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Anatomy of a Ty Tabor-mastered shoestring budget song, recorded with Linux software
Old 7th January 2012
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
Shoestring budget track, Linux, Ty Tabor master

A little prologue: I am releasing my debut solo single (in fact it is already released in digital format in iTunes, Amazon, eMusic etc.) and album later this year. The first single is called “She’s Not a Human Being” and features the one and only Roger Joseph Manning Jr. from Jellyfish. This one is also mastered by Ty Tabor. You can listen (and hopefully buy) the song at Bandcamp / Esa Linna.

But let’s get to the point. I have been a linux advocate for almost ten years, and I started making music with linux software after I got totally mad with Windows BSOD:s. Although I think the most part of my upcoming album will be recorded with Mac OSX / Pro Tools, the parts I will record at my home are recorded with Linux software. And here is an example of song (“Piece of Me”, which will be in the CD single and upcoming album as well) recorded and mixed with Ardour DAW and using QSynth soundfont software, Bristol synth emulation software and few LV2/ladspa plugins. Software and the operating system is open source & free and you can use it by paying nothing. I donate to Ardour development, though.
ardour - the digital audio workstation

You can listen to the song here:

Also I am not into the expensive gear ... Audio hardware I own is very simple, cheap and some could say useless.

Audio interface I used is M-Audio Fast Track USB (the first one), mic preamp is none other than Behringer MIC200 Tube Ultragain and microphone for vocals, guitars, banjo, mandolin and cello is BeyerDynamic MC834. Microphone for “percussion” (I tell you later about this) is JTS NX-8. My monitor speakers are Behringer MS16. So the BeyerDynamic mic is the only thing that costs more than 100 dollars..

I first recorded the acoustic guitar (old worn out Aria, which was getting dust in my parents house so I took it). Two tracks for ac. guitars and some compression using SC4 plugin. Then I recorded the “drums” which were the plastic box (bass drum) and plastic mug (snare). I recorded the “bass drum” by holding JTS microphone inside the plastic box and hitting it with my hand. The “snare drum” was recorded with same JTS mic. I holded the mic inside the mug and hit the mug with steel guitar tube!

After that it was easier. I recorded the demo bass track with my ugly but good Charvel (by Jackson) bass (I am proud of the bass, because Karl Alvarez from ALL/Descendents & Lemonheads wrote a message to me to it - my ex-band was supporting ALL in 1994), and never thought that would end up for the song. It sounded horrible because I didn’t check the levels etc... But after I did add Tom Szilagyi’s TAP Dynamics and TAP Equalizer plugins and C* Cabinet (loudspeaker cabinet emulation) plugin in Ardour, took all the high levels out … it sounded OK, and I left the damn thing on the record!

There are three banjo tracks in the song. I used very simple DJ Flanger and DJ EQ plugins for the main track, because I like the flanged sound and it covers some mistakes.. Because I am sometimes lazy and do things wrong, I recorded the two doubling banjo stuff to the same track as cellos. There was a “dead scene” in the track and I didn’t want to play an ordinary solo, so I played two cello tracks (just before when before mentioned doubled banjos start). After a cello tracks, there comes banjo to continue the “solo”. Cello/banjo track has no plugins, pure sound via BeyerDynamic MC834.

The banjo I use is called Maya, I bought it almost 20 years ago and it cost about 70 dollars (when converting from Euros to USD, of course back then Finland had Marks, not Euros). I really should by a better one, but hey, it works.. I played cello for 6 years when I was kid, but after 23 years I bought myself a cheapest cello from Thomann and started to practice.

My friend & bandmate Seppo (who plays drums on She’s Not a Human Being) lended me his mandoline for a “few” months, so you can hear the mandoline track (mixed very low), just to give some feel to the song.

The keyboards are played via midi and Qsynth soundfont software (piano) and magnificent Bristol synth emulation software (Hammond and Fender Rhodes). Bristol Audio Onepager

The lead vocals are doubled. The main sound is clear (with a lot of delay via Krzysztof Foltman’s Calf Vintage Delay LV2 plugin) , and the second one is mixed lower, because I did add some distortion via C* PreampIV (tube preamp emulation) to it. I like the combination of the sound, I think it brings some feel from the 60’s.

Finally I did add some reverb with IR plugin (by Tom Szilagyi) to the master channel.

When I sent the first version to Ty Tabor, I noticed some mistake in lyrics, and recorded some lines basically in five minutes. You can probably hear when my lead vocals have some extra vibration because I was just so nervous and in a such hurry! But I thought this kind of stuff will add extra feel to it, so it doesn’t have to be perfect!

I am very satisfied with the song, because it was one of those tunes that just popped up in my mind and the recording process was very fast, but still I had fun time to experiment and do things that they don’t tell you to do so in recording handbooks. I am also really satisfied with Ty Tabor’s mastering (at his Alien Beans Studio) - everything worked very smoothly with him, and he was really fast and did the final tweakings also the same/next day .. you know, time zones between Kansas City and Finland). I have been a great fan of King's X from early 90's and totally love Ty's solo stuff.

Hope you like "Piece of Me" - and find this post interesting because of the Linux audio software too.

The SoundCloud link is a secret link and the song hasn’t been published yet officially. Only here :-)

Esa Linna - Official Site - Home

Last edited by Esa Linna; 29th March 2012 at 11:08 AM.. Reason: shorter title
Old 18th January 2012
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
Fixed the link, should work now..
Old 14th March 2012
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
Old 23rd March 2012
Gear Addict
olliejohn's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Sounds great - I'm surprised nobody else has posted here about it.

I'm also a big advocate of the 'keep-it-simple' and 'keep-it-cheap' camp. There's a very special feeling when you make a great record with cheap gear that you just don't get with a cupboard full of Neumanns and Telefunkens and racks full of Neve and API gear.
Old 29th March 2012 | Show parent
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
Shoestring budget track, Linux, Ty Tabor master

Originally Posted by olliejohn ➡️
Sounds great - I'm surprised nobody else has posted here about it.

I'm also a big advocate of the 'keep-it-simple' and 'keep-it-cheap' camp. There's a very special feeling when you make a great record with cheap gear that you just don't get with a cupboard full of Neumanns and Telefunkens and racks full of Neve and API gear.
Thanks olliejohn!

Very glad to hear that there are other cheap gear slutz here If I can't produce some sound with my gear, then I consider buying new stuff. Not before. Usually.

Last edited by Esa Linna; 29th March 2012 at 11:09 AM.. Reason: shorter title
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