Guitar History with TheBuddha: Part 2

So, you might remember that time I got a little bit inebriated (well, for some definition of ‘little’) and decided that I’d share some history of the guitar with you? No? Well, I do. Here’s a link to refresh your memory.

In that entry, I told you about how the guitar’s classified as a chordophone and what that actually means. In my defense, it seemed like a pretty good place to start.

Today, we’re going to trek back through history and examine some more about the instrument we all know and love.
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Lessons about performing, lesson 36: Band Meetings!

Strangely enough, I’ve not yet run out of ideas for this series. I’m not sure how long it will last, but there’s still more lessons to be shared and more rules to follow.

If you want to see the complete list, click here. Basically, I’m trying to help you get a leg up on the competition, if you’re crazy enough to decide to try to make a living as a performing musician. There’s no magical trick that will make you a rock star, but following these rules will give you a better chance at having a successful career as a performing musician.

You don’t need to follow all of these rules – but you should capitalize on the rules that you can follow. Some of them are a little vague and you’ll need to adapt them to your own situation. We play to a diverse group of people, in a variety of settings, and very different kinds of music.

So, you’ll need to use some commonsense and apply these to your situation. Some of them, you may even be able to ignore. This next rule is not one of those that you should ignore. In fact, it’s probably one of the more important rules on this list. (No, I don’t always say that! I only say it when it’s really important!)
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Lessons about performing, lesson 35: Your local music shop!

You know, I didn’t expect this site to have more than a few entries before I just stopped writing stuff for it. If I could go back through my past, I bet I could dig up dozens of defunct blogs that got fewer than a half-dozen posts.

This site is different, somehow. I think a large part of that difference is actually you. Yes, you are the probable difference. You take the time out of your busy lives to read the words that spew forth from my keyboard pounding and are kind enough to encourage me.

But, I don’t think it’s the encouragement that really does it. It’s not meant to sound egotistical, but I can probably get encouragement anywhere.

No… What it is, and what I really enjoy, are the comments and ensuing discussions that these articles generate. I really enjoy how it has, across a few sites, become a bit of a community of people who check the articles, comment frequently, and let me know how the information in these articles mattered to them.

The sites where these articles are submitted support a voting system and I don’t write these for the votes. I write them because I get comments and interaction. I also write them because it fills me with glee to see how many people read the results of my keyboard smashing. I really enjoy seeing the number of people who read these articles and knowing that I give them a few minutes of tranquility and share some information with them.

Really, that’s pretty much what I do. I smash the keyboard and words pop out on the screen. Sometimes, I delete them and smash the keyboard some more. Y’all seem to enjoy the results and the results seem pretty good at starting discussions. They seem pretty good at getting people to open up about themselves, their desire to play and share music, and to exchange information and dialogue.

And, really, that’s pretty much the biggest benefit of a group of networked computers. But, that’s not the only network you have available to use to your advantage. Another network is is what we’re going to discuss today.

If you don’t know, this is a list of rules for performing musicians. They won’t turn you into a rock star. They will give you a head start and they will give you better odds at successfully making a living from your musicianship. Click here to read the full list of rules.
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Lesson about Recording for the Complete Novice: It’s all about the Bus…

Aloha!  Chris here with The Kilt Lifters.  It’s Sunday again, and that means it’s time for another lesson on recording for the complete novice.  I hope everyone has had a stellar week that would make Mr. Crazy Eyes blush.  This is going to be a relatively short one, and I hope it’s useful for those folks that are just learning their way around a DAW.  This is one of those simple things that folks rarely explain, but they somehow expect you to know.  I started writing this series when I thought back to all of the frustrations I’ve had learning these things the hard way.  Most of us are musicians, not engineers.  We know how to make the noise we want to make, but not necessarily how best to capture and present it.  One of the most frustrating things ever is hearing one of the grizzled old engineers say, ‘use your ears’.  That’s the least useful thing anyone has ever said, yet you see it EVERYWHERE online in virtually every audio production forum.  It would be akin to me telling one of my guitar students to ‘use their fingers’ when they ask me how to improve their playing.  Duh.  Of course they are going to use their fingers, but it’s my job to tell them wtf they’re supposed to do with their fingers to make the noise they want to make.  So, without further ado, here’s a bit about buses.

At this point, we are assuming that you have a number of tracks recorded, and now you need to process them to make the burps and farts really sparkle.  When you’re dealing with a large number of tracks, it’s often helpful to process groups of tracks together not just for organizational purposes, but also to use your computer’s processing power more efficiently.  To do this, we group tracks into buses.

Take the example below.  We have a group of vocal tracks that we want to process in the same manner.  We have a lead vocal track and a group of background vocals. In this example, we want to use the same compressor with the same settings on all of them.  

It is a large waste of processing power and quite a bit of extra work to add that compressor and set it for each individual track. To accomplish our goal, we group all of the vocal tracks into a single bus and put the compressor on the bus!  This way, the DAW only needs to process one instance of the compressor, and the engineer only needs to configure it once! This is a much more efficient use of both the processor and the engineer.

That’s it for this week.  See?  I told you it would be short and simple.  If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, please feel free to drop a note in the box below.

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Requested Article: What’s the difference between playing a banjo and playing a guitar?

Good morning! I see you survived Friday the 13th and have managed to visit the site again. Well, I assume you did – otherwise you’d not be reading this, I hope…

Today, I’m going to answer a reader’s question. Sort of…

A fella who goes by the name of @RepublicOfTX asked me to compare and contrast playing a guitar with playing a banjo. Which is a great question and a great idea for an article!

Except, I’m a guitarist and not a banjo player! I own a banjo, in fact I own two of them. I have taken zero formal banjo lessons, am not what I’d call a banjo player, and am absolutely not the best source for information about this subject.

Fortunately, the community of musicians is pretty small and is usually pretty helpful. Someone who wishes to remain anonymous was willing to write up some information for me and I’ll be turning that into my answer. For the sake of anonymity, we’re going to call our wonderful instructor by the name of @MysteriousMysteryMan!

So, I’m not the person answering. Instead, I’m the person relaying the information and turning it into this article.
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Lessons about performing, lesson 34: Communicate With The Crowd!

Greetings, once again, my dear readers! I’m glad you made it back to the site and I’m very glad you find the time to visit, comment, and encourage. Without you, this would be futile. Without you, I’d have zero reason to continue writing this!

If you don’t know what I’m doing, then it’s pretty simple. I’m telling you all the shit you need to know – should you be insane enough to try to make a living as a performing musician. Instead of just telling you not to do it, I’m telling you the things that you can do if you want to increase your chances of success.

Here’s the full list and I encourage folks to read it – even if they’re not musicians. I’m told that there’s a lot of lessons in there that apply to other folk’s jobs and to their lives in general. Some of them may seem like pretty basic things, but I mention them because I see people not doing them and then wondering why they’re not seeing much success in their musical career.

This next lesson is inspired by one of our readers and regular contributors. It’s the result of me giving them a quick lesson, as they’ve recently taken to the stage and begun to play in exchange for money. As such, they’re going to make mistakes and they’ve been a pretty good source for article ideas.

In fact, if you go way back through the list, you’ll see them mentioned a number of times. Why? It was a couple of conversations and a few comments that prompted me to make this list in the first place. Most of those conversations with with our beloved Mr. Eyes.

So, if you have any questions or ideas, do let us know in the comments. If you don’t want to comment publicly, or if you wish to remain anonymous, then you don’t actually have to use your real name. You can also just use this form right here – and that will send me an email and it will be completely private.

Don’t hesitate to comment or submit an email message. You might not think it’s the best idea or best comment, but I may be able to smash the keyboard really hard and turn it into something folks are interested in reading.

We, and by we I mean the community of readers, also love guest articles. So, if you’ve a yearning for authoring something concerning musicianship, this is your place to have that audience! Just register and use the contact form to get in touch with me. I’m sure we can figure something out!

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Lessons about performing, lesson 33: Branding!

Look, if you don’t know what I’m doing by now, you’re probably never going to know what I’m doing! 😉

I’m a professional performing musician. I’ve done this job, in some capacity, for many decades. I’m good at it. It’s not ego – it’s years of learning the trade.

The lazy bastards in the industry haven’t written a book that tells you all the shit you really should know before deciding to become a performer. I’d think they’d write this stuff in a book, but they didn’t. They should, they could probably make a few bucks!

But, they haven’t… That means you’re stuck with me telling you all these rules – and there are quite a few. These rules won’t make you a rock star, but they will give better odds than your competition and they may just enable you perform music as your sole source of income. (That’s a rarity and that’s the goal I’m setting for you with this list – though you may not choose to go that far.)

So, here’s the complete list – if you want to read it. If you’re already caught up, let’s get on with the show!
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Lessons about performing, lesson 32: Venue Walk-through!

So, I usually write most of this stuff on the weekends – but this weekend has been pretty busy and last week was too busy to even think about devoting the time to writing articles.

Today is Sunday and most folks have left, so I’m going to write this one up right now and probably put the rest off until tomorrow. I like to keep a few in the queue, ready to give you something to read every day. I like to be prepared and to have a plan!

There’s a reason for writing this! It’s called a lede!

If you’re new to this series then you have a whole lot to catch up on. Basically, I’m compiling a list of rules that will, if followed, increase your odds of being a successful performing musician. No, these rules won’t make you a rock star – but they might enable you to eat something better than Ramen noodles five nights a week.

Fortunately, I’m not going in any particular order. If I was, then this rule should be somewhere near the top of the list. So, you can start with this one!
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Lesson about Recording for the Complete Novice: Adding Space to Your Mix

Aloha!  Chris here with The Kilt Lifters with another entry in the ‘Recording for the Complete Novice’ series.  Sorry I missed both lesson and thread last week.  I was off to the mainland to keep the lights running.  I figure that since the company I work for is kind enough to pay me enough to keep me flush with guitars and other cool gear, it’s probably a good idea to answer their occasional summons.  What was initially to be a once a quarter trip quickly turned into once every two years, so you’ll hear no complaints from me on that front.

Since we covered tracking in the last episode, I’m assuming everyone has a cool new song tracked complete with a face melting bitchin’ solo.  That being the case, we’re going to talk a little about adding some of the sparkly bits to shine it up.  

One of the tools in mixing is space.  This article will talk about creating space in your mix using double tracking and panning.  It’s possible to simply duplicate a single track and time shift it, but I prefer to double track rhythm guitar parts for a less robotic feel.  Once I you have a double tracked guitar part, I generally like to pan them out about 75-85 degrees on each side.  Some people prefer to use a hard pan in each direction, however, I find that 75-85 degrees gives a better sense of space in the mix.  To hear how this works, I’ve created a few sound clips.  In this example, there are two rhythm guitar parts. One is played in open position, and the other with a capo at 7. Take a listen to the first track.  In this track, nothing is double tracked, and nothing is panned. Both guitar parts are sitting at center.

Clip 1, Guitar parts at center.

Bear in mind, that using this approach, the more instrument parts you add, the more you have coming from the same perceived source: directly in front of the listener.

Now, listen to the second clip.  The guitar parts are both double tracked.  This will give a slight chorus effect. Remember in the last lesson where I said you need to really know the song?  If you were just barely able to get your initial guitar track down, you’ll never be able to play it exactly the same in order to double track it.  In that case, you could use a technological cheat and duplicate the guitar track and time shift it slightly to get that same slight chorus effect.  However, it will always sound more ‘real’ if you actually double track it.

Clip 2, Double tracked guitars at center

Now, in that clip, we still haven’t panned anything.  We’ve just thickened up the guitars by double tracking them.  Now, listen to the last clip. We’ll take the guitar parts and pan them.  One of the open position parts is panned left 85, the other right 85. The capo’d parts are at 35 respectively.

Clip 3, Double tracked and panned

Notice how there is now a sense of space in the mix.  The mix has become much wider, with the guitar parts surrounding the listener instead of pointed right at their face.

This is a great way to handle rhythm guitars, but it’s not something you’d use on a bass guitar, due to the way low frequency sound travels.  It’s not uncommon for some engineers to pan a lead instrument a little to the left or right to give a sense of where that instrument might be sitting on a stage.  I find that personally when I’m listening to music, these are the sorts of things that I’m always actively listening for.  If there’s a song you just love, sit down and listen to it with a technical ear and try to pick out where the various instruments are sitting in the mix.

Now, since we’re dealing with space, I want to say a few words about reverb.  Reverb is fantastic for bringing a little life to your tracks, or in my case, covering up my awful flute tone.  What reverb also does is push the instrument farther back from the listener. The more reverb, the further away it will sound.  The more dry it is, the closer the part will sound.

And that’s it for this one!  If you have any questions , comments, or requests for a recording topic you’d like to see covered, feel free to leave them below!

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Lessons about performing, lesson 31: Be prompt!

Hello, my dear reader! It’s great to see that you survived the holiday! This being a grand week for such, ’cause you’ll also get to party it down this weekend!

Hmm… Side note, it’s surprisingly awkward to write about future events like this! It’s actually only Sunday. I friggin’ love the scheduling feature! But, it’s really weird to write like I’m writing this the day of publication.

Still, seeing as you’re reading this, I can assume you survived! If you’re dead, it’s okay – you can skip this lesson.

If you’re unfamiliar, I’m writing a list of all the rules (that I can think of – y’all are none too helpful at giving me new ideas and lessons I may have skipped along the way) that you might want to follow if you’re planning on becoming a performing musician. Here’s the full list.

For many of them, you’ll want to use some commonsense. They may only apply partially to your specific set of circumstances. Then again, they may be even more important to you and you may wish to emphasize some of them more than you do others.

However, this one has pretty much no exceptions. There’s no exceptions and no excuses good enough. This is a rule that should be set in stone, followed regardless of extenuating circumstances, and is very important.
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