Show 164 – Clean guitar recording and Drugstore Fanatics

This week we talk about recording clean guitars and talk to Daniel Brecher about recording his band Drugstore Fanatics.

Our Guest this week is Daniel Brecher from LA band Drugstore Fanatics.

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23 thoughts on “Show 164 – Clean guitar recording and Drugstore Fanatics

  1. Re: acoustic guitars through electric guitar amps: Keef Richards recently talked about how this is the sound on classic Rolling Stones tracks like Jumpin’ Jack Flash: acoustic guitar (probably Epiphone), DeArmond soundhole pickup, Keith’s Vox amp. Probably turned up loud.

    It’s a big, wild sound. In the right hands that is…!

    I was a kid when Jumpin’ Jack Flash came exploding onto the charts and I don’t think listeners ever thought about what made that bodacious sound — it was a guitar for damned sure, that was obvious. Beyond that, we figured it was just some of the slamming weirdness of how British engineers recorded. The bands and studios didn’t know *not* to do anything in those days, so they did everything. And a lot of it was brilliant.

  2. Re: clean gain for a ribbon mic: unless you’re already in the market for a new pre you should be looking at the cloudlifter or fet head. The latest episode of Ronan’s recording show has a shoot out of these two!
    A compressor will do the opposite of what you want here; increase your noise floor as compared to the loud peaks in your source.
    If you are in the market for a new pre the GA PRE73 would not be a good choice since it may be loud But it’s also fuzzy. I’ve used my ribbons into my pre73 with cool results but it was on a loud source and it’s definitely not neutral sounding.
    Cloud lifter or fet head are cheaper solutions if you like your pre but it needs a boost.

  3. …and I realize I’m repeating some stuff that was already said but for some reason I thought I had something to add.

    Maybe I was wrong? Oh well. I’ve gotten great results with ribbons of vocals but they need special treatment.
    That’s all!

    Try to avoid being ridden by the chicken… Or however that goes…

  4. Hey guys, thanks for another great show, and that clean tone segment came at a great time for me. I do have one more pointed question though.

    I’m currently in a 6 piece progressive metal band (check out reverbnation.com/hydrogenskyline if you need to hear it to comment) and have been getting feedback that my clean tones are “too quiet”. Now I’ve taken some serious time to make sure my clean and dirty tones are as close in volume as I can get them by ear so I’m pretty sure it’s more that the tones are getting lost in the mix, after all 6 members means a lot of sonic space is taken up. Any advice on getting some tones that cut through a little better in the live arena without boosting my cleans to sound-guy-offending levels?

    thanks again for the great info and interviews. I always take away something new from the show.

    please be nice to that chicken,
    Sven

  5. Man, those album clips while talking about it were great, and that album sounded great. And they studio stuff they used wasn’t that expensive. This was an awesome show.

  6. Really dug the interview. You guys kept it flowing with great questions even when some answers were a little short. I vote for more artist interviews on the show.

    Not a fan of the sound effects, though. They seem awkward, maybe because you’re adding them after the fact and there’s no room for reactions like there would be on a live radio show.

    Ride the Chicken,
    -Kris

  7. Hey guys, great show as always. I’m working my way thru the archives and heard something in show 57 that got me to ask the following. When Ryan was discussing going LE to HD, Jesse mentioned ADC. I’m still on LE 8 but wanted advice on how best to deal with delay compensation. I know there is a click + key combo in mix window that will display a given tracks delay in samples (I think). I’m not sure why I haven’t done this already, but I am good with my plug in settings as they are and I should really print them to free up resources. Would you suggest printing then adjusting the delay time by nudging? Is this the correct way or have you used other methods? The discussion on the show suggested how much more clear the HD system was and that ADC certainly contributed. Any suggestions are very welcome. It’s your show that keeps me motivated to keep trying and constantly strive to improve from DAW to Mic techniques and DIY projects. Thanks.

    • Hi Dave

      There is a delay indicator below the fader, I think it’s a command+click to show that. You can also print tracks and move them in to time. There’s also the auto time adjuster plugin from Mellowmuse.

      Your best option would be to move to any other DAW or upgrade to Pro Tools 10 which has delay compensation. None of the workarounds are worth the effort to save a few bucks. You never want to have to think about this stuff during a mix

  8. TFAG-F’n-S
    8 points to team Jon for finding the pin point answer to my question about old school bass distortion in T-minus 2 seconds on the fly, while doing a podcast and speaking on other topics, and probably also recalculating the true value of Pi. I am very afraid of you.

  9. I think I finally figured out why you don’t like the D112. As loose as the head on that bass drum is, it sounds like loose cardboard. While that dead and loose a tuning might make it easy to get a “modern” sound, especially with pre-tuned mics like the D-6 and others, unfortunately, a mic like the D112 is going to capture all the “nuance’ of that head flaccidity. I guarantee you Stephen Slate doesn’t have the heads on the bass drums he uses that loose….

  10. That piece on the D112 last week was so funny I had to yank the earbuds out and run outside the office to have a huge laugh. It took a good twenty minutes for me to compose myself. I was still chuckling like half an hour later and I had to explain to my fellow programmers what the joke was.

  11. This was a great show, guys! I really enjoyed the interview with Daniel. I would love to hear more artist/engineer/producer interviews regarding specific albums, especially if they sound as good as this one. I still find it hard to believe this was done on though a 002. And now I REALLY need to get an SM7. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. I agree with Sven, the chicken abuse needs to stop.

  12. Mixerman is coming out with a new book soon (“Zen and the Art of Producing”), any chance you can snag him as a guest when he does his promotion tour?

    Ride the Chicken (again),
    -Kris

  13. regarding the ribbon mic, it’s been mentioned twice but I’ll add another vote for the cloudlifter. Some of the issue is likely to have nothing to do with clean gain and instead to be related to the impedance load that the mic is seeing.

    I recently bought and built the DIY Austin ribbon mic, and after some lackluster tests on my John Hardy M1s (which only load with 250 Ohms) I contacted Rick, the designer. Here’s what he had to say:

    “High end response is determined by the input impedance of the preamp. It has to do with how much current is going through the ribbon, and the magnets using that current to hold the ribbon steady in the gap. More impedance to current = less “loading” of the ribbon. Generally, a higher input impedance delivers better high-end response in ribbon mics. A REALLY high impedance preamp will really help the top end.”

    I subsequently bought a cloudlifter, which (in addition to adding 20db of clean gain before the pre) loads the mic with 3000 Ohms to balance out the load on the ribbon. Night and day through the John Hardy pre, and it took the mic from ok to amazing.

  14. Hi. I’ve just recently started listening to this show and I really enjoy it. The first episode I checked out you talked about modifying your gear and I have a question about that. You see, I have this dream about putting a tube in my Boss BD-2. First of all I wonder if that is actually possible? and if it is I, do you know how to do it?

    Also, when I’m actually here I could ask you another thing. My Orange Rocker 30 Combo is some times making a really high pitch noise when you turn up the volume. We used it when we recorded our first EP and that is actually the first time I’ve experienced that problem (I’ve had the amp for 4 years). I looked a lot at it and tried to find the source of the noise and I realized that when you remove the tele-cable the noise stops. There is nothing wrong with the guitar coz I’ve tried it in a lot of other amps too. Would really appreciate some help with this.

    Rid the Chicken
    Andreas

  15. TFAGS!

    This show really helped lay down some perspective. We decided this go round to record our own stuff cause of the results we had got from the last two studio sessions. In short they both sounded like crap and one of them was recorded using a high dollar great studio and engineer. Granted the end results were more due to the size of our wallet than the abilities of the studio… We figured it had to do more with the time given to mixing or the vision (to quote Brecher) and not necessarily the equipment. So we are in the process of taking a gamble using consumer level equipment. The Drugstore Fanatics tracks are an inspiration in this regards.

    This show hits so many good points… one of the big things I’ve learned tracking our forth coming ep is that “Fix it in the mix” is indeed a terrible idea. To date i have spent way more time fixing than mixing. One of the best take aways from this episode is a new favorite band! Drugstore Fanatics rock!

    Ride the lightning chicken

    P.S. no chickens or lightning were harmed in the creation of this post.

  16. I loved the show and you guys really pull through when we ask questions or have a request. It was obvious that Brecher isn’t a listener to the show but but a lot of what he said echoes the stuff you guys say and it only reiterated the fact that the information you share with us holds true throughout the recording world. This interview has been a true motivator and inspiration to me. Thanks for the work you guys put into this podcast!

  17. @Andreas F: i’ve seen a mod kit that swaps out some components in the BD-2 to give it asymmetrical clipping, which will a little bit more “tube-like” but actual tubes require a very different power circuit.

    your second question: the sound goes away when the guitar is unplugged… if the amp doesn’t make the sound unless it’s connected to a pickup than the sound is coming from the amp + pickup combination.
    i’d check out singlecoil.com for how-to’s on shielding the guitar and making it quieter.

    …and also check if there is a ground lift or polarity switch on the amp. if it’s a high pitched noise i doubt that’s the issue but…

  18. @Andreas – @Justin is right. Single-coil guitars are ultra-mega-prone to noise and electrical interference. Lights, monitors, other electrical sources are the usual culprits. Try turning the guitar to face different directions and see if that makes a difference. If it does, then you know it’s the guitar.

    The more you crank up an amp, the more, well, amplified the noise will be.

    You won’t be able to mod a BD-2 to add a tube. There is a wide, wide world of pedals that both sound “tubey” because they have a tube, and those that don’t have a tube but still sound “tubey”. Check out thegearpage.net and learn from the masters over there.

  19. Sonny beat me to the punch with his comment about keith richards using an acoustic through an amp. Pete Townshend did it quite a bit as well, and while I can’t find any definitive proof, i suspect jimmy page did it on certain tracks also.

  20. Regarding acoustic guitars on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” described in an earlier post, Keith gave a fuller explanation:

    “(I used a) Gibson Hummingbird (acoustic) tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones’ band in San Antonio in (1964)… (The high-strung guitar) was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Phillips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.”
    – Keith Richards, 2002

    As for the Stones being too naive to know what they are doing after having spent years in the best studios in the world with the best engineers, that’s a little strange. Think about it: The Stones: naive?

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