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Author Topic:  I really need some help in getting better at recording
Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 4:02 am    
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Here's a Weissenborn performance I recorded yesterday of an old Jackson Five song.

[sample track deleted - want to re-post a better recording]

I used my Beard Creek Weissenborn with an LR Baggs M1 pickup, Blue mics "Spark" microphone six inches from an Acoustic amp, through a PreSonus USB96 Audio Box into Garageband at about -20DB ... and it sounds like crap. I really don't know what the db settings should be or how that relates to the master volume slider. There are a million presets and none of 'em seem to make things sound better.

I feel overwhelmed every time I open an audio recording interface by the number of choices and I often end up doing things very randomly. I have Garageband, Adobe Audition, and Studio One. I recently bought the Persons AudioBox USB 96 Interface. I understand Garageband best out of the three.

Can anyone recommend some YouTube tutorials or a great recording book for recording tech dummies? Thanks!
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Last edited by Andy Volk on 12 Aug 2019 4:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Doug Taylor


From:
Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 4:17 am    
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https://www.musicianonamission.com/blog/

This guys blog helped me a bunch, he has a paid course I think but that is not what I used. His blog posts are very helpful
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 5:37 am    
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Thanks, Doug. I'll check it out.
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Doug Taylor


From:
Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 5:41 am    
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Andy a couple of paid things I have used is Lynda.com and Groove3. They are both monthly subscription but I think they both have free trails and if I remember correctly they both have courses on Garage Band that starts at the beginning.
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Jim Fogle


From:
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 4:22 pm     Books & Videos
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Groove3 videos are excellent!

https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/GarageBand-Explained Garageband Explained is 37 videos spread over 2 hours and 41 minutes. The instructor is Eli Krantzberg. He is an Apple certified instructor and also a top level musician. I can't say enough good things about Groove2 video series. They are well planned and edited.

Whenever possible I recommend purchasing the video series instead of using the All Access pass. Purchased videos can be downloaded for continued use as reference material. The videos are fast paced so having the videos available for repeated offline viewing is a great retention aid.

If you want to start building a small home recording reference library here are a few titles to look for:

Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies, 5th Edition by Jeff Strong. https://www.dummies.com/store/product/Home-Recording-For-Musicians-For-Dummies-5th-Edition.productCd-1118968018.html Note the site has a "cheat sheet" pdf available for download.

Hal Leonard Guerilla Home Recording: How To Get Great Sound From Any Studio by Karl Coryat https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0007UQ1KQ/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all Note this link is to a used book for $6.91 + $3.99 shipping. New is about $22.

The Home Recording Handbook: Use What You've Got to Make Great Music by Dave Hunter https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/087930958X Here again used and new.

Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1138556378/ref=dp_olp_all_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=all Many consider this to be THE definitive mixing book. The book was updated and a new edition released last year.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 1:26 am    
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Thanks, Jim, very helpful.
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 6:28 am    
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It would help if we could hear what you recorded and what the problems are, and/or what you think the problems might be.

Rant ahead.............

I know that the other folks that have responded are trying to help and have good intentions.
However......
The problem that I have with all of these books and courses and videos and....... is that they all take up a lot of time. Especially Youtube videos. I've gotten to the point where if an instructional video or product demo is over about 3 minutes long.......NEXT.
My favorites are the demos for a distortion/overdrive pedal that is 20 minutes long. It's only three knobs and it does one thing fer crissakes.

I'm going to take a wild swinging flock shooting guess as to your problem without hearing anything. (If I'm wrong, please ignore.)
My guess is that you are getting distortion on some of the signal peaks.
If so your problem is "gain staging".
At some point in the chain you are overloading something from time to time.
This is a relatively simple problem to fix.
It's a matter of setting signal levels so that things are not being over loaded.
Try doing some internet searches on it.

Another possible problem: If you are micing something, either an amp or the actual guitar, or both, you can run into signals dropping out or fading out as you move around.
Also, mic placement can be very tricky and difficult to master. Moving a mic a 1/4" can totally change the sound.
For this reason and others I gave up on using instrument mics a long time ago. I use a DI type set up. It's simple, fast and repeatable.
All of this is the reason that a lot of guys use two or more mics PLUS a DI, all recorded to separate tracks.

Like I said, none of these may actually be your problem.

I don't know what is available around you.
Check some of the big stores like Sam Ash or Guitar Center.
They may have weekly recording seminars/classes/user groups.
An in person thing may be much quicker and more informative than books or videos.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 7:44 am    
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Thanks ajm and to everyone who took time offline to try to help me - much appreciated! I definitely have a low attention span when it comes to recording and don't want to wade through 30 hours of tutorials. After some discussion about mic placement and gain staging, I have some things to try . Hopefully the curve will keep getting better.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 10:22 am    
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Along with all the above mentioned tips, another thing to consider is the interface itself. They are not all equal and there are ones that create a better tone. More money of course.

A $99 interface is not going to sound like one that goes for $1k.


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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 12:03 pm    
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Quote:
A $99 interface is not going to sound like one that goes for $1k.


True but most of my issues are just about better using the signal chain I already have.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 12 Aug 2019 12:47 pm    
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Andy Volk wrote:
True but most of my issues are just about better using the signal chain I already have.


Quote:
Blue mics "Spark" microphone six inches from an Acoustic amp


As one engineer said, "use the force Luke."

Use your intuition and your ears as to where to put the mic to get best use out of the gear you have.

Recording is not a paint-by-numbers endeavor. Lots of factors play into doing a recording.

It doesn't have to be 6 inches.

My friend Brian put together a cool micing video that may tune one into the possibilities of the science involved.

3 minutes worth of knowledge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcnXKXIZxLg

Yeah it's easy to get overwhelmed opening a DAW but a learning curve comes with the territory.

Try and get your sound with your guitar, amp, any effects and then your mic before trying to get inundated by plugins.

You will need to learn what your present setup is capable of and what it isn't. Work with those parameters.

Reason why I mentioned the $1k interface because the preamps in there which are where all the magic happens are taken from some of the best mixer preamps we've been listening to for the last 60 years on major recordings. And plugging into those quality preamps opens up an epiphany of 'so that's how they got that sound!'

A world of possibilities opens up when plugging into the gear the majors have used all along and one can see that all of a sudden the mic sounds better as does your amp.

When you said it sounds "like crap" have to ask the follow up with the next logical question, by what standard does it sound like that?

Must be from other recordings you've heard I surmise.

Some people can use low cost gear and get a decent sound.

But you have to work at it. And the more you practice doing it, the better you should get. It doesn't happen overnight.

Micing issues is why some go for the DI route.

But an interface is like a microscope.

The more powerful the scope, the better detail.


The eye of a needle with red cotton thread through an electron microscope.

Bet we can all guess what the photo below is.

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Tim Kowalski


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 10:01 am    
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It's difficult to say without hearing the clip, but I would recommend using a dynamic microphone rather than the Spark (condenser mic).
Condenser microphones are great for vocals and acoustic instruments, but to me, they sound harsh when placed in front of an amplifier.
Stick a SM57 or similar microphone a couple of inches from the grill and move it around to see what sounds best. Sometimes, it's right in the middle of the cone or could be on the edge. Also pointing the mic off axis makes some difference.
Experimentation with YOUR equipment is the key.

This is just my personal opinion.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 12:07 pm    
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Tim Kowalski wrote:
It's difficult to say without hearing the clip, but I would recommend using a dynamic microphone rather than the Spark (condenser mic).
Condenser microphones are great for vocals and acoustic instruments, but to me, they sound harsh when placed in front of an amplifier.
Stick a SM57 or similar microphone


Plus one on that.

Or combine a condenser with a dynamic.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 12:15 pm    
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I've lately bought a Focusrite Scarlett 2x2 box and really like it. The headphone volume is annoyingly low but otherwise it works really really well. Best of any of the boxes I've tried over the last decade.

I got the Milkman The Amp and can take the XLR out of that straight into the Scarlett. I run it through Reaper. It has become really easy to record and it sounds pretty good.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 12:24 pm    
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This guy actually plays steel and has a super hyper teaching style that covers stuff pretty quick.

https://www.youtube.com/user/JimLill45
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 12:35 pm    
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For a Weissenborn I would skip the amp and DI completely. It is an acoustic instrument. No pickup/DI is going to get even close to the beautiful sound of strings and wood moving the air to your ears. The Blue is a very good mic and condensers are perfect for this. I would leave it set to "full range".

Just experiment with mic placement and get that great sounding guitar recorded. You will get a full pro level sound this way with your current set up.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
3rd Rock
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2019 1:22 pm    
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Bob Hoffnar wrote:
You will get a full pro level sound this way with your current set up.


If going acoustic yes one would need to move the mic around to discover the sweet spot that will pick up the guitar. A condenser would work for acoustic but be prepared to spend some time trying the mic in different locations around you and the guitar.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 15 Aug 2019 10:30 am    
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This forum is the best! First of all, a big thank you to those of you who took time to post here with advice and to a few who reached out by phone with excellent suggestions which I tried to follow .. especially reducing gain, adding mic distance and experimenting with mic placement. It's a work in progress. Here's a new recording with the Blue-Spark mic and my Asher Weissenborn. It's really about recording, not performance as I'm still working out this new arrangement.

What kinds of things should I be thinking about in terms of improving this?

https://soundcloud.com/aev/dolphin-st-record-test-1-81519

Here's a screen shot of the compression and limiting I added post recording. Mostly last EQ for now.


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mtulbert


From:
Plano, Texas 75023
Post  Posted 15 Aug 2019 1:51 pm    
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Sounds really good Andy.

Much more natural sounding.

reagards
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 15 Aug 2019 3:11 pm    
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Thanks for the help and encouragement, Mark.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 16 Aug 2019 5:32 pm    
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That’s really cool. It has a John Fahey vibe to it.

I think the recording is just right.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 5:09 am    
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Hey Andy and everyone

I'm really not an expert...more like I have no idea what I'm talking about whatsoever.

But after attempting to record things for years, I'm starting to think maybe a basic issue I've had is that there's the pre box process and the post box process.

By that I mean you have two times to modify the signal, on the path into your interface (the analog side) and then in the computer once that signal is digitized (the digital side).

I only mention that because I've been using the Milkman The Amp lately and noticing how the straight guitar tone sounds a lot better hitting something warm upfront before it goes into the digital interface.

I've been thinking about adding a compressor either before or after The Amp so that I can bring the signal up generally before clipping the signal going to my interface. Currently the clipping kicks in pretty early and I have to keep the output low.

Anyway, I'm just interested in if someone could tell me if that idea makes sense. Namely that a primary focus should be making sure the analog signal is processed properly (loud enough, warm enough) before hitting the box.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 6:45 am    
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Paul,
Be very careful with compression. It’s like bacon when you cook. I generally go with if you can hear it you used too much. I would suggest not putting it before the pre amp. On the amp try turning the volume down and the master all the way up. Or experiment with your ideas and see what you come up with. I would go to extremes with your settings and then dial things back . Maybe there is something cool there.


Just reread your post and I think you should check you interface input settings. There should be a mic/line switch or something like that.
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 7:00 am    
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Thanks Bob. I have it on instrument. I was just talking about a bit of compression to knock some of the highs out that end up clipping so I could bring the gain up a bit more. Haven't tried it yet.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 8:35 am    
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Paul,
Are you talking about using a stomp box compressor before the interface ? There are some good ones out there now. The old orange squeezer or dyna comps steel players used for a bit have a very particular sound that isn’t exactly warm or pleasant..... but they did add an impressive amount of hiss to the signal. They were pretty cool sounding n there way but that doesn’t seem like what you are going for.
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