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#1845167 - 11/22/07 05:54 AM Please help an ignorant old guitar guy...
picker Offline
10k Club

Registered: 06/13/04
Posts: 13353
Loc: Near 12th Street and Vine...
Hi folks. I'm a longtime member over on the guitar and bass forums, seeking some advice.

I have been wanting to start playing out again for a long time now, but I keep running into problems with other people. Either they want to play stuff that topically makes me uncomfortable, or live too far away to make practicing more than once a week affordable, or don't have the time to pull it together, or something else.

So, I want to look into working with some sort of mechanized/computerized or prerecorded backup. It seems like the easiest way to solve the problems, and it seems like there are as number of ways to do it.

Being your basically ignorant guit-fiddler who can't read music or play drums, and who has no real expertise in programming sequencers/computers, studio recording, or anything that would make this easier, I wonder if some of y'all who do this would share with me what works for you, and what you'd recommend for someone like me that would sound halfway decent.

My goal is to play very small clubs and/or restaurants (there are a lot of little bar-be-que joints that a full-sized blues band would drive the customers out of around here; it is Kansas City, after all...). I'd be looking for something that would deliver drums and bass backup primarily, although occasional keyboard sounds would be nice too.

What do you guys suggest, other than hanging myself for wanting to work with "trax"?
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#1845336 - 11/22/07 05:10 PM Re: Please help an ignorant old guitar guy... [Re: picker]
miroslav Offline
Cosmic Cowboy
10k Club

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 14215
Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
 Originally Posted By: Picker


Being your basically ignorant guit-fiddler who can't read music or play drums, and who has no real expertise in programming sequencers/computers, studio recording, or anything that would make this easier, I wonder if some of y'all who do this would share with me what works for you, and what you'd recommend for someone like me that would sound halfway decent.


Picker

You really need to consider what you want to do...what type of "sound" you are looking for.

If you are going to be happy with some basic MIDI sequenced tracks created with nothing but synthesized patches and programmed drums...
...that will require a different approach than if you want real drums and backing tracks played by real people on real instruments.
So...think about what you want...and then consider which of the half dozen approaches I listed previously, will get you there.

My approach would probably be much different from yours (or others).
I have a full studio at my disposal, so I would probably record all the backing tracks in a traditional manner.
But someone who is heavily into synths and loops will probably go about it a different way.
And someone else, yet another way.

Also...they type of music you wish to play could also dictate to a degree how you go about creating your "virtual band".

Can you provide more info of what you are shooting for? What would be the makeup of your band, and what sound/music would you focus on?
How “real” must it sound…or would semi-cheesy MIDI tracks be more than enough. \:\)
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#1859310 - 12/19/07 11:20 AM Re: Please help an ignorant old guitar guy... [Re: miroslav]
Eric VB Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5789
I realize this is a month old, but ...

reminds me of another feller out your way goes by the name of TEDSTER. Ever heard of him? ;\)

He recorded backing tracks and burned them to CD so at a gig he only needed to work a CD player.

Not sure if he MIDI programmed the drums or played them himself (or had his son play drums; kid's a good drummer). Drums are usually the hardest part. Obviously recording a real kit sounds better than programmed drums, but then you need a sound-treated room to record the drums in, as well as a bunch of mics and either a multi-input digital audio interface (preferred) or a mixing board. And if you've never done it before it may take a while to learn all the recording engineering aspects of miking drums and mixing them. This is made even more difficult/frustrating if you're also the guy swinging the drum sticks!

The alternative is MIDI programmed drums. You should be able to do this without being able to read/write standard music notation. Most programs use a "player piano" kind of visualization scheme. Most software should allow (computer) keyboard entry, but you may find it easier to use a music keyboard instead. It needs to have MIDI output and your computer needs to have MIDI input (which could be part of the digital audio interface). Of course it would be nice to use a device that you can actually hit with a drum stick to record MIDI drum parts, but these tend to be rather expensive.

Recording electric guitar and bass is fairly straight forward if you record direct (i.e. through a DI box). Some software will have amp/effect modeling that will approach the "real deal", but not quite. Again, it's easier to deal with software, IMO, than to figure out all the recording engineering of miking up an amp.

I've tried it myself and when it comes to performing it's imperative that you have a good monitor mix. (I tried using just a home stereo for the backup CD and wasn't able to hear it well enough while performing. I won't do that again!) I mixed some of my tracks "minus bass" or "minus mando" instead of all "minus guitar" so I could show the audience I could actually play all those instruments on the recordings.

Anyway, make sure you have a PA with mains for the audience and a monitor for yourself. Even the cheapest mixing board should be able to handle guitar, vocals and a CD player.

This kind of guitaraoke should go over fine in any place where you're just providing sonic wallpaper. In situations where you're more "front and center" you probably have to chat up the audience a little harder so they get more of a "live" feel.

Or talk to Ted or catch one of his shows. He's got a lot more experience doing this.


Edited by RicBassGuy (12/19/07 11:21 AM)

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#1873299 - 01/15/08 01:59 PM Re: Please help an ignorant old guitar guy... [Re: Eric VB]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Nothing is a simple as cassettes or CDs. You could just set it all up in a laptop if you prefer.
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#1979388 - 08/11/08 08:18 PM Re: Please help an ignorant old guitar guy... [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
Mortal Engines Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/11/08
Posts: 147
Loc: Portland, OR
You may want to look into something like Acid Pro or Ableton Live and you can actually throw together backing tracks quite easily with the loops supplied.

http://www.myspace.com/mortal_engines

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