The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Question for Dave Martin
Old 25th November 2002
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Question for Dave Martin

Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
For that matter, I can thing of a couple of guitarists who can give you the same thing (Rivera, Fender and Marshall amps, 441's, API preamps and compressors - there's a sound), steel players (Mesa Boogie, 421, Averill 1272's, and even a couple of fiddle players though I'm not a huge fan of the signal path that one of them is using).

Dave, since all of you Nashville cats bring everything you need to a session and hand the engineer an XLR, how do they deal with that? Are there tie-lines in the live room that come up on the patchbay for amps? I'd imagine that bass and keys are pretty easy if your playing in the control room and you hand the engineer a line level signal. But what about the other stuff? Or, what if your playing in the live room and need to send a line level signal through the snake in the wall. Or, do you just run really long cables across the floors and into the control room?
Old 25th November 2002
  #2
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
The studios here just use the mic lines. No sweat, and I, at least, have had no trouble with line levels leaking in to the mic level lines.

By the way, some engineers here don't handle it well - I know at least one guy who absolutely HATES it when guitarists mic their own amps. The problems arise when the signal chain the engineer uses sounds a lot worse than the one the guitar player brought, especially if the producer or artist notices the difference and prefers the guitarist's signal path. Another potential issue is that some guitarists use boxes like the TC Fireworx - their signal goes out of the pre (and EQ and compressor, if used) into the Fireworx, where it becomes a stereo signal, and then to tape. If the engineer wants to do his own miking, that may mean that the guitar player can't use his usual effects chain in the usual way.
Old 26th November 2002
  #3
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dave Martin
[B]
By the way, some engineers here don't handle it well - I know at least one guy who absolutely HATES it when guitarists mic their own amps. The problems arise when the signal chain the engineer uses sounds a lot worse than the one the guitar player brought, especially if the producer or artist notices the difference and prefers the guitarist's signal path.

*** But how often does that actually happen? I would think that most engineers would be happy if a guitar player had a clue and miked their own amp. As long as it sounds good and I doubt that's a problem with those cats. I figure if they have all their **** together with guitars, pickups, amps, pedals etc. and then move into mics & preamps it probably can't suck too much. I actually encourage some players to help me get the sounds they want. The only behind that is that they have to have an idea of what they're looking for. Some people are just happy if they can hear the notes. I don't ask them for help.

Another potential issue is that some guitarists use boxes like the TC Fireworx - their signal goes out of the pre (and EQ and compressor, if used) into the Fireworx, where it becomes a stereo signal, and then to tape. If the engineer wants to do his own miking, that may mean that the guitar player can't use his usual effects chain in the usual way.

*** Well, I could see that being a bit of a problem unless you take a signal both before and after the effects box. I would assume that's pretty common.
Old 26th November 2002
  #4
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jay Kahrs


*** But how often does that actually happen? I would think that most engineers would be happy if a guitar player had a clue and miked their own amp. As long as it sounds good and I doubt that's a problem with those cats. I figure if they have all their **** together with guitars, pickups, amps, pedals etc. and then move into mics & preamps it probably can't suck too much. I actually encourage some players to help me get the sounds they want. The only behind that is that they have to have an idea of what they're looking for. Some people are just happy if they can hear the notes. I don't ask them for help.

I don't know that it happens all that often, but it happens that on a session a month or so back, the guitarist and the steel player were talking about a specific engineer/producer who won't use the guitarist any more, after they had had a bit of a discussion about the signal path.

Remember that there are a couple of ways that you can approach sessions, especially when you're doing 10 or more a week; You can (A) try to stay loose, open to whatever makes the session more musical, or (B) you can get locked into what you KNOW will work, because you've done it that way for years. Under normal circumstances (that is, experienced players with great sounds), either one can work. But approach (B) is likely tro be a little faster, since you've most likely got everything set up, patched, and ready to go.

The LA guys and the Nashville guys are most likely to be used to doing demo and low budget sessions, but it works like this: a 10:00 session with one group of musicians, a 2:00 PM session with an entirely different group of players, and a third sesion at 6:00, which may be overdubs, or may be a third group of musicians. Since each session is 3 hours long, and the musicians have to get packed up, drive to the next studio, and set up again (probably stopping for something to eat along the way), you can see that there won't me a hell of a lot of time to get sounds - 15, 20 minutes at best. To get drums sounds as well as sounds for all the other instruments. That's an advantage to having your tracking set-up etched in stone. And any changes to your regular set-up takes more time (and time is the one thing we don't have). Some of you may remember the story about the board at Muscle Shoals, where the 'right' levels for each instrument were marked on the board with fingernail polish. That's kind of the idea...

*** Well, I could see that being a bit of a problem unless you take a signal both before and after the effects box. I would assume that's pretty common.

Not at all - the guys I'm thinking of use a box like the G Force or the Fireworx kind of the way that you use stomp boxes (I've been amazed at what a Bradshaw switcher can do in the right hands (or under the right feet). If you're plaing on a session and you're using, for instance, a chorus, a delay and a Dyna-Comp, you're not generally going to set up a pre and post effect send to the board (unless you're planning on re-amping, which doesn't happen on these kinds of sessions).

Things like musicians carrying racks kind of developed doing demos and low budget records, where it's not at all uncommon to finish 5 songs in a day - the morning session is for tracking, the afternoon session is for vocals and any overdubs, and the evening session is for the mix on all 5 songs. There's no time for re-amping, or for that matter, any experimentation.


I used to have a couple of accounts (as a bass player) where we would do the whole record in a day - we wouldtrack all 10 songs on a long 10:00 session - the tracks would all be done by 2:00 or 3:00PM. The vocals were done as we tracked (though there was some time in the afternoon for major fixes and the hired background vocals), and then the record would be mixed and out of the studio before midnight. It wasn't pretty and the projects most likely weren't that musical when we were done, but they made my house payment for a few years and kept me off the road...
Old 26th November 2002
  #5
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
I have had the opportunity to assist on some big dog country sessions a few times. (Top 10 artists) In these situations it surpised me how little the producer really worked. He simply hired the tip-top players and said, "Okay" when they threw some thing out. No discussion on sounds....just a big formula. The sound was pre-determined by who he had hired. Took about an hour to fully complete a song.

Funny thing was we would leave the setup over night, come back the next day working on another artist. Same sounds, exact same setup-- different album.
Old 26th November 2002
  #6
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Ckevperry
I have had the opportunity to assist on some big dog country sessions a few times. (Top 10 artists) In these situations it surpised me how little the producer really worked. He simply hired the tip-top players and said, "Okay" when they threw some thing out. No discussion on sounds....just a big formula. The sound was pre-determined by who he had hired. Took about an hour to fully complete a song.
Sure - the trick is to know who to hire... Seriously, there are some producers in Nashville that are either highly over rated, seriously incompetent, or both.

One goofy thing I've been hearing recently are tracks that the producer wanted to be 'looser', and more 'live'. What's silly is that they don't hire live guys to do it - the keep using the same guys who have been doing their sessions. When you're dealing with musicians who play as well as they do here, the guys will have to intentionally play sloppy.
Old 27th November 2002
  #7
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Ckevperry
I have had the opportunity to assist on some big dog country sessions a few times. (Top 10 artists) In these situations it surpised me how little the producer really worked. He simply hired the tip-top players and said, "Okay" when they threw some thing out. No discussion on sounds....just a big formula. The sound was pre-determined by who he had hired.
I forget who said this, but someone once said that the key to being a great producer is knowing who to hire, letting them do their job and trying to stay out of their way. Makes sense on a lot of levels.

The Nashville thing always amazes me. For me a quick session is setting up and tracking 3 songs with overdubs in 10 hours. I've had some things go faster and some take quite a bit longer. But, overall the pace of Nashville seems a bit daunting. It amazes me that someone without any skills for their task could hang in and keep getting calls.
Old 27th November 2002
  #8
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs

The Nashville thing always amazes me. For me a quick session is setting up and tracking 3 songs with overdubs in 10 hours. I've had some things go faster and some take quite a bit longer. But, overall the pace of Nashville seems a bit daunting. It amazes me that someone without any skills for their task could hang in and keep getting calls.
They're not 'without any skills' - keeping work when you are incompetent requires great skill - it's just not a skill that I respect...
Old 27th November 2002
  #9
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
An engineer is only as good as the musicians they keep...

That goes for producers too -- they're only as good as the engineers & musicians they keep.

There's no shortage in "Ghost" engineers, producers or musicians I'm affraid. But that's how you get ahead in this business...

Letting others take the glory for the work you did is the key. No need to get bummed out about it. You got to look at the bigger picture. If you're getting your rate and you're moving up the ladder, it's all good at the end.
Old 28th November 2002
  #10
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ghost musician I can see but a ghost engineer? How does that work? Or is it just someone eating a bunch of Twinkees on the couch while the assistant does all the work?
Old 29th November 2002
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Many times the chief's only real work is running the tape machine. Once the assistant knows their signal chains, mic placements, etc....
Old 29th November 2002
  #12
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Ghost musician I can see but a ghost engineer? How does that work? Or is it just someone eating a bunch of Twinkees on the couch while the assistant does all the work?
That's one way you can get the "ghost engineer" title.

Another way is -- working with the band's guest engineer, etc., that ends up just watching you do your magic, then takes your work, calls it their own and of course, blows off any good and valuable consideration for giving you the credit you deserve.
Old 29th November 2002
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Remoteness
That's one way you can get the "ghost engineer" title.

Another way is -- working with the band's guest engineer, etc., that ends up just watching you do your magic, then takes your work, calls it their own and of course, blows off any good and valuable consideration for giving you the credit you deserve.
Yes Yes.

I have a good friend who " assisted" on a major rock record about 10 years ago when he was starting his career, and essentially tracked the entire record while the "engineer and Produce" partied in the back of the CR. def an example of :

1) Production is hiring the right players and putting them in the right place

2) Ghosting is a great way to get ahead
Old 5th December 2002
  #14
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What separates the men from the boys in producers and first engineers is how they handle the artists and how they handle the bumps in the road. Most of the time with great musicians and assistants, it SHOULD BE easy.

When things screw up is when it gets hard and frequently VERY expensive. This is when experience can make the difference between going home with a useable take and coming up with nothing but a bill for several thousand dollars. It's like being a train engineer. They don't even have to steer but when a locomotive breaks down, one can't exactly call for road service.
Old 10th December 2002
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Ckevperry
Many times the chief's only real work is running the tape machine. Once the assistant knows their signal chains, mic placements, etc....
I'm a working engineer in Nashville and though it appears that I'm letting the assistant do everything, I know exactly what's going on. Though it may look as if the producer and I are coasting through the session, there's a lot going on below the surface. 80% of a tracking date is in the preparation. We set up tracking dates many hours before the session time (depending on the studio). By the time the downbeat of the session hits, we've sussed out every mic, line, module, headphone... everything. We bring multitrack tapes laid out like the session we're doing and have the cue mixes and "more me" reverbs sounding great before the players arrive. We use microphones that we know, whether they're the studio's or our own. We know the ins and outs of every studio that we work in...what piano sounds like, how long the cartage takes to get there, which of their mics are good, where to put what player, the drum layout of the different studio drummers, what booths have ventalation (tuning) problems... There's a vast amount of preparation.
Like many engineers in Nashville, I have an assistant that works with me exclusivly. My current assistant has worked with me for almost 3 years. He knows how I want things done, has great ears, and is an excellect musician. The producers and players know and respect him. Yes, he runs the tape machines too.
I think a good assistant's job is to stay one step ahead of the session.
Old 10th December 2002
  #16
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Dave Martin
The studios here just use the mic lines. No sweat, and I, at least, have had no trouble with line levels leaking in to the mic level lines.

By the way, some engineers here don't handle it well - I know at least one guy who absolutely HATES it when guitarists mic their own amps.
My only "problem" with boxes like the Fireworx is when the guitarist paints the record into a wall with his effects. In the mix, the mixer might want to have the same reverb on the guitar that's on the other instruments. Or, he might want to pan the guitar to the right and have delays in the center, or have a dry guitar in the middle and a chorused version on the right side. That big wide sound becomes a small blur when panned at 11:00 and 4:00. I'm all for committing to tape, but let's not handcuff the mixer.
Old 10th December 2002
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Knox's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by OKden
I'm a working engineer in Nashville and though it appears that I'm letting the assistant do everything, I know exactly what's going on. Though it may look as if the producer and I are coasting through the session, there's a lot going on below the surface. 80% of a tracking date is in the preparation. We set up tracking dates many hours before the session time (depending on the studio). By the time the downbeat of the session hits, we've sussed out every mic, line, module, headphone... everything. We bring multitrack tapes laid out like the session we're doing and have the cue mixes and "more me" reverbs sounding great before the players arrive. We use microphones that we know, whether they're the studio's or our own. We know the ins and outs of every studio that we work in...what piano sounds like, how long the cartage takes to get there, which of their mics are good, where to put what player, the drum layout of the different studio drummers, what booths have ventalation (tuning) problems... There's a vast amount of preparation.
I think it's funny how most people don't understand how exhausting, the job we have is at times. They see us sitting in a comfortable chair, listening to music and don't 'get' how we could be so wiped out at the end of some days. Little do they realize how much concentration and hard work goes into this. There are some sessions, I feel like someone beat the crap out of my body with a hammer. I do love it though . . . and wouldn't trade it, though those "really special" sessions seem to be getting further and further apart. The sessions when you are NOT exhausted, where you feel it was an honor to be in a room with players of a certain calibre, that played great instruments that well . . . . and your job / art was appreciated.
Old 10th December 2002
  #18
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by OKden
My only "problem" with boxes like the Fireworx is when the guitarist paints the record into a wall with his effects.
An excellent point. Though I don't really know how to minimize that problem without producer input...

Of course, the sessions I work on don't typically have that much time for creative mixing...
Old 17th December 2002
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
What an excellent thread! I approach sessions these days somewhat differently from the way I used to when I started. I listen more, and try to work less, well it works for me. But I would agree with what several other of the posters here say, when a client asks why I cost xyz when they could get someone for 1/3rd the price, my answer now is that they are buying insurance. Sure if the session goes well, almost any engineer may get a good sound. Where I earn my money is saving their bacon when things go wrong. As was pointed out in a previous post it can get very expensive if an act comes out of the studio and everything needs to be dumped. Some people say well it can be fixed, but that can cost more than spending a couple of hours extra to get it right. For me a lot of being a good producer is to know how and when to interfere, and knowing when its best to shut up because everything is going well. Staying ahead of the game, keeping an eye on the big picture, that is the real skill, well at least in my opinion.

Regards


Roland
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 61 views: 30267
Avatar for Downside
Downside 1 week ago
replies: 104 views: 18634
Avatar for nznexus
nznexus 25th November 2012
replies: 55 views: 13324
Avatar for VerreyckenGerd
VerreyckenGerd 28th July 2015
replies: 587 views: 79064
Avatar for soundxplorer
soundxplorer 18th August 2020
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump