Category Archives: Recording

“While My Guitar Gently Hisses”

Had a bit of a revelation recently.

Actually, it’s less of a revelation and more of a “well, duuuh.”

It has to do with guitar amp hiss…but really it’s a concept that applies to ANY recording scenario.

Whether you’re recording electric guitar, a Fender Rhodes, a B3, or vocals…this simple tip could help out.

Here’s what happened.

The “Close Miker”

Remember that Seinfeld episode “The Close Talker”?

It’s about this guy who stands WAY too close to the people he’s talking to.

So awkward…so funny.

The thing is, just about everybody knows not to stand so close to people. We know that being a Close Talker is weird and uncool.

But when it comes to miking up a guitar amp, a lot of us are “Close Mikers.”

But is that the only option? An SM57 shoved right up next to the grill?

Should we be experimenting with different placements?

Check out today’s quick video from my studio:

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to get better at recording, sign up right now (before you forget) for my Recording Electric Guitar class. Here’s the link:

www.UnderstandingRecording.com/electric

P.S. This is a live, 4-week class. Included with your “tuition” is a free critique of one of your recordings. I normally charge $50 for these, so that’s like finding a 50-dollar bill in your pocket right after signing up. Come join us. We’d love to have you.

The Official Recording Redneck Test

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town in the South (shout out to Yazoo City, Mississippi!).

But I think I’ve got some serious redneck in me…at least when it comes to recording.

(For those of you who are outside the US and unfamiliar with the term “redneck,” it’s kinda hard to explain. Listen to some country music and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.)

Rednecks tend to be unconventional. (Jeff Foxworthy built his career as a comedian by pointing out the unconventional behavior of a redneck.) They just don’t do things the way mainstream folks would do them.

They do things their own way.

They use tools at their disposal (like duct tape and WD-40, for example) to get things done.

How to NOT Prepare for a Guitar Recording Session

If you’re keeping score, I’m working on a new album.

So far I’ve recorded: drums (thanks Tim!), bass (thanks Joel!), acoustic guitar, lead vocals, some piano, and some background vocals. The one big instrument I haven’t tracked yet is electric guitar.

I’m getting ready to knock those tracks out in the next few days, and as I prepare for that, I figured I’d share with you a bunch of ways NOT to prepare for a guitar session.

(Sometimes it’s just more effective to teach what NOT to do rather than what TO do.)

So, here we go…here are 7 ways to be really poorly prepared for an electric guitar session.

  1. DON’T change your strings. Everybody knows new strings sound harsh. If you can actually have strings that are MONTHS old, you’ll be glad you left ‘em on.
  2. DON’T practice parts beforehand. This is especially true if you’re more of an acoustic guitarist than an electric guitarist. Just wing it. You’ll be fine.
  3. DON’T bother with good cables. It’s an old wives’ tale that nicer cables sound any better than cheaper cables. Heck, go as cheap as possible.
  4. DON’T have the guitar set up properly. If you’ve got a new guitar, fresh from the music store, it sounds as good as it ever will. No need to have it set up. You’ll only make it worse.
  5. Plan to record as many takes as possible. This works especially well if you really nail #2. Any mistakes can be covered up by doubling the part 4 or 12 times. If one track sounds amazing, a dozen or so will be EPIC. Trust me.
  6. Get your distortion pedals ready. If you’re gonna double every part multiple times, then you’ll definitely need a hefty amount of overdrive or distortion on those tracks. That’s how you keep ‘em sounding full. When in doubt, crank it up a little more.
  7. Don’t worry about dialing in great tone. They have plugins for that.

So, there you go. Surefire way to make sure those electric guitar tracks sound like poop.

Speaking of poopy guitars, you still have through the weekend to enter to win a free ticket to my new Recording Electric Guitar class.

Head over here to enter.

Tickets go on sale bright and early Monday morning. 9am Central time.

8 Powerful Home Studio Lessons

I’ve been recording in my home studio for years.

I’ve recorded in a hallway at my parent’s house, in a dorm room at college, in a tiny (and really messy) bedroom I shared with a roommate, in church sanctuaries, in lots of apartments, in a log house, and finally in 3 different rooms in my current house.

The one common theme? NONE of those places were designed to be studios.

That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in home studios. All those imperfections make for a challenging (but immensely rewarding) environment for making music.

Over the years I’ve learned countless valuable lessons, but today I want to share with you eight of the most POWERFUL lessons I’ve learned. These are things that have made a dramatic impact on the quality of my recordings.

Here we go…

A Foosball Master

I spent last weekend at a lake house a couple hours east of Nashville.

It was me and a bunch of other guys, getting “away” for a few days.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out, eating a lot of junk food, and playing foosball.

I used to think foosball was a fun little game to play with friends.

Until Jakob.

Jakob is a freaking foosball master.

Before I could blink he had already scored 5 goals on me.

I proceeded to marvel at his undefeated streak the entire weekend. A few guys came close to beating him (I was definitely not one of them), but he never lost.

Now, here’s the important part.

How to Record Upright Piano [Video]

MIDI doesn’t suck.

It’s an amazingly useful tool, especially for us home studio folks.

But when it comes to piano, I decided to break away from the MIDI crowd and buy myself a used upright piano. Instead of reaching for a plugin and a MIDI keyboard whenever I need a piano part for a song, I’d rather reach for a couple of microphones and sit down at an ACTUAL piano.

And that’s what I did.

Well, I finally got around to recording this beauty (her name is Consuela), and I got some really great-sounding results.

Check out this video to see and hear what I did.

3 Examples of Getting More By Doing Less

Recording is a fickle process.

You want a big, huge, life-changing recording, but you end up with something that sounds more messy than it does big.

How can that be?

If I add more to this song, it should get bigger and fuller, right?

Sometimes that works…sometimes.

But oftentimes we’re just adding and adding without really asking the question “Am I making this better?”

Category Archives: Recording

“While My Guitar Gently Hisses”

Had a bit of a revelation recently.

Actually, it’s less of a revelation and more of a “well, duuuh.”

It has to do with guitar amp hiss…but really it’s a concept that applies to ANY recording scenario.

Whether you’re recording electric guitar, a Fender Rhodes, a B3, or vocals…this simple tip could help out.

Here’s what happened.

The “Close Miker”

Remember that Seinfeld episode “The Close Talker”?

It’s about this guy who stands WAY too close to the people he’s talking to.

So awkward…so funny.

The thing is, just about everybody knows not to stand so close to people. We know that being a Close Talker is weird and uncool.

But when it comes to miking up a guitar amp, a lot of us are “Close Mikers.”

But is that the only option? An SM57 shoved right up next to the grill?

Should we be experimenting with different placements?

Check out today’s quick video from my studio:

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to get better at recording, sign up right now (before you forget) for my Recording Electric Guitar class. Here’s the link:

www.UnderstandingRecording.com/electric

P.S. This is a live, 4-week class. Included with your “tuition” is a free critique of one of your recordings. I normally charge $50 for these, so that’s like finding a 50-dollar bill in your pocket right after signing up. Come join us. We’d love to have you.

The Official Recording Redneck Test

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town in the South (shout out to Yazoo City, Mississippi!).

But I think I’ve got some serious redneck in me…at least when it comes to recording.

(For those of you who are outside the US and unfamiliar with the term “redneck,” it’s kinda hard to explain. Listen to some country music and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.)

Rednecks tend to be unconventional. (Jeff Foxworthy built his career as a comedian by pointing out the unconventional behavior of a redneck.) They just don’t do things the way mainstream folks would do them.

They do things their own way.

They use tools at their disposal (like duct tape and WD-40, for example) to get things done.

How to NOT Prepare for a Guitar Recording Session

If you’re keeping score, I’m working on a new album.

So far I’ve recorded: drums (thanks Tim!), bass (thanks Joel!), acoustic guitar, lead vocals, some piano, and some background vocals. The one big instrument I haven’t tracked yet is electric guitar.

I’m getting ready to knock those tracks out in the next few days, and as I prepare for that, I figured I’d share with you a bunch of ways NOT to prepare for a guitar session.

(Sometimes it’s just more effective to teach what NOT to do rather than what TO do.)

So, here we go…here are 7 ways to be really poorly prepared for an electric guitar session.

  1. DON’T change your strings. Everybody knows new strings sound harsh. If you can actually have strings that are MONTHS old, you’ll be glad you left ‘em on.
  2. DON’T practice parts beforehand. This is especially true if you’re more of an acoustic guitarist than an electric guitarist. Just wing it. You’ll be fine.
  3. DON’T bother with good cables. It’s an old wives’ tale that nicer cables sound any better than cheaper cables. Heck, go as cheap as possible.
  4. DON’T have the guitar set up properly. If you’ve got a new guitar, fresh from the music store, it sounds as good as it ever will. No need to have it set up. You’ll only make it worse.
  5. Plan to record as many takes as possible. This works especially well if you really nail #2. Any mistakes can be covered up by doubling the part 4 or 12 times. If one track sounds amazing, a dozen or so will be EPIC. Trust me.
  6. Get your distortion pedals ready. If you’re gonna double every part multiple times, then you’ll definitely need a hefty amount of overdrive or distortion on those tracks. That’s how you keep ‘em sounding full. When in doubt, crank it up a little more.
  7. Don’t worry about dialing in great tone. They have plugins for that.

So, there you go. Surefire way to make sure those electric guitar tracks sound like poop.

Speaking of poopy guitars, you still have through the weekend to enter to win a free ticket to my new Recording Electric Guitar class.

Head over here to enter.

Tickets go on sale bright and early Monday morning. 9am Central time.

8 Powerful Home Studio Lessons

I’ve been recording in my home studio for years.

I’ve recorded in a hallway at my parent’s house, in a dorm room at college, in a tiny (and really messy) bedroom I shared with a roommate, in church sanctuaries, in lots of apartments, in a log house, and finally in 3 different rooms in my current house.

The one common theme? NONE of those places were designed to be studios.

That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in home studios. All those imperfections make for a challenging (but immensely rewarding) environment for making music.

Over the years I’ve learned countless valuable lessons, but today I want to share with you eight of the most POWERFUL lessons I’ve learned. These are things that have made a dramatic impact on the quality of my recordings.

Here we go…

A Foosball Master

I spent last weekend at a lake house a couple hours east of Nashville.

It was me and a bunch of other guys, getting “away” for a few days.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out, eating a lot of junk food, and playing foosball.

I used to think foosball was a fun little game to play with friends.

Until Jakob.

Jakob is a freaking foosball master.

Before I could blink he had already scored 5 goals on me.

I proceeded to marvel at his undefeated streak the entire weekend. A few guys came close to beating him (I was definitely not one of them), but he never lost.

Now, here’s the important part.

How to Record Upright Piano [Video]

MIDI doesn’t suck.

It’s an amazingly useful tool, especially for us home studio folks.

But when it comes to piano, I decided to break away from the MIDI crowd and buy myself a used upright piano. Instead of reaching for a plugin and a MIDI keyboard whenever I need a piano part for a song, I’d rather reach for a couple of microphones and sit down at an ACTUAL piano.

And that’s what I did.

Well, I finally got around to recording this beauty (her name is Consuela), and I got some really great-sounding results.

Check out this video to see and hear what I did.

3 Examples of Getting More By Doing Less

Recording is a fickle process.

You want a big, huge, life-changing recording, but you end up with something that sounds more messy than it does big.

How can that be?

If I add more to this song, it should get bigger and fuller, right?

Sometimes that works…sometimes.

But oftentimes we’re just adding and adding without really asking the question “Am I making this better?”