Gig at the Lovin' Cup

This coming Saturday July 27, Big Blue House will be playing at the Lovin' Cup from 6 to 8pm. This year we will also be joined for three songs by Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Jerry Englerth.  We are looking forward to another fun evening. 

The way I use compression.

On the subject of compression: It's no secret that much of the music needs to have the dynamic range compressed in order to make a recording that is easy to listen to. In moderation this is very useful. If taken to the extreme, we have the loudness wars which really destroy the music. When recording electric guitar, if the amplifier is pushed there is a natural compression in the tubes so a compressor further down the signal path is not needed. Recording with the isolation box does not require a compressor due to the volume level of the amp. For recording bass direct, acoustic guitar, and some of the drums I use preamps with tubes. The tube allows just enough clipping to take off the peaks so the track can be recorded full without audible distortion.. Yes, compression can be added later but this is usually not needed during the mix stage. If compression is used in the mix it is done very sparingly. All of this results in a mix with much dynamic and plenty of color. Later the mastering engineer will not have his or her hands tied with compression that cannot be undone. Be careful and don't kill the music.

Recording Drums

Recording Drums- For a great recording you need real drums played by a real drummer. I have to say that drums are the most difficult instrument to record due to there being so many single instruments that comprise a “drum set”. First you need good sounding well tuned drums. There is no way to make a poor drum sound sound good with plugins short of replacing every thing with samples. If you are practicing and don’t like what you hear, you won’t like what you record. A great sounding snare is of first priority. Next is a good sounding bass drum. Good cymbals will record well with the right mics. Dynamic mics like the good old SM57 work well on the snare and toms. You can get an OK sound on the Bass Drum but a larger diaphragm mic such as the AKG D112 will require much less EQ. For the cymbals you really need some type of condenser mics (2 for left and right). These overheads also draw the sounds of the other mics together. Now for the drummer. The drummer needs to play the proper dynamics and blend of set parts in order for the mix to sound right. Yes, we can change the balance some to extent due to the multiple micing but if the drummer plays the wrong style, the “fix in the mix” is only a band aid. If you want a strong back beat, play it that way. The drum recordings that you hear on this site were recorded with a Drum Workshop maple snare, Zildjian A cymbals and a old Gretsch Jazz Set. Most of the heads are Remos aside from the Aquarian bass drum head.

How We Record Guitars

How We Record Guitars Some years ago I built an isolation box for my studio. It is really about the size of an ugly dog house , 5feet by two feet by two feet. It's made from plywood, is completely sealed and lined with quiting. By putting the box in another room, it creates the room within a room sound isolation. There are two 12” speakers in the box, usually one is a greenback for that traditional British sound and one is a Jensen reissue for the Fender sound. The mics are set up between the speakers in the middle with the intent of using only one speaker at a time. I use an assortment of mics including the great old time honored SM 57 but I also use some type of ribbon mic (right now an Apex 205 )for warmth. This is a big part of the box working well. Also, the ribbon has a figure 8 pattern so it can mic speakers from both direction- nice. You just have to move the mics around for the best sound and check the phasing in mono. I have them about 6 or 7 inches from the speaker grills. I also have several little cabinets with other speakers so I can change speakers in the box very quickly.

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