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Double tracking and timing issues

Dan Shipway

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  • Nov 11, 2019
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    I have been doing a lot of recording and one of the looming issues is my inability to record the same thing twice, I really struggle to try to get tracks in time as I play more based on feel and its a big pain. Any tips for improving as it feels like even the easiest riffs are out of my reach to record?
     
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    Radu-Cristian Perde

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    First of all, I completely understand your struggle. Im in the middle of recording myself and it can have timinig issues but I do have solutions for you!

    Now the first thing, when you record, im sorry to say that, but feel aint your friend unless you are an accomplish pro. This applies as much to me as to you. Make the metronome your best friend. Playing with your main drum backing track can work too. But if you just hit record play your thing with no timing, no metronome or no backing track, you are shooting yourself in the foot. The other option where playing with feeling may work is in a band recording where everyone plays together but thats because you play with feeling with your drummer and bass player who do the same because you will have a concept of timing to play off of(if competent, again, wont work for any average band).

    Now okay, you dont say it in your post but maybe you do play with bpm or with a backing track. Then indeed, it can be tricky to have them both play each other be the exact same way.

    Truth is, they wont be exactly the same. Doesnt mean you cant make them tight. The best advice I was given, which I use as we are speaking, is to do your first rythm guitar track, pan it completely to the left. Then go to your second guitar track and again pan it completely left before you hit record. Once you record, you will basically be playing over your initial track and will then be able to really hear how tight it is and really have a feeling of guidance. Once happy with both performances, voila.

    Recording is hard. that red light thing can add pressure. But once you relax and wont feel pressured anymore and have fun recording, you will see results! Dont push yourself too hard and take breaks if you get frustrated. Misplaced anger will not help!

    Hope this helps, let me know if either it wasnt clear or if needed more advice!
     

    Dan Shipway

    Free Bird Player
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    It makes sense, im ridiculously hard on myself so even a minor slip up results in a redo. most of the time its due to hearing two different pickstrokes when i want it to sound like one. thsts probably normal and nothing to be concerned about but im honestly not sure.
     

    Radu-Cristian Perde

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    It makes sense, im ridiculously hard on myself so even a minor slip up results in a redo. most of the time its due to hearing two different pickstrokes when i want it to sound like one. thsts probably normal and nothing to be concerned about but im honestly not sure.
    Thats okay, minor slip ups happen all the time. Now though, you do know you can edit right? You can cut out the slip up and rerecord the part better and edit them all together. Everybody does that all the time and if you watched the avenged breakdown, you would know that it happened to Syn too. Just watch the one about beast and the harlot where he mentionned that the solo was cut and edited a lot. Perfect performances in the studio are rare. In fact, I would say that the most perfect performances are quite imperfect in terms of technical terms but they serve the song well. Point is, stop running after perfection, it wont happen in the way you think. Record the song. Bring the song to life to the best of your ability. Make it a testament to who you are not who you want to be. Leave that for your future songs!
     

    Ed Seith

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    learning to play to a metronome or drummer (or drum track) is absolutely VITAL for any guitarist. I find that sometimes if I'm double-tracking guitars, it actually helps to NOT hear the already recorded guitar in my playback. That way, I can focus on the drums and bass, just like when I recorded the first track.

    Finally, y'all ain't working with Bob Rock and you're not making the Black Album. If you're not megatight just yet, keep working on it for future recordings. You'll get there.
     

    Radu-Cristian Perde

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    learning to play to a metronome or drummer (or drum track) is absolutely VITAL for any guitarist. I find that sometimes if I'm double-tracking guitars, it actually helps to NOT hear the already recorded guitar in my playback. That way, I can focus on the drums and bass, just like when I recorded the first track.

    Finally, y'all ain't working with Bob Rock and you're not making the Black Album. If you're not megatight just yet, keep working on it for future recordings. You'll get there.
    To get to the black album, they had to do Kill em all first! And while the songs are absolute classic (In my humble opinion), the recording and engineer... well its dated to say the least But its possible to do much better nowdays at home with the right equipment! No more excuse!
     
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    Firsty Lasty

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    Nov 11, 2019
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    From what I've seen & heard it's an extremely common thing that once we guitarists start recording ourselves we find out we're shit at playing in time. That certainly was the case for me. I thought I was pretty good but nope, it turned out I was not.

    The path forward is to get good and be happy that you found this learning opportunity. Imagine how much it would suck to pay for studio time and only then discover that you couldn't double track. Imagine if you went on stage and your band's sloppy time caused a ridiculous death-spiral making you look like clowns. If you don't know what that's like, good.

    One thing that really helps me is listening to the cymbals of the drum track as I play. That's usually a great source of timing information. Of course the way to really make things easy is to learn whatever you're playing well enough that you can focus only on the quality/timing of your playing, not on struggling to make it happen. There's also the element of learning to count yourself in and start the take right. If you're just practicing casually it doesn't really matter exactly when the notes start happening or if you play a little faster or slower, but once you hit record there is only one correct pace and only one correct moment to start; this is a skill that you get good at. You will become more comfortable with the simple act of hitting record and counting yourself in. Speaking of counting, now's the time to start thinking about a trick from classical musicians- actually counting along with the music as you play. One two three four, Two two three four, Three two three four, etc. It helps. It can help a lot.

    One final tip- try learning to play the thing you're going to double-track while stomping your foot on beats 2 & 4. At first it will probably feel like a clumsy coordination puzzle that only trips you up, but the consequence of doing this is that you'll own it. You won't just casually learn it so you can casually mess it up later, you'll actually learn it so that you can consistently perform it later.
     

    Dominik Gräber

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  • Nov 11, 2019
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    Man, I could have posted that thread. Recording SUCKS. I am in the middle of recording my second Song ever right now and it is tedious. So I am thankfull for all the Tips I already got!

    Let me Share a Bit of my process, maybe it helps. I First wrote the whole Thing, one guitar track only, then practiced it. That Part was still without a Metronome so it was the worst for me to convert it all Into one Timing. Anyway, then I Just Hit record in my daw and started playing it to a Metronome and listen Back to it.
    After I gained a feel for how it has to Sound I started actually recording the Thing in tiny pieces. Only a Verse, then only the Transition etc. Then record the second guitar and listen Back. If it didn't suck completely I kept it and went on.

    The Thing is, the longer you do that, the more you get used to playing your Thing Just right. And If you listen to it tomorrow and you're Not Happy with a Part, rerecording it will only Take you half as Long and it will be better. It's a tedious Thing, but I feel that's a good way to get used to recording and playing to a Metronome.
     

    Chris Johnston

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  • Nov 11, 2019
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    The solution to this is to make that metronome your best friend. All the metronome will do is improve your feel that you've developed so far 🤟

    A cool exercise could be to take the click tempo from the track and practice to it for a week with what you'd be recording. You'll be surprised how quickly your playing tightens up!

    Also if you're struggling to play at the tempo your trying to record at that's your brains way of telling you to slow down. So you could experiment with the click at half speed?

    Basically, get that click on and get acquainted 😊 100% the best thing you'll ever do for your playing/recording
     
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    Andy Schultz

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    Nov 11, 2019
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    Metronome Metronome Metronome for sure. The next think to think about is to breathe.

    Breathe naturally while playing to a metronome. It's important to keep relaxed while playing, it'll help with the feel. Also be sure to tap your foot, or bob your head with the beat. Get your body in the groove.

    Anticipate any changes, like chord or rhythmic changes. Don't wait for your ears to tell you when to play the changes. Have the next chord at the front of your mind before you play it.

    Those are a few things that have helped my timing over the years. I think learning to breath normally while playing was the biggest for me. I would focus on playing so much that I'd forget to breathe, causing my heart rate to go up and down during a song. Pretty sure that messed up my internal timing.
     

    Dan Shipway

    Free Bird Player
  • Nov 11, 2019
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    wow, thanks for all the support, I appreciate more than you could know. It's definitely something to keep working on and all of your tips have helped a ton. I will keep posting updates on progress.

    Stay tuned for another thread coming up with my university experience, should help a lot of people with recording/ music tech.
     

    Brian Haner Sr.

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    Nov 11, 2019
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    Firstly, make sure you have practiced what you are trying to play until it is exactly the same every time you play it. A trick I use is to record a track - let's say rhythm guitar. Then turn OFF that track and record another one exactly the same. I play better and more "in the groove" if I CAN'T hear the first track I've already recorded. You'll be amazed at how much closer you come when you are not trying to "match" the first track.
    Another quick fix is to record a track, then make a copy of that track. So you have two tracks that are exactly the same. Pan one track far left and the other far right. Then put a couple of milliseconds of 100% delay on only ONE track - so it plays behind or slightly after the other track. Another way is to actually drag the track itself over so it's out of sync. How much? Trial and error. You have to move it around until you find the magic spot. Trust me. You'll hear it when you hit the sweet spot.
    Make sense?
     
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