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Gimme Some Time - the recording process

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I had already posted my ballad in an earlier thread and then, most recently in Jonathon Graham's thread, mainly because his email thing is rejecting me or whatever. And I wanted to answer Geno's (Guitartrek) statements without hogging any more of Jon's thread.

I sang this song the same way as when I wrote it 22 years ago. With a minor exception. The repeated chorus at the end is improv. Geno, you have said that my voice is meaty and strong and I have improved some finesse, here and there. But not on this song, per se. I recorded this song a few months ago. I am using the mic that Thanos got for me. Jacked into port 1 on a Guitarface II USB interface (the whole recording rig of mic, stand, pop filter, cable, headphones, and interface was an early Christmas gift from Thanos.) Even now, I am not sure I have the output set right. And there is no input adjustment. It is a condenser mic and the interface for port 1 is switched to "+48V" for the required phantom power. And it is highly sensitive. Even now, I am learning better mic placement and angle to withstand some of my louder notes.

The interface is connected to a USB port on my computer, which was built with spare parts back in 2005. Windows XP. I record into Audacity. It is freeware and has some limitations. For example, the effects cannot be adjusted in real time. I have to choose an effect and it's parameters and then, it affects the entire track that way. Then, I playback. If it sounds wrong, I have to click "undo" and start over again.

And that's it. Oh yeah, and for the guitar solo that's bugging the crap out of everyone, this is a case of where I did too much when less would have been better. And part of the problem is that the sound I was getting from the guitar is not matched right through the USB. It does sound like an angry bee, which was not the sound I was going for but I like some of the harmonies in it, nevertheless. I had my Hondo Flying V jacked into my Roland GS-6 digital effects unit and it was jacked into port 2 on the interface. And I did not have levels set right. The GS-6 was overdriving. Usually, I have it jacked into the power amp in jack on my Fender 85 amp, which makes it brain the amp like a cabinet and that amp will put out 200 Watts rms. Turn it up to 2 and feel the floor boards vibrate. Really, I should have just mic'd the amp instead of plugging straight in. Then, the mic would have picked up the ambience of the room and maybe the sounds would match better.

Which goes to show that I stink at recording. And, at mixing. There are times when I think this section of the forum should be named, "critique my singing and my recording equipment and mixing strategies." And I don't mean that as an insult or snottiness or a complaint. I'm just saying that all these things do affect what we are hearing from each other.

You, Geno, have some equipment I could dream of having. And you take quite a bit of time producing a recording, which are always phenomenal. I am way low tech. In 1973, I received as a gift, a portable reel-to-reel recorder with 5 inch reels. So, that's what I first started recording myself on. Especially the following year, 1974, when I started teaching myself guitar.

When I record, it's live. On this recording, I played and sang at the same time, my comfort zone, for the past 36 years. That doesn't mean that I always sang well and I can still make mistakes and get pitchy. That's the big secret. Time does not bring perfection, it brings habit. But my singing has improved over the years, starting in 1988, when I started with a classical technique book from Graham Hewitt. His method was quite similar to that of Anthony Frisell, which is why I have enjoyed that book so much, recently.

Recently, Robert Lunte is helping me to get his 4 Pillars 2.0 and I am really excited about that. From some of the sneak previews I have of that, a lot of what he does is not only right up my alley, but is similar to some of the informal exercises I have devised for myself. Such as singing a phrase on pitch. What I will do is start at the highest pitch I can do with clean articulation and sing the words "Jesus Christ Pose" and descend through the Great Scale, repeating that, which helps with articulation and breath management at the same time, at least for me. Robert's melody riffs on scale fit with that, nicely.

I know Jonathon is probably stripping a gear in his head trying to figure out how old I am. I am 47. My 30 year high school reunion is next year. Yes, people have been born, gone to college, gotten married, and have had children since I graduated high school.

And I am still learning and progressing. We all are. And I don't say that so that someone will think it's arduous and unobtainable. Each and everyone of us is already a singer. We just change habits and finesse.

Back to recording for a moment. As I explained my recording equipment and process earlier, it proves the point I have said about equipment. A number of people thought I had greatly improved in the beginning of December 2010. I did not. I received the mic that Thanos got me. That was the difference. And this is a good mic but it doesn't always pick up the sound the way it should. To kind of prove a point with a "funny" voice, I did a rattly version of "Shook Me All Night Long" and others thought it was breathy. I know for a fact that I was overloading the mic. I was singing with concert volume right into the mic, inches from me, without the pop filter. Even you, Geno, know very well what equipment can do. Do you use just any old mic? Of course note.

And when I sing, I sing the song in one track. The only song I have done with a comp'd vocal is "Rainbow in the Dark." I had just received the mic and was really excited and was oversinging and wearing myself out. So, I recorded that in about 3 steps and let Audacity export it to one track. Then, I emailed that vocal track and backing track to Mike (Snax) and he mixed it for me. He will testify that the track with the new mic had so much more to work with than the previous tracks on my little 3 mm desk mic. And if I recorded it today, it would sound a little different and probably better, as my resonance is improving.

Even so, I sound different in person. As time goes by, I may be able to upgrade equipment but, like everyone, my budget is tight. Even so, mixing strategies can make a difference. I linked my version of "Rainbow in the Dark" and "I Don't believe in Love." The latter, I mixed myself. And the person I linked them to said it sounded like two different people.

The meaning of my song, "Gimme Some Time," is based on the ups and downs of every relationship. Sometimes, you say things that you regret or that came out wrong. And you wake up the next day with a headache and feeling like crap warmed over. I woke up one morning and this melody was in my head. I had to pick up the guitar and find out what key it was in. The key of G (standard tuning.) It wrote itself in about an hour.

I think I sound okay on this song because I wrote it in my voice. A singer will always sound best on stuff written in his/her voice or written by someone who really understands one's voice, like Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Elton writes the melodies adn Bernie writes the lyrics.

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ron - I must have missed your song the first time around. I don't always get a chance to review every post. But I really liked your song and the way you recorded it. It is always cool when the song "writes itself" quickly - then you know you have something.

Sounds like you've got some good equipment to work with. Audacity is good for certain things and you've stretched it beyond it's limit. With your electrician background I think you'd really dig a multitrack recording system. Not sure your's did, but the guitarface II is supposed to come bundled with Magix Samplitude SE - which is a multitrack recording system that would give you a tremendous advantage over audacity. If Samplitude didn't come with yours, I see that you can sometimes download it for free even though it normally sells for $49. It also is supposed to come with Amplitude which is an excellent guitar amp modeler.

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Ron, i have heard your song and i must say i was a little surprised. This clip just sounded so much better than previously clips i have heard from you. Like others here i have thought your voice have sounded falsettoish or if you prefer with too much air in it. Maybe previous clips sounded like that due to bad recording equipment i don´t know. You are a great contribution to this forum, Ron, keep up the good work.

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Ron, ... bravo, man! You've improved a LOT lately as a singer, and it doesn't have SHIT to do with your recording equipment. That was heartfelt and I simply liked it. One thing that I liked in particular is your improved control over vibrato which you show sometimes in that clip (although the clip is actually in another thread). That type of vibrato is relaxed, not forced and something that most good singers use. Your pitch is also way better now. Cool.

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Hey, Geno. I just read your post a little more closely.

I had a problem making Samplitude work. So, I emailed tech support. After about a week, after receiving no response, I emailed again and got a snotty reply about repeated requests do not bring quicker service. Seriously, I am not making that up. And normally, I don't have a problem being confrontational but I didn't have the energy, that. Something I learned from combat veterans, choose which "hill you want to die on."

So, yeah, if you get guitarface II with a free "Samplitude SE" and have a problem with it, don't expect any help. I got the rig at the beginning of December 2010. I have yet to receive tech support. That is not an exaggeration, just a statement of fact.

No skin of my nose. If my experience keeps someone from buying their product, oh well, they bring it on themselves.

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