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Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Lesson 10 of 26

Tracking Rhythm Guitars

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

Toontrack presents: Studio Pass

Ulrich Wild, Brendon Small

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Lesson Info

10. Tracking Rhythm Guitars


  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

Tracking Rhythm Guitars

So now what we have going on is tuning the guitar yes it's not you know we think you just turn the gate jordan's just two on the guitar but it's not quite like that really? Because it's one thing in standard tuning you can just kind of go for it and two on the guitar but when you tune down low the's lower strings when you play them especially quickly and fast like with a lot of attack they pull sharp yes so you're actually of personal big tune guitar if there is such a thing there isn't a guitar like that played hard you'll actually pull the lower strings sharp and they will sound out of tune yes so the trick is to to meet your ears were once again coming back to the years doesn't sound good does it sound in tune? Well, just because the tuner says so it doesn't really make it so when you're playing the instruments of one trick is to tune the guitar as you're picking it as opposed to letting it ring out because the rift that you're playing may not be like just chord ringing out it's act...

ually fast picking riff and each time you hit it like you pulled the string sharp so you want to pull you want to tune that that attack to what the right tuning is well sometimes I know people mute really hard to go on and they will get you're that right there it's it's you're getting an f somewhere between an f attorney so I gotta get talked to in here from flat now s so there is that that's any it's pretty good right? Well usually do is run that my finger up and pull the string really hard between each too and you've you've played the guitar a bit now so the guitars actually warmed warmed up to your hands yes when you let it when you turn a cold instrument wth the neck and the strings will warm up a different rate and go quickly back out of tune there's also something that happens I think I noticed when mike chameleon I play guitar together on we're always we're tuning is often as possible in between songs just to make sure because we have a lot of harmonies want to make sure we're not sharp of flat and we want to sound solid but will also make a decision either tune with open strings or tune by the harmonic they're pretty close but the open string feels a little sharper that that just snapped there see so you get a little bit of a different texture that happens I don't know why woods internation too is the inspiration you are needing to be set up blood up early, but whatever you do just make it consistent you can't tune one time you know what's there harmonica and next time to an open string soon on dh another thing that makes a difference is if you sit down while you're tuning your instrument and then stand up and play it hanging off you strap that puts a different kind of stress on the guitar and it changes the tuning ever so slightly to so tune it the way you're going to play it yeah so tuned standing up if you're gonna play standing exactly, which is sometimes a great thing to do in metal guitar playing especially rhythm tracks have complained about metal guitar rhythm tracks for since I have done them and I got on record complaining about that it sucks to record them and it's just for me because I'm I always rush I have plenty of time problems, but it also what happens physically and this is to all the guitar players of the people who want to learn how to play guitar um win playing medal. I know that this muscle right here in the deltoid gets a lot of stress right here and I'm also holding it up when I'm sitting down so it's an extra amount of pressure on the back of my deltoid and right here and I'm locked up in this place and I'm I'm normally playing stuff that I'm not good at playing it the other stuff, the stuff I'm good at playing and I played on the road I can do it in my sleep and it's really easy just cause my muscles have snap to it and I've learned how to play it in a relaxed style. The new stuff I'm white knuckling, sometimes I'm grabbing too hard and picking too hard on doing whatever just to try to make peace with this riff. So I noticed that when I'm standing up, um, to play with it, like james hatfield plays low rhythm guitar because he doesn't really have to get his right hand normally above ten to fourteen you know those sometimes he does, um, but there is something about leaving your arm at that relaxed area and doing like tons of down picks and stuff like that. You're not putting extra muscle use on your arm so that's just a thing, but but then you got to stand up and get your legs tied, and then your legs get tired. So so that's just a small thing tuning and how often you tune in between every single you two take you two or more often than not, really, chances are that you've gone out of tune ever so slightly, so you can actually look like a real genius. By, like, halfway through the song or a t end of the song, you should tune your guitar because chances are it's gotten out of tune, and even if it hasn't and it's perfectly in tune, you still have the outlet saying, like, you know, you must have pulled it sharp. Yeah, and so he's away, like, you know what you're getting souvenirs is a producer that's good it's a good way to make it look like you should still be working. Um, the other thing is, you know, something that we didn't cover in the drum thing is that drum the snare is something that you're constantly checking, and I don't know, I don't know to check that, but you hearing a snare slowly pulled flat, right? Yeah, that's that's just gradually happens, but just beating the heck out of something, you know, just slowly starts sinking and yeah, there's a lot of ground we didn't cover with the drum thing because there are entire weeks of drum recording workshops that but I think that in rio, recording with you and being in the room with you and gene I I see that being something that happens often, which is that every few things hey, check your snare let's, hear it, son, a little tired. All right well crank it yeah well you'll tighten it up a little bit and try to get back to where it was and then maybe we'll play him in earlier snare take and try to match pitch that's something the rest the kid not as much but not as much but still you got to be on the times as well yeah so I mean seeing you here now and so when when we get into tracking um since I'm a guy that works at home with the computer I like to hear the click off and all rick says no stop listening to click placing the drums and I'll have to start trying to listen the drums rather than the click but sometimes they're gritted so it's the same thing yeah well that sometimes they're not and I have to go what is he doing always you know sometimes a dream will speed up or slow down and apart or not it's not jean really but listen to the drums is the important part because you could dig in a little bit more a certain place and you can accentuate and you'll never hear the click in the final product so it doesn't matter if you're on with the clique wise if you're on with the rest of the guys playing in the band but believe it or not in this loud sound our dynamics like even you could hear I'm kidding a little bit of life get a little bit. I can hit one note a little bit harder, some which sometimes makes a riff a little bit more alive to sew. Like going back to that original song that I start recording. That's. One way to do it is to have a little bit of pick dynamic even when you have five hundred gallons of distortion. And you could hear one note punch out a little bit more than others. So that's, something I'll do and you try to be consistent with that stuff too. The other thing that I noticed through working with, all right, is it's. Not a bad idea. If you can see, I have my hand in place right here. Now you can move your hand a little bit sharp, little bit flat or whatever, not sharper. Flip it up or down and you can you can alter the sound of the rhythm guitar. So if you're trying to do the most horrible thing in the world which is make two tracks of rhythm guitars sound exactly the same, then, yeah. Should we do anything like that? I mean, could you can watch me flail through that stuff if you want to. Um if we had tio rhythm guitarist so if you want to duplicate that track and we can do some of the sea way have this thing so maybe I'll do that same reference see if I can make it work but you can sit here and I can do what I usually do which is make everyone's life longer by playing it wrong and playing it horribly and uh and this is where I start going into nine minute always nail is where the guitar parts on usually he did a pretty good job and I realized I have to worry about my own time of course okay, so yeah all right, so we'll go through what the rhythm guitar tracking processes like so let's say we've got my original song and I'm gonna do that middle section because there's more mu ti and mohr ah you'll be able to hear when I'm off a little bit better, you know, as opposed tio theo's parts are much more forgiving yeah open rainy out guitar parts of it more forgiving them but still they need to be on you know they still get him get him close and tights and normally when we're doing this kind of thing, I'm either on all that's left to right usually on your right I'm usually on that side just the way that your room set up and we have tio speaker set up left and right right in front of them your monitors like the's yamaha's or whatever and and and I'm going through several different times on ben you're comping him together so let's just go through that I'll go through like a two or three and to see if there's anything that matches and we'll show you how the left and right sound even though I don't know if you're getting a stereo thing on this maybe work uh second okay here we go it's so I mean logic world oh come on oh never back there now are now we did it yeah so I wasn't recorded to click on this right? Yeah if you wanted to get a little less here okay, yeah, I was like it's not changing anything and I'm told in the wrong world during that you can turn this out here and I also make sure you know it is not exploding about are overloaded that much can time for new play list all right, so you get in here I mean I get ready here I'm all over the place rhythmically and it's not going to cut together two wonderfully so I have to I still have to learn to play the part so check this out will play both of them together when well I left one right let's see if this works with pfiesteria tracks will be the first to know everything so basically the first half did not work as well, so second half right I was still in that happens oftentimes where you play a riff on and you're kind of like timid and you're you're not fighting, you know, learning is you're still learning you're still trying to wrap your mind around this temple and make peace with this tempo and let the tempo control you and you not control the temple and you're playing to a claim which is not isn't space eyes exciting and yeah, but anyway, so basically we would just go in and, uh try another track yeah on do do that again in front of it, maybe we'll just do the whole thing and just do a whole thing on the times you have to think about that sort of thing giving your three year old back on. I've seen a lot better because you can see that the way forward with the confidence in the way for even from like you can see the confidence from way form from the first take to the third one you also see from the second to the third one two yeah, well let's, listen to it and see what it does much better it is better until the top of its a little wonky, but it's you've been luxan that's the thing and I remember asking the lord because I hadn't double tracks with precision I think before and I said when are we going to know when we're done and it goes you'll just hear it and all of a sudden they just kind of lock in on there's a like suck into each other so there's a low when three d thing that happened it starts pumping at the same time and you don't hear like a push pull between the speaker's anymore it just becomes like one track almost on dh that's that's when it gets really good that's what it sounds like metal that room is we have to stare guitars locked in together and but it takes a while it's a losing glorious it takes a while it's ah it's annoying because you do actually have to watch where you move your hand if you move your hand like but I move my hand every between every single take which I noticed as I was like I'm in my hand again and the thing to make those two guitar sounds similar is to keep your hand hopefully in the same kind of place because so much of the sound is the picking hand on a lot of a lot of people don't don't pay enough attention to the right hand the right has got everything you as a cz part of the sound the actual sound I think we've got a question question I have a question um if it's such a bummer too do this and you're playing the exact same part why not copy and paste you can and sometimes if there's no time we will have to yeah bite but you know what there's a thing when you recorded music you want to at least know that you recorded it and he didn't cheat you know you know it's in this the same difference as live drums versus program drums copy and pasted versus versus a supposed to like played again right where differences in performance or why you know what their parts were I heard that like I never nailed a guitar part or I was just like oh that's good enough I just let's move on and I hear it gets hard like two guitars kind of being off a little bit like you in this kind of thing and they were just robbing a little bit in a couple places and I like that stuff when you go and listen to you like there there are times where you doubling parts listen old bowie records and stuff like that when you hear two guitars bending up there just slightly off on the stereo spectrum or you hear him doubling his voice and it's not it doesn't have the exact same entry point it sounds really cool and it's like this song is not a super fast mail song so I could probably get away with not being perfect yeah it's your comfort level again of how do you you know, there's a different energy comes with something that's super tight versus something that's gonna lose and more hunky you know, are just more feeling. Yeah. So it's again, it's it's, what do you want to do, what you want to accomplish with this? If it's if it's like super brutal mental but a lot of double kick stuff you do it's got a lock in because there's going to be base under it will stand. Yeah, and that's just got a really be be tight, but if you copy and paste too short of a section, you're gonna sound like loop or in some records on this sounds like eating and you get your elektronik mental death going on. Well, the other thing I've noticed and so is that, you know, this is a tedious process. That's the only thing and this is not created. This is tedious. This is like you slicing the drums. I've already done the creative stuff already come up with riff and now I'm trying to just commit this thing. The lead stuff is creative, but still that could get like, you know, there's a lot of yeah, so this is not the fun part, but you also have to realize cut yourself some slack that a lot of this is, you know, you rhythm isn't totally off you could still clean it up and then you get confidence you have these peaks and valleys and then sometimes it's just total luck every once in a while you'll play the part twice and it's just works together I've done it before where I've gone into like in galactic on on those guitars on that record I have I was still learning a riff and it was late and I was tired and unfocused where I had totally locked into guitars or they were just singing together but they were both rushing like crazy and it was just useless land reform all out and start over again but but you know that's what? You know that's why not everybody in the world is going to do it you have to have a mind that's okay with being creative and when it's ok with being tedious and laborious and boring yeah that's what this is the way that you make the record in preproduction then you go recorded right now mainly the recording is almost an afterthought in some ways because it's a very you know you make it's maybe an architect you drop the plans and get the vision and then you get the guys in to start digging a hole you know that you don't see architects out there digging foundations it's true it's but it is it's part of the thing and and that's also what happens when you're like when you record and right like I do which is I don't go away with a band and rehearse these songs before I could rehearse I'm learning the bit oftentimes right here so this is my rehearsal space right here pro tools is my you know it's everything it's the it's the it's the sketchbook where I start running out the ideas it's the rehearsal space where I learned how to play the riffs and then it's my recording field and that's also the next step there's one more step of fun for me which is the overdubbing stage which is that's always like that that's when you get back into the creative get to add parts you get tow kind of figure out what your lyrics are I mean for me that's what I do overdubs and locals with same place and that's not to say that there's no creativity and doing rhythm guitars because you are very often feeding off the the new drum fills in the new drum parts and and sometimes you do improve riffs so it's not completely uncreative and on ly tedious and boring but the there's a large part of it that is having to do it and sitting there and yeah and doing it and you know a lot of people a supposed to the question you were asking is is how do you keep our records or songs from being over edited you know, the simple answer to that is played again as opposed to based you know is just the other that's the the other side of that question and again it goes down to, uh to preference if you want to have a machine like, uh rhythm section you know very much like uh, rum steinar what happened like that that's part of the thing that by all means paste it and remain big if that's actually it's supposed to sound like that then that's what we're going to do you know, not against that and it's more like the philosophy is do what you have to do that get the end result that you desire you know and you have to make your own peace with I hear plenty place on death clock albums where I think these guitars are not perfectly locked in but you know that they sound there's a personality there that there wouldn't be if I nailed everything is a little bit of looseness, which makes it kind of sound cool and it turns out my favorite fans in the world have a little bit of looseness have a little bit of like spill over here and there and but that's part of their hands their hands made the sound it's more human than locking the stuff in the same time I try to go for perfection I never cheated yeah, but it is that perfection thing that makes everything sound samish and boring after a certain time, you know, like, why is there no life in this music, it's just supposed to be, um, you know, there's, nothing worse than, like, a band is, like, absolutely brutal sounding, and it leaves you cold because it's just too perfect and just like, yeah, there's just no, it doesn't grab you that, and they could very well be that it's just too precise and and who knows what, they actually sound like live, you know, they will never sound like that live and through all this distortion and through all this locking in on the stuff somehow person I've got to come through in some way, you know? You've got to hear the guys in on identity of some kind of an identity. Otherwise, what do you got? I want if there any other questions regarding this stuff, yeah, yeah, we have a few good ones. John wants to know what you're looking for when you calm the rhythm tracks. Are you just looking for obvious mistakes, or are you looking are there other things, like intensity is probably tone is like, yeah, this is such a great example of of finding the refining, how to play the rift and thes three you have the other one someone that we could even bring below it maybe uh no, I think that went through the way you like the first one you could see it was really quiet at the top of the second one it was a little bit more consistent but still weak at the front and that usually is what happens your entry points your worst part because we're getting ready. The third one I forgot about what I usually do, which is I usually play in the and the pre role I'm playing and trying to make a consistent sound I forgot. All right, that's, what I gotta do and that's why you see on the third one it's a lot more confident and consistent sounding and that's what we have to do as as players like as a bass player to you're gonna have a lot of complete going to get into this in the next section two so it's a good way to tease it, but with base you're going to have to find a steady attack. You know, just like with problems, I mean, you have to find a steady snare to carry the song through, so there s so those are the three this is so if I were to keep going, I would probably have a couple more takes that would probably beat take three but if I keep going beyond that there's another point that happens there's like a fatigue that sets and all right try to do a good job it's sensing that what happens with me or it happens with gene or where he hit our peak and we're just sucking yeah, you know you learn there's a learning curve involved and then there's the length of good performances and then you like with one mistake doesn't make the peak have having passed the peak but once you get to like all right this is not we're not getting anything new now or not get anything exciting and sound a little tired star and it'll get a little bit over it you know, just over it yeah, well that happens with everything I noticed that that happens every part of creativity when we're in the writer's room for metal equips I noticed that I noticed how I work and I noticed that sitting in a room with fluorescent lights and there's like miniature sneakers there and people are slowly eating them getting tired all day I noticed that I work in forty five minute bursts really well so when I finish a forty five minute burst I usually sense and I go ok all right get out of this room and I will put my stuff down and normally what I'll do is we'll have a problem we have to solve as writers and we'll get up and we'll move our human bodies somewhere else will go like seven eleven or something and talk about so what'd you do this, we can you know what? What if we have this guy do this and all of sudden the thing occurs to us because when we move our bodies and start talking about there's, something back here in the brain is still working on a problem and same goes with this in acting or in whatever you get stuck if you're just sitting in one place you get stuck, you get used to this stuff unless you've got like, a problem like again, drum editing is pretty good this stuff still I need to go out jean will do we'll take break because I'm gonna take a break and think of this stuff and jean sister with the sticks going like this thing's working at the whole drum party knows which the right hands start this in a kind of start, but he'll go out there and you'll sit there and I just see him quietly working this thing out, but we all need a break at some point, so you have to get up and move your body in the second you do that you freed yourself from that torturing area that you were that you were stuck and it really does help forty five minute bursts is the way and again normally in recording in writing in and any of those things which is that yes that's all what I'm doing to their writing music writing story four hours a day of hard thinking of hard problem solving and everything else could be busy work you know but four hours of thinking like okay I use my brain to its maximum until I'm exhausted because if you use your brain really hard you get really tired but but that's that's what I think not my brain it's always died um but to answer the question what was the question and whether it is a combination of things that we're looking for when we come with me I had a good point I have to say that it's much better within what I'm going to say but it's going to answer his question the uh there's a combination of things there's the attack off the pick hitting the string there's the muting the palm muting there's obviously the you know how close they are a ce faras timeline is concern how even they are how do they sound right together from the left to the right a zoo hole and needs to be like an entity a unit and again it's it's the it's the years when do we stop we stop when it's when we feel it's right and you know what we may come back the next day and going you know what we can do better or we can go like dude this is way were way too good to begin with why did we spend the next two or three days now? All right, not that we ever have that much time to actually go that right deep in it, but yeah, you do until it's right and it's it's the attacks, the pitch sometimes you know, sometimes there's are obvious mistakes to naturally they don't get filtered out, but it's it's the nuances very much nuance oriented on dh picking these things performances and again you have to learn how to play or if sometimes you know how to play it but you have to know where the accent you have, you know, to do that so the guitarist has to learn the dynamics of the thing unlike I said, this is such a great way to kind of look at it because these three here from starting from here no confidence, more confident, confident person playing guitar you can see that it happens when you're kind of in and recording is is ah, you know there's a little bit of your brain that anticipates that like wants to anticipate chasing music and go fat and in russia, but you realize that even when you zeroed in on that drum that that drum hat from gene that was not perfectly it was just behind just but still like just like just a hair it's still going to sound good is going to sound right the way their ears are going to read is that that is on time and that sounds good and a lot of this will sound good too um and some of it will sound like this guy's struggling to find where the beat is on I go through all that stuff I get through every of the whole the whole gamut beyond you know the back to the drum thing real quick um when it to line the snares up with the gritted kicks yeah I don't go in and line them up completely perfectly because that's not human so right there actually they fluctuate just a little bit there they're close to being grated but it's never exactly the same so right don't fall into the trap of lining things up and when I go into when I go into superior drummer and I look at the middie grids of that stuff it's the same way whoever like like in let's say in jeans case it may not be perfect looking at maybe off the grid just a little bit it may just be off kind of floating over on eighth note area or something but it sounds great every time and it sounds human and you I don't want you don't want a con ties that sack you know what I've added too much like over editing again you know you want to do that so I think that's pretty much this section of guitar list there's one more question I think we have time for one more if you want to know what's the difference between a playlist and just deleting in redoing it rift by riff is one easier than the other to do it by riff are the pros and cons to doing ah a playlist is basically having multiple takes on one track um as opposed to deleting what you had done and just going over it it lets you keep your uh like your plug ins without having to like for instance here that this is just a different performance on the same track if I were to seek you this with um you know whatever this one on I wouldn't have to go to a different track and copy this plug and over I could just listen to this other performance through the same set up and then uh uh he may have missed the drum editing portion of the program I'm going to select this copy it and create a new playlist um that call audio three as well and then paste that in there and so create my comp track uh is that the same one and then use this one copy that one plummet into the same thing and so it's little build from deerfield combat like you did with drums yeah build it up as opposed to you know there it is gone yeah, you know, I mean, which which sometimes you want to do, it was like, no, this sucked. I'm never going to use that this is out of two will do everything get rid of it, but we usually like how many takes will we do? Like we'll do? We'll do a lot for five between the least four. So is to have enough to come from but more tricky stuff gets like ups up to eight or nine ten, but sometimes I get yeah, let's say I would say and it will happen with me and I'll get up to eighty nine takes and and by eight or nine oh, I haven't ah ha moment ago this is how I play this thing I do to more yeah, I do two more we copy over the first two, you know, so so that so basically with his method, which is really a good way to do it, and it also leaves me here in this position where I don't have to go click start is this hand could move around. So I do a lot of stuff left handed when I'm when I am recording my own guitars, but I do it, uh, I'll do it section by section sometimes, and sure your way is way smarter way better, I think and I don't do it well, that's, the that's, a playlist way and yeah, but that is it. I mean, you could really works well for doubling things, you know, because back in the old and analog days, you actually have to sit there, listen to that one snippet and do it on the left side to it on the right side. Do it again on the left side to it again, left side. We're gonna left. I do on my right side. Oh, the less of you and, you know, I mean, literally for two days he would do this. And now, rather than sitting there doing it that way, we just played the section several times incompetent gether because it actually freeze up the brain. You know, I mean, you just cut out some of them, some of that tedious, any other good guitar really quick. We can cover some of this stuff, too, in the next section, if you want to.

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