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Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Lesson 22 of 26

Mixing Guitars and Vocals for Blazing Star

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

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Lesson Info

22. Mixing Guitars and Vocals for Blazing Star


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:06:20
4 Songwriting Q&A Duration:26:32
5 Tracking and Comping Drums Duration:27:24
6 Editing Drums Duration:16:25
7 Drums Q&A Duration:31:15
8 Micing an Amplifier Duration:25:09
9 Rhythm Guitar Tones Duration:18:52
10 Tracking Rhythm Guitars Duration:34:13
11 Tracking Bass Guitar Duration:23:34
12 Bass Q&A Duration:21:45
13 General Q&A Duration:16:30
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Tracking Vocals Duration:18:27
3 Vocal Mixing on Galaktikon Duration:24:37
4 Vocals Q&A Duration:17:50
5 Mix Prep Duration:34:45
6 Mixing in Logic Pro Duration:42:03
7 Mixing Blazing Star Part I Duration:27:14
10 Mixing Blazing Star Part 2 Duration:19:34
11 Mixing Blazing Star with EQ Duration:30:09
12 Final Q&A Duration:24:12
13 Closing Thoughts Duration:11:22

Lesson Info

Mixing Guitars and Vocals for Blazing Star

The main thing they want is rhythm guitars you know I have some stuff that comes in on mechanism similar classic fabian's yeah, we'll get to that in a minute but let's have ah let's see what we ended up with first here different section here for fun these guitars are not actually super distorted and these were guitars that, uh we didn't have to the queuing answer was just listen to him without the queue for a second flee very distorted sounding guitars you know not very yes pmg now these air like the more I play it's hard the more I play music, the less output I like out of my pickups I'd like to hear the actual I don't like my sound to get squash from the pickups I like them to sound natural like them to sound like an old pf I mean a medium out pick up through like the seymour duncan's air the burst bunkers that I play and and I just need enough distortion on rhythm guitar is to get the thirty attack that I don't put too much gain on my guitar is like and I think you you hear the wood...

and they think you hear the fingers and I think you hear the instrument and you get a little bit more dynamic personality out of your instrument and that's more exciting to me and it sets death clock apart from yeah from a lot of guys like the mesa buggies that have a way with you you know kind of compressing pickup so you know and that is a really cool sound that's just not the sound I'm going for exactly I want something that's actually what you you definitely have this you've definitely come up with like a unique like death clock and brendon small approach right death metal you know? Yeah it's not you know this doesn't sound like every death metal band right way around but I mean the more I messed around marshals and lauren messed around two bands with on this thing was probably I used I was either using that saturday on e j v m which I like a lot which is a little warmer and not ask compressed or I used a regular j v m which I also really like that's a little bit market press a little bit more metal but still you can get classic rock sounds out of or I used a really great amp that I think it could be his classic rock because it wants to be but is the cary king marshal, which is sounds like a kind of a a j c m eight hundred with a little gain stage added to it but just a really good war miku curve that you wouldn't really expect out of slave because they're hard to get a little bit on this scratchy that's what makes their sound punching and cool and maybe maybe it's because they're scratching on the pick that the warm and helps that you know all that stuff makes sense but I love that amp in it's it's never done me wrong and then I have a bunch of other marshals like I have a fifty watt marshall that I use on the galactic on stuff that I think really but I had ma did teo like a cascading gain stage too and that thing is great they're like, you know, my power tubes would get quiet and loud on some of those in and I have another j sammy hundred fifty watt that's really great sounding that I used on a lot of the lead stuff and go act gone too but I keep going back to those two bam's and marshals just sound good when you term on you know and that's usually might go to and that's usually what I have set up and I think I can I can just dial back just enough game to get a little bit more personality or my personality of the guitar because the morgan you add the more it's hard the more difficult it is I think teo teo teo add your personality sure not hard for zack while he's his cuts through a full game it sounds great but I mean that's I mean different personalities and different today but you know, like the gifts and marshall combination is a classic again if you, uh if you have a gibson and marshall we're off to good start yeah, everything else is your fault so yeah so we got some more ah, let's check out what we did with the guitar. You yeah, um just brighten it up a little bit and sucked out a little bit of this uh whatever annoying three k frequency that is that's ever just listen with again, you cute guitars it's a little scratchy but it's not annoyingly so I tend to a cz well when I'm even because when I'm dialing in myself because a lot of these guitars I think I did we do these at your place or I probably did him in my house that these were they probably were done in your house. Yes, so I have what I have is a kind of set it and forget it three microphone into a mixer that alright came over and helped me do because we didn't think much of what we did yesterday identical yeah to what we set up yesterday and I have it there and I don't touch it and I if I touch it, you have to call work again to haven't come back in and then I have it going into my various b a and fbi priest and then I um and then I tend to just like a warm sounding guitar and I know that we're probably in a dialling a little bit of something on top but I want to hear enough pick attack but I like the warm mid and sometimes the warm ids I have to go a little bit and they get scoops still, even though scooping meds is, you know, hard scooping mids makes it very difficult for ah base to sit comfortably in a song, but so I'm usually going back and forth with all rickover get a couple of those more moves that are interfering back into let's show what we mean by scooping the mids and the guitars because I think we touched on it a little bit yesterday when you have a guitar sound here and through the cue to tape but you khun do that same thing coming back off a tape uh and we weren't really able to dig into too much because of how it's all set up here, so just to show you real quick what we're what we're sucking out, what we're adding here the you know, little christmas up there is what we're adding here's what we're subtracting this is probably how I had it and you said giving a little bit I can win it up appear yeah thats not an extreme I've heard mid school where they just take them and there are no meds and that it's a tricky thing likely it's not happening is often anymore it was a nineties thing more rahman and in some cases it sounds absolutely cool you know like dime bags, guitars a timid guitar that sounds really great and really punchy and still sounds like a guitar this is a mid range instrument this is only gonna sound good ones mid range you take all the mid south and you hear something that sounds all right different but but yeah I'm always trying toe bring a warmth back into the guitar because I that's what makes it listenable and that's where all the good stuff is all the cool frequencies around there so oh all right and I will toggle back and forth within reason I mean what he had already was probably it was not extreme yeah there's goes and he knows who he's dealing with at this point so on the thing about that is you know you're you're dealing with going up against vocal so it's demonstrate that quick um I just have to see what this vocal ended up doing here booth signify the death of ok so again you can see I'm a favorite plug in because it is easy this is a unique you in a compressor and you can see we we added a bunch of high end do a little bit of mitt a little bit of more mid and rolled off some lows compressed some and then send it to well then show you all that's going on send it to another compressor again the logic compressive operates very much kind of like in l a two way or something you can actually uh choose a different different modes of it it's it's a very, very nice compressor and then ah yes and to control some of its civil inst that has to fit in with the symbols on the sizzle of the guitar so it's not just a quick look of what's going on let me play this photo booth signify the death of a k you see the dsr catches those ass is the compressor it set a ford one basically, uh compressing for fifty b they're compressing three forty b here um you know, without it it sounds tamer we don't like tame your loss can smile to burn the signify run the death of a king ram a man what the tortured site of fear the story we're not all night it sounds more consistent little a little bit more by the way I just have to say there's nothing worse than hearing even if it's a character that you're doing there's nothing worse than hearing an isolated vocal of it the vocal that you've done but you know what this also goes back to something we were saying earlier which was that with it with a kind of a more classic guttural vocal which is a percussion instrument um and getting a little bit that great in the voice in the class back of throughout in the lower thing the high end which is what I just did it was he tips the high end up got a little but with a blow and compressed compress compress and a little bit of ah do you have a bit of a room on there that's yeah that turn it off but I'll have a little bit of a river bonnie's have to be this guy right here that's cool looking a simile this actually was a big stand up boxes the first digital river really and actually you look kind of like r two d two that was thiss tall that these this is the top of it and you would actually see these levers well on top of that they should make those again well that's a cool it's an enormous it's enormously big thing for just being a river yeah considering you can have it now and two dimensions yeah um but yes so this is the river you have on there the signify that get off okay it's actually quite a large river you call that a lot of reverb you think a large real I'm not a short like a long it's a long yet hasn't thrown yeah yeah it's it's not it's not soaked in it, you know, like, the vocals are like too soupy, and but it doesn't telling a surf guitar from the six. But then my other favorite trick is this. Ah, discord three. Uh, back in the in the day when I was mixing, it was using a box healthy fifteen. Eighty, which was a pitch shifting unit. Okay? And we either use that or the spx ninety. Uh, the pitch a shift c was to patch where? Just up sixteen cents on one side, down sixteen. On the other hand, about five, six seconds. Milliseconds delay just fatten the vote was a little bit somebody who is a three thousand has a setting like that or, like aziz, the capabilities of doing that, that that was basically found this plug in to replace that because at the time, I wasn't really happy with any of the other plug ins that were mimicking that. Right? So this especially what that is, you see a little bit of up a little bit of down right on the left, mostly minus eight cents. Yeah, side. And so we're just basically a chorus in my room. It's a core it's a stable course that doesn't move right, so you keep in that place, but it's it's is it why is the serial spectrums right? Yeah, but what they called it what would be the actual name for this thing would be good chorus you know, people will use this and I'm like somewhere in the nineties eddie van halen stardom using a chorus on his guitars that it was not too dissimilar to this where it would it would it would stay steady it wouldn't be warbling or oscillating or anything I would just go the pitch pitch iftar really uh I'm not sure I could call the chorus without getting in trouble with someone no matter what we'll call it someone's gonna complain okay uh but of course is doing something like that but it is also yeah, because I think this could also late but I haven't said that it wouldn't actually have it said that if you look at this thing directional make sure they have it set up to be one hundred eighty degrees off so it's actually left ghost too right right goes toe left ok, so if I have something that's pan to the left and add that to it, you'll hear a little bit off the pitch shifted I think it's kind of like a doubling thing here's a little bit on the right so I can actually kind of stereo why something a little bit or having heard on the other side without being, uh like to mono, right? So I use that and that that sounds like this you can smile to burn signify run the death of a k a random ban with the tortured site here the story we're that's all night it gives a little war billy effect that this is, which is again, this is what I would eventually die elin is the slow moving chorus and the top and that vocal will sit on top of the guitar is just a little bit nicer yeah on give it a little bit ties it into the left into the right a little bit right? And if you're not standing in front of the stereo speakers like I'm off to the side, I am hearing a little bit of a warble, which is a welcome warble it sounds cool, but I'm not hearing that what it's doing to the ears when you're in front of it? Yeah, yeah, and the trick is to use it enough for you to get us and like a satisfactory is open not so much steady end up sounding like like you're really like that's winning in this thing and that's a whole effect philosophy and I know that I a zoo guitar player you struggle with that because sometimes when you have a flander or phaser or course or something, you between all the way on your good stars start standing like this bringing weird life swirly kind of thing where I've seen some people be really, really, uh sparse with their effects and they end up getting something that you could hardly tell is there but it's advancing or punching their sound up and a really cool way like again back to eddie van halen, his phaser, which was very present like the mix of its very president has one nominee would keep it pretty low in a very slow moving phaser, and we've we've used a lot of different phasers together on like, isolated gets when we have like a guitar break in, I think and crushed the industry where we had we would freeze the phaser and make it or make it move as slowly as possible over like a five six guitar part harmony where we hear that and it slowly moves that sounds like an old queen break or something like that on day I've heard people use ring modulators uh guitarist jamie time who's amazing and play with zappa plays zappa he would use it would be playing a solo and then it use the ring modulator on one note and then that's it on dh that was a choice moment and it just made everyone go what? And it was a really cool moment in a melodic moment and a cool use of in fact one heh my second inside of a song and it was really cool. Yes, sometimes that stuff really tidbits like that you know, you and I you listen to your favorite people like again queen who would flanges hole the whole track yeah, you know, um and and stuff like that anyway, so cool cool effects philosophies spar sparing, I guess is what you're using on top of a crazy guy toral death metal cartoon vocal absolutely. I think maybe this would be a good time to take a couple of questions and save the second batch of tracks for for the next cycle is signaling think so we have some good ones. How do you leave space for the high end of the bass guitar? What instruments is that usually clashed with? Uh, you know, that can't depending on what kind of base? Uh, playing you have like some some bass players really like just a low hum it just kind of go on diets almost indiscernible the it's around five k that's the beller frequency that is the military it's also ex browns frequency that's it's around five k is a nice area for the attack that, um you know that that is like the upper crunch there's kind like it's, not the sizzle of the guitar with the upper end that the crunch of the guitar it's ah like some like a place where the vocals cut through pretty well there some symbols and some some snare stuff in there and again you know it's not like anyone instrument that you will carve that out of to make room for that one thing in the base but if you take just a little bit out of that five because what happens is if you if you leave let's say this five k and all the instruments you end up with and you want to have more bass hear more definition of the base and you pump that thing ended with too much five k in the mix and I'll start poking out you're like what is that annoying freaks that I'm hearing you say what's the bases like no it's not just the basics all the other stuff that sits there too so if you take just a little bit out of that five k of of let's say of every instrument of every track in the mix then you could have all that much in the base so it's just a decision of like well our my vocals going to cut through enough if I take a little bit out of them to make a bond everything else is kind of still here everything else and with the base being that loud relatively speaking so maybe the base doesn't get quite a cz much and maybe the vocals don't get anything taken out but like the guitars get some taken out and maybe some of the symbols gets I'm taking out and you just have to kennelly, what can I live with? What still sounds good so I think I would say in terms of this song, what I ask for when I'm hearing something like this is that his top end is really it is a really cool thing but sometimes not necessary for me to hear what's important about the song and what he's, his main thing that he has to do is establish my tone center that the guitars air hopefully aiding with but he has to do that so I I know I asked for I will say like, can I get the base tone, the lower base tone of the base punching through and warming up the track a little bit so it's like that when you had that lower sub frequency, I'll ask for that a d b or something like that and that will end up being what isn't the most important part for base in a song like this, which is kind of him it's got fast hauling kicks, but our tempos a medium rock yeah, it really is, you know and and the kids were just there to say hey remember, we're death because I have to put double kicks in every song and then wherever it should be death pox on sure, but but I will ask for that and I think depending on the song because you listen to different kinds of ah like he was in the old testament where the base is clang clang, clang, clang, clang and it's really in your face and listen to like a anthrax stuff where there's a lot of finger style stuff or or you listen, tio maiden, I mean it's not all the claim, but it's it's the tone and that there's plenty of room for that there's he's. Not in a frequency that's really? Yeah. Whatever the fingers he carved out is not competing with anything. Yeah, he's in his own world is in his own world, so I think it I know what I asked for. And then if in this song in particular, I think, um I wanted more of that warmer, low sub sound and, uh, and then I think the other thing that you realize you can do if you want to some sections may sound better with it was like a cooler climbing, warm, high, high like, register based thing. You can make room for that, and then sometimes you want to have a hauling cooled undergoing that daniel and pentangle aranda and you can punch those parts out, you can also just use more that a q in that section, if you want to and then change this frequency for another section you're allowed to do that, make sure that we have definitely they swapped out frequencies and cross faded frequencies for certain sections of songs if you want to. Yeah, so awesome. John wants to know. Do you modified the mix for television compared to cds and mp three's? And how would you, um, uh, that's a loaded question? Uh, in a standard, uh, situation, I would just mix the record, uh, you know, to the best of the band's quality thing, right? But for this, we actually purposely left things more dynamic because that this wasn't just well, this this song was just to sing just a single, but this didn't end up on tv. This yeah, this is basically mixed, like how we would normally mix a I know the big difference between this song and the rest of the doomed star requiem that that was basically one mix for the record and for tv and I said, makes how you it makes us for a record and tv is going to have to deal with it because what we're going to do in that thing, the most important thing is there so much information through the lyrics? And that's, how you're going to understand and that's how you're going to understand this story, that we're going to push lyrics that would hire on vocals, then normal on a death clock effort because we like them to be sitting somewhere where you're after they're not just so punching in your face think these would probably be just slightly lower than the rest of the on the sun blazing star than the rest of the doom start requiem yeah, but the whole doom star thing is so dynamic it goes, usually from just like a keyboard and a vocal in two like a full on assault. What the end with this, this guy is a part of the ending of the thing, and so, like the whole, the whole project was super dynamic and, uh, like, yes, we did mix it like like not for tv, but for for like music for for definitely is a reason for for for an album, but we did keep it a slight bit more dynamic because I was going to be on tv, but that we like the mastering to care of making it mohr album like for the release of the of the record, as opposed to for for what we did er for tv because, uh, the tv world, actually, you know, they have different standards for all the audio levels on this stuff, so we give two different mixes. I thought we just had one way. Made one mix. Yeah, but it wass it was a combination of one or both of the floor. Yeah, yeah, it is a war at both ways. Yes. When I thought I thought the way, you know, I thought in a perfect world a person would probably find more time listening this in their car and they would sitting in front of a tv we're watching it on adult swim or whatever I thought the's, the music would kind of outlast the visual even of the visual is really cool. I just think you can carry this with you. You can go to the gym, you, khun drive somewhere. You can listen in to this whole story on your way, work, whatever it is. And that's. Why, I thought makes more of an album makes for this because I think we had no sound effects or anything in just this. Yeah, yeah, that's it it was just the music. And I think I mean some sound effects with my mouth like this way the laser things in the laser thing on their way, I think we fledged amusing, so, yeah, so that's that's the answer normally normally if I do my own, I'll do my own mix where I will get the track and the vocal together and I well, I think I covered this a little bit yesterday but I'll have a stereo of the the vocals a stem of that on a stereo of the track and then what we did with this yeah and that's and that's what I'll do with and and when we go in and we'll have a whole mix for tv, we're mixing effects and we're throwing re verbs and we're playing with again we're bringing all these plug ins and stuff and you'll see there's a lot of ah e think that we did a stupid joke or one of the characters uh training member I think we will have like if somebody says something really lame and it just hangs in the air for a while and everyone has to sit there in the joke has to bomb well, I would say let's let's have that reverb decay stay as long as it possibly can as long as that it's just echoing in the air so you hear a long throw of the river of decay until it's time to cut that scene so it's fun to play with effects in that way because that can make things fun here we are so so we'll do a lot of stuff normally this is a different thing but normally on tv I'm doing the mixing and I'm doing whatever I can and again I'm using a version of these things, but I'm probably not as haven't zeroed them all out and I haven't gone drum by drum and I haven't done anything is a specific is you you've done, but but a stupid or version of this is what I do john wants to know do you check the mix in monaco as ugo so as you're going through this process? Yes, I I do check the mixing mano I actually check him in left and right reversed also where I just have ah button work and patch have a patch for the left goes to the right and the right to left and I could just sit there and basically swap speakers if you will, just to see if it still sounds balanced you know it's just like throws your brain into the into the other listening mode and I check it on uh really small speakers and, you know, for for ah computer playback and phone playback of stuff like that. I remember you doing something the first time we worked together when we did hatred copter the same day because we had have a makes the day of were recorded, I did the void vocals and wrote the lyrics and everything and the harmonies and all this stuff in one day and then we had to get the mix out that same evening, and I remember watching all rick mix, and, uh, it was interesting because I saw you do one thing when you turn the volume down, too. Zero zero d b and I said, what are you doing? And he said, at this volume, it was a very technical thing. You said at this volume, I should only be hearing, yeah, you. You know, it gets really quiet and really, only the very the important bits stick out anymore, and that should be like the the kick and snare, uh, the main harmonic content like me, that guitar, a bass of it, are, uh, in the simpsons movie, mostly guitar's, like the lead guitar would stick out. The vocal would stick out. And, you know, you can kind of tell if if you have something like that still makes sense that quietly interesting.

Class Description

Adult Swim's Metalocalypse is a cheeky parody of metal culture — featuring the shenanigans of a cartoon band called Dethklok. In Toontrack Presents: Studio Pass, you'll get a closer look at the creative process behind this mesmerizing metal powerhouse-turned-TV-series.

Brendon Small is the creator and primary musician driving Dethklok’s music, including its four full-length albums. In this installment of Studio Pass, Brendon and producer Ulrich Wild (Pantera, White Zombie, Slipknot, Deftones) will show how they compose, engineer, and mix the music of Metalocalypse – explaining the recording techniques used for Dethklok’s drums, bass, guitars, vocals and effects.

The music behind the hilarious spectacle that is Metalocalypse is no joke. Join Brendon and Ulrich for Studio Pass and learn about the unique creative process behind the music of Dethklok.


John Thaxton

I love Brendon. He has always treated fans super well. There's so much wisdom to be gained from listening to him about workflow and music in general. Great class!

Aaron Thurtell

Being someone new and looking into recording songs, I found this class very informative and in a way essential, the idea of recording seemed over whelming and I had no idea where to start, being a fan of Brendon small and Ulrich Wilds work on Dethklok and Galaktikon I found it very enjoyable and must for any fans of Brendon small looking into how he goes about making a record