View Full Version : Mando breaks in home recording
I'm doing some amateur home recording with my own tunes. Should I lay down a mando rhythm track all the way through and solo on another track over the chop or should I just make one track with mando and then break for the solo? It seems to me that the latter gives it more of a live feel, but I don't want to kill the rhythm too much if I leave out the chop (no drums BTW). My experiments at home are inconclusive. I want to keep it pretty traditional. How has this traditionally been done?
Ive heard it done both ways, and I don't think a non-critical ear could even notice a difference in a good mix. I have always used the mandolin chop all the way through and added the breaks to another track, but I tend to centralize the mix around the mandolin itself.
If you ever listen to any "Continental Divide" recordings, they do the same thing with the banjo,,While the banjo plays the break you can hear a plain roll in the background of it,,,and with a good mix, it comes out rather well.
I usually record the mando chopping all the way through on a separate track from the solo. At mixdown I will sometimes mute the chopping completely during a mando solo for more of a live feel, especially if there is another instrument such as banjo that can take up the chop. If not I will often leave the chop in the mix but at a lower level so it is barely audible, more of a subliminal feeling rather than an obvious overdubbed chop.
There's no one right way to do it, try several mixes and see what works best for you.
I would suggest using a click track for the timing to solo over; the chop is not neccessarily going to be spot on, and then you are forced to accomodate that in the solos, thereby compounding any error. There is a big difference between a "live feel" (which when overdubbing is not really going to be there anyways) and just "out". I can always live with something better if it is in perfect time. The chop can always be added afterwards, and used more sparingly then. I was listening to some old Monroe the other day and was pleased to hear him add his chop as an accent that came and went throughout the number as opposed to the more modern way it is used to day. YMMV.
Depends on whether you think you can do the rhythm and solo in the same take. It feels totally different when that mike is recording every move. I would suggest 2 tracks.. as well as the click track for the solo mentioned above -- you could use your metronome for that.
By the way.. I thought by your topic that you broke your mando while recording LOL!!!
By the way.. I thought by your topic that you broke your mando while recording LOL!!!
From listening to some of the takes, you might think so! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
Thanks for the thoughts folks...I managed to pull of a single take with a decent solo, and it sounds fine. I agree that timing might be a problem with a prominent chop in the background.
I usually lay down a guitar rhythm track first, then the mandolin tracks. That works pretty good for me. I mainly use this as a way to practice my leads. I have a cheap 4-track cassette recorder and it works out OK.
That's what I've been doing jimbob. It seems the simplest and most accurate method. I'm doin' it on computer through a PA mixer, but it's really the same idea. When going for the best recording I can muster, I lay down a scratch track of guitar and vocal to get the feel and rhythm right, then go back and add guitar, mando, lead vox, harmony vox, lead guitar, etc. Oh, the things I could share that I've learned from home recording...Talk about a trial and error process!
Well, the "traditional" way was to record everything live, all musicians, all vocals, etc. I would assume that isn't done too much any more.
I've found it easiest to start with a "scratch" or "dummy" track, as you mentioned. Bare bones guitar and vocal. This never becomes part of the final mix - rather, it serves as a "guideline" for the other tracks to follow.
I think to end up with the most natural sound, you don't want the rhythm instrument playing in the background while the solo is played in the foreground. Just my opinion and I _do_ make an exception occassionally for guitar.
For individual instruments, I've found it best to do the rhythm and solo parts separately. I record the rhythm tracks listening to a "mix" of already-recorded tracks. However, I've found for the breaks, it often seems to work _better_ to record those _without_ listening to the mix, instead using only the metronome or "tempo track". Less distraction and you can hear yourself more clearly.
Practice against the mix, then set up some additional tracks in your project for the breaks. Silence everything but the metronome, then record several run-throughs of the break you want. Make sure when recording the rhythm track, that you've left appropriate "spaces" so that when you do your mix (by crossfading) that the entry/exit of the break track sounds natural (or as close to "natural" as this bedroom player can get it!)
If you end up with two, three, or four break segments for the same solo that you like, but are having trouble choosing between, line up each break in a separate track and evaluate them. Perhaps you got the first part best on take 1, but take 3 had the best second half, and take 2 had the best outro. Just crossfade between the three of them to end up with a final mix.
In fact, you can do this with the rhythm tracks as well - a second "take" for each instrument, then if a few bars were weak, you might be able to crossfade to your second track to correct it.
Depending on your audio production software, you can even do small "cut and paste" corrections for individual notes that may be "off time", or align vocal harmony tracks more precisely. Of course, this is necessary for someone like myself; I'm sure the engineers who do the pro's recording _never_ resort to such tricks, right? Right?
I've also found that by using the "normalize" feature of the software (I use Cubase LE), you can even out the dynamic range of solos, increasing volume of the weaker notes while reducing the saturation of harder-played notes.
I started fooling with the computerized recording just for fun, but sometimes, it seems more like _work_!
By the way, the song "Daniel And The Sacred Harp" (the ultimate case of harp aquisition syndrome) on my nowhere.radio page has _16_ tracks, and more crossfades back and forth between them than I'd care to admit!
John, on a recent song I recorded for my upcoming CD I recorded 19 tracks of the same part and edited between those to get the one final track. #And that was only one instrument and one part. #I average between 8 and 12 tracks per instrument and then do edits as necessary. #Notice I didn't say takes, I may do a hundred takes to get 19 tracks :-) #And it still doesn't sound right...
I plan to have that CD and some mp3s available for download by this weekend's Payette ID bluegrass festival. #I'll post to the Cafe if I make my deadline.
Michael H Geimer
I like to keep things realistic-ish by restricting myself to an imaginary group. Usually consisting of one guitar player who sings, and one mandolin player who sings.
The Big Exception is that I provide my own harmonies while recording, but for the rest of it I keep the arrangements as if it were all live.
Meaning, if I do use a second guitar or mandolin ... it has to be a physically different instrumtent. A Mid-mo might back up the Weber, or a Larrivee might back up a Martin, but there can be no 'clones' in the recording (save the vox, but I'd do those using different people if I could).
I even have a template I use for my recordings where each track is already labelled according to the instruments I use.
Track#1 = Martin
Track#2 = Weber
I use to be a fan of the recording studio as a creative, unrestriced canvas ... but I don't think that way anymore. I now prefer to limit my freedoms in order to avoid sounding too 'slick', and to challenge myself to write the best parts I can. (note: my stuff is just stuff ... not a CD for sale)
my VERY limited recording experience has lead me to the conclusion that the production and the people who do it well on good albums requires the same amount of talent as the musicians. I suck almost as bad at the recording stuff as the mandolin playing. Oh, well...it's fun foolin' around and keeps me out of trouble....most of the time. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif
This is an interesting question. During my recent foray into the recording studio I thought I would do the "chop" all the way through the first pass (call it the "rhythm section"). I then came back and added any breaks or fills. My thinking was not to waste band time with multiple takes and such.
But what I started to notice on a number of bluegrass recordings was that the chop continued through the mandolin break. Sometimes this was comming from a fiddle or a dobro. I think David Grisman observed this as well with one of the early incarnations of the DGQ and had two mandolins (Todd Phillips) so the chop would not drop out when he took a solo.
Bottom line, do what works. I think it's better to have it and edit it out if doesn't work. The use of click track is always another way to the keep the rhythm on line too.
The good part about layering tracks is you can fix something small without throwing everything else out. Live is good for multiple musicians, but in my view not a band of one.