Wednesday, January 27, 2016

HSS Episode 021-Updates and Extras

In this episode I talk about a whole slew of things! (EP Release, Free consultation, the recent video series Creating A Song: Step By Step, and some extras...hint listen all the way through.

If you'd like to reach me by email and ask a question or have some input you can do that here:

Please review the podcast when you get a chance, and thank you in advance!

Check out this episode!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Creating A Song: Step By Step

If there was one thing I really desired when I started to record and mix my own music, it was a clear cut, over the shoulder tutorial. I needed someone with more experience than I had to set me down and say, "Here is how you get started."

Unfortunately, I never had that. Though there are a ton of online tutorials, none of them seemed to cover just the basics, or how to get started in all of this. Since then there have been some who seen the need and stepped up to the plate to offer some help. I simply had to figure it out as I went and make a ton of mistakes.

That's why I decided to start a series of videos where I go through the entire process, step by step. It is that over the shoulder, "Here's how you get started" video series that I was looking for when I started out. Now you can follow along with me as I go through the whole thing! The best part is, I am not doing a ton of editing or working ahead. Why, is that important? Because it will allow you to see my mistakes. Yep, I said that. Then I will show you how I fix some of those mistakes! Priceless!

All to often (especially with social media) we catch only a glimpse of the beautiful editors rendition of something. This at times leaves us thinking that we need to be perfect. Although perfection is a good thing to strive for, and as a perfectionist I am guilty, we can over do it at times. The best concert I ever went to was a Casting Crowns concert. The reason why it was so good was because it was raw and unedited. They messed up a few times, but just kept right on going. The best training I have received on my job was at those moments when everything went wrong and chaos was running a muck. Thence trainer stepped in and showed how to fix it. Now, had that never happened, I would have been lost if the same situation cropped up without a trainer and without the experience. So, when I run into a problem with the mix we are working on, I am not gonna fix it in pre and then present it in post as a perfectly polished peice of work. Instead, I am going to point out the mistake and walk you through how I am going to attempt to fix it. A boss will tell you how to do something, a salesman will show you the finished product while carefully leaving out important flaws in that product. A leader, and a friend, will walk you through the whole process so that your aware of all the ins and outs, and show you how to do something.

That's what I am wanting to achieve in this video series. I want to genuinely help with a real world approach. Will the song be perfect? Nope? Will this series make you better? It may help you grasp some concepts to help you get there, but ultimately doing more recording, mixing, writing, etc., is what will make you better.

So head on over to YouTube and follow along with me as we go through the "Creating A Song: Step By Step" series.

Make sure you subscribe to stay up to date on all the latest videos I will be posting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Recording with Purpose

By now I hope you have realized the futility of "fixing things in the mix". Not only does it take more time to "fix" things, but in the end everyone loses. The artist you may represent (even if it's yourself), the listener, your mom... (that is if she listens to your work) Everyone will be subjected to the an over processed audio nightmare! Getting a great take, from a great artist, who gave a great performance, without taking a great deal of time to set up mics and position them properly is like playing Russian roulette. You may get a good take by just throwing up a mic where you think it should go, but you may not also. You may be able to even get it sounding decent after an hour of grueling work and 133 plug-ins. However, what if when you got that amazing take, and incorporated it into the mix later, you thought "Hey that actually sounds pretty good the way it is!"

What if, after saying that, instead of struggling to find the right plug-in to make it sound good, you were struggling to find a plug-in at all to even put on it in the first place. Now, I know that in today's world of gear crazy, plug-in happy, home studios, this seems like some Utopia that is not attainable without the latest Wave's deal or that "Stupid Deal of the Day". Yet, in all actuality it is possible!

All it takes is some time to record with purpose. First you have to decide for yourself what is the purpose of the instrument/s you're recording? Are they supportive, or are they the leading elements that make up the song? Do they need a certain sound or tone to set well? Think about it as if you were recording it into your DAW without any hope of ever changing it again. Does the electric guitar need to be brighter to even out the low-mids that are panned hard left from an acoustic part? Maybe it needs to be darker to even out the hype from the keys? 

The best way to know for certain is to hear it as it is being recorded in real time. Break out the ol' headphones and crank up the monitoring level so you can clearly hear what that mic is doing to the sound. Small movements from a mic can dramatically effect the tone of something so move it around quickly until you get in the ballpark of what your looking for and then slow way down, moving it only by inches one way or another. Once you got that sweet spot, remember where you had and mark it in some way if you can. (Tape, sharpie, chalk, etc. use your better judgment as to which would work best) That way you can get back to that tone again if you should need to redo a riff or overdub.

Ultimately, you want to be thinking about the end result. What would you want it to sound like when it's all said and done? By taking this little bit of extra time up front and getting just the right sound going in, you will save a ton of time, CPU, and hair when it comes to mixing. 

I am starting a series on the YouTube channel where I am going to be covering this and other things related as I work through a song step by step from idea to finished product, follow along with me and make something of your own as well! When its all said and done, I'd love to hear what you got! Until next time, go make some music!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Quest for Tone

Any guitarist knows, that as much as we love the guitar, we love finding ways to get "that tone" as well. Some have even went as far as to go on a seemingly never ending venture for their "own tone". I have to say that as a mixing engineer and guitarist I am in a pickle. I not only love tone but I know what tones I am looking for and those I can't achieve when it comes to a mix. Ergo, it places me in a bad spot sometimes because I can spend wayyyyy to much time trying to get that "perfect tone". The bad thing about mixing in that tone is a lot of times all that work has to go down the drain to some extent because a great tone doesn't always sound great in the context of a mix.

One thing that has really helped to get an instrument to poke out in a mix is good ole' saturation. When something is processed with even a little saturation it suddenly becomes more apparent and articulates well. There are a number of reasons for this. Saturation adds more harmonics. This is what most people are in love with when it comes to that SSL sound, or that tube vocal sound. That hardware adds a certain amount of saturation to the signal that makes it more rounded, gritty if overdone, and articulated.

One thing that I recently did to alter the tone of my Cort Les Paul style guitar is exchange the plastic nut for a brass one. Below, I have included a review of the Brass Compensated Nut from AxeMasters. Included are sound clips as well as a frequency analysis so you get a full audio/visual  review of what something as small as a nut change can do for your tone. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Interview with Don Cherry

To start out the new year, I have a special guest on the podcast, a man by the name of Don Cherry. Don founded the ministry "Strings With Wings", and in this episode he gives the back story of how it all got started. I also tell my story about how I met Don and how I eventually became a help to him.  I have included some pictures below that correspond with this episode! I hope you all had an awesome New Year's! God Bless! (Don't have iTunes? then try this link:

My first time at Don's house back in 2011. This is the Guitar Room!

So many choices. Here I am reaching for the Sakura acoustic.

Don showing me more options.

This was the Washburn and the little girl I gave it to.

Our first lesson!

In the picture above I am holding the Fender Strat that belonged to the church, this was before it was stolen. Man! I really miss that guitar!

Here's the Sakura.
It eventually was planted into good hands!
Years later and I am helping get instruments planted with Don!

In this picture I am holding a gift that Don gave me, a Tele style Indiana guitar! It was his way of saying thank you! Behind us are the instruments that will be refurbished and given away to those who are in need. Poor Don had put in a full days work and then a full day of Jamming. I am sure he liked the latter more than the former though. What a journey, what a blessing, and what a great God we serve!

If you'd like to contact Don, his email is