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When is it good enough?
Old 13th November 2002
  #1
When is it good enough?

When a musician has a hard time getting "THE" take, at what point does it become "good enough"? Is it a money issue, a time issue, an it-won't-get-any-better-anyway issue, or what are the limits for finding it "good enough"? What is your cut-off point, does it change from musician to musician?

If a particular part can't be performed well enough by a certain bandmember, do you have somebody else in the band play the part if possible, or do you call in outside players (not bandmembers)? Are the musical limitations of the band also the limitations for the project?

If a musician, can't get the part right, I normally burn him a CD of the song without his part on it (or all the way panned to one side, so he can turn it down) and set him up in his hotel room with enough equipment to rehearse the part.
Old 13th November 2002
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
When you can't go through the wall, you can try going around it. One of the luxuries of doing the home recording thing is the lack of time/money pressure, so you can try something completely different, messing with arrangements, feels, etc., untill something sticks. So it becomes an issue of whether the take works, and not whether the part was played correctly. This might not be the right approach for instrumentally focused work, though.

Bear
Old 14th November 2002
  #3
Lives for gear
 
C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: When is it good enough?

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener
When a musician has a hard time getting "THE" take, at what point does it become "good enough"? Is it a money issue, a time issue, an it-won't-get-any-better-anyway issue, or what are the limits for finding it "good enough"? What is your cut-off point, does it change from musician to musician?
for me it depends. If it is something I produce and attach my name to. 'THE' take has to make it in there some how or some way. Compromises are rarely made. Even if we have to wait another day or another time ... we'll try to get the 'right' one.

IN other cases where I just record / mix I'll let it depend on the artist or the producer. They'll decide if it is a money thing or not. I'll try to warn them though so there's no discussion possible afterwards.


Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener

If a particular part can't be performed well enough by a certain bandmember, do you have somebody else in the band play the part if possible, or do you call in outside players (not bandmembers)? Are the musical limitations of the band also the limitations for the project?
Again different when I'm 'part' of the project or not. If I am I'll definately discuss options with the band. Like the other day, a band I'm producing an album for had their 'live' drummer come into the studio for some of the tracks. ok, he isn't a fix bandmember but he does play most of the live performances. Essentially the badn is 2 guitar players and a singer, the rest is added on stage and can change in between series of concerts. Anyhow.... In this case it was a 'feel' problem. I didn't like his 'feel' so I called in a small meeting (drummer in booth) and told the guys that I would prefer to have somebody else do the tracks. After that it was up to them to do the nasty work ... use diplomacy and get rid of the guy.

Even if it would have been a fix band member I would have at least discussed the option calling a session musician in to do it. Usually with a lot of diplomacy it works. I've never had a situation where they refused alltogether. Sure, a sad face yes ...

Now with projects I'm less involved with I'll advice them how and what to do but the final decission would be their own.

I guess at some point everything has its limits .... does it make it a less good record ??? Sometimes yes and other times no. depends ....

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener

If a musician, can't get the part right, I normally burn him a CD of the song without his part on it (or all the way panned to one side, so he can turn it down) and set him up in his hotel room with enough equipment to rehearse the part.
I've done that .... it can work wonders
Old 14th November 2002
  #4
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Re: When is it good enough?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by mwagener
When a musician has a hard time getting "THE" take, at what point does it become "good enough"? Is it a money issue, a time issue, an it-won't-get-any-better-anyway issue, or what are the limits for finding it "good enough"? What is your cut-off point, does it change from musician to musician?

"Good enough", when the other resources to get the take have been exhausted, is the take that most closely resembles what THE take should be. If a session player(s) or better skilled bandmembers do the take and it still isn't right, I would hazard a guess that the part wasn't meant to be for the music in question. Another leave-it-alone point is when the budget is evaporating until struggling for one part is a waste of money. Then it's time to diplomatically tell the band that they might not accomplish everything they had hoped to within the contract they made with me.

Are the musical limitations of the band also the limitations for the project?

They shouldn't be, but side-stepping and/or carressing egos is difficult. No one really wants to have a session player do their part. OTOH, no bandmember wants to hear how ****ty they might make a project sound without some "help". Sometimes they expect that to be taken care of in editing/mixing... which is a hole 'nother barrel of monkies.
dfegad
Old 14th November 2002
  #5
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: When is it good enough?

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener
When a musician has a hard time getting "THE" take, at what point does it become "good enough"? Is it a money issue, a time issue, an it-won't-get-any-better-anyway issue, or what are the limits for finding it "good enough"? What is your cut-off point, does it change from musician to musician?

For me it can be any of those. Usually it's not a money issue but that's also related to time since time is money. If that starts to become the problem I'll have the band pay me what's owed up to that point and then I make them roughs so that part can be practiced on their own time off the studio clock. I had a singer start rewriting songs once and I sent him home. Usually if the player is a hack and it's getting different rather then better I'll call it a day and say it's good enough. Also, at best I'm usually a co-producer on the things I work on so 95% of the time it's the bands call as to when it's good enough.

I'm not afraid to suggest that someone else in the band play a part if something's not working. Usually calling a session musician isn't an option because of band politics. I can usually muddle through anything except a really bad drummer. Actually, I've only had one guitar player who's tone made me want to kill myself. Guitar solos are a different story. What do you do when someone who wants to play a solo really can't and shouldn't? Bury it with effects?
Old 14th November 2002
  #6
Lives for gear
 
studjo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
"What do you do when someone who wants to play a solo really can't and shouldn't? Bury it with effects?"

Sometimes I try the effect thing and sometimes I let it stand out loud and hope it gives some atmosphere

Jo
Old 14th November 2002
  #7
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
For the first time ever I replaced a band member (bass) with a session guy. This was in prior consultation with the singer and manager.
the tracks rocked. I am back in with the same act again this week, funny how the bass playing has improved!!! He was one take on one song an the other two just needed a few tiny punch ins.!
Overall a big production AND band sucess story.
I charge per track - the overall vibe is 'untill it's right'. I didn't swallow the session guys fee however!!!!
Old 14th November 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 
drundall's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Re: When is it good enough?

Quote:
Originally posted by mwagener

If a musician, can't get the part right, I normally burn him a CD of the song without his part on it (or all the way panned to one side, so he can turn it down) and set him up in his hotel room with enough equipment to rehearse the part.
I've done this with a ghetto blaster and cassette (!), sent the player to the lounge, then let him take the boom box home for more practice. He got the part.

Good enough sucks. Mainly a function of time/budget and ability. Bigger budgets allow me to get better takes. Tight budgets mean it's a compromise.grudge
Old 14th November 2002
  #9
Lives for gear
 
groundcontrol's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Tight budgets mean "I'll pass on...".

Unless the band is comprised of stellar musicians... (Like for a jazz date or similar.)
Old 15th November 2002
  #10
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i dont know how to answer this question. THE take and a good enough take... technique? skills?

the trick is to know thy limitations... does a guitar solo need to be a bunch of noodling notes? it could easily just be one note... THE take is the take that expresses the most feeling fitting in with the song.

i have heard people try to play past their skill to no avail... i have heard players with skill beyond their emotion.

what am i getting at? **** if i know.

the thing to remember when tracking parts is to make it sound good. if its just a ****ty ass player with no skill, youre just ****ed.
Old 15th November 2002
  #11
Mindreader
 
BevvyB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Moot point

This is all I do day in day out, 'cos I play a bunch of things

So, with only the musician angle

I put the track up, knowing it needs some ryhthm gutar, for example

I play a few passes of what I thought it needed, taking into account A/ The notes B/the vibe (reason being, at least I know I'm learning the shape)

Listen back, to obviously a rough 'shot' at what I thought I needed

(then try to remember any mistakes that were 'cool', to try and 'replicate' the mistakes 'cos they kind of worked 'musically' other than being mistakes)

Do another pass

And another

Each time remembering what was working 'note' wise, building up some kind of 'shape' for working towards the 'final', 'best' take

Come up with something '1st perfect' finally - which I call 'arranged part'

Learn that part so I can 'play' with it almost as if I knew it so well it wouldn't matter if I 'departed' from it sometimes, almost like i'd learned a 'live' part I knew i could have some fun with

Record it again, with a little leeway

And again

And again

Then, listen to all takes one at a time, judging for 'vibe', not 'note' content

Make a value judgement

then either

Start again realising you really missed the point of this part
or
Start again, refining where you were coming from

And then

Again

And then, if you still can't do it and (with experience) know EXACTLY the man who COULD learn your part and take it somewhere...then you realise you didn't need a rythm guitar part at all you fool!!! You just needed to turn the hi-hat up!!! (as always

The thing with this approach (and to be honest, I'd be surprised if any session guy DIDN't use this approach), is that you have had to nurture a very good internal 'reset' button to be able to kid yourself that you'd never played something before, or heard it

But hey, isn't that what all good gearslutz can do anyway???

To answer MW's point - right is right. It's global. If someone doesn't know that then it's up to you to define their boundaries (i.e. Give the guy a break!! He's only 17!! He thought he could nail it!! Enter 'Dave' from round the corner, who, although is only good at drinking six-packs and eating chips, RULES at playing really simple picking lines wiithout any fret buzz!)

Quote MW: "Are the musical limitations of the band also the limitations for the project?"

Talk to Trevor about FGTH.

Quote MW: "What is your cut-off point, does it change from musician to musician?"

Like chalk and cheese.

Hey, why not get an (understanding) sessiony type guy come and help the guy work a part out help him to play it also. That sounds very cool to me, and helpful in many ways, as confidence is also a key issue in these kinds of circumstance.

Quote MW :"If a musician, can't get the part right, I normally burn him a CD of the song without his part on it (or all the way panned to one side, so he can turn it down) and set him up in his hotel room with enough equipment to rehearse the part."

I really think that perhaps the guy doesn't know what's good for him. Perhaps like I said before, a simpler line worked out by someone else might not only get him off the hook , but also might make him sound better, and you never know, might be better for the track! Just 'cos someone is technically good at their instument doesn't automatically qualify them for 'arranger of the year'. If a great 'musician' (not 'player') was to show them the best way forward, than that's a cool thing.

Quote: AJ : " if its just a ****ty ass player with no skill, youre just ****ed."

Yes, unless they don't care if they played it or not. Which leads us to a new topic: "How much **** have you had to pretend that came from other peoples ideas just to get the job through??"


the self righteous Bev (sorry, I love this topic!!)
Old 15th November 2002
  #12
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
jon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
One solution is to try to get involved with projects where the artist and musicians are good enough to play their parts in one take or two.

With really talented players, the magic is often in the first take and the challenge is not to coax the part out of them, but to be fast enough to get that first take down to tape really well without slowing down the flow or rhythm of the session. Those are my favorite sessions to work on.
Old 15th November 2002
  #13
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
im not really a believer in getting outside musicians for a BAND band... just something about honesty. i would rather make the band work for something they CAN execute rather than bring in a hired gun. if there is a part a band can not come up with i give them time to rethink it and come back to it with a new direction.

BUT, there are project i do where there isnt a specific set of musicians it needs to adhere to. so its not a one size fits all issue. in that case, i find the best musician to fill what is needed.
Old 15th November 2002
  #14
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Each session is different. I try to get the best of what the client can do. Some bands/players are better than others. I don't expect Band A to be Band B. Less experienced bands let me make the decisions. The better groups/players will usually tell me if they can do it better before I have a chance to hit the talkback to say the same thing.

I have one singer who gives me great takes every time. She will tell me she wants to do it again. I tell her she's nuts and track it again. It's always even better. She can tell immediately is she can sing it better of if she has delivered THE take.
Old 15th November 2002
  #15
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
When is it "good enough"? When it's in the stores and you can't dick with it anymore... until then, it's never good enough
Old 15th November 2002
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Fibes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
ROTFLMAO!

In a band scenario it depends on a few things...

Demos are good enough when they get the vibe of the track/band to the storage medium.

For albums and singles: It's good enough when the feeling/vibe is impossible to ignore and nothing confuses/detracts from the feeling.

Certain parts of a recording are simply supporting textures and don't require the majesty of the money shot. They can be passable as long as they don't detract...
When it comes to the money shot it either happens or it doesn't. Sending people home to practice can help, illustrating a part or helping them get out of their own way by changing up the concept momentarily can as well. Sometimes a part isn't right and will never be played properly in the context of the song, throw a curveball and lighten up the mood for a bit. This can sometimes yiels a brilliant new (executable) concept or inform the old one in a fresh streamlined way.
Rivers flow in different directions keeping the session flowing sometimes requires switching rivers to get back to the desired port.

If a session guy isn't doing it, that's easy. Talk about pay, hit 'em with the cattle prod or get someone else.
Old 16th November 2002
  #17
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
When there are budgetary constraints of one sort or another (and there are ALWAYS budget contraints in my world), I will tell the cients that we won't be making the best record in history, but we'll make the best record that we can make right now, given the resources available to us. Most of them get it - some go elsewhere (where the producer lies and tells them that they WILL have the best record ever made).
Old 16th November 2002
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
Jack the Bear's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It's usually "good enough" when I start ovulating ;-)

Fletcher has a good point. I bet even guys like Mutt Lange who is arguably the most anal of all would still find things he would like to change long after his records hit the street.

Personally when I get the goosebumps when I hear something that's when I STOP!!!

I guess it also depends how sensitive you are to vibe.

I reckon so long as you strive to be YOUR best rather than THE best you can't go wrong.

Let's face it you do you measure it??
Ultimately it's sales at the counter when you depend on it for a living.

At the end of the day it's about the song. Give me grungy lo-fi loose playing bunch of guys who have a killer tune that I can't get out of my head any day over a bunch of unbelievable session players playing ****.

Cheers,

Tony Mantz.
Old 20th November 2002
  #19
Lives for gear
 
5down1up's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
its good enough when i say it heh

( thats for me the direction to go )

it doesnt count at all if somebody else decides " its good enough "

only expection :

the person whos saying it really knows what hes/shes talking about . ( doesnt happen that often ) heh

same with producers , mixers , musicians :

there are people who can do great work in fact of knowledge and skill . but sometimes even thats not enough . i call those people who come up with the " right idea at the right time " - genius .

my experience : as more as people know , as more as they practice as more as they get involved ... they all lose something else . if you are listening to something your gonna work on for the first time your brain comes up with all those ideas . if your in it for some weeks , you may realize that your ideas are undoable under that circumstances .

the hardest thing is to keep the fire burning



just a thought ...
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