Saturday, September 27, 2014

Locking Tuners! A guide for dummies.

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're talking about a piece of guitar hardware that is often overlooked, but that is a very important aid if our guitar refuses to stay perfectly in tune: the locking tuners.

Those tuners are similar to the regular ones, you still pass the string through the peghead, but before starting winding it around the peg, with locking tuners there is a pin or some other type of retaining machine that "locks" the string in place eliminating the need for wrapping the string around the peghead.

If the string is locked there's no need for it to stabilize around the peg, and this is particularly useful with tremolo / Floyd Rose bridges, which needs the maximum stability to keep in tune.

In order to change the strings with locking tuners first we need to

1) Remove the old strings (that's an easy one)

2) Align the pegheads so that the hole is facing the nut (no pun intended)

3) Insert the string in the peghead (without turning the peg) and fix it into the bridge

4) Lock the locking system below the tuner to keep the string in place

5) Wind up the tuner until the string is in tune (a locking tuner should tune the string with half a turn of the peghead, or less)

6) Remove the part of the string in excess (because we care about the looks too)

Hope this was helpful!

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE BEST FREE VST BASS AMPS (a guide with free Vst plugins inside)

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
A bass can be recorded going straight from a D.I. box to the audio interface, going through a preamp (or an overdrive stompbox like the Sansamp) and then into the interface, microphoning the cab or using a combination of these three methods, but today recording engineers usually tend to avoid miking a cabinet due to the difficulty of getting a really good tone taming the low frequency resonances, and because virtual amplifiers have gotten to a point that they sound realistic enough to take the place of a real bass amp, most of the times.

In the market today there aren't for bass as many virtual amplifiers as for guitar, but still we have managed to try some of them and to decide which one to suggest you.
Let us know what do you think and contact us if you have some other simulator to suggest!

Best Free Vst Virtual Bass Amps:

Ignite Amps - SHB 1 - An excellent Vst that simulates a tube bass amplifier

Fretted Synth 3rd Bass - A bass amp simulator with multi effects

Ronald Passion Bass Preamp - a very good and realistic tube bass amp simulator

Studio Devil Bvc - A Tube amp simulator that can be used for both guitar and bass

Amplitube Free - The free version of Ik Multimedia Amplitube also features a good bass simulator

Tse Bod - it's a simulation of the Sansamp Bass Driver DI, often used instead of an amplifier

Best Free Paid Virtual Bass Amps:

Ik Multimedia Ampeg Svx - A very complete and professional suite for bass amp simulation

Studio Devil Virtual Bass Amp Pro - Another very interesting virtual amplifier with a rich interface

Overloud Mark Studio II - A beautiful and complete bass suite, the bass version of Overloud Th2.

Once we have found a tone that suits to our needs, we can mix it using our Bass Mixing Tutorial!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

How choose the right pick for your guitar or bass (a guide for dummies)

Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're talking about guitar and bass Picks!
Also known as Plectrum, the pick is a small piece of plastic or nylon (or other material) that helps us picking the strings instead of using our fingertips or our nails, and it also gives the tone a hard, clean attack, letting us go much faster on the alternate picking technique and palm muting; for some genres, such as folk, country rock or some type of classic rock (for example Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler often don't use one) the pick can be considered just an option, while for others (heavy metal, blues etc...), the pick it's completely impossible to avoid.
Speaking of bass, instead, picks are used by much fewer musicians, usually only when they require a strongly percussive sound, and it can be found usually in hard rock, punk or metal bands.
The pick's characteristics and the way we strum will mix with all the other rings of our signal chain and it will change dramatically the final result; let's take a look to how the various pick types affect the tone.

Size and shape: Pick size can vary from being quite large to very small, leaving just a tiny part of it outside the grip of our fingers.
The rule of thumb is that wider picks are suggested for playing open chords, while the smaller ones, that gives us more control and speed, are more suited for faster music and solos.
The shape can be equilateral (used especially from beginner players since they can use the pick on any angle), to the classic "drop shape", up to some more uncommon designs such as the "sharkfin shape", for example.
Each design offers a different playing experience, and only by trying them out we can find the right one for us.

Material: In the beginning of string instruments people used to strum with bird feathers, wooden shards or animal bone pieces (ivory, parts of tortoise shell...), then in the 20th century there has been a large production of plastic and nylon picks, and today (in addiction to all the previous types) manufacturers are experimenting also with metal, carbon fiber and stone.
The idea is that the harder the material is, the harder will be the attack on the strings, therefore the sound will become more loud and bright, while using softer materials the sound will be more sweet and mellow.

Thin or Thick: The thinner a pick is, the more is flexible and it will bend while strumming, the thicker it is and the more it will mantain its shape, making more resistance on the strings and therefore making them sound louder.

Now that we've seen how the different specs of a pick will affect the final sound we can choose the combination of features that suits to our playing style, but the only way to really find the right pick is to go to a shop and try some of them on our guitar or bass.
For bass obviously there will be less choice: the strings are so thick that we're going to need thick, wide picks made of a very resistent material.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014


Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about the 4 most important things to do BEFORE going into the studio, to make a good record!

1) Have the musicians learn the songs BEFORE starting recording!!

This is intuitive, yet some band still walks into a studio with just one member or two that has a clear idea of the song structures. The others sometimes just barely knows their own parts, and sometimes they also need, when tracking, some other band member that tells them the parts of the song or the chord changes IN REAL TIME. This is just a waste of time, money, and it's almost impossible, even for the most skilled engineers, to fix in the mix.

2) Prepare the instruments for the studio:

Another widely overlooked topic. When I have to record a band, the first thing that I ask them, before starting, is to go to a luthier (or to do it themeselves if they are good) and to change the strings and set the octaves on their string instrument.
Basically, before recording, an instrument requires a full setup.
When I hear "well, I don't have the money, I don't need it, the bass just sounds good this way", and other excuses... I already know that the tracking session will be a struggle, the string instruments will sound out of tune among them, and the album will sound DULL (and the dumbasses will blame me).
By the way, the drums should be tuned if possible by the drummer (there are a lot of good tutorials surfing the web), with a set of new skins, if the ones mounted are worn out.
The live sound of the drum should be as close as possible to the final result the drummer wants to achieve, it will MUCH easier to make it sound great!

3) The guys must know how to record with a click from WAY before getting into the studio:

The band that wants to record an album with today's standards, MUST record with a metronome, and the only way to record decently with a metronome is to exercise with it at home, and to have the metronome in the drummer's ear when rehearsing.
If the band starts tracking and nobody, or just the drummer, has any idea of what a metronome sounds like, there is 99% of the possibilities that the record will sound like crap, even with an inhuman editing work.

4) Have everything written down, even the details, to not improvise:

One of the worst mistakes that can be done when recording it's to think "it doesn't matter, I will improvise the solo when tracking", or "I don't know the vocal harmonies intervals, I'll sing what I will feel at the moment", or even "I sometimes insert variation when I play to give the record that LIVE feel".
If you find yourself saying one of those three things and you're not Dave Murray or Miles Davis, you should not enter the studio. You should go home and write down even when you should draw breath, then you can come back and record.

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