Recording 7-strings - Jemsite
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
 
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Recording 7-strings

So, I've got a long day of nothing ahead of me here... I'm about to step out for lunch, but thought I'd post this now, to see if anyone else had any thoughts, before i add some stuff on my own...

Due to its extended register, the 7-string is a bit trickier to record than your typical 6, especially if you're really takign advantage of more than just the bottom couple strings. How do you guys who are into recording approach this?

(I realize that this is just as appropriate in the recording forum, but thought that it'd fit here a little better, as it's specific to 7-stringers, not just guys who record in general)

My thoughts after lunch.

-D
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 01:38 PM
 
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Wherever you'd use compression, whether it's in the software or before you hit your amp, try using a multiband limiter instead. I realize nobody's really going to go out and buy a good multiband limiter just to stick it in front of their head, so that leads us to the software. You'd be multiband limiting your post-processed sound (distortion, speaker+mic or simulator, etc.) but before you went to any time based effects like reverb or chorus. The wide range of a 7 really calls for split band compression. So wherever you are on the fretboard your level stays even. And if you don't like compression, just set it so its limiting the offensive "woofs" in the low end and EQ for good higher notes.

If you don't have that in your software, you can simulate it by bandpass splitting the signal three or four ways, and compressing them individually. I would add back some "dry" track to that once you're done just to keep it natural sounding. You can also get a huge sound with about a 10-15% pan of the various pieces, as we discussed somewhere else.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 01:49 PM
 
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For a simpler version of this, in Cool Edit Pro for example, I can assign a certain frequency band to the compression. So you can compress the woofy lows without altering the dynamics of the rest of the track. Or "upwardly compress" everything but the lows, meaning boost and limit most of the mid and high program rather than knock down some offensive peaks in the lows. You can upwardly compress extreme sub lows, too, as long as they're within the normal handling range of the final track. Otherwise your mastering process will limit the drums' and bass' lows in reaction to your extreme lows in the guitar signal.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 03:57 PM
 
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I haven't had a problem. Just be careful how you've got your amp tone set, your mic position, etc. Do lots of testing to make sure your tone doesn't come through too bassy when recording.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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I haven't had any huge problems either, but I'm always looking for new approaches... such as Frank's multi-band compression idea. Gotta give that a try, that makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks!

Ok, so i actually did stuff this afternoon. I'll post over the weekend on my take- stuff like amp settings, mixing, etc.

-D
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 04:20 PM
 
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I approach recording 7 strings and baritone guitars the same way I do with 6 strings, just play around with the gain controls, EQ knobs, mics, compressors, etc. until I get a signal that makes me go \m/!
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-19-2004, 06:30 PM
 
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I've been using a SM57 and then also setting a condensor mic in the room,, it works well, to bring in the low, and the sm57 stuff then can be thinned out, the 2 together sound awesom in the mix. Treat em both as seperate instruments. Alter panning to fill in voids were the low drops out.
7's are tricky but man is it fun.... it's like being a scientist..

~A
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2004, 12:38 PM
 
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I tried all sorts of things with direct lines to the board, amp simulators, etc. But the only time I've ever been really happy recording a 7 string is mic'ing an amp. Otherwise the low end of the raw signal is just always too hot. Like Allen, my best results came from mixing a dynamic mic up close and a condenser further back.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2004, 04:24 AM
 
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I really like Frankfalbo's ideas on multi-band limiting/compression. This is exactly how you do it with bass guitars, where you often need that extensive limiting on the low-end, and the compression on the high end. Well, you can make do with one or the other, but having dual (or more) bands is what really makes that bass sound 'alive', and sit well in the mix. Given the 7's range, just as frank said, multiband limiting makes GREAT sense (probably better than compression, wouldn't you say, Frank? I prefer compression on the high-end stuff, and limiting on the low-end.)

There is the fact of using distortion, though, and that kind of throws the compression rules out a little bit. Not entirely, but using distortion compresses the signal so much, I think your biggest hurdle then is just low-end 'mud.' A limiter would help, but my ideal is to get a dual 15/30 band graphic EQ (I almost always run my guitar sound in stereo), where you could dial out the mud, yet retain all the punch and power. I'm sure a parametric EQ would be fine, too, as it's really better in a lot of ways. But a graphic allows you to quickly dial out (or increase) the tones you want isolated.

When I record my (potentially, but not really for me ) muddy 7, which is mahogany with THICK strings and a TZ/AN combo (dark pups) this is the trick I use. EQ compensation, especially in the treble range, and when mastering, using multi-band graphic EQ's to really make the overall sound 'tight.' That way, you don't lose any punch or sizzle, but you keep everything from getting flabby. And it can pound!

Obviously, Jim's approach is going to tend to be a little different that some of ours, jazz being a somewhat different animal than rock. I'm curious, though Jim. Do record at relatively loud levels, or quiet? Seems a lot of jazz musicians don't really record very loud. In fact, hot signals are a no-no in jazz recording, no? (I studied with a guy here in Toledo who did alot of jazz recording, and he was real miniminalist. ALL digital, jazz guys seem to love digital, and real sparse on gain/compression/EQ etc. Liked nice, even levels, too. But us rock guys love it LOUD.)
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2004, 11:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Interesting stuff here...

Let's start with generalities. As far as basic recording styles go, I'm very much a "live" guy. I realize that it's not always practical, or even wise, to track a band live in the studio (on my gear, a 5-year old laptop, $30 radio shack dynamic mic, and Sonic Foundry ACID 2.0, it's not even possible ), but the sound I'm going for is that "in the room with the band" vibe. Of course, I'm also into hugely layered sounds, which seems to be in opposition with that (which isn't actually the case- sometime, check out the live version of Floater's "Persecutor"- three guys, no overdubs, tracked live to stereo mix, yet is sounds like a small army), but my basic thoughts when approaching a mix/track are that everything should sound "real." So, while I usually do slight EQ tweaks on the guitars (i.e- rolling off below 80-120hz or so), i like to try to have them sound as realistic as possible on tape. Which is sorta a battle, with my gear- my ****ty sound card has a way of eating low end, lol.

Anyway... That brings me to the seven string... I do mostly instrumental rock (i.e- i'm still learning how to sing. ), so I'm dealing with a situation where I'm mixing guitar riffs and lead lines. There's a couple different schools of thought as to how to get guitar tracks to "sit" against each other, and while I still experiment a ton and will probably continue to do so until the day I die, I generally gravitate towards the "smooth, middy leads, with crunchy rhythm tracks" school, where you focus the rhythm guitars towards the high end, leave the bass for the lows, and try to save yourself as much space as possible for the lead.

This actually works pretty well for a seven-string, in my experience. wordwolf and I have debated this one around here for eons but I'm a proponant of a clear rhythm tone with plenty of attack. I think this gives you maximum low end clarity on a seven-string. For me, the settings that seem to work the best on my TSL are the highs 7-ish, mids maybe 4, bass about 5, maybe 4, and gain about 5 on the "lead mode". The TSL's got a "deep" mode which sounds absolutely sick when playing alone,, but when you're generating that much bass, you run into problems with the bass guitar, and I try to view bass and rhythm guitar, both compositionally and from a mixing perspective, as two sides of the same instrument. That doesn't mean i just have them double each other all the time- it's more of a counterpoint relationship. Some of the heaviest tones I've ever heard are from fairly whimpy guitar sounds, it's just a question of getting them to work well together. So, the guitar's all about impact, really. With this in mind, i generally don't compress my rhythm tracks too much- a light compression on the transients, but not much more. The bass, on the other hand, i chop up quite a bit; usually record directly, and roll off everything below 40-80hz, and everything above 1-2k. It's a crappy Squier 5-string P-Bass that i haven't gotten a great tone out of yet, anyway.

So, I've got a bass guitar in the center in a comparatively narrow frewquency range, and two tracks of rhythm guitar on either side, EQ'd on the amp for an agressive "cut." This leaves me a lot of space in the center to mix a full-frequency guitar. I tend to emphasise the midrange frequencies- my current settings are presence off, treble 4, mids 8, bass 4. I generally roll off below 120 or so once it's on disc, much like my rhythm tracks, but that and some delay and verb is about it. Like i said, I'm looking for as "true" a sound as possible here.

I'm still not 100% happy with the lead sound I'm getting- part of it is the amp, I think. Marshall's are awfully bright, and I'm trying to dial it for something more akin to a Mark-IV like rhythm tone. You'd think that with all that midrange and that little treble, all you'd be hearing through the mic would be mud, but it actually sounds quite natural mic'd. Horrible in the room, but natural close-mic'd...

You run into other problems, of course... you can't have a full, lush, guitar tone with a full, lush, bass tone and a full, lush kick drum. You either need to get a really deep drum sound and lighten up the bass a little bit, or go for a pronounced attack on the kick without as much depth, and let the bass have the low frequencies. the later is probably the most practical solution, imo... As a guitarist, i sorta have a tendancy of sacrificing other instruments for a good guitar sound.

Anyway, i guess in summary my observation here is, when you're dealing with an instrument that's that low already, less is generally more, when it comes to dialing in your bass. It's nearly impossible to hold on to all the depth on disc in the context of a "big" mix, and I've found that if you allow the other instruments to suggest the depth and allow the rhythm guitars to provide the attack, you can get some absolutely massive sounds that still allow room for a lead track.

-D
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2004, 05:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wordwolf
Obviously, Jim's approach is going to tend to be a little different that some of ours, jazz being a somewhat different animal than rock. I'm curious, though Jim. Do record at relatively loud levels, or quiet? Seems a lot of jazz musicians don't really record very loud. In fact, hot signals are a no-no in jazz recording, no? (I studied with a guy here in Toledo who did alot of jazz recording, and he was real miniminalist. ALL digital, jazz guys seem to love digital, and real sparse on gain/compression/EQ etc. Liked nice, even levels, too. But us rock guys love it LOUD.)
You're right that I'm recording at much lower volume levels than a rock player, but the gain strcture is not all that different. I like a lot of output from the guitar so I can get a lot of dynamic response. So the amp is turner fairly low, but the guitar is very hot, wither wide open or nearly so. That's what makes direct recording so hard. The signal is way too hot.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 03:49 AM
 
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Thanks, Jim. I was kind of curious about that. When going for cleaner tones (I tend to be more jazz oriented in my cleans, than say country, blues, or even traditional rock. Product of a music school I guess, and too much late night jazz ) I sort of vacilitate between the hot signal/mellow amp and mellow signal/hot amp apporoach. Both yield satisfying tones, but it's always nice to see how the pros do it.

Drew- you and I are amazingly together on recording philosophy. I know exactly what you mean... you like that layered, studio effect, but you're trying to capture almost like a PERFECT live performance, only not. I take the same apporoach. I like my sound, let's call it guitar 1, generally in stereo. It's already panned hard left/right as I record. Then, I like to take what I would call guitar 2, or essentially, a rhythm guitar sound, and pan those as appropriate. Maybe 1, 2, even 3 tracks. (I'm used to recording at least 8 tracks, but generally 16.) My feelings on mixing etc. are nearly identical to you. I also like a crisp rhthym sound, and a middier lead sound. I only dig the mids in my rhythm sound LIVE... not so much when recording. You see, playing live, without that mid presence, man, a 7-string is LOST in the mix. Just absolute mush with the bass. Cut the bass (I know what you mean about a "deep" mode type sound. Awesome alone HORRID live) and boost the mids, and viola, you sound great live.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Wordwolf- you do stereo leads? Part of this is because I play a mono rig, and the rest is because I can only record in mono but even if i could do otherwise i think I'd prefer to keep a single mono track down the center for soloing... it's a little more "focused" to my ears, i guess. I mean, I'll use stereo FX tracks, and I love delays that move around a bit, but my primary signal is still mono.

I also don't multitrack quite as heavily as you do, but then again, I'm a sloppy rhythm guitarist. I generally go two tracks, one left (say 60%), the other right. Sometimes, depending on the song, I'll have a couple different guitar parts going, in which case they'd be doubled in a slightly different stereo position as well, but that's about it.

Although, I've gotten into reverbing my rhythm tracks of late- Devin Townsend influence, i guess...

-Z
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Actually, i was screwing around last night, recording an entry for guitar war... I think I overdid the treble a touch on the rhythm tracks, and had to EQ and compress it out a little (multiband compressors are fun), but you can totally create a "wall of sound" guitar tone and still leave yourself whole frequencies for a lead. It's not a tone I'd ever choose to dial up for heavy vocal music, but in an instrumental rock context, it works... I just need to do some fine tuning, i guess.

Anyway, the one thing I tried last night that made an absolute huge difference was how i treat the drums- I work with drum loops, mixing everything into a single stereo track, while most "pro" studios track each part of the kit differently. So, I created five tracks- a kick drum loop, a snare loop, a high hat loop, and then two different crash cymbols to add accents with. Then, i ran the kick through a compressor set for a slower attack and a tight compression to bring out the attack on the kick more, and cut out some of the deeper bass, took a lot of the lows and a little of the highs off the snare, and cut most of the lows and mids off the high hats (the crash cymbols i was going to EQ later, but never got around to it- they sounded fine in the mix, and sicne they were the last thing I added, i just left them as is). Then, i opened them all in ACID, and added reverb there. HUGE change in "open-ness" between the loop of the entire kit i created to track over, and the EQ'd peices I added in. It also gave me some additional freedom for "fills," by allowing me to cut out and move individual peices of the drum beat.

This is only vaguely related to 7-string guitar, of course, but if you don't overpower the entire mix with a very expansive drum sound, you have a lot more room to work with, both in the high AND low frequencies...

-D
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 08:44 PM
 
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You think like an engineer Drew, I'll give you that. Myself, I think less in terms of frequency when mastering, except for the obvious stuff, and prefer to just listen. If the kick is too boomy, eh, shave som bass. You get the idea.

As far as lead tracks in stereo, yes... but what I meant is I'll generally have what I'd call 2 rhythm guitar sounds. Mine, and let's say the rhythm guitarist's (Still me playing, just imagine 2 guitarists. Head and Munky for instance). My sound is in stereo. The other guitarist is mono, but double (or maybe single, or even tripled) tracked, whereas I'm only single tracked (although 2 tracks used in reality, in stereo, using a stereo chorus set ONLY for stereo seperation, and not the traditional chorus 'detuning' sound. Zakk Wylde for instance, but even less chorus-y sounding. That's my main rhythm sound).

When it comes to leads, my live sound is in stereo. Very EVH-ish. But when recording, I, like you, enjoy a big fat mono lead. Although, I'll record the lead both ways, depending on my mood or ideas. I'm sort of like Jimmy Page, in that I don't really subscribe to one way of doing things. Always experimenting!

Good ideas about the drum loops, Drew. In a sense, you had your own virtual studio set!
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