Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tasty Links

I wanted pass forward some amazing resources that I've found very useful. I give you the gift of information. This is an ever-expanding resource, so check back frequently as I compile a more comprehensive list. I don't claim ownership of anything available here, I'm merely trying to pay forward some of the amazing resources that have helped me. I've tried to organize the resources:

: Simply put, the best pro audio forum. Whatever you need to know is in there.
Reaper: My choice DAW. Very lively community.
KVR Audio: Great resource for plugins

Pro Audio Resources
Tweakheadz: This writer definitely knows what they're talking about. Great info.
Slipperman's Guide to Recording Distorted Guitar: AMAZING! Read it.
Pro Sound Web
Pro Audio Files
Pro Sound Blog: love this guy's writing

DIY Components and Custom Builds:
Build your own gear!

General Guitar Gadgets: GREAT resource for guitar pedal builds, and general electronics schematics
DIY Stompboxes: more great DIY stompbox and circuitry information
Geofex: More amazing pedal info
AMZ Guitar FX Projects: Great schemata!
AMZ Guitar FX Blog:

Touring Resources
Indie on the Move: Terrific list of venues and touring resources.

Lo-Cal Music:

Guitar Sites

: I write articles for them. GREAT tabs! There is some great info to be found
Uber Pro Audio: Outlines gear rigs for famous musicians, mostly guitarists and bassists. Some drummers.  Fantastic resource.
GuitarGeek: They let the site gather dust and will randomly update it every 5 years. What information that's there is great though
Jamtracks: This is a great site that offers backing tracks to solo over. A great assortment of meters and styles.

Articles This is a list of articles I've found around the web that really enlighten and inform on all aspects of music. Descriptions beside each link.

Creating Realistic Drum Parts via Samples: Tips and information on making drum parts assembled with the variety of sample programs available more realistic.
Avoiding Intersample Peaks: Inter sample peaks and how they relate to master clipping in your finished mixes.
Issues with 0dBfs: A great read on how the levels of your mixes translate to different playback systems.
Black Viper: This guy is the Yoda of digital audio recording. Read every letter in his site and then commit it to life. He is a master.

Stoner's Top 6 Tips for Becoming a Better Guitarist

These are tips that every guitar player of any skill level can take to heart. They really do work.

1. Rehearse how you are going to perform.

I spent a good year and a half basically sitting most of the time when I would play. I had to completely retrain myself to play standing up. Save yourself some time and stand the hell up!

2. Learn entire songs, not just riffs.

It's great to learn riffs from your favorite bands/popular songs, but in order to fully draw every last bit of inspiration from looking over the songs of others you should learn every last note. And don't be afraid to tackle a song that's a little bit above your ability!

3. Change strings regularly/wash your hands.

There is no better sound in the world than a saturated tube amp and a sweet axe with fresh strings. Dead strings sound bad, so change those bitches at least once every 2 weeks. Dead strings also affect what the singer hears (don't ever forget those guys)!

EVERY TIME you play, make sure you wash your hands first. This will at least double string life and make it much easier for your fingers to glide across the strings.

4. Enjoy yourself.

The minute you stop having fun is the minute the music suffers. There is nothing greater than coming home from a great band practice and jamming out to some Green Day or Nirvana. When you are enjoying yourself it will shine through in your playing.

5. Diversify.

Something can be learned from all genres, even the ones you hate.
I'm about as typical a rock guy as you'll meet. But I recognize the amazing ability of players like John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Joe Pass, etc. Rock music is basically an orgy of styles so don't be afraid to branch out.

6. Read Guitar Magazines!

I cannot explain how much reading Premier Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar One and all their affiliates (and occasionally Guitar Player) has helped me. They have lessons galore on any facet of guitar playing you'd like to learn as well as interviews, reviews, etc.

The internet is also an amazing place for knowledge. It's quite literally unending. Most guitar magazines now feature loads of online content, not to mention the internet-only guys like Ultimate-Guitar.

Read these. Soak up the information. You will be a better informed guitarist. It's great to learn, cause knowledge is power.

Stoner's Top 6 Tips for Touring

Here it is, through years of "get-in-the-van" (and sometimes RV) experience. These seemingly small things matter when you're stuck in the middle of Texas in July and no civilization for miles.

6. Always Have Toilet Paper

5. WELLNESS. The road can wear you out quick. STAY HEALTHY. This means plenty of water, a solid (healthy) diet, and plenty of supplements (I'm talking about vitamins! jeez...). Depending on what kind of tour you've mapped out food can actually end up costing more than gas.
Dollar menus are tempting but the best way to conserve is to buy food and bring it with you. Bulk is even better. You'll have better nutrition with food you bring anyway. If you have to do fast food Subway is your best bet. It's pretty healthy and cost efficient. Not to metion delicious!
One thing about 98% of musicians overlook is hearing protection. You gotta sound good every time you're up there and you can't do that if you're deaf from the opening bands. Decent, although not very "musical", earplugs can be had anywhere. The foam kind that expand in your ear canal.

4.Appearance Agreements, no matter what level of success you have, are VERY important. Tour riders as well. Just because you're not Bon Jovi doesn't mean you can't ask for a few essentials. Even if it's just a case of bottled water at every venue you'll be taking plenty of free water on the road. Did I mention water is important?

3. Logistics. Duh. I was on a tour where we drove from Phoenix through Albuquerque to Houston, and then back to Albuquerque and over to Arkansas. All because the CEO of the label was too arrogant to admit that he needed to alter his strategy. Don't let that happen to you. He was booking us in dive bars in buttcrack towns in the middle of nowhere.

Know your market and have set goals.

ONE SHOW PER DAY. Two if you can swing it. An acoustic/radio/promo show in the morning as a warm-up and then the main show later. You are on the road, so PLAY!
Book every stop within 200 miles of each other. Trust me.

2. !STICK TO THE F*ING BUDGET! I have been on so many tours that ended far too soon because of mismanaged money.
 There are fans you'll meet on the road that will help you with meals, letting the band crash at their crib, or even letting you park the big-ass van in their driveway. These are the true fans, and the people that make this lifestyle so meaningful.

1. Make Band Family. THE most crucial factor in the success of any band is chemistry. If you can't stand being in a room with each other for 3 hours how do you expect to be thrown into a situation (tour is war, trust me) where you are giving everything and making little money, sleeping in the van, etc.

It is a labor of love. Support each other. You are family. No matter what anybody tells you there is no substitute for touring. Road dogs. Your record sales will thank you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fix Your Studio Pt. 2: Hearing is Believing


No one is a bigger gearslut than me. I'm always trying to keep my gear acquisition syndrome at bay. I know I'm not alone in this. When something needs to be improved in your studio, the first thought is often to buy some new and relatively useless (b/c you can't use it properly, or you just plain don't need it) piece of gear.

The problem is often no more complex than what you hear, and where you hear it. Let me break it down...everyone wants those expensive monitors...to mount in their bedroom. The fact of the matter is most domestic residences are pretty much the opposite of the kind of construction you'd want for a studio. They're square, right angles for days, and unavoidable standing waves. Modes. It's nasty, nasty stuff.

The point being that it's almost impossible to work with audio when what you're hearing isn't exactly what's there. You'll have problems with your mixes translating always. Unfortunately, this is in my opinion the hardest part of trying to create a professional studio from the ground up - sound treatment is expensive. There are plenty of resources on the internet about how to make your own bass traps (vital for small, square rooms!), diffusors, etc.

It's also important to set up your monitors in an equilateral triangle at ear level in relation to your listening position. This ensures proper stereo imaging and frequency recognition.
I'm going to say it again. It's really, really hard to work with audio when what you're hearing in the room isn't exactly what the real audio actually is. You either have to fix your studio, or learn your monitors and your room very well in order to compensate for the deficiencies of the monitoring environment.

Fix Your Studio Pt. 1: What's That Buzzing?

In my unending effort to enhance everyone's audio experience I would like to start a series of posts based on very rudimentary, but very ignored concepts in audio. Application of these simple ideas will have you making better recordings immediately.

Pt. 1 - "What's that Buzzing?"

DUH! I bet if you look at how your studio is wired, the audio cables and power cables are in a Murphy's Law situation with everything going every which way. Well, this introduces a very nasty kind of interference. It will literally contaminate all audio passing through. Now, it's not a HUGE issue for the project studio, but it will certainly lead to less than professional results time and again.

Electrons are buggy little critters, and they love chaos. So...WIRE YOUR STUDIO EFFICIENTLY AND CORRECTLY. Patchbays are your friend, people! Keep cables maintained and organized, and if your audio and power cables must run near one another, make sure they are running perpendicular and NOT parallel. They should only cross as "intersections" of cable, and some of my fellow engineers even put cardboard between cables that are crossing, although the effectiveness of this technique is debatable.