Tag Archives: sydney sound studio

18 Feb

Guitar Pickups

The importance of guitar pickups

Pickups are all about character and style. The pickups in your guitar are what amplifies the sound and picks up the vibrations from your guitar strings. Yet they are much more than that. They emit ideas of an era, an intensity and a different collection of sounds. Brian May spent a fortune on his pickups and had many different switches for different parts of the songs in the band Queen. They’re definitely as important as the type of wood your instrument is constructed from, your amplifier, and your gauge of strings. It is important when buying a guitar or entering a Sydney Recording Studio to give a lot of consideration to this area of the sound.

Naturally pickups exist in different sizes and shapes. They also aim towards different musical goals. For example, you’re not going to use the same one to play rockabilly that you use to play old rock or Heavy Metal. If you don’t choose the right pickups for what you want to perform, you’ll find it hard to get the tone you are searching for.

Below is a basic introduction to the different types of pickups available. Its not exhaustive but it will certainly get you started. This blog doesn’t go deep into the science or construction but it will give you an important overview. Then you can begin to understand what pickups are right for you when you are recording in a Sydney Sound Studio.

The basic construction of a Pickup?

Basically a pickup is a magnet with wire wrapped around it that transforms the vibration of your strings into an electronic signal or waves. This can be applied either on an electric instrument or on any acoustic instrument also.

Electric Guitar/bass Pickups

There are basically three main categories of electric pickups:  humbucker, single coil, and P90.

Single Coil


Single coil pickups use a single magnet. The Fender Strat is a great example of these kinds of pickups. Single coil pickups have a huge range of tones and styles and are used on much more than just Stratocasters. They are considered to be brighter and crisper than humbuckers or P90s.  Rockabilly, Chicago blues, country and surf rock all utilize single coil pickups effectively. Having said that, they sound fantastic in any genre depending on the mix and eq as well as effects applied. The one thing Single Coil pickups do not do well is heavy metal. Some bands and musicians make this work but generally they don’t take to distortion well. The sound doesn’t break up consistently with high levels of distortion in a Sydney Recording Studio. For this sound you want to be looking more at a Humbucker:

Humbucker

 


Humbuckers are basically two single coil pickups together. Single coil pickups utilise what is called a “60-cycle hum”. This refers to the fact that background electrical noise is transferred to your amplifier along with the vibrations from your strings. Humbuckers were designed to enhance or “buck” this hum and as a result have higher output. This can make them warmer and more useful for jazz or blues. It also lets them receive and put out much more distortion.  Humbuckers are by far more versatile and are a safe bet. A single coil pick up comes with a unique sound and style but can be a real risk in some settings. Arguably the humbucker will not perform country, rockabilly or anything that requires a “twang”. For that you can stick with your single coil!

P90

If you are looking for a compromise and something in between the single coil and humbucker sound.  P90 is for you. They have a higher output than single coil pickups, but not quite the heaviness and force of humbuckers. Their tone has more warmth than your standard single coil, but will never be as deep as a humbucker. Often blues artists will walk into a Sydney Sound Studio with a P90 because they want to get that blend of warmth and twang.

Here is a great guide online for  Electric Guitar Pickups.

Bass Guitar Pickups

There are a number of different categories of bass pickups : J-pickups (Jazz Bass), Split-Coil pickups, Dual-Coil pickups, and Soap Bar pickups.

  • J-Pickups
    J-pickups were first used by fender on the fender Jazz bass as early as the 50’s and this is the reason they are named so. They have a warm and clear sound, and are often used by soul, blues and jazz bassists. Having said that, plenty of rock musicians use them. Noteably Duff McKagen from Guns and Roses. 
  • Split-coil
    Split-coil pickups are two halves of a single pickup that are split in order to cover a wider range of the neck versus bridge sound. They are much more punchy than jazz pickups. Imagine a huge hammer with a lot of weight that is coated in cotton wool and butter. This might get you close to a visual image of the Split coil sound. They are used on the infamous P-Bass or Precision bass. They are also the most popular pickup because of they’re warmth and ability to punch through a mix in any Sydney Sound Studio. 
  • Dual-coil
    Dual-coil pickups create a humbucking effect for the bass. They are much warmer and fat and great for a vintage sound. Dual-coil’s are subtle and good for a small band where the mixing is clear and has lots of space for the bass. They will not cut through well in a large ensemble if you are performing live. Keep the Dual-coil for intimate settings. 
  • Soap bar
    Soap bar pickups are J-bass pickups with a wider casing. They are sealed and last longer. You will find Soap bar pickups in a lot of modern basses. They also have pins that protrude from the bottom of the pickup in order to facilitate different wiring combinations. 

Hitting the town with your new information

Armed with this basic information, you should be able to make a serious start in selecting the right pickup for you and your instrument. Use your ears, continue researching and enter a Sydney Recording Studio like Crash Symphony Productions with confidence!!

07 Feb
Recording studio

Buying a drum kit and understanding construction

The importance of Drums

Drums are vital in a band context. No doubt about it. They are the engine room for rhythm and create the atmosphere and the “groove” from which all the instruments int he band draw their “time and feel”. James Brown was a huge supporter of the idea that the drummer is the most crucial element for feel in a band. Not only the rhythmic feel but the style and “era” of the song are captured with drums. Different drum kits have different sounds. In fact, different drum kits with different tunings have different sounds! As a drummer in a Sydney Recording Studio you are a time keeper – yes, but you are also an artist with a palette of paints and colours to choose from. From where you place the stick to how hard you hit and which tom or cymbal you choose in any given moment, you have a heck of a lot of power to affect the mix in a Sydney Sound Studio and the feel of any song or band.

The importance of the style of kit

Lets be real. You can’t create a brilliant power ballad 80’s drum sound, or a funky mid 90’s RnB shuffle with a piece of trash drum kit. The last thing you want in any mix is to hear “pots and pans” sounding kits, or the thud of cardboard sounds because you tried to save money on a kit from China! Having said that, you do not need to spend a fortune. Its more about the type of wood and the basic construction than the price tag. With a little research you can find yourself a drum kit to record in a Sydney Recording Studio like Crash Symphony Productions. 

   If you’re learning drums and thinking about buying a new drum kit, its time to think about the gear you will use. Lets talk about finding the right hardware. It doesn’t matter if you play heavy metal, R&B, country, pop, reggae, rockabilly, jazz,  blues, or 50’s old rock ‘n’ roll, this blog will help you find a kit from which you can craft your trade in any recording studio.

Beginners and those snooping around for a new kit

When Buying a new drum kit, a full kit will usually contain all pieces of hardware that you require. For those who already have some hardware, purchasing a shell pack can save you a lot of cash. A shell pack contains the drums with no extra hardware except tom mounts and rims. If you already own a kit but want to add to it, an add on pack is a great way to go because the cost is often less than buying each drum on its own.

Of course if you are a total beginner and own nothing you can purchase a beginner drum set. These contain all the drums, hardware and cymbals you need in one hit. Remember you can upgrade later and add as you go. Let’s face it, in 6 months you might change your mind and decide to be a guitarist!! If you’re shopping for your child, make sure you go for a “junior drum kit” NOT a toy. Yes there is a big difference in quality but not in price. You will want to ask a music professional and stay away from the internet and large department stores. Head to a local music shop and chat about a small scale drum kit that is properly designed. A toy will only give your child a discomforting start and create bad habits and posture.

The type of music you play

Generally its a great idea to choose drum sets that fits the style of music you mostly play. Are you into Metallica or Ed Sheehan? Do you idolise Steve Gadd or Connie Kay? A basic rule is that kits with less and smaller drums are a good choice for jazz, traditional blues, and other acoustic styles, while drum kits with bigger drums are better for heavy metal, rock, and other louder styles like punk or even fusion.

Types of Woods and builds: Three main types

When buying a new drum kit, a crucial element that you should consider is the type of wood used in constructing your drums. Different types of woods are used for drum construction, and all have unique sound qualities.

  • Maple is the most common wood used for drum making. It has a warm tone.
  • If you are going for a harder and brighter sound that you want to cut through the mix in a Sydney Sound Studio, Birch is a great choice. Its tough, with a harder, crisper sound.  Its loud, bright tone makes it fantastic for recording, as it easily cuts through the mix. Birch has less muddy mid range and clear highs and lows.
  • Mahogany  is the wood you want if you are going for a vintage sound. Drummers who dwell in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s eras love this wood. Its got less crispness and harshness than both Maple and Birch and is especially great for music like The Beatles, James Brown old school funk, early Cream and even old rock like early 70’s Pink Floyd. Beware however that it is a very specific sound. Lovely and warm but don’t expect it to cut through the mix on a heavy metal track or a modern Nashville country band! It just won’t work for that!

Woods for those on a budget

  • For those on a budget when buying a new drum kit, consider Poplar. It has very similar sounds to Birch but is not a hard to come by and therefore much cheaper.
  • A really great tip for those on a budget or just starting out is to know that Falkata is often used as a substitute for maple. It costs less yet has very similar sound qualities and acoustic results to Maple
  • Basswood is another cheaper option that can be a good replacement for Maple or Birch. Basswood has a smooth grain that takes look great with lacquer.
  • Lauan wood is another replacement quite specifically for those searching for the Birch sound. Again its cheaper but can get surprisingly similar results.
  • Oak is very similar to maple but slightly brighter. Though a whisker cheaper, many drummers actually prefer Oak over Maple. This is more about taste than anything else, and if you are just starting out, either will be fine.

Drum shells consist of several layers of wood know as “plies”. Generally speaking, drums with more layers of wood have a brighter sound and higher “fundamental pitch”. Drums made with less layers of ply mostly are fatter and warmer with a lower fundamental pitch.

Other nuances with drum building

Buying a new drum kit takes in to account an understanding of construction. Drum making, just like drumming is an art form in itself. Though this blog doesn’t go in depth, if you are a more experienced drummer and want to know more about the construction of drums its worth checking out other sites. (A list is provided at the bottom of this blog.) Things as simple as the angle at which a drum shell’s edge is cut makes a big difference in the sound. A steeper or sharper edge angle will give a bright sound with more cutting highs, while a more rounded edge gives a deeper, more mellow sound. It really is a science all its own and at Crash Symphony Productions we understand that science in its relationship to recording.

Drums have a number of different finishes and its good to understand this when buying a new drum kit. The most common is a vinyl finish which protects the kit and gives it longevity. However many people prefer a lacquered finish for the exposure of the beautiful wood grain. These things are aesthetics but lets face it, when you are not in a Sydney Recording studio, you need to be on your A-game as far as appearance on a stage is concerned. The drum kit is by far the largest instrument and visually it is the centre of the bands image whether in a Sydney Recording Studio or on a giant arena stage.

Sydney Recording Studio Cuica

16 Jan

Jazz Harmony concepts for beginners

Understanding Jazz Harmony

Jazz harmony can be intimidating for many musicians. Looking at a jazz standard on a piece of sheet music can be quite baffling. Chords sometimes seem unrelated and with all the alterations they have it is often easier just to say “this is not my bag”. So many people walk away from Jazz because they are intimidated by jazz harmony. You need not be! There are foundational principles that can get you through any well known jazz standard when tracking in a Sydney recording studio. 

Simplify the voicings. 

First of all, for chordal and accompaniment instruments in a sound studio it is rarely necessary to add alterations such as b9, #9, 13 or #5. These are colours that are often expressed in the melody itself. In fact sometime adding the alterations can clash with the melody if it is there as a passing note. Yes, ideally we want to use them to give the standard its colour. However if you are struggling with a first reading of jazz harmony, it is totally acceptable to play the basic foundational chord. These reduce the amount of shapes and voicing you need to grapple with. Here is a chart of 5 basic chord qualities without alterations:

Dominant 7th.     1.   3.   5.  b7

Major 7th            1.   3.   5.   7           

Minor 7th.           1.   b3.   5.  b7

Half diminished.  1.   b3.   b5.  b7

Diminished          1.   b3.   b5.  6

 

Simpler than it looks

Quite seriously that is all you need to find your way through a jazz standard. Also it is worth bearing in mind that you rarely even need to add the 5th of the chord. The 3rd and the 7th are what gives a chord its unique character. Even in a Half Diminished chord where the b5 is unique, a beginner jazz student can still play 1,  b3,  b7 (the same 3 note voicing as a minor 7th chord) without interfering with the harmony or the rest of the band in a Sydney recording studio.

There is just no need to avoid jazz any longer. However start with what you know and add to it slowly. Just playing through the tonic, 3rd and 7th of every chord in a standard will give you a beautiful insight into the “harmonic flow” of the song. 

Other useful approaches can be applied step by step once the above method is conquered. For example if you are comfortable with simple 1 3 7 voicing’s (or better still ONLY 3 and 7 voicing with out tonic. Yes that’s right 2 notes are more effective than 3 when there is a bass player in the band!) Having said that, we can now begin to approach the extensions in a non intimidating way. 

Simplifying extensions

Approaching the b9 in jazz harmony is easier than we think. When you see a dominant 7th b9 chord you can simply choose to play ANY diminished triad off the b9 itself, the 3rd, 5th and 7th. This is because the entire chord is a diminished chord with a different bass note. Remember the bass note/tonic is not your responsibility when there is a bass player in the band when jamming in a music studio in Sydney. For example: 

C7b9 you can quite safely play any of the following:

Edim. (Built off the 3rd)

Gdim. (Built off the 5th)

Bbdim (Built off the 7th)

Dbdim (Built off the b9th)

Most importantly the aim of this article is to make life easier for intermediate/beginner players when reading or recording a jazz standard. So when you see a progression like this:  Dm9.   G7b9.  Cma9#11

Your options can be very simple and very tasteful. 

A D minor 7th chord with no 5th will suffice – though the 5th is ok also if its easier (try 5th fret root note voicing from the A string)

for the G7c9 Just play a D diminished from the same position!

Landing on the Cmajor is a simple 3 note voicing going downwards from the 5th fret, voicing: G B E

All the above is accomplished with hardly any movement and can be applied time and again in any key for any II V I progression.

The next step

Let’s use the same example and try a different position and add perhaps 1 more extension.

Try from the 10th fret:

Dm7 3 note voicing (E string root note on 10th fret)

G7b9 –  Ab diminished (from the Ab on the A string)

Cma9#11 – Similarly, the simple major 7 shape (3 note voicing) with C root note on the 8th fret. If you are ready, you can leave off the root note: C and play the upper 2 notes B and E (9th fret D and G strings) and simply add a D on top (10th fret high E string). You could simply play a G major 7 triad (this contains G, B, D and F#). This is particularly allowable if the there is a pianist in the group that will cover the 3rd of the harmony. Another option is to simply play an Em9 chord or Em7. This covers the upper harmony of a Cma9#11chord quite comprehensively. However, that is slightly more advanced and will be covered in another blog about recording in a Sydney sound studio.

Beginning to think in full triads and chords that start on the 3rd and the 5th of the chord you are comping will give you a head start for playing extensions!

Some other useful shapes and ideas are located here at Learn Jazz Standards.

Various 3 note voicing positions:

 

28 Dec
recording studio bluegrass

Starting your own band

Stating your own band

Most teenagers at some stage have a dream of being in a band. As soon as you begin to listen to popular music on RAGE or Video Hits. Ideas start forming about perhaps becoming famous. Add to this the fuel of watching documentaries on famous bands like the Rolling Stones or The Beatles. With this inspiration it very likely that you will begin to plan your own musical career path and find yourself in a Sydney Recording Studio. Being in a band does not have to be a pipe dream that never comes true. It simply requires a bit of organisation and a dream. What sort of band do you want to start? Which style would you choose? Ultimately the answers to these questions are: the style that you love the most. The style that says who YOU are and how you feel inside.

To cover or not to cover?

You should ask yourself a few questions. Do you you want to start out from scratch in a band that writes and performs original music? Perhaps you have a number 1 hit up your sleeve. Does your band want to begin by playing the music of others in a cover band? Covers bands are a great way to start out as a musician. I remember my first covers band which we named Crowded Outhouse which is now known as NOAH. Our aim was to play hits from all the ages. In particular the band played songs by the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Cream. We also played contemporary songs by bands like Matchbox 20, Live and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Of course we did have a dream of being famous but we came out of the 90’s with something more valuable. There was an understanding and appreciation of music an how it is put together. Eventually we mustered up the creative powers to record together. Eventually we found ourselves morphing into an originals band. Yes we found ourselves in a Sydney Recording Studio putting down tracks of our own.

We used to encourage each other and constantly strive for inspiration to write and record better. I remember one year we all went to the Hunter Valley for our bass players birthday. The band had a weekend retreat up there and came home with half an album worth of ideas. It wasn’t long before we were in a Sydney sound studio listing to our music come to life. There is no greater pleasure than walking into a Sydney recording studio and hearing your songs come to life.

Rehearsing

When starting a band rehearsals can range from once a week to 2 times per week. Less frequently is ok if you and the other band members have full time jobs. It really depends what you are looking for out of a band and how much you want to invest into it. Perhaps it is just an outlet or form of stress relief? Are you really aiming to go somewhere and are very goal oriented. This is important for all the band members to discuss. Before you enter a Sydney Recording Studio you will want to share the same vision for your project.

Often songs are not fully complete upon entering a Sydney sound studio. There is nothing wrong with this. When you enter a Sydney recording studio like Crash Symphony Productions the main thing you need are the bones of a chord structure, lyrics and inspiration for a song.  You will find that a good producer will help you bring out the best of the song. Sometimes this will involve working in the recording studio to add extra components to the song, like solos, instrumentals, introductions or Outros. If you don’t feel confident enough yourself to track all the instruments, a good voice over studio will have a plethora of great session musicians on tap to come and track for you. Crash Symphony Productions can put the best instrumentalists in Sydney onto your songs and make them radio worthy.

Landing your first gig

The most exciting thing about having your own band is having your first gig! This is a great opportunity to shine in front of your friends and family. If you have concerns about being accepted into a venue, remember you can always organise your own gig! I remember my very first gig with my first band. It was on a giant septic tank out the back of the lead singer’s house. We held it as a concert for friends and parents and we felt like absolute super stars. It wasn’t long after that that we started to play at friends parties.

Our band played for free or for drinks at first. When we got enough experience performing we were able to enter the pub scene. I remember the first time we landed a gig at the local bowling club. This was a big milestone for us and we used the money to buy our first sound equipment. The best way to get gigs in this day and age is to record a good video. Crash Symphony productions can do this for you with state of the art gear and a green screen. Its a great way to get ahead and get the attention of agents.

 

Crash Symphony production

 

 

27 Nov
Video Production Sydney

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Songwriting can be great fun and can even be an addiction. A very healthy and productive one! Once you get inside a music studio in Sydney and begin to let the creative juices flow, hours can pass without even noticing. While this is a great place to be in we mustn’t forget the rudiments of playing music and maintaining our skills!
In fact practicing and discovering new techniques, rhythmic patterns and melodic devices can enhance our song writing and recording studio ability. Below I have outlined a few techniques, concepts and approaches for developing focus and direction in your practice routine

Stay with one theme for a period of time.

When maintaining your skills be sure to focus on one particular style or style for a period of time. Not hours or days but rather weeks. (Sometimes it takes even months of practice in a Sydney recording studio.)
As consumers we are constantly bombarded with new music from Spotify to Apple music to all the latest releases on YouTube and the radio. As well as this there are instructional videos, blogs and websites with a multitude of suggestions about what we should be learning and practicing. Musicians often find themselves jumping from one technique to another without mastering anything quite perfectly. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having variety in your practice routine. The way to really improve is to stick at one concept for a while. To take a very simple example. If you want to improve your playing and phrasing as a guitarist for example. I highly recommend looking closely classic solos and focusing on every inflection. Its these details that make great musicians great. From the length of each note to the style of picking and also the pitch accuracy of bending notes.
Focus on whatever you are trying to accomplish for a period of weeks. This will create a consistency and authenticity in your playing. It’s important to state at this point that you should choose something you are passionate about. If you enjoy the playing of the master you are imitating you will be inspired to spend more focussed time on that aspect of practicing in a music studio in Sydney.

Slow things down

Very much related to the previous paragraph is the idea of slowing down sections of a song or solo in order to be more accurate. Playing something fast over and over his very ineffective. It does not iron out the problems that need to be ironed out. In fact it can cause you to develop bad technique and habits! Allow your muscle memory and fingers to adjust and really absorb what you are learning. Give them a chance lock into new phrase over time.  Slow down and focus on the details. It may seem tedious at the time they will pay great dividends later on. When people are listening and wondering what that “x-factor” is as you solo years down the track, you can surely point back to this concept. Similarly, when learning a new scale this is especially important. Playing a scale fast does not necessarily mean it is is embedded in your long-term memory. Try the scale slowly in different positions and “feel” each note. Allow each note and each position on the fretboard to become a part of your long term memory. When this happens you will find that you can call on it at any time when improvising in a Sydney recording studio.

Set goals

Goal setting is especially important when desiring to improve our playing. The goals can be very simple and no doubt they will change from time to time. The important thing is that when you sit down with the instrument you think before playing! So many times we just pick a guitar up and “noodle”. Its very relaxing and can be great for relieving stress. Many non-professional adult students simply want to play guitar for stress relief and therapy and this is fine! They don’t necessarily have the goal like you of maintaining your skills.They have other focusses and occupations in life and guitar is just an “outlet”. If however you are looking to move forward as a musician focus is essential. Quite literally before picking up the instrument, tell yourself OUT LOUD what you hope to accomplish. This will cause you to be so much more time efficient. It is astounding what someone can accomplish in just 10 minutes a day. Its not quantity that you need to improve. It is quality in focus. The irony about this entire concept is that at the end of a productive 10 minutes you will feel so much more accomplished and relaxed than if you wasted 10 minutes noodling! Playing something we are already familiar with because it sounds good is really a time waster. Yes it can be gratifying for a moment. But frankly – MOVE ON! Forward progress is exhilarating when you develop momentum. I cannot emphasise enough how fulfilling it is after a week or 2 of just 20 minutes a day on a new technique in a music studio in Sydney to feel yourself nailing it. If you’re looking to make a big impact in a sound studio in Sydney, go in with a constantly evolving skill set!