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bands gettin' their sounds together
Old 24th April 2003
Gear Nut

bands gettin' their sounds together

I've been working with a band for a while, as producer/drummer/etc.etc.. The guitarist is a very good all round musician, does most of the music and arrangements for the band. However, I find that when it comes to his own guitar sound, he doesn't seem bothered that it could be better, or that we need to work on the recording setup before going to tape. I find it quite hard going when I want to work on it but I get no feedback & feel under pressure sometimes that I'm un-neccessarily wasting studio time on something 'irrelevant' (until you do something anyway and all of a sudden you get "Great, that sounds much better!", or "I never knew I could sound like that!")

I once had a band turn up for a month long session for an album. Mostly programmed stuff but the composer/keyboard player wanted to double up some parts with live drums. Great! That was until they brought in the ****tiest, most beaten up pile of rubbish I have ever had the misfortune to put a mic near. ALL of the skins were caved in. But, again, it neither occurred nor bothered them that really they should have something a bit better for a label funded record (we never did see the A&R man).

Another time, I recorded a mate's band, good players, good gear. On mixdown the bass sounded like ****, I never was impressed with it live either. Spent hours trying to make an anaemic turd sound like Jack Bruce. Anyway, cut to another gig sometime later, his bass cuts out midway thru second number, immediately sensing something wrong in his pedal chain, he plugs his bass direct into his amp and... GLORIOUS THUNDER!. Was I the ONLY person who noticed? Seems so. When I questioned the guitarist later about it he just shrugged his shoulders.

How do you guys deal with this type of situation where musicians seem to lack a critical ear to getting the best out of their setup.

Should we just all give up?
Old 25th April 2003
Lives for gear
imacgreg's Avatar
From a AE's persepctive, it is our job to get tones that work and sound good. Therefore, when this situation arises I think that we should say, "why don't we try this... or that sounds just isn't going to cut it." I don't see anything wrong with that. Isn't that our job????? I guess some musicians are not gonna want to change their sound. I guess in that situation you either deal with it or tell them that it is not going to sound as good as it could.

It aint worth recording a ****ty sound if the band is going to be unhappy with it later and want to rerecord it. Might as well do it right the first time. An analogy would be "measure twice, cut once..." or something like that...

Old 25th April 2003
Lives for gear
Roland's Avatar
Great players play with great sound.

IMHO and experience I have never had to work to get a good sound from them. If the sound isn't good, then I would respectfully suggest that the player is limited. Many great players are not that anal about setting up their amp/cab. As one well known player said to me "I fiddle about till I get a workable sound, the rest I can do with the playing". He sounded wonderful and wasn't at all difficult to record.

It may be with less than professional players suggestions are necessary, but with the majority of good pro's it will go down about as well as telling you how to place your mics!


Old 25th April 2003
Gear Nut

"I fiddle about till I get a workable sound, the rest I can do with the playing". He sounded wonderful and wasn't at all difficult to record.

Thats how you separate the men from the boys. Dont forget that it has just as much to do with the player as it does with the gear or settings. I agree with you 100% Roland.
Old 25th April 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Originally posted by Roland
It may be with less than professional players suggestions are necessary, but with the majority of good pro's it will go down about as well as telling you how to place your mics!
Totally. And those are the same players that I'll turn the console over to if they hear something in their head that I'm not.

If someone has a bad sound and really doesn't seem to care maybe it's because they don't know any better. At that point the only thing you can do is tell them that their sound is bad and you want to help them sound better. If they still fight about it give up and move on.
Old 25th April 2003
"Pretty vacant" - the Sex Pistols sang.....

Half the trick in my position is to catch stuff like this and correct it before it become a PITA at mixdown.

I dont catch all of it.

New heads,

Intonation at a GTR shop

I send em off to do all this before they come in..

But still they come in with ****ty gear, in my exprerience a LOT of it is a judgement call by the musicians between BEER & EQUIPMENT. Beer usually wins....

Old 25th April 2003
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
If I'm 'producing'... by the time we've gotten into the room the band has all seen the myriad of potential sounds we can get from their instruments to really tailor the tones to the tunes... if I'm engineering... I'll do what I can, but refuse to care more than the band or the band's producer.
Old 25th April 2003
Lives for gear
littledog's Avatar

Occasionally I'll play something from another session in a similar style (with good players/good sounds, etc.) and let them compare that to something they've just tracked. Then ask them which sound THEY prefer. If they prefer the "other" band's sound, then I ask if they'd like suggestions on how to get there. (Tuning, Drum kit rental, replacing sequenced tracks with live players, etc.)

The trick is to still let them feel like they are in control and making the criticical artistic and production decisions. Then, there's not usually that much of a problem. The idea is to give them a real world example of what they COULD sound like...
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