Saturday, October 14, 2006


On Saturday I went to where DOLOR rehearses, at their friend Tony's house, to do guitar-tracking overdubs with lead guitarist Todd Mihan. We set up our makeshift control room in the dining area downstairs and ran a snake upstairs to the "jam room". The ProTools rig is my old Mac G3 "blue & white" and Digidesign 001 interface. I brought 2 computer monitors so I could view mix and edit windows simultaneously. We monitored audio through headphones, and some M-Audio BX5s that Todd brought . For mic preamps Todd brought his Vintech Neve 1272 (I've got to get me one of these!) and I brought my Presonus Eureka, and Rolls RP-220 Tube Preamp. I also brought two DBX 160A compressors. Todd brought several guitars including his favorite, a modified Fender Telecaster, his Sunn guitar amp and a Line-6 POD. I had asked him to bring the POD because I wanted to use it's sound to blend with the sound from the amp.

 Upstairs in the jam room we positioned the Sunn amp and 4x12 cab in a corner of the room near the door, and as far from the drum kit as possible. We covered the drums with blankets to keep their sympathetic vibration to a minimum. In front of the cab I set up three microphones, a Sennheiser MD-421, a Shure SM-57 and the Royer R121 that I still have on loan from Alto Music. The two dynamic mics, 421 & 57, were positioned right on the grill and patched through the Vintech 1272 mic preamps and then compressed with the DBX 160As. The Royer was patched through the Presonus Eureka with some mild compression and no EQ. I tried several placements of the Royer ribbon mic before finally arriving at a close mic placement, which I had read about on the Royer Labs web site. This type of placement has been used by producer/engineer Ross Hogarth for heavy guitars, and uses the Royer for the "meat" of the sound and then blends the dynamic mics for variation "to taste". We ended up using very little of the Sennheiser, because Todd said he "wasn't feeling" that one. The Shure SM-57 was cranked for lead parts to give them a bit more bite and gain. I used Aux input channels in ProTools to sum the mic signals along with the signal from the Line-6 POD and this blend produced an aggressive and meaty crunch guitar sound.

 Once we started tracking guitars we discovered a strange problem. Each time Todd did a stop/mute type part there was a strange ringing sound that lingered after the mute. At first I thought it was something vibrating sympathetically in the room, but after going up there to listen to the amp sound in the room we determined that it wasn't anything in the room, it was indeed coming from the guitar. We wondered if it could be caused by the mirrored pick-guard on Todd's Telecaster, but that wasn't the culprit either. Finally we figured out that the strings between the nut and the tuning pegs were causing the ringing. A paper towel stuffed under the strings on the headstock kept the ringing under control. Todd proceeded to knock out all his rhythm guitar crunch tracks and all of his leads, tracking both the Telecaster and Les Paul for rhythm parts and mostly playing the Les Paul for lead parts.

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