Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love" Isolated Guitar Track

For all of you guitar fans who love history, here's a look at Jimmy Page's rhythm guitar parts from Led Zeppelin's classic hit "Whole Lotta Love." The song might've ripped off Willie Dixon, but it exposed millions of kids to maybe the world's most basic blues riff. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The riff is doubled (1958 Les Paul Standard through a 100 watt Marshall Plexi) but it's in mono. It's also pretty loose, as you can hear either one or both parts misplayed at a number of places in the songs. Of course, that wouldn't get by today, but did that ever bother any of us before?

2. The bridge begins at 1:24, but the guitar ad libs don't begin until 1:50. At that point the amp noise increases, perhaps as a result from switching in the delay.

3. Something that you don't hear too clearly in the final mix is the new guitar riff that begins at the outro at 4:40.

4. If you listen all the way to the end you'll hear two endings. The first is rather tame, but listen a little more and you'll hear a more wild ending from the previous take at 5:50.



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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

7 Drum Replacement Tricks

Drum Miking image
Sometimes replacing or augmenting recorded drums with new sounds is necessary during a mix. You might want the drums to sound bigger or just need something that fits better in the track. Here are 7 drum replacement tricks from the latest edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook (the 3rd) that will help your samples really sing.

"There are many techniques when it comes to sound replacement or enhancement. While most refer to drums, it’s possible to use some of the same techniques in other situations as well if you’re willing to experiment.

1. If the original drum sounds okay soloed but disappears in the track, select a sample with high initial transient. If the original tone of the drum doesn’t fit the song, select a sample based on the character of the body of the sound after the initial hit.

2. Timing is extremely important when adding a sample to the original sound, so care should be taken so that both transients line up together. Many sound replacement plugins have some latency, so be sure to check this closely and move the sample as necessary.

3. It’s critical that you check the phase alignment of the sample against the original drum. Even though it may look to be in-phase, your ears may tell you something completely different when the Phase button is selected.

4. Snare drum is the hardest to augment/replace because of the nuances in how hard and how frequently the drummer hits it. Be sure to use a multi-sampled snare drum with multiple level variations in order to keep it sounding like it was played by a real drummer.

5. If you don’t have a multi-sampled snare or the sound doesn’t have enough sample levels, you can make your own by duplicating the sample a few times and raising and lowering each one by 2 cents. 

6. Slightly changing the pitch of the sample gives the impression that the snare is hit a bit louder or softer.

7. You can make your own samples especially for the song by taking the best sounding hits from the recording of the kit your mixing and triggering them as needed.


To read additional excerpts from The Mixing Engineer's Handbook 3rd edition and other books, visit the excerpt section at bobbowsinski.com.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hand Crafting A Steinway Piano

One of the most revered names in the piano business, actually the entire music business, is Steinway. The company may be in for a big change in the near future as private equity firm Kohlberg & Company is on the verge of buying them, which will take the company private again (its stock hovers around $36 right now).

One of the fears is that the new owners will change the manufacturing, which is decidedly still old school in that each piano is uniquely hand-crafted and takes 11 months to build. That's why they all have their own character, but as we've seen with guitars and other instruments, as soon as modern manufacturing enters the picture, a lot of that individual character goes away.

Here's a short video that shows how a Steinway piano is built.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Accident That Changed Modern Guitar Sound

Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone image
Distortion and the guitar go together like peanut butter and jelly, but did you ever wonder how the combination came about? Believe it or not, the sound that everyone loves was a product of a country music session in Nashville in 1960.

According to an article in The Tennessean by Peter Cooper, the first recorded distorted guitar came about as an accident when the 3 channel console malfunctioned during a Marty Robbins session for the song "Don't Worry." According to the engineer of the session, Glen Snoddy, the transformer on one of the console's mic preamps failed, causing it to distort, but everyone loved the sound.

The song went on to be #1 on the country charts and #3 on the pop charts and suddenly everyone was coming to the studio (Owen Bradley's famous Quonset Hut Studio) looking to replicate the sound. The only problem was that the channel with the lovely distortion had by that time failed completely, which caused Snoddy to hastily build a pedal that replicated the sound.

Now keep in mind that this was the very first guitar pedal!

Snoddy then offered the pedal to Gibson, who issued it as the Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone in 1962. The problem was that it didn't catch on. In fact, it was only when The Stones' Keith Richards used the pedal on the world-wide hit "Satisfaction" that the world finally appreciated the wonders of the distortion pedal, and sales took off.

Snoddy collected royalties for 7 years on his creation, but continued to engineer and recorded hits for Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Buffett, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Johnny Cash ("Ring of Fire"). He's 91 and retired now, but hopefully people will remember him as the architect of the modern distorted guitar and the guitar pedal.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Music Gear Monday: Apogee One iOS Interface

We're now starting to see the capabilities of the iPad expanding with not only a host of music related software, but hardware as well. Interface hardware was the missing link until recently, when a number of company released purpose-built I/O with the iPad in mind. Apogee has been especially active on this front, creating the second generation of the neat little Apogee One specifically for use with the iPad.

One is an Apple certified USB I/O device for iPad and the Mac, meaning that you can have confidence that it will work with no glitches. It has two high-quality mic amps, and Apogee's famous convertors that will work at resolutions up 96kHz/24. It also has a built-in mic for those quick setups where you just want to get something down before you forget it. Plus, it can also be battery powered so you can be recording completely off the grid. The price is around $349.


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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

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