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Pedals In The Studio


smudge_lad

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So I'm going into the studio on Saturday for the first time, and wondered what you guys all do in regards to using your pedals?

 

ie, I'm guessing that it makes sense to use the minimum amount of pedals/cables as possible between guitar and amp, to get the best sound quality, rather than running your whole board?

 

Is it worth running things like compressors etc? I have my Diamond compressor and EQ pedals switched on constantly when playing live - my amp doesn't have an EQ on the clean channel, hence the pedals being used constantly.

 

Am I best to run the Comp and EQ into my amp as normal, or add these post-recording?

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I'm the wrong person to ask about compressors, since I never use them. As for pedals though, I don't worry about just running individual effects. I still run straight through my whole board. I figure that's the way I'm most familiar with my rig, so why start tearing things apart? Actually, if anything, I'm more likely to bring an auxiliary board of weird effects, and run both of those boards at the same time. That's what I did last week anyway. :lol:

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Do whatever feels best and most natural to you, it's the only answer that makes sense

Is it worth running things like compressors etc? I have my Diamond compressor and EQ pedals switched on constantly when playing live - my amp doesn't have an EQ on the clean channel, hence the pedals being used constantly.


Am I best to run the Comp and EQ into my amp as normal, or add these post-recording?



If it's part of your sound, use it. Don't turn off the compressor and go through the recording with a sound you're not happy with, it's very important that the sound in the room and the recorded sound coming out of the monitors makes you happy. Compression and EQ into an amp can sound very different to those effects after an amp, even if you're running it quite clean. Use your ears to decide which tools you need to do the job.

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I like to have two set ups for recording. One is my main live rig, which I do most of the main guitar parts on. The second is kind of an embellishment rig which I use for overdubs. This rig right now has a whammy, phaser, harmonic percolator, fuzz factory, TS9, & trem running into a ZT lunchbox or Silvertone 1484 driving a 1x12" or 2x10" cab. I like to use smaller cabs for the overdubs to add a little contrast to the big 4x12" (or now 2x12/1x15) sound of the main tracks.

 

I like to use this method because it eliminates a lot of the downtime between takes because once you dial in both rigs you can just bounce between them instead of rearranging your board or amp settings after every take.

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I once worked with an engineer (a pretty cheap and inexperienced one to be honest) who told me that I shouldn't record with any effects because his patches in protools were better. Even for fuzz and OD :facepalm:

Even if he was right (and he wasn't), your sounds have been tweaked and refined through hours of practice and revision. Stick with whatever works for you.

The less you do to your sound after recording the better imo.

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We are only doing one track on Saturday, for which I only need OD, and I usually add a slight delay during my solo sections.

My signal currently goes through 11 pedals, so just thought it would be better to cut the chain right down since I'm not gonna be using 8 of the pedals for the majority of the song - I know I should add the delay post production, so I'd probably only run Comp>EQ>OD

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The problem with printing effects is that you lose editing capability.

 

You can... it really depends on the skill level of the editor and the specific details of the material around the edit. I've never let the lack of a click track or the fact that we printed effects prevent me from at least trying the edit - and I can pull them off more often than you might think. :o I'm not alone in that particular skill set either. More than a few engineers know how to do that, but I wouldn't automatically assume every one of us can. That tends to be a bit more advanced level editing.

 

But, like your EQ and comp pedals, they may be integral to your sound, and sometimes you need that extra tweak to get the feel right.

 

No argument from me on that. :)

 

*******

 

Look, you should really discuss this with the producer and the engineer. :idea:

 

I have no idea what the goal of the session is - album? Demo? Nor do I know what kind of a budget you're working within or the amount of time you have, but in general, work out as much of this stuff in advance as you can - or at least talk with the engineer about it. S/he should have some suggestions for you.

 

In general, I would advise bringing your usual gear and playing through it as you normally do. Your board compressor is part of your sound; the engineer's job is to capture that. Now there may be "issues" with your sound, or the engineer may have something available that makes his / her life easier, gives you increased editing flexibility and capability (I have no idea if you need / want that or not :idk: ) and / or gives you a sound that you like better. The temptation with that stuff is to go down a hole chasing "THE" sound. Pulling pedals and reconfiguring the signal path to shorten or lengthen it for each overdub is probably not time efficient - unless you have spares and a tech who can handle setting things up for the next part while you're tracking something else. While in general I'm in agreement that a shorter signal path beats a long one and that it never hurts to remove stuff you're not using, I'd rather just leave the extra wiring and pedals in place and get the parts down... most people aren't going to "hear" those four unused extra pedals and two feet of cable in the signal path anyway - at least not in the context of a mix. If you can do it fast, go for it... if not, don't worry about it.

 

Start with what works for you live and go from there... but remember - time costs money, so be efficient about it. Have a good idea of the tones you want for the different parts of the different songs - including overdubs - before you even walk into the studio. Be prepared to play your parts consistently and cleanly (IOW - practice & rehearse!!!) and avoid the temptation to over-extend or over-reach on overly clever or tricky parts. Being well rehearsed and prepared will allow you to track more efficiently, and to utilize more of your available studio time on things like getting sounds, experimenting with the studio's toys and getting a great final mix instead of trying to learn a part that you should have known before you went in to record.

 

Be prepared to play with your modulation, delay and reverb effects if needed, but be open to the thought of using the studio's tools for those effects too - especially if you can monitor "through" them in real-time as you're recording - due to latency and processing issues, not all DAW software can do that (it's one of the big advantages of systems like Pro Tools HD), so if you go that route, you may have to track without hearing those effects... and if they're integral to the songs and you guys are used to cuing off those sounds, you may have no choice but to use your effects. If you're going to use a click track (and if the engineer's good, even if you don't) the studio's effects can probably be more readily tempo-synchronized than yours can... plus, they can be automated to do all kinds of fun things that you may like. Again, discussing this stuff with the engineer before the session can go a long way to making sure everyone knows what to expect.

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I like to have two set ups for recording. One is my main live rig, which I do most of the main guitar parts on. The second is kind of an embellishment rig which I use for overdubs. This rig right now has a whammy, phaser, harmonic percolator, fuzz factory, TS9, & trem running into a ZT lunchbox or Silvertone 1484 driving a 1x12" or 2x10" cab. I like to use smaller cabs for the overdubs to add a little contrast to the big 4x12" (or now 2x12/1x15) sound of the main tracks.


I like to use this method because it eliminates a lot of the downtime between takes because once you dial in both rigs you can just bounce between them instead of rearranging your board or amp settings after every take.

 

This is a clever man. :)

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Yes this the thing about pedals in the studio.

2 schools of thought.

1.

A dear friend and mentor of mine, Alex Kasanegras who was a staff engineer in the 60's for Columbia, and recorded a few people such as Sly, Elvis, Janis, just to name a few, always said about pedals: "That's the sound. Record it!"

 

2.

Even in the 80's, engineers were hesitant to record things like delay.

The average guitarist had no idea what engineers could or couldn't do with either software or hardware post recording.

Since the computer itself is an instrument, it comes down to a matter or who is rocking it and whether or not the guitarist trusts him.

 

Can a guitarist match the flow of multiple plugins and the creativity of modern software designers?

No. But it's apples and oranges.

 

Does a plugin model of a Big Muff sound like a NYC Big Muff ? through a Marshall?

No. But the combination and flow of plugins are something that is also creative.

 

In the end it comes down to a matter of choice and taste.

 

But don't let any engineer tell you to do anything you don't want to do.

If your sound is 'the sound' then by all means, 'Thats the sound. Record it!'

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The purpose of the session on Saturday is primarily for us to get a demo track done. We have nothing available at the moment. We had been speaking about doing the recording ourselves, between us we've got equipment and software good enough to produce a demo track, but the engineer over-heard us and offered to do us one track for free.

He's a good mate of ours, has done quite a few demo's over the past year or so, but it struggling a bit for work at the moment - this is not due to the qulaity of his work, but more to do with our location, as well as active bands in the area etc. We do quite well with the amount of gigs we are playing, along with the other bands we have in our network, so he's hoping we can use the track to help promote his studio, as well as giving us something at the end of it all as well.

We've spoken to him about a lot of the aspects of it already, and are all pretty much set to go. We have a two hour rehearsal on Thursday, where we plan to go over the track a good few times, let him hear it properly etc. I have worked out all of the guitar parts already, and will go over them with the engineer in detail when we are along on Thursday.

The track doesnt curerntly have any kind of funky effects that I use on it live, just a straight up rock song. Bassists uses no effects, and there are very little backing vocals too. it will be my perfectionist attitude that slows us down...........

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I would record your tracks with all the pedals you need to get the sound you want.

 

Unless there are problems with your sound/rig or you're trying to achieve something that isn't possible with your own gear, it may just be a waste of time an money to do you're effects in the mix.

 

Especially if you're not going to be heavily involved in the mix process, there's no guarantee that you'll end up with the sound you want if you leave it to the engineer.

 

IME it's usually easier/faster to do this stuff as you track it.

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The purpose of the session on Saturday is primarily for us to get a demo track done. We have nothing available at the moment. We had been speaking about doing the recording ourselves, between us we've got equipment and software good enough to produce a demo track, but the engineer over-heard us and offered to do us one track for free.


He's a good mate of ours, has done quite a few demo's over the past year or so, but it struggling a bit for work at the moment - this is not due to the qulaity of his work, but more to do with our location, as well as active bands in the area etc. We do quite well with the amount of gigs we are playing, along with the other bands we have in our network, so he's hoping we can use the track to help promote his studio, as well as giving us something at the end of it all as well.


We've spoken to him about a lot of the aspects of it already, and are all pretty much set to go. We have a two hour rehearsal on Thursday, where we plan to go over the track a good few times, let him hear it properly etc. I have worked out all of the guitar parts already, and will go over them with the engineer in detail when we are along on Thursday.


The track doesnt curerntly have any kind of funky effects that I use on it live, just a straight up rock song. Bassists uses no effects, and there are very little backing vocals too.
it will be my perfectionist attitude that slows us down........
...

 

 

 

All the more reason to do it all up front. Get the tones you're happy with on your own time. Then turn up, set up as usual, hit record and go home.

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Plug straight into a DI/reamp box, monitor through your usual effects/amp setup. Mic your amps and record DI at the same time. If you get the sound you want straight away then all is well. If you don't then you can replay the dry signal and tweak your pedals/amps until it sounds right.

That way you can also piece together different takes - say if you really nailed the chorus but flubbed the bridge you could just record the bridge again and reamp through the whole chain.

Best of all worlds and pretty quick and easy to do. So long as the person mixing it has access to your gear then you just have to concentrate on getting your takes down as solidly as you can. Sounds can always be adjusted after the fact.

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I am all about getting the sound you want from the start. The most important thing to me is the sound going into the microphone. It's great to have nice gear (I have a bunch of Neve/API/etc.), but if it's crap going in then it'll be crap going out.

With that said if you think that your EQ and comp pedals make you sound better then use them. The amp you use also changes the EQ and comp anyway so what's the difference if you have an outside unit that makes your guitar sound good.

If youre just using the pedals to cut through live and you think you have a better sound without them then don't use them.

In the most simple terms, if you turn up the amp and are really digging what's coming out of it then your confidence will carry over to the recording which will make a hell of a lot more difference than any other factor.

Fixing stuff in the mix is overrated. It's more work in the beginning to get it right in the studio but your album will mix itself.

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When I track guitars, I usually use two or three direct boxes:

one for tracking the dry performance

one for tracking the pre delay/verb output

one for tracking the delay/verb output

And a mic or two on the amp.

 

That way, you're covered if the performance is good, but the effects need to be retracked, or the delays and reverb pedals don't end up sounding right and you want to end up using plugs, you can do that.

 

I don't usually end up re-amping, but the option is always there.

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When recording I try to rely as little as possible on overdrive from pedals as my amps natural drive is quite nice.

 

I also use a lot less delay and reverb than I would in a live setting. Unless you're using awful cables, you should be fine using your whole board though.

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depends on the scenario really. If its a drive or anything else for the basic tonal quality, always leave it if it sounds good. If it's a delay/reverb, I'll split the signal and record the amp dry and either re-amp them or keep them as is. any modulation can go either way.

 

like someone else said, record effects as need as you go along. if you're doing everything live, you should re-examine your rig and talk to the engineer. maybe rehearse with him ahead of time, if you can get him

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