Little Studio tricks to make your sound your own
By Mark Grove
Co-writer: Dee Curtis
02/20/03--Original Publishing date
Why do guitarists layer part after part on their upcoming releases? What do you do to make sure each part is heard properly, not just by the artist, but by the consumer as well. Dee Curtis is currently working on an up coming EP and he gives us his take on little tricks in the studio, to EQ and record your work properly.
MG: Is it important to keep, all the guitar parts you record in the mix for later?
DC: Not necessarily. As I'm overdubbing I may do four guitar parts. I may play all 4 parts throughout a song. I may use a certain guitar part on a change but not all the way through a song. Sometimes I eliminate things such as rhythm parts that don't quite fit the mix. It all depends.It depends on the song whether Dee goes to digital or analog.
But for the most part I like to start with analog and go into the digital domain. Then when I'm mixing to 2-track stereo, then I'll add some analog and mix it with a tube pre amp to give it some warmth.
MG: If all your tracks have the same frequency how do you so to speak correct this mixing error?
DC: Most of the time I record everything flat with no overdubs and then when I'm mixing I can add my highs and lows and take it into a different frequency. When your recording is hitting the tape or hard drive you want your EQ to be flat, and sometimes people like to add the highs or lows. But you don't want to add a lot of those because once it's on tape and you go back to mix it, you didn't add a lot of high end when you go back to re-mix it. Then you can add those highs. If you keep adding highs to your mix it will be ultra bright and sound very sterile.
MG: If you up the volume on one guitar part should you decrease it on others? ( To see which one helps the mix more?
DC: Definitely. Because if you have both guitars at the same volume it's hard to distinguish between them. But if you have a loud one and one under it, then you can automatically hear a difference in both guitar parts.
MG: Should you limit expanding the volume to just a few guitar parts for each track?
DC: You definitely want to play around with the volume on each track if doing guitar over dubs, and if you have 3 or 4 guitar parts and they're all going at the same time and different rhythms to boot, if they're all at the same volume they won't blend properly and won't sound very original as well.
You want to have variations on each part so when you go to your final mix down it's easier to figure out each part and EQ it to what you want. Mixing is an art and young guys who want to emulate some one's sound should listen to that groups material and listen to each instrument and how loud they have it. There are several theories on that.Such as loud drums low drums or vice versa.
MG: Does that have more to do with volume or the mic's you use?
DC: That right there in particular, that's in the mix and that has to do with your placement of mic's and how loud your instruments are. Listen to the mix of bands you like and listen to the highs and midrange to be able to form and build your own sound.
MG: Does the way the lyrics are written have more of an effect on the way a track is mixed than the actual written musical arrangement? I know, strange question.
DC: Sometimes the lyrics dictate how the music will be delivered to a recording. Sometimes it's a very tiring process and the lyrics don't fit the music at times, and each instrumental part may have to be sacrificed in order to go back to the drawing board and do it all again. Sometimes inspiration comes from different places such as when Dee works with his Drummer Tony Bouma and they've come up with musical arrangements and it fit a particular song they were working on versus one that didn't quite fit.
MG: What can you do not to sound like SRV or Hendrix and sound more like you when recording?
DC: It's easy to sound like the greats. If you're searching for new territory and want something different you may still sound like them. You don't have to play each note differently than SRV but you want to sound like them up to a point, and things such as solos vary it to get the feel you want and experiment with different musicians to get the sound you want and write your own songs and arrangements to help you progress as a musician. Being a musician is more spiritual than musical.
MG: Does referencing your tracks in mono show tones that don't go well in the mix more than referencing in stereo: which makes an entire instrumental riff shine more?
DC: I would say there's a definite advantage in recording to mono especially when you're just turning the tape on. When you transfer it to stereo it will sound better than a single mono track. Sometimes by recording to mono you can tweak the music to your board and EQ it a lot more easily than a full band in stereo. Just a few things to think about when in the studio.
Mark Grove-Canadian Guitar Player--Thank you to Canadian Guitar Player Consultant Dee Curtis for all
his knowledge of the music business.You can contact Dee at:firstname.lastname@example.org