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deardaddy
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9th July 2007
Old 9th July 2007
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Mixing country music

Hi,


I'm about to mix an album by a local country band.
I've mixed pop, rock, jazz, ... but never any country music band.

Could you please give me advices, tips, ...
I will receive already recorded tracks (instruments), I will record vocals and bgv's and then mix the album.

The band is fronted by a powerful female singer, musical influences are Sara Evans, Carlene Carter, Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, ...

All your inputs are welcome.

Thanks for your time.

Pascal
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9th July 2007
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A default country mix setup:

Some engineers tend to mix country music too bright, that usually ends up thin sounding. Too much violin will destroy any piece of country tune, instead work a lot on the steel guitar, make sure it gets enough room in the mix to really shine by using for example side chaining and/or volume automation on those tracks when necessary to create the vibe. Background vocals is important in country music, try to make them as smooth as possible and make those tracks hard panned left and right to create a nice wide stereo image. The attack of the kick drum should be tamed pretty hard, soft kicks are very dominant in country music. Don't be afraid to let some cymbal hits through the mix (a la Eddie Bayers), that will add some nice mix definition.

Other than that it's the usual rules of not letting synthetic sounds be too loud in the mix, keep the instrument communication simple, airy and well-organized and build the tune around the vocals.

In terms of signal processing:

Analog tape (e.g., Ampex) and reverb (e.g., Lexicon 480L) will work. Neve 33609 and Teletronix LA-2A compressors can be used. Among condenser mics Audio Technica 4050 can work well as an all around mic together with API pres. Among tube mics Neumann U-67 and AKG C12 can be used. For monitoring, Hafler Transnova 9505 + Yamaha NS-10 is a safe bet.

Hope that helps..
deardaddy
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9th July 2007
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Thanks for the replies, they are really helpful for me.

On the vocals, I heard a lot of doubbling on choruses, what is the best think to do, record a second time the main vocal and have the singer sing harmonies or just duplicate the track and pitch it ?

On the guitars, does country music uses a lot of doubbling on the electric guitars to have bigger guitars ?

Take care


Pascal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deardaddy View Post
Thanks for the replies, they are really helpful for me.

On the vocals, I heard a lot of doubbling on choruses, what is the best think to do, record a second time the main vocal and have the singer sing harmonies or just duplicate the track and pitch it ?

On the guitars, does country music uses a lot of doubbling on the electric guitars to have bigger guitars ?

Take care


Pascal
They don't double them in Nashville they Twinn them.
At least that was what a couple Nashville producers I worked called it.

To be like most country records I hear, Autotune the vocals to sound like a synth.

To be serious keep the vocal on top of the mix more than your average pop music. Great compression and or great vocals performances are needed.

Peace Todd
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I'm still trying to figure it out myself but besides the obvious lead vocal, I think that the acoustic guitars are essential. Not every song will feature them but I really like to integrate the acoustic guitars into the drum sound to get a nice drive going and therefore mix them quite bright and sometimes with compression that's sidechained by the snare, etc. Some people hate it but to me the 'acoustic guitar as tuned hi-hat' is a valid concept....
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10th July 2007
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It's really hard to give advice on how to mix a production we've never heard.

Though, I will say that depending upon the production criteria, it may lean more towards a pop rock mix.
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10th July 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicking View Post
Nashville hates Shania because she became too big and popular and took her music worldwide without any help from Nashville.
That's too bad.

They should thank Shania/Mutt for making Nashville relevant again.

I'm sure the session musicians aren't complaining.

It's no surprise that country music is currently the best selling.

Sounds pretty "punk-rock" to me. Kinda like Waylon.

Both Waylon and Shania managed to successfully piss-off Nashville and come out on top.
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mix it itb, use a lot of plugs, especially autotune. sample replace all the drums, make them small and synthetic/snappy. plop the vocal on top, but don't let it sound big, just overly processed and grainy... waves L1 is good for this, multiple instances if need must.

the closer you can get to an 80's pop/rock vibe, the better.


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deardaddy
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10th July 2007
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Thanks for your time.
Each of your advice is appreciated.

Cheers,

Pascal
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10th July 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deardaddy View Post
Hi,


I'm about to mix an album by a local country band.
I've mixed pop, rock, jazz, ... but never any country music band.

Could you please give me advices, tips, ...
I will receive already recorded tracks (instruments), I will record vocals and bgv's and then mix the album.

The band is fronted by a powerful female singer, musical influences are Sara Evans, Carlene Carter, Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, ...

All your inputs are welcome.

Thanks for your time.

Pascal
Do you mean real country music or the pop-rock that happens to play on "country" radio staions? Sorry, I know that wasnt helpful. Its just that 'Time the Revelator' and 'Heartbreaker' are more country than 90% of the awful crap that has come out of country radio in the past 20 years. My advice? Mix it how you wanna hear it. Balance it out, define and shape the important stuff and when you have a smile on your face, I guess your done.

Good luck.
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deardaddy
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You're right Michael, it has to bring smile and maybe some kind of happiness to the mixer, the artist and the listener.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picksail View Post
They should thank Shania/Mutt for making Nashville relevant again.
All I know is that some Shania records were released in different versions here in Europe, without fiddle and steel guitar AFAIN. So much for being 'country'.......
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker View Post
All I know is that some Shania records were released in different versions here in Europe, without fiddle and steel guitar AFAIN. So much for being 'country'.......
I know that UP!!! record was a 2-disc release. It included a disc with the "pop" versions and one with the more traditional country arrangements of the same songs.

It was a pretty brilliant scheme, in my opinion. Something for everyone.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deardaddy View Post
Could you please give me advices, tips, ...
I will receive already recorded tracks (instruments), I will record vocals and bgv's and then mix the album.

The band is fronted by a powerful female singer, musical influences are Sara Evans, Carlene Carter, Shania Twain, Gretchen Wilson, ...
If you don't have them I would buy the CDs of the artists you mentioned (Sara Evans, Carlene Carter, etc) and really listen to how they are mixed, what the vocals sound like. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, here a CD is worth a thousand words. Listen, you'll find out more than we can write in these posts.
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10th July 2007
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I have received a reference CD with these artists and I listen to it as much as I can but reading tips from fellow sound engineers helps me too.

Sometimes, I know where I want to go but I don't know how to get there, you guys help me to achieve what I want by sharing your experience.

Thanks.
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11th July 2007
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My experience is to use really good nashville style players who really understand country music. They will naturally mix themselves. I was in Nashville a few months ago and the studio I was helping out with hired a group of session players. The engineer just threw charts up and the literally just started playing together and it sounded finished.
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11th July 2007
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Unfortunately, this option is not possible in this project as we are in Belgium so all the musicians involved are belgian.

Let's hope they alson can do good country music !!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Talbot View Post
Or, you could mix it the way the music moves you and forget about all the #*#*ing rules that Nashville imposes on "country" music.

Cheers, from a native resident.
thumbsup thumbsup

Cheers,
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Only really 2 guidelines for mixing Country.

1. The lead vocal is everything. Country is a genre, more than any other, where the track exists to support the lead vocal. Lead singer needs to be sitting in your lap. Country is always about the lyric, so make every word intelligible.

2. While doing the above, make the track as big and punchy as possible, without upstaging the lead vocal. That's the challenge of mixing a hit record in Country music. Making the vocal huge without emasculating the track.

Once you realize that's the challenge, it can be pretty fun, whether you love the song or not. On the upside, the music is usually pretty straightforward. I've mixed #1 Country singles in 3 hours from pushing up the first fader.

Don't over-complicate it.
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Brian, may I ask you (others are welcome too), some of your tips to make a vocal huge ?

Thanks



Pascal
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12th July 2007
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Yea, I wanna know too y'all.



Although, while we're waiting, I will say that running a vocal through an LA2A either the real thing or UAD-1, and cranking the peak reduction up all the way will make the vox both fatter and dominating.

I find that I have to debreath and de-smack the vox with slip editing as those two extras come way up too. The result however is buttery smooth,fat and sits on top of the mix quite nicely.

It's all gotta be sung through a decent LDC. I'm a low-ender and my vocal mic is the Rode NT2A.
It's nice enough for me now.


:Ron
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Don't forget to double your rhythm guitar parts with a guitar strung to "Nashville Tuning". That's another sound you hear on the records of the artist's you mentioned. Especially with that deeper, in-your-face female vocal style - it'll give her some space in the mix - Nashville Tuning on top of a Strat or Tele rocks!thumbsup

FYI: Nashville Tuning is achieved on a high-strung guitar - a guitar strung with only the doubling strings of a 12-string guitar set to recreate the sound of a 12-string guitar. The first (e) and second (b) strings use standard tuning. The third (g'), fourth (d') and fifth (a') strings are tuned an octave higher and the sixth (e") two octaves, making the sixth (e") string a duplicate of the first string (e). e"-a'-d'-g'-b-e

Once you try it - you'll be hooked.

FYI: Check out ANYTHING produced by Mark Wright, Byron Gallimore, Mark Bright, Dan Huff - to name a few - they work with the artists you named AND THEN SOME - They have "THE Sound":Welcome to CC Entertainment


TJ
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Thanks TJ for the Nashville tuning.

Take care
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Obsessed View Post
Don't forget to double your rhythm guitar parts with a guitar strung to "Nashville Tuning". That's another sound you hear on the records of the artist's you mentioned. Especially with that deeper, in-your-face female vocal style - it'll give her some space in the mix - Nashville Tuning on top of a Strat or Tele rocks!thumbsup

FYI: Nashville Tuning is achieved on a high-strung guitar - a guitar strung with only the doubling strings of a 12-string guitar set to recreate the sound of a 12-string guitar. The first (e) and second (b) strings use standard tuning. The third (g'), fourth (d') and fifth (a') strings are tuned an octave higher and the sixth (e") two octaves, making the sixth (e") string a duplicate of the first string (e). e"-a'-d'-g'-b-e

Once you try it - you'll be hooked.

FYI: Check out ANYTHING produced by Mark Wright, Byron Gallimore, Mark Bright, Dan Huff - to name a few - they work with the artists you named AND THEN SOME - They have "THE Sound":Welcome to CC Entertainment


TJ
I trust you are speaking of an acoustic guitar being high strung.
Or should I also hi string some extra strats and teles?

Thanks,
:Ron
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13th July 2007
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I've done it with both. The acoustics are both percussive and "shiny" - depends where your vocalist sits in the mix. A Pultec can be your friend here - Big Time.

ELECTRICS: Think Tom Petty with those Rics jangling... With country, I like a Tele strung high and you get that "TP Wall" like you hear in Free Fallin' -- but twangier. VERY Cool.

FYI: Try the acoustic L and the Tele R ( or vice versa) Stereo = PHAT!

NOTE: Check out the new Bon Jovi track "One Step Closer" - That's the idea when the chorus comes in. You'll here it along with a gtr following the piano lines - It just Floats. Hear the TP thing?

Once you start mixing it'll be obvious where to place things.

Cool?

TJ
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Thanks TJ.

Now I know what Lyon guitars are for.


:Ron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitman View Post
Thanks TJ.

Now I know what Lyon guitars are for.


:Ron

Funny...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRC View Post
Do you mean real country music or the pop-rock that happens to play on "country" radio staions? Sorry, I know that wasnt helpful. Its just that 'Time the Revelator' and 'Heartbreaker' are more country than 90% of the awful crap that has come out of country radio in the past 20 years. My advice? Mix it how you wanna hear it. Balance it out, define and shape the important stuff and when you have a smile on your face, I guess your done.

Good luck.
that was the Best advice anyone can give, why would you want it to sound like what everyone else is telling you, no disrespect to all that gave advice, but I agree Mix it how you wanna hear it, you did say you had experance in Mixing, weather it be pop, Rock or country, Listen to the Mix 4 or 5 times, and Create , just Create, untill you Listen back and say to youself, Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
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Just imagine you and the band are sitting in a nice barn while they run through a few numbers while the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and a few quiet beers have gone down..in other words, try and capture the moment and let as little technology as possible get in the way of the mix.
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