Old 04-14-2010, 06:53 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by flmason View Post
I hear what you are saying and agree, but only up to a point.

Any objective measurement tool would likely show the equipment can have a greater impact on tone, frequency spectrum, etc. than any intentional player technique, even of the greats...
This is completely false, unless you are deliberately gaming the test. All you have to do is take two musicians who each have a distinctive sound and compare how they play the same part: James Hetfield playing through two different rigs will sound more like James Hetfield both times than Eric Clapton will playing through the same two rigs.

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Some equipment just doesn't make some sounds, and technique can't always make that difference up.
Absolutely. Some gear sounds different.

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So the equipment, it seems logically, must be the greater part.
Ah... well now we come into what "matters". And that's a difference of opinion. But I would rather record a great guitar player through a bad rig than record a bad guitar player (playing the same part) through a great rig 100 times out of 100.

I can say from personal experience that great guitar players still sound like themselves even when playing a crappy guitar with old, rusted strings through a cheap practice amp. Meanwhile, crappy guitar players still sound awful even when playing a late 50's Les Paul through a JCM 900 or whatever.

I've been lucky enough to do live and studio engineering with a lot of musicians at a lot of budgets, and my experience is emphatically that outstanding musicians sound great, are easy to mix, easy to process, etc, regardless of the quality of their gear, whereas bad musicians are hard to mix, hard to make sound appropriate and "in the pocket", regardless of their gear.

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Again, assuming basic competence of the player. That the player can actually play what he wants.
"Basic competence" is a pretty big assumption, in my experience. To my mind, "basic competence" as a musician means creating pleasing sound with your instrument. Not all musicians think that way.

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P.S. You know, I'm not sure about the thing about Mick singing in the stall. Even good Nasville singers I know have vocal processors hidden in the gear. So hard to tell (or eve define) "real" in the entertainment biz.
You have clearly never heard Mick Jagger sing in person.
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Old 04-15-2010, 03:28 AM   #82
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Originally Posted by yep View Post
This is completely false, unless you are deliberately gaming the test. All you have to do is take two musicians who each have a distinctive sound and compare how they play the same part: James Hetfield playing through two different rigs will sound more like James Hetfield both times than Eric Clapton will playing through the same two rigs.



Absolutely. Some gear sounds different.



Ah... well now we come into what "matters". And that's a difference of opinion. But I would rather record a great guitar player through a bad rig than record a bad guitar player (playing the same part) through a great rig 100 times out of 100.

I can say from personal experience that great guitar players still sound like themselves even when playing a crappy guitar with old, rusted strings through a cheap practice amp. Meanwhile, crappy guitar players still sound awful even when playing a late 50's Les Paul through a JCM 900 or whatever.

I've been lucky enough to do live and studio engineering with a lot of musicians at a lot of budgets, and my experience is emphatically that outstanding musicians sound great, are easy to mix, easy to process, etc, regardless of the quality of their gear, whereas bad musicians are hard to mix, hard to make sound appropriate and "in the pocket", regardless of their gear.



"Basic competence" is a pretty big assumption, in my experience. To my mind, "basic competence" as a musician means creating pleasing sound with your instrument. Not all musicians think that way.



You have clearly never heard Mick Jagger sing in person.
+1000 to this!
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:32 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by yep View Post
This is completely false, unless you are deliberately gaming the test. All you have to do is take two musicians who each have a distinctive sound and compare how they play the same part: James Hetfield playing through two different rigs will sound more like James Hetfield both times than Eric Clapton will playing through the same two rigs.
No not gaming the test. I think the difference of opinion here is that I'm talking specifically the tone and sound coming out of the equipment, not player related nuances. I.e the sound of an A chord, simply strummed once, and compared, rig A vrs. rig B. I tend to believe that, say a spectrum analyzer, would see bigger differences there than what one can do with fingers.

Sure, though, Hetfield's style will clearly be his own, no matter what he plays through.


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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Absolutely. Some gear sounds different.
True, my main point in this sort of discussion.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Ah... well now we come into what "matters". And that's a difference of opinion. But I would rather record a great guitar player through a bad rig than record a bad guitar player (playing the same part) through a great rig 100 times out of 100.
Given "bad player" means "sucks totally", yeah I agree. But given a somewhat lesser spread, could be a toss up, especially depending on the genre. Heck some genres seem to depend on rough sounding equipment. Some forms of blues and punk come to mind. So agreed, it's opinion and situation specific.
[/quote]

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
I can say from personal experience that great guitar players still sound like themselves even when playing a crappy guitar with old, rusted strings through a cheap practice amp. Meanwhile, crappy guitar players still sound awful even when playing a late 50's Les Paul through a JCM 900 or whatever.
Oh sure, but once you have to resonably competent players... or more germaine... the one competent player or two different rigs, I believe, from my own experience (much more limited than yours) that the equipment has a larger impact on the final sound that playing nuances. (Again, can be highly genre specific as well. I mean how much playing nuance is in drop tuned thrash metal vrs. smooth jazz.)

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
I've been lucky enough to do live and studio engineering with a lot of musicians at a lot of budgets, and my experience is emphatically that outstanding musicians sound great, are easy to mix, easy to process, etc, regardless of the quality of their gear, whereas bad musicians are hard to mix, hard to make sound appropriate and "in the pocket", regardless of their gear.
I'm going to make a guess that maybe you can confirm, that this is because the good player will figure out what the equipment is good at, and play to that strength.

Been my experience playing, that this is what I do, and if the equipment won't make the tones I really want for a composition, I'll end up wanting to change the equipment. Which is really a the root of my assertion that equipment matters as much or more than playing nuances, because the equipment is either capable of what you want, or not.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
"Basic competence" is a pretty big assumption, in my experience. To my mind, "basic competence" as a musician means creating pleasing sound with your instrument. Not all musicians think that way.
We agree here, I think. Basic competence to me means things like, "Frets cleanly and clearly at will", "Timing is correct", etc. You know, capable of actually playing, even if not at Yngwie, Via, Satch levels of virtuosity. Basically, capable of playing the material at hand. Which could be pretty basic skill if it's a folk song.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
You have clearly never heard Mick Jagger sing in person.
[/quote]

Yes this is true. I've never heard any big name sing acapella without any equipment whatsover.

However, I have heard lesser names sing very, very good without any equipment. I do realize there are some very gifted and/or trained voices out there.

At the same time there's a clip of David Lee Roth's track from "Running with the Devil" in isolation out there on the web. Doesn't sound particularly stunning or unique. So from that experience I'm open to the idea that one doesn't neccessarilly have to have opera like skills to do the job. Much as some electric blues doesn't need a polished sounding amp, but actually relies on the opposite.

Perhaps Dylan, would be an apt example here?
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:06 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by flmason View Post
...given a somewhat lesser spread, could be a toss up, especially depending on the genre. Heck some genres seem to depend on rough sounding equipment. Some forms of blues and punk come to mind. So agreed, it's opinion and situation specific.
A lot of those blues and punk players, who may be technically quite "bad", are still achieving a sound that a lot of "better" players (i.e. playing the same part with cleaner fretting, more accurate picking/timing, etc) could not.

Jumping back to my Hetfield/Clapton example, James Hetfield holds the pick in the guitar-teacher-hated three-finger "pencil grip". He also tends to hit a lot of "extra" strings while picking, and plays mostly downstrokes. He also tends to fret his ubiquitous power chords with his middle and pinky fingers, rather sloppily, with the "thumb over neck" grip. See examples here:

http://www.contactmusic.com/pics/lb/...ld_5239711.jpg

http://www.synergyguitars.com/ESP-Gu...esHetfield.jpg

http://worldclassshitty.files.wordpr...s-hetfield.jpg

(those are just the top Google image results for "James Hetfield", incidentally, not special stuff I picked to illustrate a point).

In addition to a boatload of very important nuances of fretting and picking technique, this unconventional and mostly "incorrect" approach allows him to very heavily palm-mute, while getting atonal sounds from the extra strings which his left-hand grip is also half-muting, while "scooping" the pick under the E or A string and snapping the bottom string up at an angle and simultaneously scraping "extra" strings, with the octave and fourth sort of "half voiced" by his overlapping pinky. All in all, this adds up to a VERY "chunky", "thunky" and almost atonal palm-muted sound, even at extremely high gain.

It's also a sound that is very hard for a lot of very skilled guitar players to reproduce with ANY gear, especially at Hetfield picking speeds: cleanly fretted and "correctly" picked, Hetfield's parts tend to sound fizzy, blurry, and droning, without the dynamic "machine gun" effect, even with palm-muting. Picking "correctly" from the elbow, with the "correct" circle-thumb grip does not allow the player to clamp down on the strings with the right hand the way Hetfield does, nor to "scoop and scrape" the strings the way his "pencil grip" does. And "correct" left-hand technique with "clean" fretting doesn't allow the player to use the all the other strings as a muted "thunk" the way Hetfield's unconventional and rather sloppy grip of the frets does.

James Hetfield has never been especially particular about the guitar he plays, other than a preference for the goofy "Explorer" shape and humbucking pickups, and he's certainly played through a wide variety of Marshall and Mesa Boogie and other amps, but he still always sounds like James Hetfield.

Similarly, Clapton has played a ton of different guitars, not just his signature Strat, and also has a somewhat distinctive pick grip and fretting approach. One of his hallmarks is sort of always hitting half-pinch-harmonics: listen to screaming, howling lead riff on "layla" compared to the flat, singsong effect when most guitar players play it.

For another example, Jimi Hendrix played a Strat through a Marshall: a combination that 4.7 kajillion other players use, and was able to make some very high-gain, complex chords sound fluid and transparent, almost like a piano, where other very competent players on the exact same rig sound shrill, nasal, and fizzy, with too many notes.

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At the same time there's a clip of David Lee Roth's track from "Running with the Devil" in isolation out there on the web. Doesn't sound particularly stunning or unique.
Well, without particularly endorsing David Lee Roth or that particular song as any example of a great performance or a great recording:

Your thinking that the solo, isolated lead vocal track "doesn't sound particularly stunning" might be partly an indicator of looking at it the wrong way. I.e., if we assume that it DOES sound "stunning and unique" in the context of the finished song, but that it sounds grossly inferior stripped of the rest of the band, then to me, that's an indicator of exactly what I'm talking about: he is performing not to be "good" or "correct" in the sense of trying to earn an A+, but in a workmanlike sense of trying to do what is right for the material and the song.

(I don't particularly care for "Running with the devil" either soloed or finished, but whatever-- if we're saying that the vocal track from a bad song sounds bad, then what's the point?)

IOW, if we're assuming that the finished version of "Running with the Devil" *IS* a good-sounding song, and we discover that the vocal, a capella, *doesn't* sound very good, then aren't we starting to establish that "good sound" IS a contextual, subjective, and performance- and circumstance-based thing, as opposed to an empirical "my teacher gave me an A+" kind of thing?


Quote:
So from that experience I'm open to the idea that one doesn't neccessarilly have to have opera like skills to do the job. Much as some electric blues doesn't need a polished sounding amp, but actually relies on the opposite.

Perhaps Dylan, would be an apt example here?
Dylan would be a great example of a fairly "bad" singer who is still a massively talented performer.

At the risk of turning this thread even more wanky than it already was, up until around 60 years ago, the only way people heard music was performed live. And in the western world, the way to transmit music was through sheet music. So until very recently, people had two ways to experience music: through local folk musicians at the pub or church or whatever, or through trained musicians who performed "written" music.

These were two very divergent worlds: the folk musician needed only to create pleasing and entertaining sound, while the "real" musician was basically a playback device for composed transcriptions. The latter required certain empirical notions of objective skill and accuracy, where the former had none.

In this pre-recording world, even wealthy and very dedicated music fans might only hear their favorite compositions once or twice in a lifetime. And since the composer's only conduit to the audience was through hired orchestras, etc, the composers and orchestras alike had a certain mutual obligation to be specific and precise, and to fit the expressiveness and "quality" within the lines of the staff, since that was the only transmission medium.

Meanwhile, folk musicians could do whatever they wanted, play whatever tunings they knew, sing in whatever register they liked, etc, and were free to sound like Bob Dylan or Fela Kuti or Cab Calloway or Shane McGowan or Tom Waits or all kinds of stuff that would have been unacceptable as a reproduction of written works.

Modern recording technology now allows us to transmit ANY sound, sophisticated or not. The electric guitar doubled down on that by allowing even unskilled but talented musicians to make a single instrument roar, howl, whisper, shriek, moan, scream, chime, and wail without training. An inspired musician with an electric guitar has access to a previously unimaginable palette of sounds that can be created without training or theory, with nothing but personal experimentation. Newer technologies such as looping, synthesizers, samplers, and sequencers allow untrained musicians to combine all kinds of sounds. And unlike the fiddler in the pub of 1890, these amateur musicians can record and transmit their music to anyone.

Even as the machinery of music has become more important, it has become more important not so much in making the trained musicians sounds prettier, but in allowing the fiddler scratching away in the corner pub to transcribe and convey her talent with sound manipulation regardless of training or technical "skill". And for good or for ill, the Dylans of the world can now compete with the Pavarottis on no other basis than the quality of the sounds they produce.
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Old 04-16-2010, 09:12 PM   #85
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Congrats, you now know more about James Heitfield than James Heitfield!
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Old 04-16-2010, 09:18 PM   #86
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Hetfield also knows that MONEY GOOD, FIRE BAD.
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Old 04-16-2010, 10:02 PM   #87
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Congrats, you now know more about James Heitfield than James Heitfield!
I'm pretty sure that's not true!

Last edited by yep; 04-17-2010 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:51 PM   #88
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I don't know man, you might be cuttin' it kinda close.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:10 AM   #89
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Had to break it into two parts... 10,000 Character limit...

Part 1...

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
A lot of those blues and punk players, who may be technically quite "bad", are still achieving a sound that a lot of "better" players (i.e. playing the same part with cleaner fretting, more accurate picking/timing, etc) could not.
No doubt, a good bit of the character of said genres comes from exactly that. But the "studio sound" I tend to think doesn't. I've heard, for example, clips of Angus Young playing through a cheap practice amp. Sounds like Angus... but doesn't sound like "Back in Black", etc. Hence my constant insistence that equipement and studio technique > fingers. The difference between "pro player, playing in a practice room sound" and "pro recording sound" comes from it. And to me *that* is the gap to have to jump.

Playing technique can be worked on from the day we start to the day we die, and I see it as less of an impediment to making an FM radio ready record than getting to the "pro polished" sound. But, just my opinion.

I mean consider Blink 182's "All the Small Things". Whether you like the song and band or not, it's got a huge guitar sound, without any real super-duper technique. Of course who knows what those keys are layered underneath (or is it the infamous "Crystalizer" preset), etc.

I mean any player could play those riffs with a little practice... but getting a recording to sound that large, different problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ht5RZpzPqw

And *that* is the at the crux of my writing on the subject.

Ideally to bring that both to live and recorded.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Jumping back to my Hetfield/Clapton example, James Hetfield holds the pick in the guitar-teacher-hated three-finger "pencil grip". He also tends to hit a lot of "extra" strings while picking, and plays mostly downstrokes. He also tends to fret his ubiquitous power chords with his middle and pinky fingers, rather sloppily, with the "thumb over neck" grip. See examples here:

http://www.contactmusic.com/pics/lb/...ld_5239711.jpg

http://www.synergyguitars.com/ESP-Gu...esHetfield.jpg

http://worldclassshitty.files.wordpr...s-hetfield.jpg

(those are just the top Google image results for "James Hetfield", incidentally, not special stuff I picked to illustrate a point).
Ok, will have to pull those up and have a listen. Never been a fan of the Metallica recorded sound. Yet some of those very same tunes on the "Seattle 1989" DVD I really like the sound of. But not sure how much post, the "live" tracks received either.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
In addition to a boatload of very important nuances of fretting and picking technique, this unconventional and mostly "incorrect" approach allows him to very heavily palm-mute, while getting atonal sounds from the extra strings which his left-hand grip is also half-muting, while "scooping" the pick under the E or A string and snapping the bottom string up at an angle and simultaneously scraping "extra" strings, with the octave and fourth sort of "half voiced" by his overlapping pinky. All in all, this adds up to a VERY "chunky", "thunky" and almost atonal palm-muted sound, even at extremely high gain.

It's also a sound that is very hard for a lot of very skilled guitar players to reproduce with ANY gear, especially at Hetfield picking speeds: cleanly fretted and "correctly" picked, Hetfield's parts tend to sound fizzy, blurry, and droning, without the dynamic "machine gun" effect, even with palm-muting. Picking "correctly" from the elbow, with the "correct" circle-thumb grip does not allow the player to clamp down on the strings with the right hand the way Hetfield does, nor to "scoop and scrape" the strings the way his "pencil grip" does. And "correct" left-hand technique with "clean" fretting doesn't allow the player to use the all the other strings as a muted "thunk" the way Hetfield's unconventional and rather sloppy grip of the frets does.
LOL! Sound like a description of the sounds you hear at any Guitar Center on a Sat. morning, LOL!

Have to admit, the whole "Cookie Monster Vocal" metal thing has passed me by. Someday I hope to be able to create and work with that sound as yet another tonal palette. Would like to be able to pull any sound an artist desires out of my quiver when needed.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
James Hetfield has never been especially particular about the guitar he plays, other than a preference for the goofy "Explorer" shape and humbucking pickups, and he's certainly played through a wide variety of Marshall and Mesa Boogie and other amps, but he still always sounds like James Hetfield.
Was my experience with "real" tube amps and stomps that the guitars were less critical than it seems with the digital amp sims. My '79 strat and '70 Flying V, though clearly different sounding when played through my old rig, were not that far apart. And more germaine, a cheap "Montoya" strat and the '79 Anniverasary Strat I had were close enough together sonically I never worried about the difference in front of an audience.

But, amps, stomps... and *speakers* made huge differences. Hot, overwound pickups did too, but generally in a bad way. Not sure what it was about the "factory standard" equipment from that era (JCM-800 2203, Fender Pro Reverb, Ampeg V-2, Peavey Studio Pro 10, Gibson L-7, some Boss stomps in my case) that seemed to level out the differences between reasonably good guitars. Though I think the flat strat pickups were significantly more middle of the road than the staggered ones.

One thing is for sure though, the Boss CE-1 definitely caused me an "aha!" moment, as did swapping speaker cabinets around between amps.

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Similarly, Clapton has played a ton of different guitars, not just his signature Strat, and also has a somewhat distinctive pick grip and fretting approach. One of his hallmarks is sort of always hitting half-pinch-harmonics: listen to screaming, howling lead riff on "layla" compared to the flat, singsong effect when most guitar players play it.
Ok, but wouldn't you agree that "player x" no matter what equipment he has on a given day, is often always shooting for the same sound in his head? And given how often guys cycle through equipment in their early days, either they all wrongly believe the equipment has a massive effect, or it really does?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
For another example, Jimi Hendrix played a Strat through a Marshall: a combination that 4.7 kajillion other players use, and was able to make some very high-gain, complex chords sound fluid and transparent, almost like a piano, where other very competent players on the exact same rig sound shrill, nasal, and fizzy, with too many notes.
Hmmm... Hendrix was definitely a special animal. But anyway, legend has it his hardware was anything but standard... I'm sure you know all the legends. Starting with his pickups were upside-down and thus at a different relationship to the strings, to his use of bass amps and alternate speaker choices.

I have seen a Youtube video or two that seemed to catch his sound. Often a (I think) Memory Man was involved?

Of course I love how Electro Harmonix always claimed Big Muff Pi was Jimmi's distortion, and yet seems these days everyone "knows" it was Fuzz Face. Don'tcha love marketing?

Anyway, much like Van Halen many years later... Hendrix was definitely expanding the technique arsenal of players. But even so, I've seen vids of Nashville country players like Chet Atkins doing sweeps... in the 60's... so nothing new under the sun in that respect.

But in the end, many of Hendrix's sounds relied 100% on the equipment. Feedback comes to mind first. Can't do that with an acoustic alone.


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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Well, without particularly endorsing David Lee Roth or that particular song as any example of a great performance or a great recording:

Your thinking that the solo, isolated lead vocal track "doesn't sound particularly stunning" might be partly an indicator of looking at it the wrong way. I.e., if we assume that it DOES sound "stunning and unique" in the context of the finished song, but that it sounds grossly inferior stripped of the rest of the band, then to me, that's an indicator of exactly what I'm talking about: he is performing not to be "good" or "correct" in the sense of trying to earn an A+, but in a workmanlike sense of trying to do what is right for the material and the song.

(I don't particularly care for "Running with the devil" either soloed or finished, but whatever-- if we're saying that the vocal track from a bad song sounds bad, then what's the point?)

IOW, if we're assuming that the finished version of "Running with the Devil" *IS* a good-sounding song, and we discover that the vocal, a capella, *doesn't* sound very good, then aren't we starting to establish that "good sound" IS a contextual, subjective, and performance- and circumstance-based thing, as opposed to an empirical "my teacher gave me an A+" kind of thing?
Oh yeah, no doubt. A+ playing isn't always the requirement. Hence my skepticism that playing is greater than equipment once you get beyond a certain level of competence, when attempting to achieve that "pro FM radio ready" production.

My point with the DLR example was that certain EQ tweaks (which requires the equipment of an EQ) make all the difference is whether that vocal holds up to a background of heavy guitar. 10 minutes with a frequency analyzer told me more than years of listening and reading.

As for "is it a good track or bad", I suppose that's a personal question, as far as the music goes. Though I suspect "is it a technically good mix" could be objectively measured. I.e. things like "does it translate on many systems well", etc.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:12 AM   #90
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Part 2

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Originally Posted by yep View Post
Dylan would be a great example of a fairly "bad" singer who is still a massively talented performer.
Agreed. Further it actually seems his "bad" singing enhances the messages in is songs.

But making his recordings "sound pro and FM radio ready" strikes me as an equipment + studio technique issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
At the risk of turning this thread even more wanky than it already was, up until around 60 years ago, the only way people heard music was performed live. And in the western world, the way to transmit music was through sheet music. So until very recently, people had two ways to experience music: through local folk musicians at the pub or church or whatever, or through trained musicians who performed "written" music.

These were two very divergent worlds: the folk musician needed only to create pleasing and entertaining sound, while the "real" musician was basically a playback device for composed transcriptions. The latter required certain empirical notions of objective skill and accuracy, where the former had none.

In this pre-recording world, even wealthy and very dedicated music fans might only hear their favorite compositions once or twice in a lifetime. And since the composer's only conduit to the audience was through hired orchestras, etc, the composers and orchestras alike had a certain mutual obligation to be specific and precise, and to fit the expressiveness and "quality" within the lines of the staff, since that was the only transmission medium.

Meanwhile, folk musicians could do whatever they wanted, play whatever tunings they knew, sing in whatever register they liked, etc, and were free to sound like Bob Dylan or Fela Kuti or Cab Calloway or Shane McGowan or Tom Waits or all kinds of stuff that would have been unacceptable as a reproduction of written works.

Modern recording technology now allows us to transmit ANY sound, sophisticated or not. The electric guitar doubled down on that by allowing even unskilled but talented musicians to make a single instrument roar, howl, whisper, shriek, moan, scream, chime, and wail without training. An inspired musician with an electric guitar has access to a previously unimaginable palette of sounds that can be created without training or theory, with nothing but personal experimentation. Newer technologies such as looping, synthesizers, samplers, and sequencers allow untrained musicians to combine all kinds of sounds. And unlike the fiddler in the pub of 1890, these amateur musicians can record and transmit their music to anyone.

Even as the machinery of music has become more important, it has become more important not so much in making the trained musicians sounds prettier, but in allowing the fiddler scratching away in the corner pub to transcribe and convey her talent with sound manipulation regardless of training or technical "skill". And for good or for ill, the Dylans of the world can now compete with the Pavarottis on no other basis than the quality of the sounds they produce.
Which is why I tend to come down on the side of the equipment in the "is equipment or fingers where the tone comes from".

With equipment tweaks I can make my lame playing of an A chord sound similar to anything from Abba to ZZ Top, LOL! (Well we both know that's not 100% true, LOL!) But, if and only if, I know how and what to tweak. It's all a learning journey.

P.S. Nothing wanky about all this at all. Every profession on the planet engages in this sort of detail at some point, be it carpentry, IT, Medicine, NASCAR, or anything else people pursue with a passion.
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Old 04-19-2010, 01:29 PM   #91
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Ok, but wouldn't you agree that "player x" no matter what equipment he has on a given day, is often always shooting for the same sound in his head? And given how often guys cycle through equipment in their early days, either they all wrongly believe the equipment has a massive effect, or it really does?
They are also young and green and are experimenting with everything in their early days. They likely have no idea what comprises the "sound in their head" but gear is one of the things on the list and as time goes buy they realize the list contains items other than gear. Sound is so much more than physical items one can purchase.

It's exremely likely that they havent discovered what makes the biggest difference to the sound they want. Gear obviously plays its part (never 90%) but as I said before, if it were 90% equipment, music stores would be out of business because you would simply purchase "killer amp A" because it has the sound you like and that would be the end of it. It would be as simple as buying it pre-set, no tweaks needed because its all about the gear. That is very rarely the case because the instruments and amps are conduits of emotion not the initiators of tone.

If someone wants the heavy sound/tone of a dual-rec and a les paul, simply buy one and if it doesn't sound right, the only thing left in the equation is them. Any individual's most powerful musical asset is transfering their own soul through those speakers, everything else is secondary at the end of the day.

I know we have been down this road but there are others who may find value in the idea that gear is truly only a secondary facilitator. Simply saying rig A has more low-end that rig A for example has nothing to do with what moved the listener in the first place. And if it doesn't move the listener, it'll never be heard past the bedroom.


Karbo
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Last edited by karbomusic; 04-19-2010 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 04-19-2010, 03:26 PM   #92
flmason
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
They are also young and green and are experimenting with everything in their early days. They likely have no idea what comprises the "sound in their head" but gear is one of the things on the list and as time goes buy they realize the list contains items other than gear. Sound is so much more than physical items one can purchase.

It's exremely likely that they havent discovered what makes the biggest difference to the sound they want. Gear obviously plays its part (never 90%) but as I said before, if it were 90% equipment, music stores would be out of business because you would simply purchase "killer amp A" because it has the sound you like and that would be the end of it. It would be as simple as buying it pre-set, no tweaks needed because its all about the gear. That is very rarely the case because the instruments and amps are conduits of emotion not the initiators of tone.

If someone wants the heavy sound/tone of a dual-rec and a les paul, simply buy one and if it doesn't sound right, the only thing left in the equation is them. Any individual's most powerful musical asset is transfering their own soul through those speakers, everything else is secondary at the end of the day.

I know we have been down this road but there are others who may find value in the idea that gear is truly only a secondary facilitator. Simply saying rig A has more low-end that rig A for example has nothing to do with what moved the listener in the first place. And if it doesn't move the listener, it'll never be heard past the bedroom.


Karbo
I guess bro, but my personal experience with analog and early digital equipment was that the equipment was always what was separating me from the sound I wanted. Might just be me, but my hands I can work with.

When I listen across classic rock stations here in SoCal I seem to hear the same. Consider a John Cougar guitar track vrs. a U2 track or since it's a 60's thread, the difference between The Animals, House of the Rising Sun vrs. Fidjid Pink's version.

Then when you listen to Boston, Journey or any of those sort of bands/mixes (or a tune I cited earlier, "All the Small Things") sounds like most of the differences can be accounted for by equipment choice, settings, and studio techniques.

There's just wild differences if electric rhythm guitar distortion and FX charactistics. Even Hendrix used a palate of FX. Most players of merit have pedal boards or even massive racks. (Consider the array of stuff the "Edge" uses and he's not even a spectacular technical player. If anything his skill is creative use of echo boxes. Or look at Via or Satch's rigs.)

For me, when I actually found the setup that did it, then I was happy. *Finding it*, and the attendant costs of trying combinations was the problem. Wading through marketing (crap) and magazine articles, etc. for clues... all a PITA. Beyond that, there's just so many permutations.

Unfortunately pop music suffers from and impreciseness that classic music doesn't seem to. It was decades before say, Cherry Lane Publishing, actually started publishing "play it like the record" sheet music. Let alone any sort of performance notes that covered the sound generation.

In any event, an example. The "Recipe X" preset in the Digitech GSP-21 solved the problem of "sustained lead" for me back in those days. Boss CE-1 solved "wide stereo out of one guitar", and so on.

Ran into it again on Youtube last night, was listening to a guy walk through the presets of a Digitech RP-50. Most of the patches sounded junk... like the stuff you hear in Guitar Center any day... but then he hit "Sustainium" and there was the basic Eric Johnson sustained lead sound...

So seems to me "right equipment, set up right way for sound x" is where it all lays. But that may be, much like I can touch type, I figure the manual part is just practice, so I give it little thought when aiming at a sound. For me it's the easiest (and lowest cost) thing to fix. But my hands can't take me from a "garage band sounding recording" to "FM radio ready mix".

And that, to me, is where the biggest quality jump lives. Perhaps that's why I rate it the percentage I do.

Speaking of permutations... many years ago I ran an elaborate stereo rig. Boss DS-1 to DOD 505 to Boss CE-1 to Marshall on right, Fender on left. Sounded very big and nice. Really flexible too... Just changing the knobs on the guitar and playing style allowed me cover all kinds of genres. (Something amp sims haven't let me do, even with the same named sims... talk about frustrating).

Anyway... a young kid about 17 came over with a Metal Zone, a Boss Delay and a Peavey Studio Pro 40 and a Charvel guitar. It sounded *great* too, but for lack of stereo. (Supposedly impossible, no tubes right, LOL!) But more of a lead rig.

So's we decided to try and figure out where *it* was. We tried is boxes with my guitars, mine with his, switched amps around, etc.

We found that each rig had to have exactly the components it did to sound right. In short we each had searched for a similar sound, and two different equipment permutations led there... and worse, parts swapping wrecked each rig.

So even one lousy pedal can make or break a rig (in my experience).

So what percentage is fingers, what percentage equipment. I dunno, I think it changes by musical genre and production to some extent. But the big jumps in sound quality for me (once I could actually fret the notes and chords I wanted) came from hardware and tweaks that empowered techniques I wanted to use.

Anyway, 'nough said. I think we actually agree in principle but are debating over a percentage. Strikes me as a Protestant v. Catholic problem, and we know those never get resolved.
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