Separating Drums from Guitar in a Recording

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treelzebub
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Separating Drums from Guitar in a Recording

Post by treelzebub » Tue Dec 26, 2006 3:38 pm

Hey everyone..

I have a relatively newbie question for you guys..so bear with me :)

I play drums in a band that consists of myself and one guitarist. We recorded a full-length at a friend's house, doing guitar and drums live and overdubbing vocals. All of this was directly to 1/2" tape. Subsequently, the guy who recorded us dumped the tracks into raw wav files, which I am editing in Nudendo 3.

Not surprisingly, I am now having a really hard time getting everything to sit well with each other, as the drums are sometimes overwhelmed by the guitar, which is extremely thick and distorted, and played through 2 amps, which were in separate rooms. One amp was very heavy on the low end to make up for a lack of a bass player. Regardless, all of this is to say that little EQ bumps that would normally accent a kick or snare are now negatively affecting the guitar sound.

Short of dumping the audio from tape again, what are some things you guys can think of to help bring out the drums without losing guitar tonality?

The guitar setup was as follows:
Gibson Les Paul Studio -> Big Muff, Rat, (Memory Man, Pulsar) -> Sovtek Mig 50 / Sun 100watt something-or-other; both amps mic'd with 57s.
The drums and hi hat were all close-mic'd, with an x-y pair above..

Thanks!
-Tre Murillo

thethingwiththestuff
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Post by thethingwiththestuff » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:01 pm

turn the drums up/guitars down?

i think you've left out some important info that would help us help you. can you post any clips? i cant really figure out what you're working with and what you're asking.

what does "directly to 1/2" tape" mean? does that mean its just a 2 track recording, or multiple channels with no processing on the way to the medium?

why isnt is surprisng that they wont sit well? what exactly would dumping from the tape again allow you to do differently?


without knowing those things, the only idea i could give you is if your guitar is extremely thick and distorted, you may want to compress the drums so that they have as small a dynamic range as the guitar and thus stay present.

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treelzebub
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Post by treelzebub » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:20 pm

ah yes... sorry. i'm a bit fried from working on this all day :P

What I'm saying is that I'm currently working with 2 tracks: one vocal, and one guitar/drums. Telling you it was recorded to tape was just to let you know there's more line noise than there would be if we'd recorded directly into Nuendo. It was recorded to tape on 2 tracks by way of an 8-track Behringer mixer.

It's not surprising that I'm having trouble getting it to sit well because the drums and guitar were mixed live together onto tape. Dumping it again is not going to be helpful; you're right. For a moment I was operating under the idea that my friend still had the drums and guitar separated on tape, which is obviously not the case or I wouldn't be having this problem...So, please ignore that part of the original post...heheh

All I really want is for the kick and snare to punch through more than they are. The overheads took care of the cymbals, and they sound fine.

Clips to come.

Thanks for helping me say what I was trying to say :D

thethingwiththestuff
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Post by thethingwiththestuff » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:59 pm

oh shit, got ya, they're stuck on the same tracks. man, i cant even think of any ducking schemes to try to bring out the drums since you dont have any indivdual tracks to use as key inputs...

your best bet might just be to overdub samples or non-musical-instrument percussive sounds (slapping a desk, stomping your feet.....) on top of your drums. maybe you'll get a really interesting result!

the only other thing i can think of is just to play around a lot with straight up compression applied to that track, and try all kinds of different envelope shapes to try to finesse the drums out of there. this is a tough one! good luck

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treelzebub
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Post by treelzebub » Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:48 pm

jeez, dude... right before I posted for the second time, I had just read a thread about the R.E.M. "Murmur" sessions, where they had to overdub a snare in post-production because the hi hat bled through all the other drum mics.......and somehow I didn't see the connection till now.

furthermore, you have helped me realize that I should quit for the day and go have a couple beers.

thanks for the help, dude!

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Post by drumsound » Tue Dec 26, 2006 6:33 pm

Copy the instrumental track several times and do so really severe hi-pass, low pass and EQing to the different copies. Try to make one cope that only emphesizes the snare, one for the BD, one for the guitar bite, one for growl etc.

The overdub odd percussion idea mentioned above is way cooler than mine!

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Post by dirk_v » Wed Dec 27, 2006 1:23 am

You may or may not have luck experimenting with multi-band compression or expansion on the drum/guitar track, depending on how much dynamic range there is between the guitar and drum hits.

Although it may be tedious, I do also like the idea of 'overdubbing' other percussion to accent the beats you want.

-dv
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Artifex
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Post by Artifex » Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:45 am

I know I usually prefer a live recording with a band, especially since it sounds like you got a bit of a Black Keys sorta thing going on ( maybe), but it sounds like your getting really frustrated with the way everything got recorded so I would say either attempt to multi-track it using the old instrumental track and the vocals as a guide, or re-record live and adjust for your problems. You could re-record live using only one guitar amp, maybe even a nice, small amp cranked up a tad, and then overdub more guitar to taste to balance it with the drums.


I do agree that overdubbing percussion sounds like a fun idea to try sometime!

MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:39 am

yeah i like the overdubbing more drums approach too. you could also try putting a compressor on the drums/guitar track, use a slow attack to let the kick and snare hits poke through....doubt it'll be magic but it might help.

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jmoose
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Post by jmoose » Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:52 pm

Normally I'd have at least a couple three ideas, like MASSIVE carving of the drums so that the "weaker" guitars come through but since everything went "live" to 2-track and you can't access the multi-track masters...well then...you're pretty much "fukked."

Chaulk it up to a lesson and move forward so the next rekkid sucks less.

In the meantime, try whuddever you can think of for "damage control" including the over/underdub drums idea which might be kinda hip.

There's also the random thought that maybe things are "ok" and your hating the EQ'ing because things sound really different 'post EQ' or...maybe...you have crappy EQ's which REALLY are sucking the life outta everything.

Tough to say without hearing it or being there.
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adam
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Post by adam » Wed Dec 27, 2006 11:10 pm

If you aren't in a position to add more drums, the suggestions about filtering and using compression are spot on. If you can't filter, use eq and compress. I feel your pain... I had this problem a couple days ago

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treelzebub
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Post by treelzebub » Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:04 pm

you guys have been most helpful.

initially, my instinct was to duplicate the instrument track, and hi-passing one and lo-passing the other. it had better results on some songs than others. the black keys reference was spot on :)

i am currently mixing this thing off-site, as i am stuck home for the holidays, but once i get home i will hop behind the drumkit, and do my best to overdub. i am thinking about putting foam over the hihat and ride so i can still use them to keep rhythm. i worry, though, that my best case scenario is that it will come out sounding like i used shitty slap-back delay on the kick and snare. if it sounds like that, i will take jmoose's advice, and just knock a dollar off our sale price of the record :P

thanks so much for all the wonderful ideas.

i'll post clips when i'm done if you guys are interested.

-tre

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