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Here's a cut of my new band performing an old Maria McKee song, from our 'calling card' demo. This is just a basic demo that we include with our promo package when we're on the hunt for club gigs. There are two other cuts on the demo, too.


The bass is pretty muddy, thanks to the file compression from a .wav file to a .wma file, but you can still get an idea of what the band sounds like. The production is sparse on purpose. We wanted to sound close to live, and not include too many additional elements or tracks. There's just one extra guitar track, and one extra vocal track. The band is a basic three-piece behind female vocals.




Bass signal chain is...


Passive four string American Jazz Bass with maple finger board, through an Eden WT300, to a Focusrite ISA220 Session Pack pre-amp, to a Tascam control surface, to hard drive. No cab.


Any and all constructive criticism regarding the mix and/or the bass part and tone is welcome.


Thanks in advance.

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Sounds great to me, not too muddy at all. Great singer, too!

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie


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Not bad at all! But...


Lock your drummer in an empty room with nothing but a hi-fi and a stack of Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Sly Stone, P-Funk, etc albums for company. He's just not grooving on that track and his fills sound like Casiotone fill-in buttons.


Actually, come to think of it, it sounds like you overdubbed all the parts, and if so, then that's the be the problem. Everyone's playing well (bar drum fills) but no-one's really playing together. If you did record most of the band simulaneously, then see paragraph 1!




P.S. But if I listen with a club/bar manager's ears then it sounds groovy and tight and the singer sounds nice. Eminently bookable.

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Agreed, your drummer is having problems coming out of those fills. It feels like he stops, but I don't think it was meant to feel like that.


I'd lay off the hook a bit; playing it every phrase diminishes the value and creates no tension. Slipping that riff in every 4-8 phrases would really open up the song and push and pull the listener and create the tension I think the song lacks.


I agree with Alex, though, more than adequate to be booked.


Plus, you have the benefit of solid vocals, which, at the end of the day, makes nearly any band bookable. This is not a slight on the rest of the band, but vocals are what the majority of booking agents are looking for.

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Thank you so much for the straight up and constructive criticism! This stuff is golden, and cannot be had from friends and family.


All points duly noted.


The bass and drums were tracked together as beds, along with guitar and vocal scratch tracks, which were later over-dubbed with 'keeper tracks'.

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Hey Edendude, nice recording! :thu:


(Hopefully) constructive criticisms:

The mix Unfortunately, I'm at work and only have a stereo boombox to listen through. Still, the levels seem to be ok; the vocals are prominent and nobody's masking anybody else. (Fortunately for you, your g****rist gives you a lot of space to work with.) Yes, I agree, the mix seems a bit sparse, almost as if everybody is separated a little bit too much, like you were 4 people each 10 feet apart on a 50 foot wide stage. Try a tighter mix and see if you like it better.


The bass line Well, you've got some good vocals to support. The g****r is just laying down support chords a la Motown (even the overdub). The drums are there and unobtrusive, too. If you were to listen to a mix of just those three it would probably still work because the vocals are so enchanting that they sell the song. What's left for you to add? Well, the rhythm is pretty solid, but there's the lack of another melodic voice or riff for the hook. (The Funk Brothers would have had another guitar and piano to fill the melody spot, extra percussion to fill out the rhythm, and of course Jamerson to add his magic touch.) Not knowing Jamerson that well, I'd say you took the melodic route, which, quite frankly, I would have chosen too (because that's my style). Your line is pretty solid, nothing too fancy, not overplayed, and fits the song. However, because you're filling more of a lead role I think you can take more chances, especially in the holes where there's no singing (but, as you're well aware, you don't want to do anything that would dominate those vocals).


Some more specific criticisms on the playing follow. The opening statement (chorus) would mix better with the g****r and drums if you played all the beat 1s longer and beat 2s shorter (about an 8th) and maybe with a little accent to lend some dynamics; interpret it more with a jazz feel than rock here. For the verse, it seems like you're leading the chord changes by a half beat. I think this will gel better if you soften the upbeat and hit the downbeat a little harder with everyone else. Also, in the middle of the measures you could try adding different pitches (you're being melodic, remember), but keep the overall descending feel. The bridge (between verse and chorus) has nice movement with the overall ascending line (nice contrast to the verse), but don't lose momentum at the end; keep ascending to the end instead of just running out of gas on the root. During the real bridge you abandon melody totally; that's probably ok as it gives this section a very different feel; you end it nicely with the contrasting sustained note at the end.


The bass tone Yes, I think I can hear the muddiness you're describing. An American Jazz should have a little more clarity than that, IMO. If it's truly just from the conversion, then there shouldn't be any problem because you're distributing CDs, not .wma files. Your Eden head is adding some color that gives the bass a presence that you wouldn't get if the Jazz were just DI'd without any additional processing. It's almost too much for this song, however, where the more round/smooth and subdued DI sound (with a touch or post-processing) would do just fine. Then again, there's something to be said about a "signature tone". Maybe if you plucked up on the neck to soften things a little bit?


You didn't ask for this, but as a demo song the intro isn't helping you, it's hurting you. Either cut the repeat (because you aren't saying anything new the 2nd time around) or start just two beats before the first verse. Remember, the vocals sell this song, so you want to get them started as soon as possible; if the person listening gets impatient and skips over this track before the vocals even start, what kind of impression will that leave? When you go to play it live, go ahead and put the intro back in. As your regulars become familiar with the piece, they'll know what's coming by beat 2 of the intro and they'll be running for the dance floor (or whatever).

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E-dude, the song ROCKS! You're gonna get work from this, especially if the other tracks on the demo have similar hooks. I don't think the booking agents for the clubs are going to be that critical about the mix. It's more about whether you'll pull in a contemporary crowd that'll help the club do business.


The next step: A DVD performance. The convergence in price points between CDs and DVDs makes me think bands are going to be doing their own videos soon. Even if it's in a club with a few handheld cameras and you do post-production to overdub vocals and leads later, it's a technology that's available at least to the average college student. In fact, a home-brew video might have more of an appeal to your fan base. Might give you an edge when most bands are still passing out demo CDs.

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Great song. Catchy. I really enjoyed it. I would book you in a heartbeat.


Just out of curiosity. How many songs do you perform in a night and are they all originals or do you mix in covers?

"Some people are like "slinkies". They're not really good for anything;

but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a

flight of stairs."

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Again, some more very useful and thought-provoking comments, guys. Thanks for taking the time to listen and post.


I've shown this thread to our vocalist, and she was also very appreciative of all the constructive criticism.


I don't know if I have the heart to show the thread to our drummer, however. I probably will show him in time (forgive the pun).




We perform three 45 to 55 minute sets in a night. It's a mix of covers and some originals, and it's all groove-based. Stevie Wonder, Ben Harpur, Fiona Apple, Boz Scaggs, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Jamiroquai, and Joss Stone are just a handful of the artists who's material we cover.

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Yeah, there's something quirky going on there. Maybe a compression issue. The studio engineer is doing some tweaks tomorrow, and that's one of the issues he's looking at.


There's also some stridency on some of the vocal dynamic peaks that we're trying to sort out, but we think they might be more of a performance issue. The vocalist may just be running out of breath and having to force the note.


I guess at some point you just have to tell yourself this is just a demo, and not an album, or you could analyze and tweak things endlessly into infinity.

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My comments are going to echo my good friend, getz76.


The band sounds good and you should be able to play anywhere.


You and the singer are doing great.


The guitarist keeps playing the same riff over and over and by the end I was a little tired of it. Have him play that riff one fourth of the time and it might be more effective.


The drummer is dragging all his fills.

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Some minor tweaks were made to the mix that other band members wanted, but I kept my own version the way it was.


When I listen to the uncompressed cuts on my home stereo, there are no anomalies in the mix, itself. Just some minor performance oddities that I'm happy to leave as is.


Converting to a .wma file, or other compressed file types definitely seems to add unwanted artifacts, especially when you're really listening closely for problems within the mix.

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Thanks, Dave...


You are actually not the first person to mention that Linda has a very 'CH' quality about her voice. She takes that as a compliment. And since we're all fans of The Pretenders music, we're seriously considering adding one or two of their songs to our setlist.


It's interesting when several people make the same comment about Linda's voice, and completely independ of each other.



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