Help Mixing Shakers

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Mustang Martigan
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Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Mustang Martigan » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:14 pm

I'm using shakers for the first time in a recording, well technically maracas, and I'm having trouble getting them to sit well in the mix. Is it common to record multiple tracks? Street Fighting Man by the Stones sounds like it has 100 tracks of shakers.

I just plugged in a LDC (MCA SP1) and shook the things in-front of it and added some reverb. Are shakers generally hard panned?

Thanks.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by losthighway » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:49 pm

My first moves usually with hand percussion stuff is to high pass it, compress it a fair amount, and turn it down a lot. I always joke after people track shakers, claves, bells or tambourine that after we check the performance I turn it down what seems like a ton, and that they'll ask me to turn it down two more times during the mix process.

Sometimes if something about it is grating I'll low pass the tippy top frequencies. Depending on how busy the mix is and how thin of a layer I want that overdub stuff to be, I might make it pretty narrow, eq wise.

Reverb- I hear stuff work every which way. Usually a little is necessary, but we've all got records with some long tails on aux percussion. Usually works better for sparse parts, whereas playing eighths or sixteenths turn to mush with too much verb.

Oh yeah, and panning. Usually it's easier for me to "just hear it" when it's really low and panned fairly hard. Closer to the center it seems like it takes a lot more volume and is still not doing as much. I suppose this is true of a lot of things.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by floid » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:59 pm

Are there hi hats, pick-attacky acoustic guitars, stuff like that? Decide whether to work in unison or have a push pull dynamic, which will guide your panning/ eq decisions.
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by drumsound » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:28 pm

As mentioned, they don't often need to be super loud to be effective. Careful with reverb, it can really screw it up if it isn't right. Shorter is usually better. I'll usually pan shakers opposite of the hats.

Of course, these are mix things. Recording them is often where the problem is. Don't be too close to the mic. and don't drive the preamp, like, AT ALL.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Magnetic Services » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:13 pm

Ditto on turning them down. Doesn't take much for shakers to poke through! I'd start at the bottom of the fader and bring them up slowly.

EQ-wise, sometimes the mids can get in the way. Compression? Sure why not.

Unless it's like a psychedelic tune I'd shy away from much reverb. Maybe a small room or just a little slapback/ambience delayish thing.

BUT I don't know what the song sounds like! Post it if ya dare.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Mustang Martigan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:02 am

Thanks for all the advice.

I'm guessing that the shaker being used is just as important as anything, ya? I have a pair of maracas I brought home from a trip to Mexico when I was a kid. They seem pretty novelty.

The guitars are heavily distorted and I can't figure out if that's what's making the shaker seem out of place. I'm gonna try another take with less dirt and see what happens. I don't think the song necessarily needs the heavy guitar. If you havent already figured it out I'm still in the process of writing the song.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:24 am

Go really easy with your tracking levels. Hand percussion can have really spiky transients that can distort the pre or clip the converter without showing red.
Also, try a dynamic mic. Stay back a few feet.

And yes, the shaker maters. I've got a bunch of different ones. Make your own. Pepper corns, rice, cous cous or any other small food stuffs work. Put them in a plastic or metal jar (they sound different). Make a bunch and then find the one that works for the song.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by kslight » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:39 am

If I’m going to record hand percussion, I like to do it with less strident mics...ribbons are my preference for this if you have one.

Ditto above, turn it way down, pan it, HPF, and dampen some of that high end. I’m not sure that I would Reverb it but I guess depends on context.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:21 am

Lots of great advice in this thread.

The only thing I have to add as a percussionist that has done a lot of overdubs, is to echo A. David's comments-- sources matter. Try a number of different shakers, with different techniques (like open or closed hand to mute, distance from mike, etc.). Also the idea of ribbons or dynamics vs. condensers is good. And finally, coming up with the arrangement usually works better when the song is finished. So I guess that's three things not one...

GJ
Last edited by Gregg Juke on Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by vvv » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:37 am

I'll add that high-passing can help fit it in, and compression is good for the sound and level, but limiting is a good alternative for just the level. Finally, like with a cowbell and tambo, I often find that a kind of "spot" reverb is good - kinds short but deep ...

Double-secret probation tip: auto-panning can be fun, and it doesn't have to be on all the time, ex., only mebbe auto-pan during the verse ...
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Recycled_Brains » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:14 am

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:24 am
And yes, the shaker maters. I've got a bunch of different ones. Make your own. Pepper corns, rice, cous cous or any other small food stuffs work. Put them in a plastic or metal jar (they sound different). Make a bunch and then find the one that works for the song.
My DIY shaker for a while was an empty cigarette pack filled with the tabs from soda cans. Nice and muffled. Easy to mix. haha.

But yea, agreed... the type of shaker makes ALL the difference.
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by floid » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:33 am

I like a shotgun shell with the powder and wadding removed.
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:45 am

Hope you're stocking up. Might be hard to get soon...

GJ

PS-- Tic-Tac box with various amounts of tacs removed, or different materials added. I've even made super light shakers with tooth brush tubes (those plastic cases) with rice inside. In Brazil, a box of wooden matches is its own instrument; I can't remember the Portuguese name right now, but it might be worth a try. Look for the "right" shaker for the song; I have literally dozens of shakers, and the same for tambourines, maracas, etc. There are all kinds of variations from "wet" to "dry" sounds and different dynamics based on fill material and amount, so experiment. If you are looking for some recommendations on good commercial recording shakers, Meinl makes three different signature Luis Conte shakers (one is called "studio"), and they all sound different. Latin Percussion (LP) makes the One-Shot shakers-- they only make a sound on the forward, not the reverse stroke, which solves some technical playing problems at certain tempos and really gives a crisp sound...
Last edited by Gregg Juke on Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by Magnetic Services » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:50 am

vvv wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:37 am
auto-panning can be fun
I just discovered random auto-panning! Could be cool for shakers, especially multiple shakers.

And while we're still semi-on topic... I made some loose-leaf tea with an old shitty tea ball a long time ago, and couldn't get it open again to wash it out. The leaves and berries and stuff dried up and now it's an awesome shaker :)
Last edited by Magnetic Services on Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Help Mixing Shakers

Post by emrr » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:56 am

Ditto ditto on turning them down. I usually have the best level setting success at very low monitoring levels on my smallest speakers, like practically off, translates the best at other levels.
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