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Author Topic: Rankus' Budget Production Tips: Start to finish.  (Read 9809 times)

rankus

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Rankus' Budget Production Tips: Start to finish.
« on: April 10, 2006, 02:28:37 pm »

Hi All,

This will be the first installment in what will probably be a 4 part diary showing the production techniques that I, "Rankus" employ at a our little demo shop.

We have all heard the way the big boys do it when working with their bigger name artists, but there are differences in technique when working with non-pro bands, and less than top shelf gear.... And this is what my mini series is dedicated to:

We will follow an album recording with a pop band named Ouest from start to finnish, with audio samples of the final product...

Hopefully this will also dispel any rumors that I am a heavy handed "over the top" producer in the likes of RP etc....


How to get the most of the band when you are a budget studio:

Please see below for the first Installment: "Getting The Most From Your Drummer"
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

Fibes

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Re: Rankus' Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2006, 02:30:43 pm »

Cool. Thanks for making this the forum where it happens!
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Fibes
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rankus

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Re: Rankus' Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2006, 02:31:02 pm »

Installment #1  :  Getting The Most From The Drummer

In this photo we see Rankus coaching the drummer.  "We need you to hit the snare a little harder please".  You will notice that I do not simply hit the talkback but rather have gone out into the tracking room to coach the drummer in person.  

This intimacy helps set up a bond between you and the musician (-or in this case a drummer-).

With this type of personal interaction the drummer will have more respect for your input, and the "trust" will grow.

Once you have the drummers "trust" , and respect for your "abilities", you may be able to simply use the talkback and get the adjustments to playing style that you require for further guiding him...... It is likely that he will be as accommodating as he can.

After demonstrating to this drummer that I wished for him to hit harder he understood my intensions much better than he would have if I had simply hit the talkback....

So that is lesson number one... always make sure the drummer understands the nature (and nurture) in your relationship, and the session will run smoothly every time.

index.php/fa/2659/0/
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2006, 03:20:01 pm »

OK All funning aside I will talk shop. I really will follow this session through to completion here on Budget What Budget ... But I can't promise there won't be miss guided humor.


The drummer John B brought a Tama Rock Star kit, which is my least favorite budget kit in the whole world.  But that's what this is about: recording with and on a budget.

So let's have a look in detail about recording cheap drums.

THE KIT:

SNARE: I rented a Ludwig snare drum for this project because in the end that is the most important pc of the kit in terms of final mix.

KIK (Foot Drum , Bass Drum):  Cheap KIK drums usually sound like ass so I don't even bother to try to tune or get a good sound... I simply stick an SM57 in there and wrap the shell in a blanket.  The blanket will attempt to keep kik leakage out of the overheads etc.  I will trigger a sample kik drum in the mixdown with Drumagog...

TOMS:  They aren't TOO bad for this type of music (Think Blondie).  So the Toms are skinned with Evans Hydraulics to go for a dead "thud" kind of sound.... We go with that.

Cymbals:... Well we use what he brought which aren't that bad...


MICING:

KIK = SM57  (will be triggering so mic doesn't matter.. use the last mic standing)

SNARE:  SM57 on top and another under .... (I like SM57's on snare) .... the snare drum needed a tab of "Moon Gell" on it to tame some overtones.

RAK TOM:  Sen 421 ...  Love the 421 on smaller toms...

FLOOR TOM:  Audio Technica 4033  Shocked  ... My new secret weapon on F TOM ... bombastic on a budget! Floor tom had a pillow under it on the floor to tame overtones.

HI HAT:  Was mic'd with an SM57.  (Probably won't make into the mix but with lighter musical styles you never know. (Use a SDC if you have one)

OVER HEADS:  The most important mics IMO.  This is where we search for our best gear... In my case that's either Royer Ribbons (121) or RODE NT2000... went with the pair of RODE NT2000's into GT Brick Pre Amps.... Sounds sweet.  I like the tube pre's here as they tend to soften the cymabs when going into digiatl.

The rest of the mics went into an RME Octa Mic preamp (8 pre's in a rack)

SETUP:

The snare mic was about even with the rim and about 1" above pointed directly at the hit.... The Under Snare mic was down about 4 inches pointed at the center of the drum. (Phase flipped at the pre)

Rak Tom was about the same as the snare but using a 421.

Floor Tom: The 4033 was about 3 inches outside the ring and about 3" above, at about a 45 degree angle to the head pointing at the stick

The Over Heads:  L overhead above the snare drum pointing straight down catches HI HAT as well as left crash.  R Over Head approximately above the Floor Tom pointing straight down at the FT... catches the R Crash and Ride as well.  Both overhead Mics are equi-distant from the snare and just barely high enough to miss getting hit with a stick... In this case the distance from center of snare to capsules was 42" but this varies from kit to kit....  I keep the distance the snare equal so the snare appears centered in the stereo image.  As long as they are equal you can place them almost anywhere.

I also stuck a dynamic mic on the ride cymbal (a AKG D125)but doubt it will get used.... (Once again SDC would be preferable) (but we don't have any)

PROCEDURE

You may have noticed there are no "room" mics on the kit... I did this because we were tracking with other musicians in the room wit the drummer and I figured the room mics would have people walking in front of them etc.  

We fed the drummer a click track straight out of the DAW into the mixer (Behringer MX9000), and he played with either the keyboardist or the bassist in the room with him playing along "direct" to avoid leakage. The lady singer was with me in the control room with a Blue Baby Bottle mic to sing "scratch" tracks live. Drummer had Over Heads, Click, Vox, and Bass in his headphones.  (I like to keep the extra instruments to a minimum so the drummer has clarity of mix and room to feel around musically.)

This was all done to give the drummer a little more "live show" feel rather than having him play to canned tracks... In fact I have recorded this band 100% live before with good result, but wanted to track each member seperately this time for no reason other than to be able to use the best gear on each person rather than spreading it thin.

I mention the "mixer" above... I am using a Behringer MX9000 for headphone and cue routing.  This mixer is not in the recording chain but rather is used only to combine the DAW output (click and previously recorded tracks etc.) and to monitor the tracks being recorded. (The pres are split with one leg going directly to the DAW (RME Soundcard) and the other to the "mixer".  In this way we can forget about latency issues using a native DAW.) The "mixer" also gives me talkback and control room monitor level control... (A huge "big knob" with headphone mixing built in.)

NOTES:


I don't have time to post sound clips as we go, but I promise final mixes will be posted...

The project will be in tracking / overdubs for the next three weeks and I will post similar rants about the Guitars, Keys, Bass, and Vox during that time.... Then I will take a one week break before mix, which will probably take about two weeks with band input and tweaking.... Then I will post some MP3 stuff and explain the mix... ETA 6-8 weeks

I am attempting to show that with mid level gear and a great band you can make a respectable record ITB... (Boy I hope I can live up to THAT statement)

I may even try to get the band to join in our discussion....

Hopefully this will be educational to some, and entertaining to the Terry and Ross's et al.

I will be more than happy to answer all questions / accusations that anybody may have... Feel free to post in this thread.

Thanks again to Fibes and Harvey for hosting this debacle.
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

Fibes

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Re: Rankus' Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2006, 03:53:33 pm »

rankus wrote on Mon, 10 April 2006 15:20

 But I can't promise there won't be miss guided humor.



I love it when she shows up.






BTW Royers go great on ride.


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Fibes
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rankus

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Re: Rankus' Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2006, 04:00:51 pm »

Fibes wrote on Mon, 10 April 2006 12:53

rankus wrote on Mon, 10 April 2006 15:20

 But I can't promise there won't be miss guided humor.



I love it when she shows up.






BTW Royers go great on ride.





Thanks for making me sticky Fibes!  Very cool.

Yes, I had considered the Royers for Hi Hat and Ride, but they are only a week old.. so I am still too afraid to use them around a drum kit... I know.. I am a pussy... (Prolly won't use those tracks anyway cuz John strikes a great balance on his own.. Sign of a good drummer..)
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

Fibes

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2006, 01:14:34 pm »

Rick,


I was thinking about this thread last night and i think we forgot one of the most important parts of making budget records--- Pre-production

Getting all the ducks in a row before a mic gets selected is gonna allow everyone to focus on the prize rather than the process.

1. get the arrangements down
2. select tempos without the pressure of the studio
3. work out to a click where appropriate
4. Rhythm section practice
5. Lyric sheets broken down verse by verse etc.
6. make sure keys are gonna work for vocals
7. instruments properly set up

etc.

None of this stuff costs much but it can save a ton of time in the studio that could be spent on more "fun" stuff.
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Fibes
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rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2006, 02:28:08 pm »



Nice catch Fibes.  In fact we did pre-production for this record several months ago..

Pre-Production:

I had the rhythm guitarist and female singer come in with an acoustic gtr. and sit on stools and run down their entire catalog.  We set up a click track to their cans and carefully decided on a tempo for each track.  (This is a pop band.. if it were metal or hard rock I would have the whole band play)

I created a separate file (project folder/ song) in Nuendo and tracked to a 48 track stock template of mine that we will fill in later with the other tracks and musicians..  This keeps the file management to a minimum once the band arrives as well... it's all done , just arm and  fill in the tracks.

We burned CD's of the "unplugged" songs with  click track for all the members of the band, so that the drummer could rehearse to the scratch tracks that we would actually use in tracking... And get comfortable with the click... Also the band and I could live with the tempos for a while.

This left me with a CD as well, from which I chose the 8 songs we would track... Thankfully the band was on the same page as me regarding song choices so that went smoothly  (the baseball bat stayed behind the door)  Wink

When the drummer/ band hit the studio there was a couple of last minute changes... We added a song and dropped another... one songs tempo was adjusted ,,, This is where having the whole band there even though we were only tracking drums was a good idea... I simply set up a keyboard and mic and we ran off another "scratch track" or two basically live...

Another important aspect of pre-prod is talking to the band about instruments: "We will rent a Les Paul, leave the Epiphones at home please" was the basic message there.  Drummer was asked to put new skins on the kit.  I will be supplying bass gear so no worries there.  The singer is simply awesome, so I left her to prepare on her own....   In short the band is very talented but is "gear poor", so I concentrated on rounding up instruments.

Pre-production is a must if you want to record a "real" record (even at the sub-budget level)
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

George_

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 03:12:37 am »

Coool Rankus!!

thanx for the thread.. aha another Royer user;)


can I complain about the kick and tell you, you should try to have a good pressure gradient mic too in there.. then mix together with your trigger signal..

crown PZM-30 rocks..Smile


cheers
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rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2006, 12:42:56 pm »


Hey George, good to see you here.

Yes I have become another one of "those Royer guys" (thank god) Wink  I recomend going into debt to buy at least one!

I have tried PZM mics in bass drums, and I do like that for sure, but in this case we are using a low-budget drum kit.  The bass drum does not sound great so I decided to go 100% sample/trigger rather than blend with microphone. (Thanks for the tip on the Crown)

I suppose this thread is not about doing things "right", but rather how to "make do" with what you have to work with.

Cheers
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

Tidewater

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2006, 09:02:49 pm »

You misspelt digital. Smile

Kevin, that drummer looks more than just a little like Steven.

Good stuff!


M
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rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2006, 02:34:28 pm »

/0 wrote on Sat, 15 April 2006 18:02



You misspelt digital. Smile



M


Thats unpossible.  I never make misteaks!!
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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2006, 10:28:54 pm »

OK. I know this thread says "drums" at the top, but rather than start three more threads I will continue in this one.

We tracked most of the electric guitars over the last week and weekend.

GUITARS

index.php/fa/2713/0/

The Guitarists are Orlando and Alex.

Well, we kept the electric gtrs  simple and basic from both the tone / playing aspects as well as the recording aspects.

All gtrs were recorded with a single amplifier (Marshall JCM2000 with slant cab / celestian greenbacks) (would have preferred an 800)

We mic'd the cab with a single Royer 121 Ribbon mic about 3 inches back from the grill cloth pretty much pointed right at the middle of the cone on axis. (I am now calling the Royers "magic microphones" George)....  This  ran through one of my GT Brick pre-amps into the RME interface.

We had three guitars on hand to get different tones:  A new Gibson Les Paul, a new Fender Strat, and an Epiphone Les Paul knock off. (For the record, the Epiphone sounded nothing at all like the Gibson it was a clone of...  But that said, it did sound pretty good, and was used on several tracks..) (surprise!)

For rhythm Gtrs we primarily used the Les Paul straight into the amp with no pedals to ruin the sound. Guitar - cord - amp.  On one or two cleaner songs we used the Strat for rhythm as well. We tracked two tracks of rhythm gtr. "doubled".  These will likely be panned hard right and left. There are many ways that two tracks can come in handy when mixing.

For Leads we used whichever gtr we felt suited the mood, but added an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal to the chain for some sustain. I also made sure the guitarist was in front of the amp instead of playing from he control room, which we did for rhythm tracks. This aids in sustain / feedback.... The lead tracks were all done as single tracks and will likely be panned center.

No effects were tracked.  The only EQ used was the EQ on the amp itself. (we spent many hours on this aspect making sure the gtrs will not step on the drums or vocals in the mix. (This is another place that good scratch tracks come in handy) .  We also wasted as much time as possible trying the different gtrs on each song, unless it was obvious which was required)

The boys are very happy with the resulting sounds and were walking on air after the sessions.  In fact there were at least two songs that took a completely different direction than any of us had expected.  This was a happy surprise on both songs.  (The departure was due to gtr sounds we cooked up that inspired us to look at the production and arrangements from a new perspective... one song went from ballad to "new wave" for instance.)

Any questions will be welcomed.

NEXT:  We will be tracking acoustic guitar overdubs and Bass gtr. this week. Stay Tuned!

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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

rankus

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips #1 - Drums
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2006, 03:35:32 pm »


BASS GUITAR:


index.php/fa/2714/0/

The Bass tracks were done in one 6.5 hour session. (Orlando must have had sore fingers but never complained)

Once again everything was kept basic and simple.

We used my Fender P Bass (with "California Electronics"  package) into a Bass Sans Amp DI box splitting to a Galleon Kruger (SP?) 400 amp feeding a Fender Bassman 410 cab.  The DI out from the Sans Amp went into a Groove Tubes Brick pre amp into the computer interface.


The DI side of the chain was mildly distorted using the built in Sans Amp distortion.

The Amp signal was kept as clean as could be, and mic'd with a RODE NT2000 which I feel sounds particularly good on Bass amps. The Rode Mic went through an RME pre amp that I chose for it's clarity.

We spent about an hour working on tones, going for a "boingy" full tone at the amp with plenty of high mids, a low mid scoop and full bottom.  

The DI was a "middsy distortion" for cut.

The two signals were recorded to separate tracks so that they can be blended differently on a per song basis during mixing. The mic'd amp for the round full bottom and some (very important) upper harmonics, and the distorted DI for adding some "cut".

The tones were played against the Kik Drum to insure there was not competition for the same spectral range, and EQ'd at the amp and gtr. if required. (As always the goal is to avoid EQ'ing in the box)

I should note I also consider Bass to be a lower midrange instrument, and shape the tone acordingly... For rock, try to keep it above the kick drum tonaly.

Orlando played the bass in the control room using the playback speakers for monitoring.

He played with a pick.  For a coulple of songs that required a more fingered sound we slid a small pc. of foam rubber under the strings at the bridge for damping... This gave us a very realitsic "finger pluck" sound.

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Rick Welin - Clark Drive Studios http://www.myspace.com/clarkdrivestudios

Ive done stuff I'm not proud of.. and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting ~ Moe Sizlack

"There is no crisis in energy, the crisis is in imagination" ~ Buckminster Fuller

James Duncan

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Re: Rankus' Budget Production Tips: Start to finish.
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2006, 08:42:52 am »

Any phase issues with the 2 bass tracks?
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