Ran my blog for a while and ran into a brick wall. Now I’ve privatized all my old posts to start from scratch. No sense in deleting the old content, but I had to bridge the divide between where I left it and where I am now; I will probably re-categorize those posts and create a new page so you can see where I was during that stretch of time.
To embark the new incarnation of the blog, I will give you guys a little behind the scenes about my technical process.
(Note: uploads refer to Instagram posts)
I have four guitars that I have been using as of late: Red Fender Stratocaster with black pickguard, antique-wood seven-string Ibanez, bright pink Ibanez RG, and my Baby Taylor acoustic. I also own a couple that need to be set up: a black Gibson Les Paul Studio and a red ESP H-1000. With guitars like these, the tone is in the hands. The guitars themselves just carry the notes with different weight: the Fender is blocky and creamy, the Ibanez guitars cut through like lasers, the Les Paul is a mixture of both sounds. Tonal confidence in hand, I’m not too worried about the sound for the time being.
Why say it like that? Well, I have cut “quality” out the window in favor of efficiency. To record my videos, I use the internal amps of the Zoom H4n, a four-track handheld recorder, and the amp models in the Fender Mustang lunchbox-style amp. I have a Peavey XXX as well, but the opportunity hasn’t called for a tube amp yet (full disclosure, I need to have the tubes in that amp replaced).
In the Zoom, I choose the Diesel amp, then set the Limiter as follows: Threshold 10, ratio 3, release 0; in the amp settings, I lower the gain to 0 (the guitars carry their own weight in the end mix). For the Mustang, I dial in one of the amp models, plug a 1/8″ aux cable into the headphone out, plug into one of the Zoom’s two 1/4″ input channels, and assign that to a dry channel in the recorder. So that’s the amp setup.
Setting up songs in Zoom recorder
If I’m recording on top of audio, I have to jump through some hoops to get the song into the recorder. You have to have a .wav version available on your computer to load into one of the recorder’s file folders. This is easy to do in iTunes, where you can also buy the song you want to work on if you don’t want to rip it some other way. Edit the song so that it’s a minute long. Plug in the Zoom to a USB port via mini USB and set the device to USB mode, choosing the file storage option. Load the .wav file into one of the file folders in the Stereo folder in explore. Then exit USB mode on the recorder.
You’ll have to move the .wav stereo pair from the its folder in Stereo mode to a project in multi-track mode (MTR). Switch the recorder to MTR mode in the main menu and go to the project folder where you moved the stereo pair .wav file. Highlight channel 1 and scroll till you find the link option and click. Then scroll till you find the song and click. Now the song is loaded and you can record audio using the remaining two tracks (the link stereo pair occupies the first two).
Hours of preparing
I have a long list of songs that I want to go over, and therefore also have general plans for what I want to do with them once I get there. Oftentimes the final result is dramatically different than what I set out to do. This is usually because I succumb to the desire to make everything as layered as possible. In any case, it takes a long time to basically rewrite other peoples’ songs to get a hot guitar take on it. I’ll go over the song many times just to feel around, never with a click track when it’s to a band recording.
For metal recordings, I’ll typically use one guitar track so I don’t muddle the mix too much. For more ambient songs, I’ll record two guitar tracks to harmonize with each other. Again, it takes hours and hours to narrow in on something I can stand behind, then I’m ready to move onto the video aspect.
Recording and syncing video
If the song has more than one guitar layer, I will record the rhythm first and video the lead layer later. I set my phone on a tripod, use my Bluetooth controller to trigger the recording, and engage the Zoom to record. I’ll do up to twenty takes until I can finally play all the way through doing everything I planned in the rehearsal process. I have to constantly delete the file of that track’s recording with each time I make a mistake. Once it’s finally good to go, you have to bounce the project to a compressed .wav file. Turn the USB storage mode on again, move the bounced recording into iTunes, where you’ll convert the bounced .wav file into an .mp3 version. Move the .mp3 into your phone so that you can put the video project together.
I use Videoshop because, like my amp tone, “quality” of equipment isn’t a big priority at the moment, it’s all about the quality of the ideas. In Videoshop you’ll load the video of your performance and import the audio of the audio recording. Once the video and audio are loaded, you have to sync them. The audio will be your guide since it’s already a minute long, the maximum video length on Instagram. This part is a real bitch because it entails a lot of trial and error. You basically have to choose the video clip and click edit, and trim. You have to scroll the start point to a where it looks like the first note is being struck. At this point you can’t hear the way the trimmed video will match the audio. You have to click the green check and press play in the project area to see how well it matches up. After up to a dozen and a half attempts, the movements of your fingers on the guitar will match the movement in the audio.
I’ll then add a ton of filters on the videos to match the current theme of my feed. I’m very OCD about this, and am definitely going to expand my software capacity for the sheer need to have higher quality image filters to apply to the videos.
Till next time, stay classy.
From the other side of strange,