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Recording Bass Guitar

“Jim- Whats the hardest thing to record?”

Recording Bass Guitar

For me its Recording Bass Guitar. The technique, the part, the bass, the amp (if needed) all play a huge part in making it sound like it’s part of the band. Usually there’s overplaying as the bassist is use to playing at rehearsals or live where they me be required to fill all the spaces. Typically I don’t want all the spaces filled in a Major recording. It’s simple things like don’t play over the snare some times or don’t clack on the pickups (more of a Metal thing).

When recording bass parts I typically use API mic pre’s along with an LA 3 compressor. These two items create a sonically intact front end bass signal. This enables the bass player and I to concentrate on getting the most grooving, underplayed non-clacking part possible.

An easy way to check your technique, provided you’re multi-tracking, is to get a copy of your bass part solo’ed so you can hear what your actually playing. You might be surprised at what doesn’t need to be there.

Of course there is the bass itself. It needs to sound right for what you’re doing. Clear and piano like or dead and muted depending on the genre. Other obvious things, make sure the strings are relatively new and the intonation is set correctly before you start recording…..hope this is helpful……… Jim

 
 

Recording Bass Guitar

Audio File Conversion

As a Music Producer, a question I get all the time is “Jim, what’s an easy way to convert my Audio file formats?”.

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The process of file conversion as related to Audio File Conversion used to be a bit of a pain, but no longer is. I use a very simple FREE desktop Audio Conversion software called Drop A Few My Way.

Drop A Few My Way is a simple drag and drop Audio File Conversion software. You simply place Drop a Few My Way on your desktop or sidebar and drop the audio file you wish to convert onto the icon. Once you have dropped the audio file onto the icon a menu will pop up and ask you what format you wish to convert to. The menu will then ask you where you would like to place the converted file. Nice and Easy!

Drop A Few My Way

I like to send Mix reference audio files to my artists to listen to in the MP3 format. As you might know, sending a 4MB MP3 file through email is a lot easier than trying to send a 90MB WAV file. This is when a simple audio conversion tool comes in handy.

I typically record and mix at a sample rate of 88.2. Converting my large mix down audio files to a MP3 file is as simple as drag and drop and it only takes second.

Drop A Few My Way is one of the music production tools I consider a must. It’s Free and saves me a lot of time and as you know, time is money. It’s a win win! Check it out!  Jim

http://dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=dropafewmyway

Recording Methods – Recording A Song A Day

Recording a Song a day

As a Music Producer, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “Hey Jim, How do you like to schedule your Recording sessions?”

Well, if everyone in the band and/or all the session players can be there, I like to go with Recording A Song A Day.

My reasoning behing recording one song per day is that we can setup and perform with only the one song in mind. The sounds we produce and perform will be solely for the one song. This keeps everyones creative visions and ideas focused on the one sone and only the one song, from start to finish.

I’ve certainly Done drums for the album first, then bass on day 2, guitars days, 3-4 , etc. This method is very common and works as well, especially if there are scheduling confilcts within the band or with session players. In my experience, this still takes about the same amount of time as a song a day.

One of the other upsides to a song a day is not having to sing and record vocals on 10 songs at the end of the project. This can be stressful for the best of vocalists.

If You can schedule recording a song a day, I strongly suggest this method. Give it a try. Jim

 
 

Recording A Song A Day

Recording Matthew Ryan’s Certainly Never

Tales from the vault

may-dayIn the mid 90s, I had the pleasure of recording Matthew Ryan’s Debut album “Mayday” on A+M records. We recorded the record in NY, LA and Nashville using some of the finest recording gear available. We used 2 inch tape for the whole record, as most people did then. I used lots of equipment to get a very rugged natural sound but the biggest example of this was the song “Certainly Never”.

Matthew and I talked about the production on “Certainly Never” and he wanted a very room like, no frills sound for the song. At the time we were recording at Bearsville Recording Studio and I had access to the finest microphones and gear around.

The track consisted of Matthew playing piano and singing and Dave Ricketts playing Stratocaster (I believe) across the room about 20 feet away. Keeping with the spirit of the song, I took one AKG 414 and put it into the figure 8 pattern. I had Matthew and Dave play half the song, then I moved the mic a bit for vocal piano blend (still using the figure 8 pattern) and adjusted Dave’s amp volume a bit. I then had them play the song again. Was it perfect? No… Was it the right vibe?….. I believe it’s one of Matthews favorite on the Record. The lesson here is? Don’t over-think.

Mic Preamp – Why Quality Matters

api-512c-mic-preampMic Pre Mojo

If you have an M box, a mixer, an iPhone or anything you can plug a microphone into, you have a microphone preamplifier AKA Mic Preamp. You may not see it or even know that it’s there, but it is.

I am a Microphone Preamplifier lunatic. If I’m producing a recording, I insist on using a studio with the quality of mic preamps that I use for my productions. It is that important!

Some might naively say “But Jim, a mic pre can’t possibly make that big of a difference”. To which I would reply “Oh contraire mon frère, an audio chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.”

If the 1st thing your microphone hits is a substandard mic preamp, you are battling uphill from there. If you’er recording dozens of tracks (as I normally do), the sound will seem much less vital and clear with a cheaper mic preamp. You may not notice the lack of quality as much when you’er recording a single track, but when you multiply the lesser quality with many tracks, the difference will be quite apparent. It takes a quality mic preamp to help capture the true sonic properties that make a voice or instrument sound clear and present in the mix. Without quality mic preamps, you get little clarity and a lot of mush.

Much like plugging your guitar into a cheaper amp or a good amp, you can hear the difference. Like guitar amps, mic preamps have different sound qualities according to make and model. So saying which mic preamp is the best is a matter of taste and opinion.

One of the big problems with mic preamps is of course their cost. Ranging from about $800 to $5000 for a single mic pre, the typical home recording user (usually) isn’t going to buy 20 quality mic preamps. But a good studio will!

People ask me all the time, why records sound the way they do. Well, Great songs, great performances, great Production and engineering, great gear and Great Mic Preamps!

What I Recommend:
If you are recording at home and are serious about your sound quality, I would create a quality single chain by purchasing the following:

api-512c single-channel • One – API 512 mic preamp $800

• One – Empirical Labs Distressor (compressor) $1200. el8-distressor

Not cheap I know, but for 2 k you would have the same channel found in many professional recording studios and the sound to match.

That’s it for now, Good luck. Jim

Recording with or without effects

“Jim, Should I record with effects like reverb or delay on the track?”

recording-with-effectsAs a Music Producer and audio Engineer, this is another question I get frequently. Typically, the answer is no, but it comes down to personal taste.

Personally I record a lot of my guitar effects thru the guitar amp as if the player is performing live. Why? Because I LIKE THE SOUND of guitar effects thru the amp while the guitarist is cutting the track. “But Jim, then you cant change it”. Correct, but I LIKE IT…..so I have made a production decision.

That being said, my preference is to record vocals dry with no effects and adjust them later according to the mix. I do however record vocals with some level of compression. The amount of compression I use is dictated largely by the genre of music the track is for. Pop music is very compressed so I’ll use some compression while tracking and maybe a bit more when I mix. When recording and producing a Jazz record, I will use much less compression while tracking as this genre dictates that.

A lot of keyboards have built in fx. Again, If I like the sound, I’ll use it. If I don’t, I’ll have the player remove them.

When recording Bass guitar, I’ll usually take a direct line straight from the bass and maybe a line from the amp so I can add dirt or distortion if need be. Both of these will get a bit of limiting (high ratio Compression) and I will blend the two later.

When recording Drums, I rarely ever use delay or reverb while tracking. BUT I use a fair amount of compression on the overheads and rooms. Why? Because I love the sound of compressed drums. I will also put a bit of compression on the Snare and kick when tracking. You need to be very careful with this as snare compression can pull unwanted hi hat into the snare mic. We will pay very close attention to mic placement so we usually don’t run into the bleeding hat problem.

A lot of how I record is based on my opinions, preferences and experiences. Some engineer/producers prefer to do all effects/ compression at mix. I do a combination of both. The point is, if you love the effect or sound ….record it. You may not get a chance to get it back later.

Hope this helps, Jim

Recording with or without effects

What Music Recording Software is Best?

Hey Jim, What music recording software should I get?

As a record producer, I get asked this question all the time. Most of the Dominant music recording software such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, logic, Digital Performer, Ableton, etc… All have their strong points and are touted by the people that use them. As to which one sounds best, this is a matter of opinion and anyone who says different is usually pimping what they use.
You want to make sure that it will record into a WAVE file format as this is what most
Studios and engineers use. Almost all systems do this by now but just check before purchasing.

So pick your poison. Ableton and Digital performer have extensive MIDI capabilities if you’re looking to do a lot of MIDI recording, other softwares have MIDI recording as well, some better than others. If you’re looking to use what most of the world use’s, get Pro Tools. Pro Tools is not the cheapest but it’s the industry standard and what most studios and Producers use at this point.

Mixing can be very powerful in Pro Tools as well. Pro tools comes in a light and Pro Version. If you have a computer (Mac is more desirable with Pro tools) that meets Pro tools specs, I recommend getting it and learning it, then you can go into most studio’s and Mastering houses and load right in.

Logic is another great music recording software and made by Mac/Apple. Just an opinion but , I think someday Logic will overtake the market. If that were to happen, it would still be years away.

Now that I’ve said all this, the guy down the street might say “I use Reaper (another music recording software) for $100 and it works great”. That’s fine, but it’s not what most of the world uses. There is no wrong answer, do your research, hit up friends who make music at home and decide whether you need compatibility or not.
The other good thing about learning Pro Tools is if you look for a job in the music/film industry, you will have a head start with your knowledge of Pro Tools software.

As for the self standing systems from Korg, Roland, or Yamaha or other box’s that carry all the stuff you need, I’d be leery. From my experience, each system speaks it’s own specific language and in my opinion they are difficult to learn and hard to transfer files out of. That’s Just my opinion.

Good luck, it’s a party out there.

 
 

What Music Recording Software is Best?

Tales From The Vault #2

Music Producer Stories from Jim Ebert

Back in the 90s, I produced a song called “Hooch” by the band Everything. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and myself and the band were trying figure out where to record the album. The budget was ok but by no means a 90’s label budget. At the time, the band lived on a farm property which had an old, brick ,large mainhouse that was vacant. The house was a couple hundred years old and had a ton of charm. We worked a deal out with the property owner to rent the house for a month to record the album.

Then we went to work, somehow I rented a package from an LA rental company, which included: A studer 827 24 track, 10 API mic pres,2 la2a’s, 2 1176’s, an Elam 251, 2 akg 414’s, A bunch of hooch-by-everythingSennheiser and Shure Studer-a827-24-trackMics, Cabling, Snakes, and other stuff. I brought pro tools and a few instruments, the bands friends bought a console to monitor with and after 2 days of wiring, we had a studio.

As far as tracking, all the rooms in the house sounded different. We would set the drums up in one room and see what song fit that drum sound. So, we recorded drums in several different rooms. The drum loop for Hooch was recorded in the servant’s quarters(200 year old house) with 2 shure 57’s straight to a cassette deck then dropped into pro-tools for arrangement. The background vocals were recorded on the back porch after trying several other options. The only expensive mic we used was the Elam 251 for lead vocals. The rest of the mic’s were mainly 57’s.

All of this was a lot of fun and work and really made possible who rented me everything for 7k and that covered shipping for all the gear as well. This made it possible to expand our timeline from 2 weeks to 5 weeks to record the record.

It takes time to make records, to look at options sonically and musically,emotionally,
This was a magic time in my carreer and my liver will never forget it.

Music Producer Jim Ebert

Music Producer – What is a Music Producer and What I Can Do For You

As Your Music Producer, my job is to

1. Guide you through the process of turning an idea into reality .
2. Help you reach your maximum sonic potential as an artist.
3. Reach this Potential in a calm constructive efficient manner by utilizing my many years of experience as a Music Producer, Audio Engineer, Mixing Engineer and Song writer.

 
The following is an example of my process when working with a Singer/Songwriter. The process is tailored for each project in that all projects are unique and have different demands. We will discuss the following points in our first preproduction meeting and a course of action will be set from there.

Key of Song
Song Arrangement
Lyric Review
Target Audience
Budget
Use of Appropriate Musicians
Appropriate Recording Environment

We will begin by discussing what you are and what you want to be as an artist. Every artist and project is different requiring different techniques and thought processes. Deciding upon the appropriate process for you as an artist in preproduction helps create a more creative and productive environment throughout the recording process.

Review your Songs, Lyrics, Arrangements and Key


Song Key – The right key for your voice is essential. Just because you wrote your song in A major doesn’t mean its the best key for your voice or the instrumentation. You just might sound better in a different key. Again, this seems obvious but is often overlooked or unexplored.

Arrangement – Sometimes you have performed a song so many times you can’t hear it any other way. I’m a fresh set of musical ears on the project. I’ve had several successful projects that thought their pre chorus was the chorus or vice versa . It’s a great asset to have an extra set of experienced musical ears to make sure that all options are not overlooked. Having said that, a good producer won’t change your song for the sake of change. We change only for the betterment of the song.

Target Audience

Over the years many artists have brought me projects that were started with other producers and soon went a direction the artist never intended. This is usually a producer making his record and not your record. Nothing wrong with that, just not right for you!

This usually occurs when great care was not taken in the preproduction stage. Vast amounts of time and money get wasted by not addressing as simple a detail as target audience. For example, you discuss with me that your audience would be similar to Allison Krause’s audience, but your song is put together in a more dance/pop fashion. This will be addressed in preproduction as well a as how your song should be treated in order to reach your target audience.

Over the years I have produced records in a vast array of styles, from Punk to Pop, Rock to Reggae, Country to Classical. I understand the musical properties intrinsic to these styles and how to achieve them for you. If I don’t know, I won’t do your project. It’s that simple! Your producer needs to be your partner in this journey.

Budget

Part of the producers job is to make sure your project stays on budget. We will discuss exactly what it will take to finnish your project before we start and set the budget accordingly. The budget can change during the course of the project but not without it being discussed first.

There are several different ways a producer charges.

By The Hour
By The Day
By The Song

It is important that this is set up front. I have a very good idea of how much time should be allocated to each phase of your project. As long as we are clear up front, there will be no surprises for anyone.

A producer is also entitled to a royalty percentage if your music is to be released nationally or worldwide. This rate differs from producer to producer and comes from the net sales. This will be negotiate up front if applicable.

Appropriate Musicians

I have a vast network of players and programmers that are genre specific. It takes time to develop such relationships and to have access to the right people for the right job is crucial. I’m not going to bring in an authentic punk guitarist to play a country song. This may seem obvious but more often than not this is overlooked. Having a strong network of musicians is a must for a good producer. I have such a network and so will you.
Music Producer Pack

Recording Environment and Recording Equipment

A lot of Music Producers such as myself have a background in audio engineering as well as song writing and performance. This means I want the right creative environment for your music and the necessary equipment to make it sound right.

A professional recording studio typically has a large selection of studio microphones, preamps, studio software and other professional recording equipment. Recording equipment is expensive and usually not feasible to buy for a home recording studio. Use of a professional recording studio is usually the best option.

That being said, with the right recording gear at a home studio, you can typically record vocals, guitars and do your programming if needed for budgeting reasons. What ever environment we choose, I will be there as your producer.

Making Music and the Creative Process

Each project is different and so is the creative process for each. As an Artist myself, I am very comfortable talking to you creatively. Let us not forget, this is an artistic endeavor. Lets say you wanted to convey yearning in the verse and relief in the chorus or you wanted really aggressive tracks against sensitive lyrics. This should be discuss before we start the recording process.

As your producer, I will know how best to create the sonic environment in which to achieve the mood you are looking for as well as how to best treat your vocal accordingly. Again every project is different. We will find what is right for you.
 

Music Producer – What is a Music Producer and What I Can Do For You

 

Record Producer Jim Ebert:

One of the many Producer deals Jim has to offer-The Red Room Producer Pack at Cue Recording.

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Music Producer Jim Ebert