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Author Topic:  Tips list for engineers? No one knows how to mix/produce.
Josh Yenne


From:
Sonoma California
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2022 3:55 pm    
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Sorry if this is listed.. but I could not find it.

So I do a pretty decent amount of recording here at my home for people. Inevitably they want the tracks DRY. So I just do the verb under the cans... but send it dry..

And VERY often when it comes back it is this tiny, lifeless, way too dry signal.

As probably with most of you the vast majority of it is not country.. just Americana sort of stuff and the engineers have NEVER mixed a steel (very evident)

I will often send them a track from Eric Heywood on Ray Lamontagnes or Bucky's tone on Kacey Musgraves "Same Trailer... " album.... as examples.

I am NOT an engineer at all... but does anyone have any advice on what to tell them.... ie. what kind/length of verb... how much delay/kind etc, compression... etc....

I usually have little to no connection with the tracks but when they come back and the steel is a tiny little toy sounding thing in the right channel it is frustrating...

Just wondering if any of you great recording guys can help out.. I always tell them to drench it with verb.. and a delay or just a slightly offset track will thicken it...

I'm always going through a vintage Fender tube amp so I've got life galore here but after they mess with it it sounds thin, tiny, and LIFELESS more times than not!

Thanks in advance!
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2022 4:14 pm    
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The reverb you choose for a particular song is part of the sound of the steel, and you should include enough to bring it to life, but not so much that more can't be added. When you play you are subconsciously interacting with it, and a totally dry version makes no musical sense. If they don't know how to treat the steel, then make it so they don't have to. If they query it just tell 'em it is dry!

If you were doing a trumpet track they wouldn't tell you to play with no vibrato 'cos they're putting it on later. They need the whole picture. Sorry to rant but I share your frustration at people who find themselves producing stuff without having a clue about it.
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Josh Yenne


From:
Sonoma California
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2022 4:35 pm    
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Well I do have reverb underneath my headphones like I said. I don’t think it’s remotely as sweet as the actual tube verb but when I send the tracks they are totally dry.
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2022 4:44 pm    
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Exactly what Ian said! I’ve had the problem, and that’s how to fix it. Just sat it is dry, and the verb is a natural because the steel is so big,
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Josh Yenne


From:
Sonoma California
Post  Posted 25 Jun 2022 6:11 pm    
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yea.. that all SOUNDS good and when I'm at a session... or have actually met or talked with the people I could maybe pull that...

But.. well I've done probalby 150 sessions from home and have never had anyone NOT happy with what I send them... so I'm doing something right... and the amount of verb that the steel needs is more than I could hide.. so having verb under the cans is fine.. and even delay..

What I'm looking for is for some of you professional engineers to say:

Tell them... use THIS reverb with this length of dwell and tone (hopefully like a Fender verb IMO)

Also use a single slap delay at this sort of mix and this length...

this sort of compression works best.. and often rolling off "such and such" frequency in the low end can make it sit better...

Duplicating a track and offsetting it "this many MS will add a great fattness to it"

etc...

I guess I want to talk to the engineer who did Ray Lamontagnes God Willing and the Creek Don't rise or the Kacey Musgraves Album... or I should think of others...

Anyone know em? Smile

I guess I could just look them up and try to get hold of them... was just hoping some of you full time engineers would have a cheat sheet of "go to" things to send along...

Thanks everyone for all the comments though for sure! keep em coming!
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC
Post  Posted 26 Jun 2022 7:23 am    
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Send them a DRY track and one with some reverb and ever so slight single slap slight delay around 300 ms. Let them HEAR the difference.

I've been doing this for quite some time now and more often than not they use the track with RVB/Delay. Just don't over do it.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2022 4:52 am    
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I send tracks already processed for the most part. They can still screw it up if they really want to.

What I do is give up all hope and keep my mouth shut and get the money. Everybody thinks they are an expert so you only seem like a whining brat if you offer suggestions without being asked.

I am lucky because for the last batch of years I seem to be trusted by the guys that hire me.
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2022 6:35 am    
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As a producer/engineer, I always expect a dry track, but I am always open to a processed track along side it. I tend to print a lot more processed tracks at live sessions when I am there to make a decision and adjust at the time. Almost always it does not include the reverb aspect, as things change as tracks progress. Plus even if I use the same style and amount of verb, my real EMT plate is going to sound better than your plugin version.

As a remote player, I always send a dry track, unless I am asked to send a processed one. The final product is the artist and producer’s vision, my/your vision of what it should sound like really doesn’t matter after your part leaves the out box.

One of my favorite producers John Boylan used to say “The producer is always, or at least usually, partially right”, so send a great part, put the money in the bank and move on to the next session.
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Jack Stanton

 

From:
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2022 11:27 am    
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Buddy Emmons was once asked if he used any reverb when tracking. His response- " Just enough to annoy the engineer".
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2022 12:13 pm    
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John Macy wrote:


As a remote player, I always send a dry track, unless I am asked to send a processed one. The final product is the artist and producer’s vision, my/your vision of what it should sound like really doesn’t matter after your part leaves the out box.


This is me also. Along with a dry track I'll often include a "concept" mix of how I might sound/fit. If the customer has questions I'll do my best to answer.

I always ask for a copy of the final product when/if released.

Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I hate it. Usually it's "ok".

My responsibilities ended with delivery and payment.

hp
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Josh Yenne


From:
Sonoma California
Post  Posted 27 Jun 2022 1:15 pm    
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Oh yea I'm not remotely tied to it after the fact.. but boy it can be disappointing to have my name attached to some of them!

Sending a "sample" track is good...

and I wouldn't send a plug in... I'd say my real tube driven reverb if I was going to use mine..

Yes AT the session they will use the real verb at times but they always want it dry remotely and I get it...

Mostly was just looking for a cheat sheet of "try this" cause most people that seem to hire me from afar see the steel as some exotic "schtick" or something and have NO CLUE what to do with it. Smile

But sending an expample is a great idea...
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 28 Jun 2022 7:16 am    
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So when I cut this track, I sent it to 14 steel players to add their parts. No direction on sonics and no one heard any of the other parts. None of the parts sent back to me had any reverb and only a couple had any delay on them. There is very little eq added and only some reverb and delay added at my end. It’s also interesting how well the parts flow together without hearing any others when played.
https://youtu.be/OH5Hoe3c8Ho
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John Macy
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Engineer/Producer/Steel Guitar
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jun 2022 8:09 am    
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That was cool
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jun 2022 2:13 pm    
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I like to send the dry amp track along with a "wet only" effects track that has the reverb and delay I like. That way they can mix in as much effect as they want.

I also send an "approval mix," with the steel mixed with the backing track to my liking, which I think helps them hear how the steel should sit in the mix.
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John Egenes

 

From:
Port Chalmers, New Zealand
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2022 2:27 am    
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Josh:
You're doing the right thing in sending the track dry. DO NOT put reverb on a track to be flown into a session. The engineer is likely to screw it up even more, and if they DO know what they're doing, they'll hate you for sending a wet track.
I've done hundreds of long distance tracks for many years, on pedal steel, various guitars, banjo, mandolin, accordion... hell, even musical saw. I never put any FX on any track. I just get the best tone I can and send it, and then trust the engineer.

Like you, I use verb in my headphones but send the track dry. And I know what you mean... though in my case it's usually the opposite--the engineer DROWNS the steel track in reverb because that's what they think it's supposed to sound like. Any clarity is usually lost in a sea of washed out mush. I usually tell them stuff like this:

--use a nice bit of 'verb, but don't drown it.
--Leave the tone alone, unless you REALLY need to dial something down.
--If you want delay, I can send you a stereo track with the delay mixed in, or just add about 30-45ms from one speaker to the other.

Also, I ask what the track is for, then I send 2 or 3 takes: usually one with nothing but long pads, one with some chops and noodling, and maybe another one with a solo and some alternate song beginnings and endings. That way they can comp whatever they need.

The main thing is, once it's sent, it's out of your hands, so you just gotta let go of it and take the bad with the good!

best, --john
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Rick Campbell


From:
Sneedville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2022 8:08 am    
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Being able to "hear it" and being able to "do it" are two different things. I know what I want it to sound like, but I'm often not able to get the sound. That's where professional engineers, musicians, and producers, with tons of experience, make the magic happen. There's a misconception floating around that music, instruments and vocals, should all "blend together". This often results in a muddy, lifeless, mix. Also, the dynamics needed for a quality recording starts with the players. If you play the same stale and timid style all the way through a song, and expect the engineer will fix it up by increasing your volume level when you need to "stand out", you will be disappointed. You'll end up with a recording that's stale and timid with various volume levels. That's why, in my opinion, songs that are recorded with everyone in the studio at the same time, sound superior to songs that are excessively overdubbed around a drum and bass track. The interaction between musicians is priceless.

Guys like Billy Sherrill and Pete Drake that knew how to put a song together with so much dynamics were so good at their craft. When I used to do a lot of session overdubs, the engineer would often tell me to "just play all the way through and I'll pick what I want when I mix it". I didn't know any better, but this was a recipe for disaster. He was telling the other lead players the same thing, and it turned into a cluster of steel, fiddle, lead, piano, all competing with one another, rather than complimenting one another. A better producer will have the fills and solos mapped out and get a better result, but you still have crossovers and dead spots. "Play the fills on the first verse and do the turnaround"..... then after the turn around you don't hear anything else.... and I'm thinking "what happened to the player, did he go home?" Very pro session guys, with producers that work together a lot can pull it off. It's a thin line between playing to compliment another lead player, and playing on top of him. I hear a lot of examples of these excellent recordings coming out of Texas.

I've listened to one Texas artist that usually records his stuff in Texas, and then did one in Nashville and I heard a difference with my preference being the Texas produced.

It's only my opinions, and everyone has their own ideas. When I listen to a song, and it's pleasing to my ears, I often listen to it over and over to determine how it's put together. In most all cases, it turns out to be the factors I've mentioned above that make the difference.

RC
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 19 Jul 2022 6:33 pm    
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Sounds like most all of the steelers went to the same school! Winking

(And that piano...playing over top of everything. Oh Well )
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