attack that really bright kind of like all the palm ut stuff my focus a lot of times you know mid range is your friend um in terms of the cube butt you know self I don't necessarily always like the scooby you know, like super scooby like no mid on guitar thing but you know if you're listening to her sound and that you think that that's the sound like try and you know, just try and limit listen and imitate just says you as you if you could imitate a voice or you imitate like someone do an impersonation or hear somebody's the way they talk about on that we have a weird sounding voice and you imitate that it's the same thing when you're listening to a guitar sound you listen to it on the guitar's like I mean it's like silly but you make these noises feeling the steve cherry impression wants that blew my mind and all he kept saying was like it's no different than when you get a start on you just like figure out the toes you know it's kind of that you know it's funny because like ohio one steve perry that's a hard one to do it is trained here here no, but you know, the funny thing is maybe that's just something that it was like a skill set in line because like, this isn't one of the other little things you know, like when I grow up, I want to be this and like, you know, I wanted to like I had a little brief dream of being like like rich little being impersonator guy because I could do a lot of different voices like I know how to do that, I don't know, I just don't know how, but I can imitate things like I hear things and I can imitate them so it's, like I apply that concept honestly too, like not just guitar, but anything in the studio like I hear the guitar and I go, oh, there's this mid range frequency and you kind of like almost mouth the sound and you go, uh oh, it's got this, like, when you find that's almost how I'm getting e q I'm hearing like that it's like, oh, what is this what's the where's? The what is it is like and where is it you know, like and just doing that? That little simple act of, like, like mimicking? Like with your mouth like the sound of a hearing that in your head, like it'll it'll help you even dial in the tone of the amped like you can hear characteristics and, like, focus on a specific section of it, even though I know I'm breaking it down into its very basic element and, like really dissecting it, like like I said, listen, the low and how's the lohan isn't tight, is it loose? How is the high end? Is it really bright? Is it? Is it shrill or, you know, how's? The mid range is a forward is back it's it's stuff like that. So and you listen to records and your, you know, you that's great, and then you figure out and kind of, like, identify that it's like you can go back and forth and like a big tool for me in the studio and even like a lot of even on home steps, a lot of them, they have, uh, like, basic interfaces have like, a thing for an external source, so you could patch in like, a cd or anything like or an mp three player or whatever, and you can go back and forth, and I do I'll do that a lot like are based on a sound that we've gotten before or even on a different song, I'll pull up a rough mix of a song, and I'll I'll listen to the guitar sound, I need to get closer to this, and I'll flip back and forth between even though it's in a track you know, I'll flip back and forth between something that I like and go ok and it's not even necessarily completely mimicking it like straight imitation it's just getting got moving towards that what, what what draws you to that sound to begin with. So it's literally just kind of like taking something and it's never going exactly, but it's moving towards that, I always say that kind of thing. So listen to records pulled out a bunch of records what's what? What inspires you? What sounds great, you know? And you know, that's a great starting point until you build up your own tool kit and your own repertoire of what you know, at least as starting points it's always starting points like I say, all this is based on my experience and it's all these air not not the end result there the beginning point. So until you build that and have all those little things in your back pocket to know to pull out of this, that this that like this and I need this, I need to really, you know, aggressive sound let's try this and to start with but I know this is an aggressive and you know, so until you get all that pull up records and I still do it to this day, you know, like, pull up records, listen, what you like, this sounds great and just really go towards that youtube's, another great, another great resource, and again with on youtube, the isolated guitar tracks, if if there's a song you know particular you might just google it and see if they have an isolated tracks but like I said there's a lot of them out there I think a lot of it came from like on all those guitar hero and rock band and all that stuff because a lot of people had tio they had toe pull the sessions up and I've done I actually did a you know, dillinger songs for a rock band africa's our hero yeah and um you know, you have to like take the multi tracks and re basically remakes them and put them into stems for them so they can in the video game but somehow these things through the magic of whatever on the internet these things have have happened leak out and you're you're able to there's a great resource out there that you're able to like listen that guitar sounds that you like you know that and you khun at least gives you a good starting point and uh yeah just and then figuring out like I said developing that tool kit of what you need to get to that idea so all right live versus studio here's where this is a good one too this is a great talking about what you need to do and think about differently to me there they are they're very different but at the same time the my approach to recording is always to try and capture that it that that feeling that I always get when I would see a band live, you know that feeling? And if you've ever seen videos or you look up on youtube, look at videos of what they do live, you know, that's just like, full on, you know, just it's. So what I what I learned from you that was that, you know, to get in that spirit isn't necessarily that you don't necessarily use the same approach tone wise to get this spirit across. So, for instance, first come in the studio I brought in with me, my damps, how I would play it live in practices of light so there's certain things you don't consider like it's one guitar you don't have you're not layering so there's that you're trying to make it sound thick right off the bat you're trying to make it sound loud and thick and come across you're trying to cover up mistakes, you're not playing perfectly, you can't always keep up with the german air, you sometimes miss a note, so you're putting a lot more gain, probably on it live than you necessarily might in studio, um, there's a lot of things like that you don't consider, so what I did learn starting to record for riel was that's the result you're going for, not the individual tone itself that we we talked about, and I'm thinking ahead like that on the bill for the building blocks. So, um, right away, I mean, um, those are things that, yeah, thinking ahead is is a big thing for me and it's something I developed because of going back to my original theme is commit and recording on tape, you only have x amount of of tracks, so you had to it's almost like a chess game. You had tio think five moves ahead, you had to know kind of like what your track layout was going to be it's like, oh, we only have four, four, five tracks for guitar. Okay, we're going to have to, you know, we can't layer in all this stuff or if we layering guitars and if we layer a bunch of guitars and we wanted to stay that way, then we're gonna have to take them and then take, like, four tracks or five tracks and bounce it to two we're gonna have to actually bounce, bounce the tracks down and make a mini blend of that, and we're going to commit to that blend and that's it, you know, we're locked in because them to do that now. But I don't have to do that now, but I still take that same approach because again I believe, you know, I mean, you know, all the classic records that I've, you know, grew up on everything like that, they were all made with those that kind of thing it's like limited choice is kind of, like forces your hand to really develop and getting it right at the source and sticking building on and building on that mean good takes that, then create the guy on the record, right? Exactly how god is in the details and you can't make the details can't go backwards, you know, when we committed, then you have to commit, like I said, if you're bouncing for tracks out, if you're bouncing a bunch of guitar tracks down like you trying to make this really wall of, like, this rhythm guitars and I've done it where it's like six tracks and it's like I'm done on tape it's like, ok, well, we're on a track, we don't have any room for the vocal, ok let's, take the six and take the last two tracks that we have open here and bounced them down to a stereo blend and we got it and then the's ones are getting erased, so the's tracks better be good and then that blend better be good. Right because that's it we're living with him to go for to do it right from the beginning but one thing I realized though in doing that is that sometimes you go in the studio intention is as you say it's the what's the intention here what's the intent of what you're trying to do and sometimes you go in knowing exactly what the attendant I'm going for this thing right here I want this black album sound or this is the vibrant going for right here and sometimes when you're just a bunch of musicians in a room jamming there's a lot of loose ends you don't know how it's going to turn out or what you want out of it until you start committee so there's the part of it where you're committing because you know exactly what you're going to do when you were practicing you were ready and you know what you're going for and then there's the side of it like committing so then you can make that to sit after you've committed now you are you figured out the attend all right so we did this take it has this vibe it sounds like this now we have to complement that keep building on that um and everything's going to be tight and right and you're gonna be able to chris messed hole and obviously we stick approach from that point so sure like I think it's important tio really clarify that like sometimes the committee isn't only because like in the old days you could have the option because every going to say, well, steve, now you can, but once you do get that philosophy down, you start to learn how to how to really know what the intent is moving forward once you make those decisions for the whole band to then compliment that yeah it's it's again because because you're committing like because I learned that way early on and then I was always saying, don't be afraid to be wrong and you khun you know, you okay? If you really messed up, you're gonna have to go backwards and you're taking more time and you're gonna take the steps to correct it. But again you're now taking the choice it forces you to take that choice and it's like right? How do you complement what you already did and layer on top of that and how to build on top of that? So it's a it's a big thing to think about and said to me developing that muscle of really committing and getting the tone right at the source is the most important thing because that is your building block that's just like a house you have your did you build this basic thing and you get this foundation that's really solid everything else on top of that's going to be awesome because the core of what it is and the intent of what you're trying to accomplish is always going to be there and it's not going to go away and going back to the live versus studio um, again, sometimes just the ability to sit there and make everything really tightened on point, and once you have that intent, and then maybe retract the drums first and you see where the drummer was going with it and where they were accenting and energy, and it was a little ahead, as opposed to behind. So now you're tracking, um, knowing what that intent is, knowing what the energy is and what the vibe is, you're creating tone for that you're tracking your performing for that and that's something you don't have the luxury to do live so while like I said live, I may put more gain on and things because there's a little bit of a mess, and we're trying to kind of blend all these things and and glue them together in a way that you necessarily would have that you naturally can't do in this if you like. You were in the studio now in the studio, what I learned is like, immediately, steve would start taking gain off my guitar, we need start saying, ok. I'm like, but it's supposed to be heavy why's it clean, clean, we'll watch let's layer for these and make them right and having all happened at the same time. And when a whole band is coming at you in every instrument, every take is coming at you like a spear in your face. There's nothing more aggressive and heavy than that and that's one thing that's completely different than live live you're just trying to get through it, and you're just trying to cut funding aches and striking warming and doing all these things, but to get that across in the studio, there may be different techniques in order to do that because, you know, it's it's funny because, like, and we'll definitely dive into this later, but yeah, I found through my experience, unless you know especially for like the tight medals, really tight metal stuff. Honestly, it's when you really listen to go home and it's such a heavy guitar sound it's not as much gain as you think it isthe it's actually a little bit less than you really think it is, and a lot of its which goes from the next thing we'll get into, but it comes from your hands it's I call it heavy hands, but like the tone comes from your hands. And it's like the aggression is all about the intent that you put behind and the force that you're applying to the guitar and just then here that you can't know it was like but sometimes too much gain will actually make it sound less aggressive it'll get soggy and it'll just just you know just like nothing and then a lot of times the the guitar player will still not even build build think the gain is everything and though it's they're making up for their lack of like attack on the guitar and they're using a really thin pick and they're just like like that it's like they're trying to like it's like you're trying to get some of those ginger children and they're they're going like with like a lot of gain and just said sounds like this is that sort of winds up sounding like I know that sounds good name like no it doesn't but then again it could be on the other side of things one thing I've found from working in the studio alive is that when using things like two fires you think well in the studio you don't need to crank and and very loud because you're not trying to play in front of a lot of people but uh tube amplifier the louder you were way out for sure better it sound so it's very similar alive in that respect so I found that you know you're going to and as far as like the level you put your guitar live is actually typically pretty similar to what we do in the studio because that gets across a certain air comes out of something right sometimes sometimes sometimes certain how amplifiers and certain certain towns that you're going for that of course of course and other times you know it's you know it's ah it's the opposite right sometimes like, wow, we can really get this really focused down because you know, we're just going for this weird like kind of tight but like not, um I don't describe it but it's like this sometimes you could go to the end very quiet like let like low wattage not even so much like like the mason bookies have now this thing on switch you can switch the wives on the amp and you're actually barely moving the speakers, but they're your kind of over driving the power section but not really the speakers aren't really moving a lot um and that's a different kind of saturation that's a different kind of sound and we'll show that the difference on that too, but um yeah, for the most part I generally record fairly loud on the stuff because again I'm trying to my I mean, I don't even know I mean, I learned afterwards that there's a reason why that is but I was always just like well that's how they play live I'm gonna try and get as close to that as I can so crank them up you know, not gonna think response to it totally responds differently and and again it's it's all the player but it's the player hearing that through the aunt and the emperor making the players play a certain way and the player making the amp responded certainly so it's all it's all together so and then going back to going to our our point before you start tony is in the hands on guy I've said this how long about me saying this wherever I mean I am recently was on a tour with thousand chains and I was hanging out inside stage and I overheard I was talking to jerry cantrell about seeing allison chain's open for van halen years ago and, uh you know, it was one thousand chance original singer they had just broken out with man in the box. They were just like a new band opening for van halen and they only played like a really short set and I remember being like, god, I wish they pit longer than men haven't played for like two hours and it was cool um and I was just talking about that and he said, you know, on that tour I got to play through eddie van halen's rig I went and I took the same guitar on by plug through the same exact year and it did not sound like may did not suddenly getting baylin hey man helen picked up my stuff take them like talking my gear played through my stuff and it sounded like any man helen you know it was that the gear it really was in his hands I mean, eddie had a sound and you can color it with whatever you want but that style in that technique and that sound did largely conference think about it when you think about honestly uh like this like going into the van halen records and there was a shift a little bit after like the first three records and he switched to this like really kind of like chorused out guitar sound is supposed to like the first the first four records really? Well, the first three really yeah, it was that was like the state basically more of the same guitar sound and by the way there's again going to the youtube thing or desolate guitar tracks there's ones for some of the first van halen record the running with the devil guitar sound which is amazing and you can find that and I actually found the multi tracks on that one and the funny thing is that part of the uh the way I know that ted templeman recorded them he recorded them in in the in all, in the same room at sunset sound um like he treated it like their lives set, he treated like a live like live recording, so the answer in the room with the drums the guitar is almost is loud on the drum overheads as it is like you pull up the drums and mute the guitars and it was like for running with the devil and you could hear the guitar exactly how you pretty much how you hear it on the record just a little quieter, but there it is and it's like it's all and that's another one, you know, like that's. Another thing that I've done with a few bands uh, that you know you're part of the guitar sounds like the bleed on how it's interacting with the room and how it's interacting with the drums and the drums are resonating from the guitar like all that that influences the sound, but I'm kind of going off on a tangent here a little bit but point being that even helmet his his guitar set up had changed over the years he went from this one like custom guitar and then these kramer guitars and then his own tv h guitars or whatever the music man one the wolfgang model and then but what happens when you when you listen to that helen on pretty much any record you can hear the intricate are and you go that's van helen you know it and he's multiple different setups different studios different microphones I'm sure different amps it all sounds like him and it's it's his producers you can't always influence somebody being prepared but if you can that helps you know they're coming in prepared in their plan of confidence and they are able to do the work that helps you guys you know yes exactly your technique or lack of support really exactly which is you know exactly some of these guys like you know you say when they play like wrong the technically the wrong it's like who cares they're getting a sound out of the guitar looking uh uh what some what was the guy who played the guitar with his feet you know I'm talking about there's a guy a chest well now jeff helis the hate blind right and he plays it sitting down on the foot guy so you know I'm talking about there's a guy playing right but you know but like the way he plays it's like it's not you know that obviously completely places sitting down he plays it all like you know that's his sound that's his technique you know your technique or lack of technique is going to influence your sound so to me when you go through it and then uh started the source it starts at the source so and I always say like you know I sit there and I listened to the guitar player play through his rig whoever this guy like I'm like let me hear what you got you know before we get you think about getting the sound in the studio it's just like let me you know I'm usually doing preproduction so I'm listening and I'm getting an idea there and I'm like listening to their amsa listen to how they're playing and then it's like you know taylor the sound to the player don't go the opposite way don't you know I've seen I've seen instances and I haven't even had incidents before I I was a producer where you know it's like well that's great you know yeah you know this is a great sound that you guys are great I really love working for you guys now use this guitar and use this and that I have in the studio and they they forced the player to use what they have and you know in the house and for whatever because again there there you know they're in their comfort zone and they they just use this it's like that's great but why don't you try this and it's like you know I mean I've had instances where people bring in really, really terrible year and I know and they're trying when they tell me what their what their intent is and what they're trying to go for then I'll be like well if you're really going for this kind of basically you're not going to get there with your create one twenty and it's just not going to happen I'm sorry, you know like no matter how much you try, you know you can't force it enough teo you know, get something that'll be cool but you're not going to get what you're looking for so then it quacks like a duck use the deck, you know? I mean it's like trying like, if you know if you're trying to get that kind of mesa kind of found, you're going to need to get something that's similar to a mesa or mason itself, you know you too bad you're not going to get that sound with the salad they had solid state heads are great, but you know and they have their place and I love I've gotten some great guitar sounds with solid state heads, but if you know it's like if you're going for that little sound you going yeah, that's pretty much sure that's a to ban you're gonna have to use the tube and yes, it's very simple technique is going to turn that no technique is going to do that and again but don't force it don't you have to make sure you have to listen, you have to listen and respond to what the players doing and a just to get the end result and taylor the sound to how he's playing not say ok, we'll play like this and it's like well I don't really play with that much gains like tough you know you don't do that you're striking a always it's the client you're tryingto ultimately ultimately serve the client a matter what even if it yourself but the main thing is don't force it round peg in a square hole thing you know I notice you see the line, let us and turn him into a vegetarian exactly it is um and again it's the it's the player and you know and then you have like I said, you have players that I have players to come in with the best here and the completely wrong technique because they just they just think, well, I'll get this I get that I get this really expensive, you know? I'll get the you know, forty five hundred dollars less paul custom and I'll get you know, the wagner ecstasy or whatever, you know diesel and, you know, four thousand dollar andthe and like, just the best stuff and I'm using monster cable with everything or morigami cable and, you know, you know, it's all this the greatest things and all the best pedals and it's like if your technique isn't right, you're never going to get it right so which goes to my next thing and I know this is a really simple and really you know, almost you know it's too obvious but learn your craft practice practice, practice practice and that goes for engineers with experimenting with sounds and learning your craft I feel like I learn your craft it goes it starts with the musician obviously and it filters down through uh what I d'oh learn your craft you have to practice you have to trial and error don't be afraid to be wrong you're going to fail more times and you succeed until you really start building up a repertoire um yeah it's learned learn your craft you have to just practice and you have to get it right because too many people don't they think there's too many shortcuts and and nowadays because I feel like the and this is kind of like I know I feel like a little bit of an old school like it's a luddite or whatever and like a diatribe going off on this like like all these kids nowadays they don't practice but a lot of people I find it there's always been that element where some people just well they don't practice and they think there's like some magic in the studio that you can do things and unfortunately fortunately and unfortunately nowadays this is true but what that does to me the theory bility for people too take a take a okay track and ended it like crazy and make it perfect to me that takes away the hole point of learning your craft because the engineer is not learning their musicians, not learning their craft because they know it can be fixed, so they're they're getting kind of lazy and they're not really being getting in the studio, being prepared and having their parts all dialed in and having their technique dialed in so they, you know, they're very creates a little bit of a tear of late and or of laziness so that they don't practice much. The producer doesn't practice is much because he doesn't practice coaxing the performance out of the player, and then just knowing that he could just go ok, play through once that's fine, I definitely learned, you know, I've been on that other side where I said to steve, I already played this rift like you got me to play like, perfect. It took me like an hour and now I'm doing it again and you're saying, nope, do it again, do it again. I already played it perfect. Just cut and paste it if you're trying to make me play it perfect again. I have we have it, you know, like you just start to get the team you start to, you know, it's the mr me on anything. Like, why do I gotta paint this fence for four hours? Like, just show it just let's move on, you know? And but what I realize is that it's not perfect like it, just getting it to sound right, it's going to be different every single time you play it, the stress you have of being anxious, just just like fatigue and being like, just you've just played it for an hour that comes off in the take your strings. Getting a little dough makes it even different. Something different about it. Your pick getting a little less sharp. All these different things make all these little details that, like, like I said, god is in the details, it's, although you could probably get away, was cutting patient it once, maybe twice, but like, where do you draw the line? Because, it's all those little kind of inconsistencies and all those new little things and nuances, and it might have been a slightest, slightest slightest noise hair off, but like, it sounds good together, it's all those things that create something that has energy and life, it doesn't sound computerized on, so and realize that you have to you have to take those steps and you have to go through that in those early stages in order to make something that's great at the end, right and it's so you know, like he says and he had whole totally I'll tell him to do it again I'd be like why? And I'm like, you know, it's it's and it's never I never ever go for perfection ever, ever, ever, ever it's just what feels right to me because it's you know, going for perfection is like the technique I was talking about just a minute ago is like lining it all up and you're on a grid and you're like, oh let's let's make every attack hit with the kick drum let's move it right on the thing and like that's that's who perfection is right and perfection perfection is boring and it's not really stories right in perfect are not synonymous and that's something I think you're going to show a little later like no it's something sounds right. It may not necessarily look right but that's not important on even sound to like, you know this plenty of staffing one on the new stuff it's like you can hear the guitars ehrlich if you really if you're really focusing and listening to the guitars left and right like to rhythm guitars, they're not they're not really on it all with each other, but it feels right, and that it's just it's always been a gut thing with me and it's, just like it feels good, good, good, good, good and it's, just it's, developing that. Learn your craft and developing that muscle, knowing to you what feels right and that's me that's, my definition of perfect but it's, not perfect. Perfect, so not perfect, and that's, your job producer, as opposed to just being a technician. Anyone to learn how to use plug ins or gear. But if you want to really be a producer, I say, you know, developed that skill and that, you know, that takes time and it's not you can't be lazy, I guess. Yeah, no one really pretty much it's, just all about really digging in and just doing the work.