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Author Topic:  Recording steel at home
Charley Paul


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2019 7:15 am    
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Been tracking steel at home a bunch recently.

As much as I really like the idea of tracking pedal steel guitar using amp sims, etc, nothing can replace the sound of a mic’d amp to my ears.

I recently bought a UA LA610mk2 for my home studio. It’s a really warm sounding tube mic pre and compressor.

Been tracking steel using the following signal chain:

Mullen RP D10 >
Goodrich passive volume pedal >
1966 Pro Reverb with Jensen Concert speakers >
Sennheiser e906 >
UA 610 mk2 >
Pro Tools

I find that when I record this way, I need very little post processing. Depending on the situation I may use the Fender built in Reverb as I track....sometimes I’ll track dry (Reverb in my headphones to help me feel the vibe, but adjusted later).

When I use amp sims or preamp pedals, I still get a good sound, but it takes a lot more work.

Just wanted to say to everybody else who records at home that while a huge library of plugins are great, don’t forget about the actual pieces of gear those plugins emulate. Something tells me that in 10 years, the plugins will be worthless, but good mics and mic pres will always be valuable.

I am finding that going with a good amp, mic and preamp makes me feel more inspired in my recorded performances than a simulation. It also requires less futzing after the fact, and fewer layers of EQ and fx. Just simple, raw, organic sounds.
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Dale Rottacker


From:
Tacoma Washington, USA
Post  Posted 18 Sep 2019 8:03 am    
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I agree with you Charley.

I tried DI for a couple of years, but was never quite satisfied. I ended up going back to a mic, using a Sennheiser MD 421ii, mic’ing a Telonic’s SuperTwin amp, and have been very happy with the results. What I hear from the amp is what I hear in the recoding. All the recordings I’ve done have no processing except for the last one I did, (Moonglow) which is okay, but not quite satisfied with it... May go back in and dial the plugin’s from off-down.

I wise Producer/Engineer (David Mitchel) told me to get the sound LIVE that I wanted and record that. If you do that, there’s not too much “Futzing” needed afterwards.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 20 Sep 2019 2:03 pm    
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I never use plug ins or amp simulators for tracking. I do what you do. I get the sound I want coming out of the amp and put a mic in front of it. Super easy, fast and sounds better.
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http://liminalsoundseries.com/
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2019 10:40 am    
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I do almost everything I do through an amp sim, but coincidentally, I drive the DAW with the steel through an LA610. It really warms up the guitar sound and makes it more 'amp-like'.

I don't dislike the sound of recording with an amp (I've used a Twin some with good results), but I like the flexibility of being able to modify the amp settings after the fact if the client is looking for a tonality that's substantially different than what I deliver... not that I necessarily agree with what they're asking for. LOL
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Gene Tani


From:
The Pacific NW,
Post  Posted 27 Sep 2019 5:07 pm    
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Another thread recommended both recording direct and one or 2 mikes on the amp: https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=2861103

There's lots of threads at soundonsound.com, recordinghacks.com etc abot this https://www.musicradar.com/tuition/guitars/how-to-record-an-electric-guitar-amp-643278

http://recordinghacks.com/2014/12/12/shootout-at-guitar-cab-corral/

also think about possible improvements close to the source like impedance matching volume pedal or Matchbox/Lil Izzy/Freeloader.
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Pierre Belliveau


From:
New Brunswick, Canada
Post  Posted 4 Oct 2019 3:55 pm    
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Iv’e use and AB/Y box . so i record my amp with a direct mic , 2 stereo mic far away for room sound and also a direct line into pro tools as another option .. i don’t use amp sims but i do use tape plugins and spring reverb plugins .. u can blend all 3 in or just use one or the other , whatever works better in the track
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Brett Lanier


From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 1 Dec 2019 10:10 am    
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I like tracking in a way where I'm committing to sounds as they come in, if it makes sense for the project. There's something really satisfying about bringing up all the faders on first listen and having the song already sounding mixed.

I'm really into my room mic setup right now for that reason.
- L/R km184's --> api's --> distressors --> eventide dsp4500
-I'll also sometimes put an insert on those tracks to delay those mics 15-20 milliseconds, or so depending on what we're recording. Good for drums.

With this setup i can easily gas up the signals with the compressors to match the feel of the close mic source in the room. I can also very quickly reach over and hit bypass on the Eventide if I don't want to print the reverb. It's really a nice thing when you listen back to whatever you just did and your first thoughts are, "ok, what next", rather than, "ok, let me fiddle with it for a couple minutes so it sounds more like it's going to later".

One thing that's helped me with getting guitar or steel sounds is dialing in the sounds with the track playing. Some projects require playing super lightly, and others such as modern rock and country are pretty much volume pedal full on and picking the strings quite hard. I used to just start in the middle somewhere, but then I'd be chasing the right mic pre / amp volume for the first few takes til the steel sounded less like an overdub and more like it was there when the song was first recorded.

Here's a thing you could try that I like to do for bedroom recording. Record your steel however you normally do. In my case that's an amp in the closet. Now run another signal out your pedalboard or whatever to a bluetooth speaker (plugged in of course) setup in the bathroom and experiment with mic placement (condensers are good). I did this a bunch with small guitar amps but found even the smallest guitar amps to be too punchy and direct sounding to use as a reverb. Some of these bluetooth speakers are really good at delivering a full range sound at very low volumes, which is what you need for a tiny echo chamber such as the bathroom in your house. You can send extra reverb from a pedal to the bluetooth speaker to enhance the natural ambience. Keep everything fairly quiet in the bathroom and compress later if you need to.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 1 Dec 2019 12:49 pm    
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Brett, I've been surprised at how good those 184's sound for steel too. I just picked up a Radial re amp guitar fx router that is great for running stomp boxes as inserts in a DAW. Really nice box. I'm going to try using it to run a speaker in the bathoom and micing it for reverb now.
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Brett Lanier


From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 2 Dec 2019 7:27 pm    
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Yeah, I like em too. They sound real good as room mics with someone singing and playing acoustic guitar.

Bob Olhsson said that for a period of time while he was at Motown, they used km84's on everything, including lead vocals which were usually 3-5 ft back from the mic. Eventually they switched over to kms100's or one of those later(and larger) models because I guess it was too tempting for some people to just slip one of those little 84's into their coat pocket.
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