Watch as Grammy-winning engineer John Paterno mixes Steve Gadd Band's track Green Foam from scratch. Being both the recording and mixing engineer on this project, John shares his insights on the tracking process and how to add more color and energy in the mix.
In this 2 hour tutorial, John teaches you how to creatively bring an instrumental blues song to life with a very thoughtful and deliberate mix. The beauty of this song is its simplicity, it's 5 of LA's best session players jamming out in a basement studio.
See how he works step by step and shows you how to:
- Create a musical, intelligible and unique sounding mix with some of the best musicians in the world
- Check and correct phase between drum mics then finding the balance for a natural sounding drum kit
- Enhance the tone and musical qualities of the bass
- Give space and life to the guitars and keyboards
- Make space for each instrument to be heard clearly in the mix
- Add just the right amount of compression and Eq to a jazz mix that thrives on dynamics
- Mentally balance between the best qualities and vibe of the rough mix and the freedom to sonically explore during the mixing process without getting lost in the possibilities
This is your chance to see how a professional mixing engineer uses his experience and taste to create a great and modern sounding jazz mix.
The best part is that you can also download the partial stems for the song and mix it for yourself. Put your skills to the test and apply some of your new found techniques.
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Once logged in, you will be able to click on those chapter titles and jump around in the video.
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:38 - Rough Mix
- 02:19 - About The Recording
- 03:07 - Checking Out The Tracks
- 06:58 - Setup Stereo Bus Path
- 08:57 - Grouping Tracks Together
- 10:01 - Pushing Up The Faders
- 11:20 - Checking Drum Phase
- 17:03 - Setting Levels and Metering
- 20:52 - Setup Stereo Bus Chain
- 23:01 - Bring In The Bass
- 27:09 - Mixing The Drums
- 38:46 - Mixing Guitars
- 42:34 - Mixing The Wurlitzer
- 48:20 - Reverb - Creating Space
- 54:27 - Check The 2 Bus
- 56:22 - Mixing Trumpet
- 00:00 - Start
- 00:0 - Reference - Checking The Rough Mix
- 09:13 - Re-Balance The Mix
- 10:55 - Trumpet EQ
- 16:21 - Mixing The B3 Organ
- 27:14 - Reverb - Playing With Space
- 33:03 - Mixing Toms
- 37:57 - Check The 2 Bus Levels
- 46:27 - Clip Gain - Adjusting Levels
- 50:00 - Guitar Overdubs
- 54:47 - Automation
- 58:22 - Print The Final Mix
|Part 1||Part 2|
Bongiorno amico! John Paterno here.
We're gonna do a song called "Green Foam" today, by the Steve Gadd Band.
Steve Gadd – world renowned drummer – has played with Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones... He's had that band stuff in the 70s.
He currently plays with James Taylor. He has played with Eric Clapton...
You've heard Steve Gadd's playing.
Also, we have Jimmy Johnson on bass, Michael Landau on guitar, Larry Goldings on keyboards, and Walt Fowler is playing trumpet.
Now let me run it for you. Check it out.
This tune was tracked at Mike Landau's studio, through an API Legacy.
Everything was basically recorded live on the day.
We had a couple of overdubs.
This particular tune was written on the day.
The name "Green Foam" comes from the foam that we stuffed in Steve Gadd's bass drum, to dampen it for this tune.
What you just heard was the rough mix that I did after we cut the tracks and did any of the fixes and the overdubs we needed to do.
It's important for me to have a rough mix, even if it's something that I've already recorded, only because, sometimes time goes by, and you want to be able to refer back to that thing that everybody was happy with and everybody was vibing on.
So especially if you start getting lost into the nuts and bolts of the relationship between everything, it's nice to always get that looking at the forest, as opposed to being stuck inside the leaves.
My next step is to check out the tracks to see what I have to deal with, figure out how they all interrelate. Let's take a look at the session.
It's set up already how I normally lay things out, because I've tracked it.
I usually always have the bass up at the top, and then the drums, and then the guitar, and then... keyboards, and then, in this particular case, I actually stuck the trumpet up a little bit higher, as the melody line, right after the drums.
No particular reason. I think I just did it because that was laid out on the console that way when we were doing the tracking.
So checking it out, we just did a bass DI.
Jimmy Johnson has this Alembic bass that he plays, that sounds fantastic.
We only did a DI on that. We have a kick drum, and a snare drum.
Kick was a D112.
In this particular case, I didn't stuff it into the hole.
I actually left it out a little bit.
I wanted to get the feel of the overall kit and I didn't want it to feel like a pop record, where everything needs to be in your face and aggressive.
This way, everything kind of breathes a little bit more.
Snare drum – I think – was a Heil PR 20, which I kind of like on snares.
Next track down is a hi-hat overdub, which we'll get to at some point.
We have a couple of toms here, Toms Mid, Low, and High, they're labelled.
If you look at the toms, it looks like he didn't hit them very much.
We used 421s on the toms.
Next, we have a pair of overheads.
For this, I actually used a SoundField microphone.
This is that 4-capsule microphone that has a processor on it, that allows you to literally steer the microphone, allows you to get closer or farther away.
It even has an element of height that you can control.
I love this microphone. I use it a lot on string dates.
I love it on drum overheads, especially when the goal is to kind of get the feel of the whole kit.
Then we have a hi-hat track.
Hi-hat was a Violet microphone called The Finger.
It looks like this really cool 60's space age thing.
Next I have a track called "441." 441 is actually my little homage to Tchad Blake, who was my mentor coming up.
He always had this mono mic in front of the kit.
In this case, I actually used an AKG D19.
But I always call the track "441", so it always makes me remember kind of where I came from.
You know, I did learn a lot from Tchad, so this is my little thing.
This mic, tune to tune, got placed in various places.
Sometimes I stick it up in the air, sometimes I stick it right in where the snare is, sometimes it sits off to the side a little bit.
I probably had this pretty close on this track, because of the groove.
Next, we've got Trumpet, and this was Walt Fowler.
This was a Royer tube mic. Mike happened to have one, I have never used it before, it sounded brilliant on the trumpet.
Guitars. We have a Guitar amp, and we have a Guitar Delay.
Both amps were basically right next to each other.
Really straight up. 57s on each, through API-style mic pre's.
With Mike, it's all about the tone in his hands.
It speaks for itself, you'll hear it once we put the faders up.
We have a couple of extra overdub tracks here, into that little kind of "freak-out" section that we heard at the end of the rough mix clip that I played you.
And then we have another guitar overdub at the end.
We've got a Wurlitzer track, which is Larry doing his thing on a Wurlitzer DI.
And then we have a stereo B3 track.
Some people will put 3 mics on the B3, and some people will record all 3 mics separately.
I most of the time prefer 2 mics on the B3.
I find I get enough low end, I don't need to have to deal with the extra stuff.
They were literally just placed on either side of the organ, and I think they were even mismatched microphones.
I think I had an M 808 on one side, and I think I had a Shure microphone on the other side, the small diaphragm condenser whose name escapes me at the moment.
That's basically our track layout.
The next thing I want to do is set up my stereo bus path.
As you can see, I've got everything labelled "stereo buss" already, and what I've done in my I/O Setup, I've called one of the bus paths – instead of it being Bus 1-2, I've called it "stereo buss," "ss", or "s", you choose how you want to spell it.
It doesn't matter to me, we're talking about the same thing.
Then what we're going to do is we're going to set up a Stereo Aux track.
This Stereo Aux track we are going to put it out on Main outputs, which are 1 and 2.
We are going to assign the input to "stereo buss." Now all of my tracks are gonna funnel to the "stereo buss" track.
We're gonna solo safe it.
This will allow me processing, and it will allow me post-fader fade out, which you don't get when you use the Pro Tools Master Fader, which is basically a trim fader, and we'll get to that in a minute.
The other thing I'm gonna do while I'm here is I'm also gonna set up a Master Fader, as I said, also known to me as a Trim fader.
Because what this is gonna do – I'm gonna assign it to the "stereo buss" – and what this is gonna do is it's gonna give me a gain stage, right before the Stereo bus.
So if I find things are getting too out of hand one way or the other, I have some control.
We're gonna call this fader "stereo bus trim." Then we're gonna add one more fader.
It's just gonna be a Stereo Master Fader.
We're gonna pop this right up at the top.
We're gonna leave this assigned to 1-2.
And then, I'm gonna put a meter.
We're going to use the Blue Cat meter in this particular case.
I have a preset that I like to start with.
I am using the Bob Katz's K-14 scale.
I have chosen this after fooling around a bunch with different meters and different options, and I really like the K scale concept.
It gives me a nice area to shoot for, and it gives me a lot of visual feedback.
I'm gonna create a VCA for the drums.
Then I'm gonna group these drums so that I can assign them to the VCA.
And now, VCA 1, we assign this to group Drums, and then I'm gonna title this "VCA Drums." Next...
I'm gonna go ahead and group the B3 too, because I'm sure that's where it'll end up.
I call it "B3." I've got the Master Fader going with my meter.
I've got my "stereo buss" going.
We're gonna mute our rough mix.
Notice that my rough mix is assigned to output 1-2.
Also my "stereo buss" for my mix is assigned to output 1-2.
What this allows me to do is it allows me to compare my mix and the rough mix, without my rough mix going through my "stereo buss" processing, which we don't want to have happen.
We want to be able to go back and forth between what we had, and where we are right now.
Otherwise, we're getting false readings, and it just gets ugly.
The next thing I'm gonna do is start pushing up some faders.
I'm gonna run it a little bit, and we'll start looking at a couple of the relationships between the drums.
You noticed a guitar bleed in the left-hand side.
I wanted to point that out, because we have the guitar amps baffled off in the room, next to the drums.
Does it matter? No! Because it's part of the overall sound of the record.
And it's part of the sound of Mike's playing in the room.
We're not replacing Mike's part, we're not gonna undo things, and by the time we get everything else in here, you're not even gonna really notice that it's there.
Let's continue to look at some of these other tracks.
I'm gonna push up a few things so you can hear them.
First thing I want to take a look at though is the phase and make sure that my overheads and my kick and my snare are in phase with each other.
We want to have the maximum amount of depth that we can get, and we want the kick and the snare to sound true when everything's blended together.
So what I've done is I've actually put the overheads in mono.
This is a good way to test for phase.
If we put everything in mono, if things are out of phase, they're gonna feel like they're receding into the track, like they're gonna fall back a little bit. If they're in phase, they're gonna stick right where they are when we blend the elements together.
First, I'm gonna listen to see if I think it's in phase.
If I have a question, I'm gonna pop an EQ on and I'll just pop the Phase button in and out and see if I like it better one way or the other.
I'm gonna push up the overheads first, and use this as our reference.
And then I'll bring up the kick.
Just for illustration purposes, I'm gonna pop an EQ on here.
It sounds right to me, but I'm gonna pop an EQ so you can hear the difference.
Hear how the sound goes away there? It feels a little more hollow, and distant.
That's how I know I have the phase correct.
Because now that I've flopped it out of phase, it's feeling more distant.
Sometimes creatively, you may want to pop it out of phase and it may work better. But in this instance, I'm gonna stick with what I've got.
Instead of adding more plug-ins, all I'm gonna do now is drag the same plug-in down to the snare and we'll do the same thing with the snare.
I did a little extra soloing there, because this one is a little bit more ambiguous.
If it's not completely obvious the first time, the other thing I really listen for is the sound of the original snare on the mic, versus the overheads.
If the tone changes drastically, then I might go for the flipped phase sound.
In this case, I still think that where we are without the phase flip is good, and that's where we're gonna stay.
Next thing we're gonna look at is the toms.
I'm going to – just for the moment – group these, and we may end up ungrouping them later.
Just for ease of illustration, I'm gonna group them, this way I can control them a little bit.
Now we're gonna listen to this solo'ed.
I'm just gonna see if he hits toms.
I'm gonna skip around to a few sections and see what happens.
Alright! We have a tom hit.
Now I'm gonna go to this other little section that looks like it's a little busy.
That's pretty much snares.
I'm gonna expand out a little bit.
This looks like a tom hit coming up right here.
Ok. So we have a couple of spots where we can check.
Now I'm gonna start right here with this high tom and we're gonna do this phase check as well.
I am going to just solo the high tom against the overheads.
And I'm gonna slide my test EQ in, and see what the difference is.
So that one, to me, sounds a little distant when the phase button is out.
So I'm gonna leave this one in.
It's gonna give us more cut when we have the whole mix done, which is what we're going for.
I am now gonna scroll back to that low tom that we heard and we're gonna do the same thing.
I'm gonna make a note here in my comments, for phase.
This way, when I come back to it, I'll remember that I have to flip the phase on this track.
So now, listen to this low tom.
And we'll check the same thing.
We're gonna pop the phase out of the EQ, and we're gonna listen.
Now if you noticed when I pop the phase button in, the pitch changes quite a bit on the tom.
It actually sounds like it's higher in pitch.
So now my question is: what's the original tom sound like? And I'm gonna go with whatever the original tom sounds like.
We'll listen one more time real quick, in and out of phase, and then we'll listen to the tom itself soloed.
I'm gonna mute the overheads.
And we're gonna listen to the tom just on its own.
The source track sounds deep, so I'm gonna go with the original polarity.
Alright. Next I'm gonna group the overheads so that I have a little bit more control over them.
I'm gonna back down these toms.
The other thing I'm gonna do right now is I'm gonna up my meter.
And I'm gonna leave it open by hitting this little red guy up here.
A lot of times, I work with two monitors, this time we only have one, so I believe I can shorten up this meter so it doesn't take up as much space.
We're gonna start pushing up the faders and we're gonna just get a level going that I think is appropriate as a starting point.
We're gonna leave the toms down at the moment.
What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna pan them in the direction that they should be panned.
Then I'm gonna raise them up a little bit and see if it's helping the entire sound of the thing to have these rumbling toms through the track.
If not, then I'll just keep them down and I'll only turn them on when necessary.
Let's check that out.
At this point, they don't seem to be doing a whole lot, so I'm gonna leave them on the lower side for the moment.
Once we get some other instruments in, this may all change.
Let's get back to this meter thing for a second, because I made a point of opening it up and telling you I'm leaving it open.
I'm gonna switch to the Large Size, and I'm gonna slide it over.
And I want to tell you a little bit about what I'm trying to go for.
On this meter, we have a Peak level, and we have an RMS level.
My goal in using this meter is to try to end up with my final mix somewhere in this +4 to +6 range in the RMS, and with the Peak level, if it's not peaking all the time, close to all the time.
Now I've come to this over a long time of studying records, just basically loading things into Pro Tools, and just looking at the meters.
I find that tracks done probably before 2000 are a little bit easier, because... the modern records are so loud, but that's a whole other topic that we don't necessarily need to get into right now.
By listening to a lot of things, and by studying a lot of things, you get a feel for where stuff should sit.
I chose this particular meter, because I really like the Katz scale.
I like the fact that we have a range to shoot for with this yellow light area, from a visual perspective.
But what this means from a technical perspective is that with this meter scale – the K-14 – I've got 14 dB of headroom before I hit the brick wall.
Before I'm at maximum signal level.
This gives me an area to shoot for, it gives me room for a mastering engineer to do their thing, so we're not completely beating the snot out of the music.
We're not making bricks, we're making music.
We have options here with this meter, which is cool.
We can go to K-12.
What this does is it gives us 12 dB of headroom from 0 to our maximum level point.
I tend to use this meter if I'm doing stuff for broadcast where it needs to be compressed, and it needs to have little dynamic range to compete with all the other stuff going on.
Since we're doing music, I like having the extra couple of dB of headroom on the meter.
I know where I am in the world.
The other thing I'm gonna look at right now, early on in the mix, is I'm gonna set up some elements in the stereo bus chain, that I will want to use.
I tend to like having an EQ as an overall thing.
I put a limiter on the back end, and then sometimes I use compression, sometimes I don't.
What I'm gonna start with here, I'm gonna start from the back and move forward.
I'm gonna put a Massey L2000 Limiter on the back of it.
I like this, because it's a great compromise between getting level, and also keeping the tonality of my mix.
We're gonna leave that on the back end, we're not even gonna change a knob at this point.
And then we're gonna use Bax EQ.
And then we're gonna use a UA ATR plug-in.
I have a preset that I like to start with.
It's a little custom alignment that I did.
Sometimes I end up changing the speed, but this a 15 ips BASF 900 formulation, or M.Tech 900 formulation, 1/4" heads at +6.
In tape land, I was always a fan of 1/4", it always seemed more true to what I was doing.
So I've carried that over into here, especially on the low end.
The low end doesn't seem to change as much using a 1/4" head than a 1/2" head.
Obviously there's debates about this or whatever, but that's what I'm sticking with.
Let's run this and see how we're hitting the ATR, and see how we're hitting our stereo bus.
I'm gonna open this meter again, and again keep it open for now.
Ok. So I've just increased the L2007 just a little bit just so that its tonality gets into the game.
I'm mixing through these plug-ins so that everything I do and everything I change will all be through this whole setup.
We are going to now just look at the bass real quick.
Let's kick the bass in.
He's such a good player. It's always a fine listen when you solo him up.
I'm gonna start by just compressing this a little bit.
I think it just needs to sound a little bit more glued up with the drums.
So I'm gonna go to a UA 1176, the Silver one, or the Bluestripe one.
You'll see me go to my starting points a lot, only because I just like to open it up and know that – in this case, I'm at 8:1, and I have the Attack and the Release where I usually like to do things.
I really like this plug-in on bass.
Sometimes I do go back and really make sure that my bypass level and my output level are really close.
Sometimes, if I know I'm not really gonna look back, you know, when I'm moving forward with it, I'm not gonna stress too much that it's exactly the same.
What I do want to make sure though is that I'm not clipping the output.
For instruments like bass, things that have more of an RMS content, as opposed to a transient content like a drum, I want to make sure when I'm looking at the meter on the track that I'm right at that point where it starts getting green to yellow.
Because that is basically where 0VU would be on a console.
And that's kind of where I came up, so I still think of my metering and my levels in that way.
Because I want to make sure I maintain my headroom and I'm not crushing things by the time it gets toward the end, and everything is in.
So let's take a look and see where that sits.
The compression is gonna give us an evenness through the entire track, and in this particular instance with this plug-in, we're gonna get a little bit of presence out of it, and I think that's gonna be helpful in the context of the entire mix.
So as opposed to just throwing an EQ on it and adding a little 3K or something like that, we're getting an extra little benefit from the plug-in itself. Check this out.
It's almost like it puts a little itty-bitty smiley face in there, so we're getting a little bit of low end and we're getting a little bit of presence, so maybe it's just dipping out a little at 2 or 300 Hz.
You can look at it both ways.
Let's hear that in context with the drums.
I really like what that's doing.
It's evening it out just enough and we're getting the string, we're getting the presence, and it still sounds deep.
Now that we have the bass in, let's take a look at the drums a little bit closer, and fine-tune that a little bit as well with some EQ.
I'm gonna start looking at the overheads again, because this is kind of where the center of the record lies for me, in this context.
We'll build around the overheads, we'll build around the performer, and the performance.
On these overheads, I'm gonna pop a McDSP EQ, we're gonna use FilterBank.
Because I have two mono tracks that I'm treating as stereo, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna copy this EQ immediately right down to...
the next EQ slot below it.
And then, I'm gonna go to my groups and I am gonna modify this particular group, take off "Follow Globals" and go to "Attributes." I'm gonna select "Solos." I'm gonna go "Volume", and I'm gonna go "Mute." I'm gonna go "Controls" in insert "b." Just for the heck of it all, I'll do "a." I doubt I'll put anything else in there, but that's what we've done.
While we're at it, we'll do "Level" on these guys in case I end up putting reverb as well.
What this means is I open up one EQ, I open up the second EQ...
and I turn one...
and the other one magically follows.
Now, I don't have to worry about them being stereo or not, it doesn't matter, I'm just gonna deal with that one EQ, it's gonna do the same across both plug-ins. Done.
So we're gonna solo the overheads, we're gonna give them a listen, and we're gonna see what needs to be dealt with, if anything.
What I think it might need is a little bit more top, a little bit more openness, and there may be a little thickness – 300, 400, somewhere in there.
Let's see what it does, and let me turn a few knobs.
You noticed that I forgot to gang the bypasses along with all the EQ settings, so I need to go back to my Attributes – "Modify." And then the bypasses, which I should have done in the first place.
So, let's try this again, doing it the right way.
So notice, it's a dB and a half at 8.8K, 8.9K, it's a little bit at 400 Hz...
We're just grabbing a couple of things, and it's changing it enough to where it's gonna be way more useable, we're gonna get a lot more detail.
I may actually take the top end a little bit higher than this, and see if I like that better.
So let's sweep it, and we'll see.
Because I've raised it up, I'm just gonna add a little bit more gain.
No! A little too much...
Let's hear this with the bass, and with our overall mix that we have at this point.
Let's listen and see what the changes are.
Listen for the snare and for the top-end elements, just to see if we're hearing them, if they're cutting through, but they're not overly strident.
Let's switch back and forth and check it out.
Cool! We're getting a little more grit out of the snare, we're getting a little bit more focus on the cymbals.
Let's take a quick look at the kick and the snare and see what we might need to do with that in context of everything, and we'll start going through some of these other tracks.
So now, given that I'm building things around the overheads, I don't know if I need to do anything with this kick right at this moment.
Once we get the other instruments in, we might need to do a little something, but I think I'm just gonna let this sit for the moment.
We'll look at the snare now.
The snare may need a little bit of compression, but I also want to keep in mind the dynamics of the song, and the dynamics of the player.
We're not trying to do some pumped up rock thing, we're not trying to make it really kind of forceful.
It's about the subtleties, it's about the groove, and with a guy like Gadd, it's about making sure we keep that stuff intact.
Let me just put something on, super light, and see if I like it.
And if I do, great, and if not, then we'll yank it right off.
Let's look at an 1176, but we'll use the Blackface 1176.
I'm kind of ambivalent about it at the moment.
But this is what I'm gonna do, I'm just gonna bypass it for now.
What I like about the compressor in is that it is levelling the snare, and what that means in the context of the track is that it's making it punch out a little bit more.
But now my question is: does it really need to punch out a little bit more in the context of the kick, the way that he's playing the hat, and the subtleties of the snare? We don't necessarily want it to overwhelm it, just to have it overwhelm it.
That's why I'm kind of ambivalent about it right now, and as we get the other elements in, we'll see how it goes.
But it's there, just in case.
Let's take a quick look at the hat, and take a quick look at the 441 track. So hat first.
The hat might be slightly thick.
So what I'm gonna do is just put another McDSP 606, and maybe we will filter the low end.
Go with a sharper filter, 12 dB.
Just take a little bit out, and see if that clears it up a little bit and gives us a little bit more locational element, as opposed to it being a big feature of the sound.
Again, referring back to the overheads and making sure that we've got that as a nice picture.
That's pretty subtle. I'm gonna actually go a little bit farther so you can hear more of a difference, but I'll probably end up going back to what I just had, just in the context of the big picture.
So let's do that again. We'll play it, we'll bypass it.
As you can hear, we definitely lose a lot of the kick drum in there at that point, and if it's something that really bothers you, this is a great technique to get rid of that kind of element, and help localize a bit better.
I'm gonna back it off a bit more because I thought this was a little bit too extreme for what I was after.
And then now, let's look at this 441 track.
I love this kind of elements, against the drum kit.
And I do this a lot, almost all the time when I track drums.
Having this one additional element, that just adds a little bit of life and excitement.
Most drummers love it when you pump this kind of thing into their headphones.
It gives them kind of an extra dimension of touch sensitivity, if you will.
Victor Indrizzo loves it, Jeremy Stacey, Pete Thomas, all these really great drummers – I've been able to work with Matt Chamberlain as well – they all love hearing that kind of goosh in their phones, because it gives them something to play against. Let's give this a listen.
And what this is – this is a D19, through the mic pre, through a Distressor, set to 6:1, which is my favorite ratio on a Distressor.
Let's mess with this for just a second. Let's give it a listen.
Ok. There's a lot of ring on that bass drum.
For this particular instance, maybe we should back it off a little bit.
I think I'm gonna use a different McDSP plug-in on this one.
I'm a huge McDSP fan, and I really like the AE400 Active EQ.
What I like about this is I can actually monitor the band very quickly, find where I want to dip, and then just dip it.
So here we go listening.
When I ended up at this point, this is where I heard the most kind of ringingness of the bass drum.
Because I'm listening to the filter itself, what I'm gonna do now is I want to take that stuff away, so I'm gonna pop out the Listening element and then I'm just gonna drop it down a bit to see where I can control the ringing. I'm leaving a little bit of it in there, but I don't want it to overwhelm the track.
Here it is, after and before.
I'm gonna make it a little bit more dramatic so you can hear it.
Let's check out these guitar tracks real quick.
I'll bring them up in context and then we'll solo them up and see what we have going on.
Notice we have the Guitar track, and we have the Guitar Delay track.
And notice that the delay track only seems like we're seeing it in a couple of spots.
What I believe Mike had was it on a volume pedal, so that he only sent to the amp that had the delay when he wanted to use it.
It sounds like the guitar is a Tele, and I don't remember what amp, but I'm sure it was just a single, like 12 combo amp, of Fender origin.
We're hearing bleed with the drums. Imagine that.
Again, at the end of the day, because everything's being played at the same time, it just kind of adds to the magic a little bit, and it's nothing to be worried about.
The next thing I'm gonna do is pan these guitars off to the left.
Because that's where I want them to live.
I'm gonna check out this section where the delay comes in, just to figure out what's going on, because I honestly don't remember.
A quick little slap delay, or a rhythmic delay of some kind.
And here they are both together.
Let's listen in context for a second and see what we need to do with the guitar to make sure we hear it, it speaks, and it sits well with everybody else.
I think I'm just gonna try a little LA3A on here, just to give it a little bit more body.
As we did with the bass, we're just gonna see if we can get a little tone out of it and just get a little bit more evenness and make sure it's speaking the entire time.
Ok. So let's check it in and out of bypass.
If you wonder why I picked the LA3A over certain other options, LA2A's, or another 1176, or... the plethora of other things out there, I really like LA3A's on guitar. They seem to react very nicely with the Attack and the Release.
They feel good without being too obtrusive.
If I wanted something really aggressive and really heavy, I'd look for something else.
But what I want to avoid is undoing Mike's thing.
We're gonna take a quick look now at the Wurlitzer and we'll basically have our rhythm section together.
Then we'll look at the more melodic elements, being the B3 and the trumpet. A quick push up of the Wurli, and see where we are with that.
Yes, it is a little crunchy.
Yes, blame the engineer! And yes, at the end of the day, it probably doesn't mean a whole lot of nothing.
It's just giving us a little bit of extra character.
If it were super distorted, it would have been caught at the time of the tracking.
Wurlitzers can do these things, it's not the end of the world at all, and it adds a little bit to the spirit of the track in a funny way.
I probably want to EQ it a little bit because it is a little dark, and it is a little thick.
I want it to just sit in with everything else just a little bit better.
So what I think I'm gonna go for, right off the bat, is a UA API 550.
Again, we're gonna try and take out the size of it a little bit, and maybe give it a little more presence, and a little more clarity.
So, listening in the track, and we'll bypass it, and we'll see if we're getting a little more presence, and just a little bit less size.
I'm gonna play it back one more time.
What I want you to listen for is – without the EQ, the Wurlitzer track just feels now out of context with everything else.
Everything else has got a nice little space around it, you feel like it's all part of the same thing, and then suddenly without the EQ, with the Wurlitzer, it's just a little bit too far forward.
By tailoring it just this little bit, we're able to make it feel like it's sitting with everything else.
Next, I want to add a little compression to it.
Right where I stopped, there was this beautiful little flourish, and I want to make sure we can hear those details without me having to go through and ride it like crazy.
What I'm gonna do with this one is I think I'm gonna go a little more modern on the compression, and I am going to use the Elysia mpressor.
This thing's super, super versatile.
You can really make stuff crazy.
But I also think it has a nice combination when you go easy.
It's got some toughness to it, but you can also get subtle with it.
So anyway, enough of my talking, let's give it a listen.
You can hear it adds just a slight little bit of toughness to the sound.
But let's listen to it in context and make sure we're not kidding ourselves.
I'll exaggerate the effect a little bit more and see if it actually improves it as well.
The other thing I'm gonna do is this compressor has this cool function called the Gain Reduction Limit.
What I want to do is I want to make sure I don't get below more than 4 dB of compression on this.
I don't want it to feel like it gets swallowed.
One great feature about this compressor is it'll do exactly that.
If it gets to a certain gain reduction point, it'll just stop gain reducing beyond that point.
"Gain reducing..." What an interesting phrase that is.
You know it's kicked in when this Gain Reduction little LED at the bottom of the meter lights up.
I'm digging that. I think that's really cool.
In listening to where I am right now, I might want a little bit more of a room context for the rhythm section.
How do we do that? With close miked instruments, we have to add a little reverb.
We have to add a little something that will make it all maybe feel like it's in the same space.
I don't know if the drums necessarily need it, because between that 441 with that nice bit of compression and between the overheads, we are getting a sense of space with the room.
So the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna open up an Aux track.
Assign it a bus input.
Call this "Room." What we'll try first is the Audio Ease Altiverb.
We are gonna go to Recording studio, and we're gonna look for the Cello Studio 2, which I like, because it's got a bit of a round, kind of darker tone to it.
Most likely, I'll leave it exactly where it is, that's why I've closed the plug-in right away.
So let's start on the Wurlitzer.
It's short. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna exaggerate it a little bit right now so you can really hear it.
Then I'm gonna back it off once I get it in the track, and once I get it where I think it should be.
It's pretty obvious we walked into a room there with that.
We are going to bring this back a little bit.
I'm gonna listen in context with the track, then I'm gonna slide it up a little bit.
I'm gonna mute the guitar just for the moment, so we can focus on the Wurlitzer just a little bit more.
I'm gonna mute it and unmute it, and what I'm listening for is just to see if it recedes in the track a little bit more and if it just feels like it's a little more part of the scene.
I'm gonna add a little more.
The other thing I'm gonna do is kick it out to the right a little bit more.
With the pan.
Now we feel like we have a little more breath, and we're getting a little bit more dimension to the sound.
Next, we're gonna take a look at the electric guitar and see what we can do with that.
I'm gonna mute the Wurlitzer for the moment.
Let's just focus on the electric.
Let's give it a quick listen.
What are we gonna do with reverb for that? I'm gonna send it to the same reverb.
Bus 7, mono in, stereo out.
I'm not gonna put it on the Delay track, because I don't know how much you're gonna hear it and I feel like I'll be able to control the reverb tone a little bit better if I just use it on this one track.
Rhythm section, with the Altiverb on both the guitar and the Wurlitzer.
Now you're probably wondering why I'm going mono in to this reverb, and not doing stereo and not panning it left and right.
What I'm trying to accomplish with this reverb is a sense of space, and a sense of... depth, in a small room.
When you're in a small room talking, we're hearing sound coming from all over the place.
And... just by virtue of having the primary instrument panned to the left and sending it mono, and then having a stereo return, we're gonna hear the main guitar where we want to, and we're gonna hear the decay on either side, which is totally, totally fine.
I don't need to feel like the reverb's only coming from this side.
I want to create a nice sense of space, and sometimes, you don't need to get that critical with it and make it feel like it's a pinpoint.
If it's loud enough in the room, it's gonna feel like it's coming from all over the place, anyway.
Now I want to circle back and see where we are level-wise.
I'm gonna open up our meter.
And we're gonna run it a second.
So you noticed our RMS level is sitting right around 0 for the groove part of the tune.
You noticed that it does get dynamic, we're not crushing anything yet.
Our peaks are being limited, we're not getting any overs, because the L2007 is on the back end.
All these things are taken care of.
We're gonna take a quick look and see how hard we're hitting the ATR, because that will affect our mix and our tone.
So I'm gonna see where it is right now, and if I need an adjustment, we'll look at the options for that.
As a starting point, I think we're in a pretty good place with the ATR and how I'm hitting it.
Now what I have noticed is that I have put all my inserts on my stereo bus trim fader, and not my stereo bus fader.
What does that mean at the moment? Absolutely nothing.
Because I'm not fooling with the level on my stereo bus trim at all, and I'm not doing anything critical at this point.
Forgive me. I'm gonna correct myself, and we're just gonna copy these plug-ins right down to where I intended them to go at the beginning of this.
Problem solved. Nothing is gonna be different at all.
So let's head to the trumpet.
It plays only in a couple of spots in the tune.
We're gonna bring up the fader, right now without any processing on it, against the track, and give it a listen.
Let's solo it up, so you can hear it.
You noticed how he's playing, and the groove, and the way his rhythm is sitting against everybody else.
It's an important part of the record, and I want to make sure that doesn't get lost in any of the translation, and in any of the thing that's going on.
So let's give it a listen solo'ed so you can hear what it's like.
Again, it was a Royer tube mic, so it's a figure-8 mic, so we're expecting some ambience on it, and then depending on how close he was to the mic will dictate how much of the room that he was in that we'll get in the mic.
When you listen to it solo'ed, it's almost got...
... kind of feel against it.
It sounds like he could be playing in half-time...
He was probably feeling it half-time against the track.
That's something that we want to really try to preserve.
Now we need to deal with the dynamics right away, because I know that's gonna be an issue.
Let's think about compression, and our compression choices.
I'm gonna go with the...
1176, because that's gonna give me a little bit more option.
I think we'll use the AE version.
I may want to take advantage of the 2:1 ratio on this.
We're gonna run it, and let's see.
I'm digging that. I think that's a really, really good starting point.
I'll probably end up EQ'ing it as well but the first thing I want to do is get some reverb on it.
Once logged in, you will be able to read all the transcripts jump around in the video.
- UA 1176
- UA LA3A
- UA API 550A
- UA AMS RMX16
- UA EMT 140
- UA API 560
- UA BAX EQ
- UA Ampex ATR-102
- McDSP AE400
- McDSP Filter Bank E606
- Massey L2007 Mastering Limiter
- Soundtoys Radiator
- Elysia mPressor
"Green Foam" by Steve Gad Band
Licensed courtesy of Mito Music
- Steve Gadd - Drums
- Michael Landau - Guitars
- Larry Goldings - Organ
- Walt Fowler - Trumpet
- Jimmy Johnson - Bass
John Paterno is an LA-based audio pro. He has worked with a wide range of artists in his 25+ years in the music business.
John moved to Los Angeles two weeks after graduating from the University of Miami’s MUE program. After a short period of freelance assisting, he ended up at Sunset Sound/Sound Factory, where he was exposed to many great engineers and producers. When he broke out of assisting, John worked with a wide range of producers including Mitchell Froom, Joe Chiccarelli, Byron Gallimore, Celso Valli, and Stephen Duffy. He won a Latin Grammy for his work with Soraya.
John has also produced or co-produced projects for The Black Mollys, Mitchell Froom, Lustra, Robbie Williams, The Lilac Time, and many other artists. In addition to producing and mixing projects, John has also co-written songs with new artists, and has written pieces for TV and film.
The Steve Gadd Band
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