433# Elective: Recording - Day 2

The recording was finished officially last Saturday. I had recorded the acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, and bass guitar previously, what were left were the lead guitar and the drums.

After another extensive practice of the lead guitar and air drums at home, I went to the studio again for the recording.

During the first day of recording, for each instrument that I recorded, it took me about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half in average. That included the retuning of the instrument and conversion of the scores and tab.

For this lead guitar recording, which was the hardest, it took me 1 hour and a half to record too. Surprisingly fast.

I have to say this guitar solo "Intermezzo Liberte" by Arch Enemy's Michael Amott was the hardest song I've played so far. It was hard in terms of the techniques involved, such as vibrato, slide, pull offs, extremely fast riffs and the most importantly, the bends.

If the other instruments were said to be in the "easy" level, then the lead solo would be considered as "intermediate" level. I'm not yet in "expert" level yet, which is almost impossible for me to be in since I don't have a primary instrument to concentrate with.

The saddest thing for this recording is that, we were not able to record the drums for this song. That was because the drum skins are not changed and the drum set is not yet set up. To set it up it, tune it, set the 8 condenser microphones on will definitely be time consuming.

Since recording the drums will be out of the budget, therefore the drums for this song will be replaced with drum machine...

I was very, very disappointed with that. Not only I've practiced hard for the drums, and I wanted to badly to record the drums for this song as to make it into as "one-man-band" as possible. But I guess the circumstances didn't allow me to do so.

Therefore I only managed to record most, but not all of the instruments.

Firstly the bass used was the 5 strings Yamaha bass guitar, in standard B tuning.
Secondly acoustic guitar used was the Ibanez acoustic guitar in standard C tuning.
Followed by rhythm guitar, using the SX Les Paul in Drop C, D tuning.
And finally the lead guitar, using my own Ibanez GRG270 in standard E tuning.

Parts which I was not able to record were the keyboard, will be done digitally, as well as the drums, will be done using the drum machine. Sadly.

As for effect processor, both bass guitar and electric guitar used the Line 6 POD effect processor, for bass guitar and electric guitar ones respectively. The effects used for the rhythm guitar was the "recording rhythm" and for lead guitar was the "recording lead", with pedal wah.

The pedal wah was in neutral during the starting of the lead and it was operated during the fast solo. It added more complexity and sound for the solo. And it is something which I'm not yet master with to control.

The guitar sends its output to the effect processor, and then to the pre-amplifier. This pre amp is a tube pre amp! It sounds totally different from a digital amp. And this tube pre amp only takes a few seconds to warm up.

The signal further travels to another pre amp, then only to the CPU of the computer. Recording of the bass and electric guitars are all done within the control room itself. I only used the live room to record the acoustic guitar part.

Somehow this song has done recording, what are left is the drum machine and mixing part which will be done within a week later. Now I have done my part, and what is left for me is to type out the elective report.

I have to idea how to type it. Any word limit or so?

Honestly, I really learnt a lot during this elective. Not just the recording part, but I picked up a lot of new skills in playing the lead guitar.

Previously all the songs I played were just some fast riffs and short solo without so many techniques involved. But as for this song, even though it doesn't sound fast, but what lies beneath it is the emotion. It is the emotion expressed on the fretboard which makes the song sounds so mellow. As to achieve this, the bends and vibrato are really, really important.

And of course, the fast alternate pickings.

There will be no more elective after this for the rest of my life.

Music is something I really like, which unfortunately I have to sacrifice with due to my tight schedule. But now this elective has given me more than enough time to enjoy in this hobby, until I got bored of playing it. Playing the same song for 2 - 4 hours a day for 3 weeks is quite stressing by the way.

I feel like performing this song for next year's music night. May need a rhythm guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist. Anyone interested? Chris, David, Eugene, Ellice?


432# Elective: Recording - Day 1

While everyone has started their electives locally or overseas, yesterday only I started my elective "officially".

Like previously mentioned, I'll be recording a song in a studio as for my elective. But unfortunately I had to send my guitar for intonation and I only got back my guitar on the previous Monday.

So before I got my own guitar, I practiced the song using the SX Stratocaster borrowed from David. And once I got back my guitar, only I started to practice the song seriously.

After 5 days of practicing, I was in the studio already. And I pulled William Koong with me for company.

I'm doing the recording in a studio a SS18, owned by a guitarist in a band called Aural Joint who works as a sound engineer. A very nice guy indeed introduced by William Choo to me. I feel comfortable doing the recording there.

Yesterday, I began to record the song - "Intermezzo Liberte" by a Swedish melodic death metal band called Arch Enemy. It's a guitar solo, which I think was easy, but in fact it was not!

Like what this engineer said, "You sure you want to record this song ah?"

Almost none of the metal bands play their guitar in Standard E tuning (E, A, D, G, B, E - low to high). As far as I know, the only band that plays in Standard E was the Norwegian symphonic black metal band named Dimmu Borgir.

The rest of them usually play in;
Standard C (C, F, A#, D#, G, C), or
Drop D (D, A, D, G, B, E), or
Drop B, C # tuning (B, F#, B, E, G#, C#), or
Drop A#, C tuning (A#, F, A#, D#, G, C) and a lots more...

I just spent a fortune to do intonation for my guitar so I have to stick it to Standard E tuning. But too bad the song that I'm going to record is in Standard C.

I converted the main solo to be played in Standard E, which was not an issue. But it could be a problem for the acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar and the bass.

Bass guitar recording

Fortunately there was a 5 string bass in the studio in Standard B tuning (B, E, A, D, G), the tuning which I used for the previous performance so playing the song which is in Standard C shouldn't be a problem since B is lower than C...

But the thing was that, I had to convert the bass tab into 5 strings Standard B tuning from the original 4 strings Standard C tuning.

And it turned out to be like this;

I borrowed William Koong's notebook to write. So it was a very, very last minute work. It was like, I tuned the bass, convert the bass tab, then record straight ahead.

The bass used was a Yamaha. Totally different from the Ibanez SR305 which I used, which was way smaller, lighter, narrower and easier to play.

But anyway the bass part for this song was a piece of cake as compared to the main guitar solo so we managed to get it done about an hour.

Acoustic guitar recording

Alright, I have to admit that I suck in acoustic guitar. In fact, I can't call myself someone who can play the guitar because I don't even know how to play chords.

This song consists of 16 bars of acoustic guitar before the solo gets high. It's rather repetitive, so it should be easy to play.

Again, the Standard C tuning problem kicks in. I converted it to Standard E and practiced it at home. But the thing is that playing in such a way made "let ring" to be impossible because I would be playing at the same string, which made it sounds like a staccato.

Acoustic guitar has no problem in lower the tuning to Standard C because of its fixed bridge simplicity. Therefore I used the studio's acoustic guitar and got it tuned down to Standard C.

Again, a very last minute work where I have to play it in the original way, at the middle part of the fretboard so that I was able to "let ring". I'm not an acoustic guitar player so it was really difficult for me to hold a chord properly.

I didn't even dare to move or breathe loudly because the two condenser microphones were so near to me. These microphones are highly sensitive, and they picked up the sound of the acoustic guitar perfectly, as heard by me through the earphones.

Lacking of acoustic guitar skills (or entire guitar skills to be exact) did not allow me to record it straight at one go. Hence we had to record it bar-by-bar, which kind of showed how sucked I am in fact in guitars.

After recording it for an hour, it was not perfect still. The studio engineer didn't even sure whether he will include it for the finalization but I hope he would because it's still our hard work.

Rhythm guitar recording

The rhythm guitar kicks in after the acoustic guitar stops. For what I know it's played note by note but the engineer wanted me to play in power chords.

Again, for the third time, there comes tuning problem. But fortunately there was a SX Les Paul guitar in the studio with fixed bridge. But it can't be lowered to Standard C, since the strings will be too loose then. Therefore it was tuned into Drop C, D tuning (C, A, D, F, A, D).

This means that I have to convert the power chords into this tuning, which turned out to be like this;

Another very last minute work.

Since the last string is dropped therefore I had to change the way I hold the power chords according to its roots. It was not easy for me due to this sudden change in playing style so we had to repeat the recording for a few times.

After that we record it for a second time, which is called as the "double tracking", as to make the song sounds better and heavier.

This time it was really tiring and boring and William already fainted and hugging my guitar and fell into sleep.

That's why there was not any photo of me when I was recording the rhythm guitar.

I feel so sorry for William because the whole thing of this recording is not only time consuming, and it would be boring to if the person is not directly involved in the recording.

So this is how it turned out to be in the computer. The top row is the original track, second row is the recorded bass guitar, third and fourth are the double tracked rhythm guitar. I have no idea where the acoustic guitar part has gone while this photo was taken.

After we done recording these 3 parts, I wanted to try to move on to the main solo. But I was pointed out that I have not master the main solo perfectly yet.

It sounds simple to me but the main solo is very difficult in fact. My bends are not full, my vibrato are not constant, my pull offs are not strong enough, my slides' timing are slow... and the most important part is that, I haven't even master the fastest part of the main solo.

Demisemiquaver guitar solo in 90 bpm, that's like... 720bpm??

Settled the bass, acoustic and rhythm. Still got the main solo, second solo and drums to go, which are way, way, way harder. I'll be back to the studio again next Saturday, means I have 5 more days left.

I wonder could I master the main solo in 5 days time, because I have been practiced for the pass 2 weeks and it turned out to be 40% only of the original song.

However, since I kind of know what my problems are already therefore I should be able to play as close as possible to the original song already, I hope...

Feel very, very stressed up now... This supposed to be fun, but a stressor to me already.

PS: Thanks to William for your time, for keeping me accompanied, and the photo taking. I owe you one man.


431# Elective 3.0

Elective for semester 8 officially starts today. For semester one's elective, I learnt drums for 1 month. For semester three's elective, I learnt bass for 1 month.

And now for semester 8, I'll be joining a local band for practicing and recording. But somehow things didn't turn out well so I can only do the recording part.

Therefore I've planned to record a song, with myself on the lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, drums and some keyboards if possible. One man band indeed.

But too bad I don't have a bass guitar and drum set. Therefore before the recording of those instruments can take place, I'll need to take a ride back to seremban campus as to use the instruments there for practice.

As for the guitar, I have my 6 years old Ibanez GRG. It's been a while since I last tune it therefore weeks ago I sent it to a music store in seremban to change the strings and tune. Just want to make sure that my guitar will be in tip top condition for the recording.

The strings are pulling the bridge up. Action is high. Bridge level is high.

Now there was a problem. I sent my dear guitar to the wrong guy. They have no idea on how to change strings and tune a tremolo bridge (floyd rose bridge) guitar. In the end not only the tuning was not in standard E, the action was too high, bridge height was too high, springs loosen, screws screwed up...

I demanded for the correction, and that took me another week. In the end the problem persisted and I had to take my guitar and leave the music shop.

I've paid RM26 for the strings and RM10 of workmanship, which ended up with a traumatised guitar, messed up mind and plenty of time and petrol wasted. I would have sued them if I wanted to, but I blame myself for my stupidity for sending my precious guitar to someone who has no knowledge on floyd rose guitars.

Such high action level, solos are impossible.

Therefore today, I drove all the way up to Cheras, 42km from where I'm staying to get this problem fixed. Thanks to David Yong who showed me the details of the guitar store online, or else I would have used the last resort - buying a new guitar, which I can't.

To get this done my guitar would need to fix the intonation, which consists of the neck action, level fret, nut optimum height, bridge height and position, pickup optimum height, neck resonance. That makes up RM150 excluding the price of the strings, new springs and screws.

This is really terrible. I paid RM36 for a lousy service and now I have to pay RM170+++ to get it done.

Springs are loose, screws are kinked and the cross shaped mark has gone to a round shape, can't screw in anymore!

Fixing the intonation is quite a difficult job therefore my guitar would need to be held for 1 week. Which means I can't start practicing for the recording anytime soon. I have only 4 weeks for the elective and 1 week has been taken to wait for my guitar's revival.

The recording will cost me a few hundreds, plus all the money spent on repairing this axe, the total spending for this elective has costs me almost the whole month of allowance, which I didn't expect at all.

I'm very, very upset for the music store's service in seremban. If you don't know how to handle floyd rose bridged guitar, say don't know la!

Freaking broke now. Together with all the anger and frustration.

PS: Thanks to David for the details and borrowing his Stratocaster for me as backup. Thanks to Sunda for teaching me to tune the floyd rose. And say no to N* music store seremban.


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