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Post new topic Developing a mix-worthy sound with no mix?
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Author Topic:  Developing a mix-worthy sound with no mix?
Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 8:57 am    
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When I played 6 string, I had a sound that worked for me. What I noticed was that the sound that worked in the mix sounded less than optimal when played alone.

I found the same to be true with Mellotrons and other synths. The 'raw' sound was horrible but when put in the mix, protrudes in all the right places. What sounds good solo falls way short in the mix.

I will be getting a Session 2000 here shortly and will be putting a sound together. Any advice on what a good sound for a mix should sound like outside the mix? I'd like to get to a gig-worthy tone and it's very difficult to make adjustments on-the-fly sitting at the steel compared to a six string/line6 HD500 combination.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 9:19 am    
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Quote:
What I noticed was that the sound that worked in the mix sounded less than optimal when played alone.


True. I have also experienced the opposite. Beautiful sound playing alone ... not so great sound when other instruments are mixed in.
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Tucker Jackson


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 10:40 am     Re: Developing a mix-worthy sound with no mix?
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Landon Johnson wrote:
What sounds good solo falls way short in the mix.

Agreed.

I like a warm, fat tone when playing at home, but when it comes to sitting in a mix, it needs to be thinned out a bit so I roll off the bass.

As a mix becomes more dense, the slice of the sonic pie left for the steel narrows. So in a duo, I can EQ fat, but in a 7-piece I set it for the slice of the spectrum that's left: the higher end. It sounds annoyingly thin played alone, but right in the final mix.
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 12:01 pm    
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I have learned that my in-the-mix steel benefits from more mids than I like when I'm playing alone at home. A glassy mid-scooped eq can really get lost on the stand. Boosting volume to compensate for the scoop can result in overly dominant highs (which at one time I probably interpreted as good -- hey, I'm cutting through the mix. But I came to realize that it was not friendly to the music.)
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 3:05 pm    
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I often change my tone from one song to another. Not just to make it "fit" with the other instruments, but also to make it sound more like the original recording. One tone setting for Brumley, another for Charleton, another for Chalker, and so on. I know I'm probably alone in this practice, but that's okay. I just like a variety of sounds. To me, there are no "bad tones", but there are players who do not know how to use certain tones in the proper context.
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Jack Stanton


From:
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 5:15 pm    
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Along the lines of what Tucker said earlier, I worked a gig where we opened up for Lynn Anderson who happen to have Bucky Baxter playing steel for her at the time. I remember instantly noting during the sound check how much low end he had cut off his PV amp . I also was amazed how wonderfully it sat in the mix when the band is playing.
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2019 5:15 pm    
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This has always worked for me. Just enough bass to slightly warm it up. Mids and Highs should be just lightly boosted to give clarity and cut through the low end of the other instruments but not so much as to be shrill.
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2019 1:03 pm    
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It's all about removing bass and low-mids. I remember Tom Brumley telling me that when he cut Together Again, he had is typical fat, warm tone, but the engineers dumped all the bass. And I recall a magazine interview of a young Paul Franklin discussing how little bass he used in his tone.

One steel player that seems to do this live on stage quite a bit more than most is Jay Dee Maness.

We all love to sit alone with a fat steel tone, but a mix doesn't have room for that stuff. Focus on the sweetness of the mids and treble and thin out the bottom end.


B
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2019 5:28 pm    
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Brad Sarno wrote:


We all love to sit alone with a fat steel tone, but a mix doesn't have room for that stuff. Focus on the sweetness of the mids and treble and thin out the bottom end.
B


I disagree. Of course, I thought some of us were better than the pinhead producers cranking out radio play today? Maybe not. It all depends on what's in the mix. Of course if you're crowding 32 tracks in a simple song with 14 mikes on a rock-style drummer and 3 screaming Tele tracks, it's gonna be mush/crap/noise. (Listen to the ridiculous intro on this song) Muttering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2a9fgPI_PI&list=RD4iLV13SBX6k

Sad
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2019 6:47 pm    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
Brad Sarno wrote:


We all love to sit alone with a fat steel tone, but a mix doesn't have room for that stuff. Focus on the sweetness of the mids and treble and thin out the bottom end.
B


I disagree. Of course, I thought some of us were better than the pinhead producers cranking out radio play today? Maybe not. It all depends on what's in the mix. Of course if you're crowding 32 tracks in a simple song with 14 mikes on a rock-style drummer and 3 screaming Tele tracks, it's gonna be mush/crap/noise. (Listen to the ridiculous intro on this song) Muttering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2a9fgPI_PI&list=RD4iLV13SBX6k

Sad


Donny - We had this discussion earlier.--->Click Here
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Steve Sycamore


From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 6:30 am    
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That's the beautiful thing about the Telonics Blend knob. You can set your at home or studio tone at one position of the knob. When you are playing live you can then twist the knob to the left to get a pretty, mellow tone for a slow number without a lot of conflicting sounds from the rest of the band. Or you can twist it to the right to cut bass and low mids while boosting highs and presence without ever becoming harsh.
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 7:53 am    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
Brad Sarno wrote:


We all love to sit alone with a fat steel tone, but a mix doesn't have room for that stuff. Focus on the sweetness of the mids and treble and thin out the bottom end.
B


I disagree. Of course, I thought some of us were better than the pinhead producers cranking out radio play today? Maybe not. It all depends on what's in the mix. Of course if you're crowding 32 tracks in a simple song with 14 mikes on a rock-style drummer and 3 screaming Tele tracks, it's gonna be mush/crap/noise. ...
Sad



Donny, this actually has to do with audio physics. Sure, Together Again was an extreme example, absurdly thinned out. But regardless, even Lloyd's tracks or Buddy's tracks would have been treated the same way by a mix engineer to some degree. There is virtually no way to actually mix a close-miked, fat, bass-full steel tone into a mix, even if it's in the context of a trio of just drums, bass and steel. It just has to do with how mixing works, proximity effect from miking, and other things. And sure, on a steel guitar album that features the instrument we can get away with a much more full and fat and familiar tone in the mix, but even then it requires critical control of the bottom end to fit into a mix and thru peoples' speakers. I'm not saying a "thin" tone is required, but thinning of the capture of a fat steel tone will require bass control in the mix process to work. And I don't mean aesthetically, I mean technically, physically, there are real limitations in audio mixing when it comes to low-mid and bass frequency energy.

The same often goes for piano and bass drum and the human voice and more. It's audio physics.

B
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 8:58 am    
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Brad, the only thing I'm trying to point out is that the more "junk" (compression and distortion) that's in a song, the harder it is to keep everything defined. It's not a question of how many instruments there are, it's a question of what's being done to the sound of those instruments. They throw 6 or 7 instruments and a couple of singers together, mix them down, and the result is "mush", almost bordering on pink noise. Yet, a large band or symphony with dozens of instruments to, sometimes, over a hundred can play - and everything is distinct and "fits". Do they have to "thin out" their sound to make it work? I don't think so.

Maybe I'm the only one who notices this?
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 9:50 am    
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I remember reading somewhere that Weldon Myrick thought the tone they were getting on his steel in his early days in the studio, was a bit thin and tinny. I like trebly tone myself, so, the only issue with me is going to be, is it too trebly.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2019 3:53 pm     Re: Developing a mix-worthy sound with no mix?
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Landon Johnson wrote:
When I played 6 string, I had a sound that worked for me. What I noticed was that the sound that worked in the mix sounded less than optimal when played alone.

I found the same to be true with Mellotrons and other synths. The 'raw' sound was horrible but when put in the mix, protrudes in all the right places. What sounds good solo falls way short in the mix.

I will be getting a Session 2000 here shortly and will be putting a sound together. Any advice on what a good sound for a mix should sound like outside the mix? I'd like to get to a gig-worthy tone and it's very difficult to make adjustments on-the-fly sitting at the steel compared to a six string/line6 HD500 combination.


The steel is a different animal than guitar and generally has a different musical role. You should be able to find a great sound that works for you alone and in a band context without the need for any adjustments. Think like a viola player in a string quartet. It’s sound supports the low end and highs without conflicts and yet keeps its own beautiful voice. Trombone in Ellington arrangements are the same.



The first thing to worry about with the sound of the steel is to play in tune. Without that you have nothing.
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Bob
http://liminalsoundseries.com/
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Dick Chapple Sr


From:
Hardin Montana, USA
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2019 3:42 pm     sound
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Wow, thanks for all the good stuff for me in this thread.

Now I have an uneducated question here, please don't smack me along side the head Donny. I apparently hear the same way you do. Mush and great. My Q... with orchestra, would it be that almost all is acoustic instruments, maybe? I really don't know. All this electronica sure can turn into a big pile of mush. But I also of course hear some very beautiful stuff from all plugged in instruments.
Smile Question Smile
Dick
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 8 Feb 2019 10:03 am    
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Brad Sarno wrote:
...
Donny, this actually has to do with audio physics. Sure, Together Again was an extreme example, absurdly thinned out. But regardless, even Lloyd's tracks or Buddy's tracks would have been treated the same way by a mix engineer to some degree. There is virtually no way to actually mix a close-miked, fat, bass-full steel tone into a mix, even if it's in the context of a trio of just drums, bass and steel. It just has to do with how mixing works, proximity effect from miking, and other things.
B


Uhh...Brad, - "Big Hits On Big Steel" Question Great balance, and a very bass-heavy steel tone. (Don't say it can't be done when it's already been done!) And, let's not forget this one either:

https://www.reverbnation.com/stanhitchcockhearttoheart/song/4943060-shadow-your-smile-stan-hitchcock

Dick, I know I'm weird and cantankerous sometimes, but I mean no offense, really. I just see things differently than a lot of players. However, I'm just trying to understand the world of music, and how it's changed. I know pretty much the "how", but I sure don't understand the "why". Mr. Green
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