How to Simulate Full Band Sound?

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jacksimmons

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« on: February 06, 2019, 01:37:33 AM »
This is another one for all you godly producers out there: Once I have put out my 80s-esque synth-pop album I will be working with my old writing partner and recording an album as our 'band'. The only rub is there is no band - just me and him - so most of the instruments will be MIDI. I really want to simulate a full band sound as much as possible and was wondering if anyone has any tips and tricks on how to do this? I want our album to sound like an indie band actually playing as opposed to something that's been chucked together in the bedroom studio.

pompeyjazz

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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2019, 08:11:07 AM »
Hi Jack, I'm certainly no expert and I must say that I'm always impressed by your production.

For what it's worth I would try the following if possible....

I would try and keep the guitar and bass parts non-midi if you can, midi is fabulous, I use it a lot but for me there's something that you can't quite replicate especially with guitar.

As you're going for an Indie sound I would look at layering / duplicating your guitar parts. For example, I often have a guitar part panned at "ten to" and then re-record the same part and pan it to "ten past" I might use a Marshall amp sim on one guitar and a Vox amp sim on the other.

Beef up the guitar by playing a track of 5ths and / or some power chords. You can hide them slightly in the mix but it will beef up the overall sound.

Give your vocs some serious welly. You are a fantastic vocalist anyway. Try double tracking vocs as well.

Don't get hung up by quantizing - Sure, you need it more or less there but for me 100% quantizing seems to have a rather clinical feel !

Anyway, as I say, I'm no expert but just some of the tips I have learned along the way  :)




Skub

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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 08:10:44 PM »
Yo Jack.

Pomps speaks true on the guitar and bass. If you can use real instruments for those parts,you'll get away with murder on the others. The world is falling down with guitar players,so you shouldn't have bother getting one!

I use the same trick as John on the panning of guitars and I think it works best if you play both parts,rather than using the same track twice,it give a real live feel.

I was at a gig with Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes last year and he had a guitar player on each side of the stage,both playing almost the same,but not exactly...it was devastatingly effective.

Sorry to use one of my own tracks as an example,but it was inspired by that gig and it's all I could think of.

You only need to listen to the first 20 seconds. The first 10 seconds has guitar playing a simple riff panned left,then joined by the second guitar panned right. Hopefully you'll see what John and I mean.

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Cawproductions

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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2019, 08:18:38 PM »
Hi Jack

As you know AtticVibes is just myself and Mikey,
We always go for that full band sound, Double tracked guitars, Realistic drums, although digital drums can work if layered and engineered correctly.

Layered vocals also help, harmonies panned and doubled. Most of our tracks have around 10 lanes of vocals takes..

We play all instruments except part drums and keys.

Arranging is important, try and imagine the parts actually being played..and the position of each player.

Also get a great mix, compression, EQ, mastering etc.

Hope this helps
Andy

AtticVibes


PaulAds

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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2019, 08:42:13 PM »
Great advice from the boys...

A while back, I tried doing it from a different perspective. My logic was that my band is just 1 guitar/bass/drums and vocals, so that's all I'd use.

I wanted to try getting a live band feel for a few songs as I always prefer that kind of sound, rather than the safer and more sanitised versions I usually end up with. I basically just stripped out the other instruments, leaving only 1 guitar, bass and a no harmonies (unless there is another vocalist or you can do an impression of somebody else). I figured it was the drums that had the most impact on the overall "safe" sound, so I played the drums myself to get more of a live (shambolic) feel and used the "bluebird" kit in GarageBand which I think sounded most like a live drummer. I then probably ruined it with the iPhone "live tunes" app which adds too much reverb and audience racket. the results are here if you want to hear the error of my ways. Some songs worked better than others...I intended to do a whole album, but lost interest  :P To be honest, I think I just made this EP pastiche of the idea, as I couldn't do it properly!


You're a great writer and singer...and I'm sure you'll do a great job...although I think that it'll be strange to do it without folks playing yer actual guitars...

Good luck, though...I'll be looking forward to hearing it.

jacksimmons

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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2019, 09:05:29 PM »
Thanks for all the replies guys! @PaulAds I think that stuff sounds really good and the crowd ambience isn't too much at all.

Just to be clear, though: I will be playing rhythm acoustics and my friend (also a songwriter) is a lead guitarist so he will be handling that side of things. I would like a live bassist too because I'm aware how much difference that makes. I can never get my MIDI bass to sound real enough.

I think the rhythm section is super important and I've not been paid enough attention to that in the past. What sort of tips and tricks do you guys have for making MIDI drums sound 'real'? I try not to over-quantize and mess around with velocities a lot.

I really need to get my head around drum compression and side-chaining and all this stuff that right now looks like jibberish.


Martinswede

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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2019, 09:46:08 PM »
Hi Jack!

I think I'm in sort of the same spot. I've started to believe I might be able to make something similar to stoner rock on my own. I play in two bands at the moment but it's mostly like going to the gym, only covers. I play guitar, I sing, we drink coffee. Just fun.

So I've started to record bass(with kick drum as metronome). Just intro and verse. I got all the guitar stuff in my head, no lyrics yet, and add drum by drum in midi. One drum after the other, just hitting the keys on my Akai. Most hits are slightly off beat, maybe 5-20ms +/- on every hit. At the moment I've done kick, tom, snare and hi-hat for about 16 bars. There is no beauty in my midi sound samples but it sounds a whole lot better than when I created drums by drawing blocks in the midi instrument track (Studio One).

My advice is that you listen to some songs that go in the same direction as you want with this band. Some bands have more of a wall of sound than single instruments. Think the chorus of Band of Horses 'The Funeral'(post-post-indie?). Some later White Stripes uses the same concept of multi layer sound a la Billy Corgan to occupy all the space in the room. Another style that does the opposite is more directed towards background instruments and lead vox/git, maybe The Strokes(post-garage?) is a good example. Since I live in a country with two capitols I'd recommend listening to the whole Gothemburg 90's indie scene (after the death scene). You got STOOL, Bad Cash Quartet, Broder Daniel, maybe throw in a bit of Refused in the mix.

You got the voice. You got the songwriting. Now let's get you a band! [Insert cheerful picture of 'The unBreakable' Kimmy Schmidt]

All the best,
Martin
I love the smell of Donald Sutherland in the morning

pompeyjazz

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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2019, 10:06:17 PM »
Great advice all. I would be more than happy to contribute any bass (Indie or otherwise) to your songs @Jack Simmons . Vocals are tricky to get right as we both know and drums without a real drummer probably more so although the vocalist wont keep whinging at you to buy them another pint. I would check out EZ drummer or Addictive drums. As well as having some top quality midi stuff and a huge variety of kits you can manipulate the midi as required  :)

Boydie

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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2019, 11:00:37 PM »
Some amazing advice

2 things I would add...

The most important (and often overlooked) ingredient when going for an Indie vibe is "attitude" - when you play each part you need to be thinking about rocking out in a pub/club rather than trying to record the perfect take

This will be especially apparent for the vocals - really attack them

For drums I would definitely recommend JAMSTIX to get that "real drummer" sound (and I must thank @shadowfax for this recommendation)

JAMSTIX is more of a "virtual drummer" than a drum VST but the sounds are actually pretty decent - although it comes in to its own when you use it to drive another VST such as Addictive Drums etc.
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Skub

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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 06:11:01 PM »
@Boydie

You reckon jamstix is any further up the road that me using logic's 'drummer'? I know it's limited to Logic,but I'm asking for purely selfish reasons and also I sometimes have difficulty getting what I want with drummer.

I want to keep things simple Paul. I don't want a whole new ballache for negligible return..if ya gets me!  :D But If I can up my game,then I like to know schitt.

Yeah,I know,moon on a stick too.  :D
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jacksimmons

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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 07:37:26 PM »
Thanks guys! I have had Addictive Drums for a while but couldn't get it working in my DAW. I devoted a day to it yesterday and it's now working and looks AMAZING.

As for JAMSTIX...I have to admit I have never heard of it. What is it and what does it do?

Boydie

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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2019, 08:03:33 PM »
@Skub

It depends on what you are looking for

@shadowfax had been recommending it for a long time so I finally got around to taking a look and it was exactly what I was looking for

Do not think of it as a drum VST (although it does come with drum sounds that do actually sound pretty decent)

The concept of JAMSTIX is that you load up a style (pop, funk, rock etc.) and then you load up a drummer, which emulates the playing style of different drummers that play each groove slightly differently

You then create songs from parts (verse, chorus etc.) where you can change the "intensity" - e.g. If you lower the intensity it automatically plays quieter (dropping from snare to side stick at a certain threshold) and also plays simpler part

I would suggest checking out some YouTube vids (but IMHO I didn't find any that really did it justice) and then download the free demo

Don't be put off by the intimidating interface - it all makes sense pretty quickly

I would suggest tagging in me and Shadowfax if you have any questions
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Skub

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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2019, 08:30:26 PM »
Thanks Paul. I'll do some homework to see if it's for me.  :)
New album 'Look Up' available from bandcamp
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Neil C

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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2019, 08:45:37 PM »
Live band sound? I’d say play it like live band. By that I mean treat it like a demo. Keep the bpms fast. Get a decent live sounding VST ( I use ezydrummer ) but keep it lively. Then quickly put down your parts before you’ve learnt them too well.
Guide guitar and vocals, then bass and 2nd lead guitar. Redo vocals, fix obvious errors or mistakes but leave the interesting ones in. Don’t edit or do fancy production and keep it basic. Think like the clash/ramones/Black keys etc.

Have fun and sound like you’re having fun
:-)
Neik
songwriter of no repute..