Miscellaneous Rumbles

Fingers, Nuts, strings and recording woes.

1

Well, It's time for another TDC album/CD/whatever the kids are calling it these days. I have enough original written music that I could do a 4 hour show without a break so coming up with material wasn't an issue. We picked our favorite songs and decided to start the process. After a few hours on a Saturday playing live tracks to get the drum tracks down and a couple of evenings getting the Bass tracks down, it was my turn. We've got the Drums and Bass parts finished and ready for editing. Our producer, who is a good friend with perfect pitch and great skills at Logic and Pro-tools, has set forth to finish one song at a time with myself and my lead guitarist. I get to go first.

So I enjoyed watching our Bassist lay down one or two tracks per song and get a good track down. First song in, took me 5 try's. My lead guitarist, only two.

Second song 5-7 trys for me. Much frustration and nervous sweat. "Dave, your out of tune again." "No Toby, it's my fingers, not my guitar."

Third song....15 takes. I am so embarrassed and sweating like a shower head. Come to find out my G-String wont stay in tune for a second. Well, lets check the nut because that's nearly always the culprit, right? The nut is fine. So last night we had a practice, which we haven't had time to do in months because of life and our recording project. I decided to put a new G string on. My second guitarist said that he had read somewhere that D'Addarios are having an issue with some strings coming unwound, over time,and losing tune.

I know I'm a ham-fisted player and I can sound okay live, with a band, but I never really realized how much i need to pay attention where my fingers are going and how much pressure I'm using. It's already a bit frustrating, so is anyone else having string issues or heard about this string issue? I can back up and rethink how I play and make adjustments for recording and I'm sure it will make me a better player but it really puts my skills and sound right out there in the open.

Does anyone else have these issues in studio,or is it just me and a very picky producer? I'm actually pretty happy with the fact that his goal is for us to sound better, so I'm not blaming him but man this is kicking my butt big time.

Sorry for the rant but hey, I feel better already.

2

Play a take, then punch in over any rough spots. Or, talk to your producer about assembling a comp track, which is made up of the best parts of many takes. This assumes that you know the material and can replicate your performance. There's not usually any real need to do the world's greatest take (start to finish) when recording. Playing live is more critical. Recording should be stress free.

3

Like they say, tone is all in the fingers.

Listening to things via earphones, you'll hear nuances that you'd never pick up in a live situation on stage in a noisy bar. It is a learning process.

4

Dave, sounds like you are pulling yourself out of tune by way of a heavy left hand. I also have a heavy left hand, which I attribute to having learned to play on an acoustic guitar. As a result, to this day I tend to use 11's or 12's on most of my electrics because it helps counter the problem, but of course, doesn't make it go away.

In the studio, ya just gotta relax and make yourself realize that you don't have to over-pressure the strings with your fret hand. The chords & stuff will come-- you already have the muscle memory for the song progressions, you just have to force yourself to NOT use a death grip.

If it seems to be one or two strings which are the culprits, particularly that meddlesome B-G string combination, you can do what some old-school Tele players do, and tune the B-G strings very slightly sharp or flat as the situation dictates. It might sound a bit weird in an open-strum chord, but fretted/barre chords will sound better.

Of course, there's always the possibility that your G-intonation is off, so there's also that to consider... especially if you are using a wound G string.

Lots of variable to consider here, but from what you describe, I'd put my money on the notion that you're pulling yourself out of tune.

5

"I am so embarrassed and sweating like a shower head."

It sounds like you caught red light fever. The studio should be like your laboratory. You should be able to relax, dissect your songs and build them from the solid foundation of your drummer and bass player. I noticed when playing guitar in the studio that it sounds better most of the time if you play with a lighter touch than you would play with live. It also helps to sit down while playing. You can even close your eyes and pretend you are in your bedroom jamming. That's how relaxed you should be.

I'm excited to hear your new tracks!

6

Yeah, I'm my own worst enemy, for sure. A Rock machine with hands like "The thing" from the fantastic four.

You guys are great. Terrific advice. I'm just getting a little frustrated with myself and my gear. I'm going to take Karoyln's G5422T to the studio. It has the Black top Filter-trons, as well, and may work better for those songs then My G5191BK but I figured less Bigsby, less tuning issues but hey, I've been wrong before.

I'm sure the final product will be worth it all. (fingers crossed)

Now to go meditate and bring myself to sublime peace. OOHHHMMM!!!

8

Oh I'm plenty loud. Heck, the other night I was tracking high note vocals and my voice had two different notes coming out. My regular voice and some weird overtones. It was like the wolf tones on my Gretsch. I'd like to say it was pretty cool but no, it wasn't.

9

What Tartan Phantom said. I've had problems with guitars that have particularly high frets -- OK, the frets were great, it was the hamfisted old fool playing it. I had to sell a great G&L Asat Z3 because of its big frets -- I was forever squeezing it out of tune, not so much on solo parts but when just playing chords. Long live the 'fretless wonder'!

10

Geeze, my frets. That's another issue. I was quite surprised to see how much they were worn down on my 2011 G5191BK. I'll take pics. I would have never thought they would wear so much, so soon. I'm hoping our next session goes a lot better.

11

As an aside, our first CD/Album/dangeditwhateverthey'recallednow is on our local public Library Database

We are the FIRST Local band to get this distinction. (It helps to know people. wink)

On the same database I'm also on the Waywards album.

Not really tooting my own horn here...just sharing.

12

Brutha how I feel your pain! I went to a wound G temporarily because I kept squeezing plain G’s sharp. As a long-term punishment/habit breaker, I took the guitar I had with the tallest frets and put 9’s on it. Then played it exclusively. Merciless! I’m down to only having to do that about every 6 weeks now. Haha! You’re not alone, bud.

13

Some good suggestions in the first couple posts. I like being in the control room with the engineer. If that's possible for you it may help too. I like being able to talk to him in between takes (and not from the headset) and it seems more relaxed and casual.

14

Red light fever is murder on rhythm guitarists. I suffer from the same malady. I don't pull strings out of tune, but I stiffen-up terribly . . . And you know: "it don't mean a thang if it ain't got that swang".

To combat this, I stop thinking about takes and time and just breathe. Second of all, I remind myself that I'm the one who wrote the song, have played it a thousand times, and that "I'm the man!" Lastly I try to track the band as a band in isolation (amps and drums), rather than track individual performances. Of course that can be kind of a pain in the butt if somebody makes a mistake, but I do finally relax as this replicates more of a live band dynamic (with which I am far more familiar and comfortable), and I don't feel so self-conscious and naked as when I'm tracking by myself.

I realize that some of this is moot, based on how much you're paying for studio time and /or your producers preferences for tracking, but I just thought I'd pass along my experience.

15

All great advice. We actually did track the entire band live, originally. We're just going back and fixing certain tracks that don't sound right or out of tune. This particular track was just kicking my butt. I'm pretty sure I've isolated the culprit down to a bad G-String.(Well, for the most part) I put a new one on Wednesday night and rocked as hard as I would live, continually checking my tuning, and it was much better. I foresee the rest of this project to go better. I am having fun, it's just that the other night, I was really beating myself up. Once I get like that, the sweat just pours. THAT is embarrassing. I'll probably have to buy my producer some new headphones.

16

All great advice. We actually did track the entire band live, originally. We're just going back and fixing certain tracks that don't sound right or out of tune. This particular track was just kicking my butt. I'm pretty sure I've isolated the culprit down to a bad G-String.(Well, for the most part) I put a new one on Wednesday night and rocked as hard as I would live, continually checking my tuning, and it was much better. I foresee the rest of this project to go better. I am having fun, it's just that the other night, I was really beating myself up. Once I get like that, the sweat just pours. THAT is embarrassing. I'll probably have to buy my producer some new headphones.

– Suprdave

Glad you got 'er worked out, Dave!

17

Well, It must have been the string. I got two good takes immediately, last night.

3 songs done, 10 to go.

18

Really pleased to hear you've got through the problem Dave. This is supposed to be enjoyable and from the way you're talking- it sure sounds like it is now.

Best wishes for the project.


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