My first bashing upload: Amazing Grace, Amazing God

My first bashing upload: Amazing Grace, Amazing God
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#1

Well, here we go. I’ve been gearing up to uploading my first song for honest critique, so here it is with both eagerness and trepidation!

So this is a rock remake of a traditional hymn, with an added chorus. I did this totally in REAPER. Guitars, vox are me. Bass is by my buddy, Scott. Drums are AD2.

Special thanks to Jonathan whom I met on another site: he invited me over here back in November and I’ve loved this place! He did some major tweaking of drums and bass and I love what he did. Jonathan, since you heard this I totally redid the vox and background vox, and did some more editing and tweaking of the mix.

Thanks also, Jonathan for encouraging me to put some of my stuff up here. I have absolutely loved this site, but y’all are so good at what you do, it’s pretty intimidating. But I do want honest feedback, and am trusting you guys to give it to me! I’m especially hungry for input on the mix itself, but would love thoughts on the arrangement, the guitars, vox, whatever.

Thanks in advance.

Tesgin


#2

So the first thing I notice is that the timing of the first guitar that comes in (kind of on the left) is quite off. I would really work on playing that in time with the drums. Ever since I started getting serious about creating a “groove” in my songs, I’ve noticed an incredible difference. You wouldn’t think it makes such a big difference, but it does. One way you can go about this is to start with your drums, and record the parts one at a time with great timing so that you’re always building on something solid. You can add in eighth-note hi-hats to play along to for the whole song if it helps.

The arrangement seems to have a lot of similar sounding guitars in it. It gets a bit bright/crunchy for me overall. I could use some more instruments filling in the space kind of in the low-midrange. I think that’s what I’m missing anyway. Warmth.

But yeah it’s a cool take on the song. I like the parts where you bring it down a notch and have the delays on the vocals. It actually sounds like a Christmas song to me, this way. Like Jingle Bell Rock or something. :christmas_tree:


#3

I liked the overall vibe better when you keep the vocal in the verse in a higher register…you originally sang it an octave up. The question is how to do you get it to build? I would have left the guitars out of the intro so that it added dynamic - and so it picked up steam as it moved forward. But I totally understand the direction you’re taking it.

One thing you could try is cranking your hi-pass filter on the background vocals. Its ok to make these things paper thin with tight compression so they literally kind of float above the lead vocal. Then you can manually double them and re-sing them to add width :slight_smile: Just an idea.


#4

@Tesgin! Good to see ya! And I’m really glad you’re loving the site. Don’t let us intimidate you :wink:
Every single one of us has stuff to learn from each other. That’s the beauty of communities like this. We LOVE having folks on here that consider themselves “beginners” and watch them grow. Hopefully we can continue to grow that crowd! Feel free to spread the word :wink:

I’ll check out the tune as soon as I can! I’m at work at the moment, lol.


#5

Is it mainly on the choruses you’re hearing the timing issues? On the verses EG1 is leading the beat; is that what you mean? The choruses do sound a little “messy” to me. I was thinking maybe more EQ of the guitars (for more separation), and maybe more variation in the guitar sound, as you describe below. But I think you’re right, that the timing of EG1, I’m thinking, especially on the choruses, could use some tightening up. Are you thinking verses and intro also?

Great comment. Jonathan was suggesting losing EG1 on the intro, and in light of your comments, I’m wondering about losing it altogether?

Yeah, the warmth comment clicks for me. All three guitars on the chorus are indeed similar-sounding. Especially on the chorus, I “like” it, but it sounds too busy and “mushy” to me. Tightening up the timing on EG1 would help, and maybe simplifying it? Maybe losing EG1 altogether and replacing it with acoustic?

So, Cristina, if you were to do the instrumentation differently, what would you hear? An acoustic and a couple electrics? Two acoustics? Strings? You are SO good at arranging, I’d love to know what you’d so with it. Thanks for your candor!


#6

Gottcha. I wasn’t sure. I’ll move it back up.

Yeah, I wasn’t sure. I really liked the “ditty” on EG1, but I really also liked the drums/bass thing you had suggested.

What are your thoughts about losing EG1 altogether? Cristina’s comments about it being to much crunch are getting me thinking.

How high would you go with a HPF on BGV? I actually have a HPF up to 312 Hz on the BGV buss. Would you go higher than that? There are actually 7 BGV tracks. But what I didn’t do is “nudge” the timing of the BGV tracks to add some thickness. They actually sound almost monophonic to me. I’ll thicken them up.


#7

I’m not sure which guitar is EG1. I’m hearing it panned to the left though, and it’s the first guitar that comes in in the song. And yeah I think I noticed it the most in the intro. If you’re leading the beat on purpose… I haven’t experimented this much so I’m not sure how it’s supposed to work, but I think you take it too far at times. One thing you can do if you’re not sure about the timing is to just zoom in and take a look at the waveforms. If you’re playing on a grid (which I’m assuming you are, with programmed drums,) you can visually see how close each waveform starts to the gridlines. If you want to be a little bit before the gridlines, I would try and make that more consistent.

And yeah I hear what you mean about the choruses being messy too. It’s hard to know what to attribute that too because there’s a lot going on. I think it’s a lot to do with the similar sounding guitars all doing different things. You have to be careful with having various parts doing too much of their own thing at the same time. It all needs to work together.

If you want wide guitars, maybe have them play the same part? I would try making them a bit warmer as well. You can save that harsher tone for your solo guitar. You could also add some pads to your chorus if you want to make it sound bigger than the verses. Background chords of “oohs” and “ahhs” might work well there since it fits the original version of the song. I’ve never done an up-beat rock song so I’m really not sure, but it’s fun to play around with stuff and just see what sounds good!


#8

You always remember your first. Very unusual but cool take on this. Sounds live and I like that. Guitar licks are spot on. Not much to pick on. vocal at the start was off a bit but came around nicely. very creative…congrats


#9

Tegan, add a copy of the scaled down version I helped with above your new one in the original post. That way the others have some reference here to see where you started with and keep adding the new versions below it. That’ll help people follow the thread and comment on them. Do something like

original mix (date)
Song

jonathan quick rough (date)
song

guitars added (date)
song

… once people get familiar with your work you probably wouldn’t need to, but for this it might help. That way it makes it easier for someone to track your steps

You’ll probably start getting a lot of comments on the timing like on the other site.

The best thing I think to do here is spend a couple days or a week just practicing playing guitar along with a drum loop and recording it. Here’s the way I’d recommend doing this: Start with something real simple like palm mutes and quarter notes and just play a progression over 3 or 4 chords. Anything. Play over a perfectly quantized drum beat and a bass line. Could be Jingle bells or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It doesn’t matter.

Record about 16-24 bars. Stop. Go back, listen to it, then look at where your dropped your transients from your physical playing against where the click and drum loop hit on the grid. Zoom in a little bit, and you’ll notice the timing patterns are ahead of your drum beat in some places and behind in others. This is the only way I can think of helping improve the rhythm issues. Start chopping and moving or time correcting your transients until they look and sound on the beat. Then compare it to the unedited version. Rinse and repeat. Let the computer teach you what it sounds like when something is on the beat vs off the beat.

You’ve got to get yourself to where you’re a tad more aware of where you’re off time before anyone else advice on correcting guitars can really help. You’re basically looking to train yourself to identify timing issues. Once you can consciously identify them, then your technique, physical ergonomics, and instincts will adjust. Once someone develops their ear to where they can identify this stuff, their body and mind should naturally compensate while playing and tracking themselves. Again, your fingers will start to naturally adapt to what your mind perceives as ‘this sounds correct’.

So the timing is a re-occuring issue when you post stuff for feedback on forums. Its not really possible for anyone to pinpoint where stuff sounds off. No one can say ‘well, the guitar 1 is a little ahead and 1:06 and the lead is too far infant at 23 sec… etc…’ because the timing is consistently problematic through the whole song, in all the guitars, the vocals.

I’ll throw one more tip out there… what makes a groove a groove opposed to a bunch of repeated notes?

So its not how dead-on something locks with a metronome. Its much more about the consistency of the repeated pattern. A snare can sit a couple milliseconds behind the 2 and the 4. That’s ok if it is consistently behind the 2 and the 4 each time it hits. So its very much OK if the misses the metronome, as long as it does so consistently each time. When I track world class drummers in Nashville, Charlotte, or Atlanta, they’ll get slightly ahead of and behind the click. That’s ok because they’re doing it intentionally and consistently in certain parts of the songs, and the rest of the band is able to sense that and adapt to the super minor changes in the ‘groove’ between verses and choruses. Again, my point is that everything does not have to be dead on a click. But if you want your rhythm guitar to drag in microscopic increments behind the kick and snare, just make sure its equally off (behind) the beat on every single chord.


#10

ps… don’t feel bad about this, and don’t be hard on yourself. I thought I had an outstanding sense of timing when I was in college. I didn’t find out how sloppy my rhythmic precision was until after, when I started working for Royal Caribbean. That was when colleagues in Latin/Dominican/Puerto Rican bands onboard explained to me why nothing I played sounded remotely authentic to they style of music, even though the top 40 and classical material I was playing passed with flying colors. I eventually trained myself to play it. I had all of the technical ability and theory knowledge. I just needed to develop better awareness and precision of rhythm/timing/groove.


#11

I think that awareness is the real key here. I wasn’t even aware of how important it was to play with rhythm until recently. As I improve, it makes my songs sound better in ways that I used to expect “a great mix” to fix. But it wasn’t the mix at all–it was the performances.


#12

Okay, here it is.

This was my original mix, posted on homerecording.com, on October 8:

Here was Jonathan’s remix:

Then this was the latest mix, as above, adding back in the lead guitar and EG1, with Jonathan’s mix:

Ugh. I hope not! But you’re probably right. Actually, there weren’t any comments on the other site about timing: it was about tuning and pitch problems. Hah! So, yeah, that’s what bashing is all about, right? :smile:

Seriously, this is all very helpful. I wouldn’t have thought of timing issues as being a problem with this song; however, I think you guys are right. As I’m listening to it, it is subtle (at least to me it is), cuz as I listen, to my ears it seems “fine.” But, Jonathan, I’ve been practicing with some drum loops, as you suggest, and I think it’s starting to click for me: what I’m noticing is probably what I’d call “tightness.” And when I lay down some grooves, focusing more on keeping them very tight with the drums, then add another part, and another, focusing always on staying on the beat, I find I have a groove that is quite tight. It “mixes itself,” as they say.

So, as I listen to my song here, I don’t hear that. I had to work very hard on this mix. It certainly doesn’t mix itself! I wouldn’t have thought of this song as having a timing problem, cuz it’s on tempo, but not tight. When I’m spot on, tight with the tempo, there is a certain “magic” or “life” to the music. Without it, it doesn’t sound “off tempo” to me: it just sounds like “something’s missing.” I’ve always assumed that “something” is about the mix. Now I’m realizing it’s before-the-mix.

So, am I making any sense? Am I close?


#13

Yeah that’s my feeling about it to!


#14

Thats such a nice song, i would do a remix of it… something like this, I’d expect.


#15

The first thing I notice is the timing issues. You can hear it as soon as the song starts and there are many spots throughout the song that you can hear the looseness. To me it feels like the song is barely just staying together. The timing is by far the biggest problem with this recording. It dwarfs all the other issues that the recording might have EXCEPT the kick drum…How the hell has nobody mentioned that slappy, in-your-face kick? The kick accentuates the bad timing issues. I would lower the volume on that and try to blend it into the mix with a subtler touch. Even the groove that the kick is creating seems to fight with the music. Less might be more in this case.

The best way to fix the recording is to re-record the guitars and vocals in time with the drums or a click. Also, try multiple vocal takes, so that you can pick and choose which ones have the best timing and pitch.

This could be improved dramatically. Tighten this recording up and fix a few of the other issues and this song will be good to go. It’s a pretty decent first effort.


#16

Thanks, Vaughan. Much appreciated.

TB


#17

Thank you, Wicked. Between your comments here, and Jonathan’s, and Cristina’s, I’m beginning to understand I have something to learn about timing. This is making a lot of sense to me.

I read your post a year-and-a-half ago on this …

This is new to me (amazingly). Not like I’ve never known that, say, practicing to a metronome is important; I just never realized “how” important it is, and how much of an issue this is in my music – in my playing. This will be helpful.

Ugh. So a novice I am! Okay, I can do this!

I’m gonna re-track the guitars and probably the vocals from scratch and repost. It’ll take a little work, so IDK I’ll be able to get it up in the next few days, but I’ll do it. Time, time, time. Ugh, again.

I’m encouraged by this. I’m eager to see what kind of difference it’ll make.

So, before I re-track, I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the instrumentation: Cristina commented on the guitars being too similar, and too crunchy/bright.

Should I stick with the same idea and just tighten things up? Should I go for a totally different tone on EG1? Go acoustic? Any suggestions on instrumentation?

Also, if any other guitarists out there would have an interest in re-tracking the guitars, I’d be very open to that. In fact, I’d love that! Just sayin’ .

Thanks, all.


#18

I wouldn’t worry too much about the amp tone for now, especially since you’re using plugin sims. I’d just get in the ballpark with the tone, but make sure the performance is dead on.

I would keep the bass line and quantize it. I think that’s one of the stronger aspects of the arrangement.

I would back everything down to one or two rhythm guitars and drop most of the leads.

I would get that bass quantized first. Then I would mute all vocals while tracking guitars so you can pay super close attention to the timing.


#19

Continuing the discussion from Amazing grace:

I agree. My buddy, Scott, is awesome on bass and he laid down a killer track.

So, when you say quantize, I’m thinking MIDI. This was DI. Is there a way to quantize an audio track?


#20

@Cristina @bozmillar… and anyone else who uses Reaper. What’s Reapers equivalent of Pro Tool’s elastic audio or Abletons transient warping?