Recording ‘real’ instruments

I was reading Slipperman’s guide to recording distorted guitars from hell.

Besides being irreverent, grumpy, shouty, sweary and quite frankly hilarious, it is also highly informative and you learn a lot about the painstaking hours that goes into the craft of recording distorted guitars. It’s an EQ mind field with so many possibilities for things to go horrendously wrong.

He took a real stab at people who record using digital amps, to which I wanted to stand up and applause!

Because if you get a killer sound with killer gear though, you are onto something.

And people do not appreciate the effort of this enough these days!

Don’t get me wrong, I think the emancipation of recorded music is a good thing and everyone can put themselves out there but whilst the whole notion that you can make some things sparkle in quality with a small interface and a laptop is somewhat applicable, it ain’t got nothing on the real deal!

Listen to the opening two tracks of ‘Dirt’ by Alice in Chains, (and then the whole album for that matter). A painstaking amount of hours of thought and effort went into that record and Jerry Cantrell’s guitars sound is UNBELIEVABLY gnarly…heads and shoulders above so many guitar sounds from records today.

I don’t like the fact that so many records that are released today are artificial. I wish there were more records with real guitar and amp set ups, real drums and more mic’ed up stuff in general.

I think it is a gateway that makes it more likelier to make something unique and innovative. I’m not saying this can’t be achieved without it, but nevertheless I crave for more of this aesthetic.

And it’s why I’m proud that I’ve gone out of my way to record in a studio with all of this going on. This last weekend, we spent hours setting up…HOURS before actually pressing the record button. Moving mics, choosing cabs, pedals, guitars, moving knobs and making some informed decisions about what it actually is we are after sound wise.

Either way, what you get in is what you get out, and I applaud effort put into a record and dismiss laziness when I hear it.

From the player, to the gear, to the environment to the actual music itself, there are so many facets which make this whole process endlessly fascinating to me!

It’s worth considering all the options, possibilities and where your voice is in all of it.

Recording a live performance.

We are in an age where recording devices are aplenty. As is the ability to manipulate the recording to make something appear to be a full take when it’s not.

I take pride when I can do a full performance of something, but sometimes things need editing.

Some people have the privilege and means to record in an environment with endless time to make their craft.

A lot more of us if we do have that space have a precious amount of time in there.

Adrenaline kicks in and we are aware of every error. A 4 minute performance is marred in our head because of an error that took place in a second.

Though, for all this pressure, it’s easy to underestimate a quality that is important.

We are humans, making mistakes and errors is part of the process of making something. When so much has gone well in a take, is it really worth discrediting because of one minuscule discrepancy that only you (or the real analytical snobs) can discern?

There’s also a charm in the imperfection of a note as well.

There’s a subjectivity here, a need for careful judgement, but I know for a fact that aiming for perfection alone sets up a trap for ourselves.