If I had any qualms at all - it would be the "group" vocals. They seem washed out a bit. My guess is that they were recorded separately, and that one or more vocalists' low-mid range is muddying up the spectrum. Try to re-create the "old" way of doing bluegrass vox (all at one time around a ribbon mic) by leaving frequency room in each vocal track for the other vocal tracks. (I hope that makes sense). If, by chance, these vocals were recorded live around one mic, I would have chosen a different mic.
Having said that - the song sounds good. Your every day bluegrass listener would never hear anything 'wrong' with it whatsoever. But, you did ask for some critique, and that's was the only thing I could think of - and I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.
You are correct on all counts. The vocals were performed into individual mics ( SM7s and an SM7b). I think maybe the baritone and bass vocals might need a little mud sucked out. And the more I listen, the more I think the fiddle ride needs to pop out a little more.
I think I understand what you mean about eq-ing the vocals where each one has it's own space....still something that I need more practice/experience.
I really struggle with the amount of verb on the vocals......I like the vocals a little more wet than most...I'm a big fan of how Lester and Earls recordings from the mid 60s sounded...they recorded at the Quonset hut where they had a great reverb chamber...that's the sound I would really like to get, but I'm not sure how to get that flavor with out them sounding a little bit too washed out...I would love to build a chamber - but it's not in my foreseeable future just yet....I know the modern day aesthetic in bluegrass and country is really dry vocals, but we are trying to emulate our heroes on this project a little....I will try bringing it down some, though - or possibly change a few parameters...thanks for listening and your suggestions/kind words....
...oh yeah, and the banjo just kills on the intro.....(says the banjo player/engineer)...
It sounds like all instruments were recorded with single mics, no stereo pairs. Correct?
If so, I would pan the banjo and guitar hard left and right, opposite from each other, probably 70%-80%. Pan the fiddle and mandolin opposite from each other midway between center and the outer instruments (40% or so).
Pan the harmony vocals only slight out from center. Maybe 20%-30%. Some guys actually like all of the vocals dead center. Depends on the song for my taste.
Be pretty aggressive with your hi-pass filters on all instruments except bass. For guitar and banjo, I typically do a 6db per octave starting around 180-240 HZ (depending on what it needs). Fiddle and mandolin could use the same up to around 350 Hz or so.
I'd carve out some 200hz-400hz from the bass, boost around 40hz-60hz slightly, and boost slightly around 700Hz-1.5kHz.
Back way off on the vocal reverb, AND find a warmer sounding reverb too. Something about the brightness of that reverb sounds odd to me. Right now it sounds like the instruments and vocalists were in different rooms while they were playing. Make the reverb compliment all instruments and vocals similarly so that it sounds as if everyone was playing at the same time.
Hmmm...there's probably more, but that should get you started. PM me if you wanna talk more about it.
Since the original post, I have scrapped this a did a new mix - so let me incorporate your suggestions and see what it's like.
You are correct - no stereo micing. That is something I want to do when the gear/money ratio improves.
I'm not entirely comfortable about your suggestion of the guitar panning. Is there an example of a good bluegrass recording you could use as an example of this? It seems to me that most of what I hear has guitar in the center (along with the bass).
I will try though. I really appreciate your insight.
Ok. Couldn't wait. Here's what I have per your suggestions. More aggresive roll off helped. Sounds a little too dry to me...again with the reverb type/settings.....this is more what I'm shooting for, for sure....
Maybe pan the guitar and banjo in a bit. Perhaps 60%-65%. That might tighten it up some. Or you could swap the panning of the fiddle and the guitar.
I'd bring the guitar volume up quite a bit, and it sounds a tad thin. Maybe bring your high pass filter down a ways until it warms up a little bit. Might need to do a broad cut of a DB or two from 800Hz-1.5kHz, but it's hard to tell since it is so quiet.
You'll get better results with this type of setup by miking the guitar with two mics in a spaced pair of some sort. I prefer one over the shoulder and one at the neck joint area. Then the guitar occupies more space and fills out the mix.
Fiddle might be a tad thin also. Bring back in some low end and cut around 2.5k (no more than 2db or so.) Banjo and mando are pretty good.
Now, I'd give everything just a bit more reverb. Not to washy, just enough to glue everyone together.
Thanks for your help. See what you think here.....
Now your zeroing in. High pass that doghouse a bit and bring the volume up. The acoustic could come up a bit as well, again you'll probably need to high pass this as well to do it as they can get boomy quick. Sounds great really.