How do you deal with ignorance (including your own)?

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
saultime
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How do you deal with ignorance (including your own)?

Post by saultime » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:20 am

This is an open-ended question that deals with 1), my inexperience as an engineer, and 2), my ?clients? inexperience with pretty much everything other than ATVs and deer hunting.

Here?s the situation: My dad and I have went together and purchased a fair amount of equipment to record his band.

Why are we going DIY instead of going to a real recording studio? Well, there aren?t many good recording studios in our area, and I don?t think you could ever get these guys into a recording studio anyway. These guys have varying degrees of income and work responsibilities. So I?m trying to track it myself, having it professionally mastered, and I?ll probably have a few of the songs professionally mixed by someone known for mixing bluegrass music?I?ll learn something, and the songs will sound better. I?ve been trying to get good takes and mic things properly. We?ve spent a lot of time with the ?record? light on, and very little time flipping though magazines wondering what to buy next. I?ve learned a lot. As of this date, the only people to have spent ANY money on this project have been me and my Dad.

Anyway, I gave them a rough mix of a song last week, and it has proven to be a big mistake. They?re not happy. And I swear to you guys, the mix was pretty good, none of the mush that I?d previously ran into when recording boomy acoustic instruments. I raised the faders, and the mix was 75% there.

With the exception of Dad, I don?t think any of these guys have CD players of their own. (It?s not because they?re poor or anything?just an aversion to newfangled technology) To make matters worse, dad was doing playbacks for them on his Bose stereo, which makes everything, EVERYTHING sound shrill and shitty. When I hear a comment like ?the banjo sounds synthesized? I just want to haul off and kick the guy in the nuts. It was a pretty good banjo sound. It may have had a certain tone to it?bright or chirpy?but sure as fuck didn?t sound ?synthesized". Personally, I think he?s just being difficult, and will probably never be happy, but I?m not doing this for him.

I?ve asked what kind of sound they want, for an example of a recorded sound they?d like to emulate, and I'm short on meaningful suggestions?the best I?ve got was ?we want it to sound more like our instruments? which leaves me wondering whether I should shit or go blind, because that?s all anyone wants. Maybe it does sound like their instruments, and that?s the problem. Maybe I should move the mic. Maybe it's a combination of both.

I?m committed to finishing this project?but how do you keep it together when we?re all learning? How do I explain that the process of recording music affects sound, hopefully for the better, so that it can be reproduced in a way that the insturments don't walk all over each other?

I should not have given a rough mix. I have made a reference CD for everyone, so they can compare ?their sound? to other examples of recorded music.

Please share stories of similar experiences, or give advice about what you would do in this situation.

*edited, to make me look better :twisted:
Last edited by saultime on Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:01 pm, edited 6 times in total.

spiral
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by spiral » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:27 am

As you are finding out, and in life in general, sometimes giving people too much choice is bad. It is hard to reign in what has been started, but in this case it seems best just to do the best you can and say "here it is."

saultime
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by saultime » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:29 am

That's what I think I'm going to do next time--wait until I get the mixes where I really like them, and say "here it is: listen to it until it sounds right to you, because it does sound right."

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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by spiral » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:37 am

They don't know what they want. They want you to tell them. You are the expert in this situation, even though you think you might not be. Do your thing and if they have suggestions / objections along the way, do your best to incorporate them or explain or show they why it is a good/bad idea. Unless it's a really blatantly bad idea, i'll try out what is suggested and let them decide.

XXGABEXX
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by XXGABEXX » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:40 am

How do you deal with rednecks?
I just never call my family.
...?we want it to sound more like our instruments?... If you ask me, it does sound like their instruments, and that?s the problem.
Are they suffering from early onset "Do I Really Sound Like That?" syndrome?

And where are you located? Just curious 'cause I grew up in bluegrass country.
-GABE

saultime
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by saultime » Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:45 am

Southern West Virginia, where the men are men and the sheep are nervous...

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moosapotamus
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by moosapotamus » Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:14 am

How do you deal with rednecks?
Throw water on them... They hate that. :lol:

Unfortunately, my previous exposure to individuals of the rednecked persuasion has not been in the context recording sessions. But, um... well, that's for another discussion. Anyway...

You seem to have some sense of obligation to these 'good ol' boys that makes it difficult offer them a full refund and send them on their way. Maybe it would help if you were to (in a friendly, we're all in this together kind of way) set some limits. For example, you could tell them that you want to make them happy, more than anything in the world. But, your hands are totally tied (can't do a dang thang) until they can give you an example of another recording that sounds good to them.

Learning how to deal with difficult people cuts across almost anything you want to do. But, the learning process has the potential to be quite painful. Like banging your head against a wall... it feels so good when you stop.

~ Charlie
http://moosapotamus.net/
"I tend to like anything that I think sounds good."

SpaceCad
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by SpaceCad » Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:30 am

Well, I'm originally from KY so I know what you're talking about. When I used to see a lot of live bluegrass music I was always amazed at how the band mixed themselves. For example, seeing the Del McCoury Band was amazing because they had a single mic (U87?) in the middle of the stage and they would all huddle around it. When it was time for a solo, the player would step up to the mic and step back after. In essence, they mixed themselves.

Now, bluegrass musicians are like jazz musicians for the most part. They are amazing. So recording aside, if the musicians you are recording are hacking through the music, it's going to be hard to match any album you throw in to compare it to.

That said, go to the public library and check out some bluegrass CDs. Get some current and some old-time (Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, etc.). Get them all together and A/B their recordings with some of these CDs. This will at least provide some sense of what they want to sound like. Then you have to get there.

Sounds like your doing a great job. Stick with it and be patient.

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aurelialuz
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by aurelialuz » Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:57 am

well, if they're not paying you anything, and you're treading territory you haven't been before, sounds like you're doing a great job considering. i'd give yourself some credit, even if they don't. they can bitch that it don't sound like nashville, but you're not charging like nashville either. i'd just get what you can personally out of the deal and if they don't like it, tell them to come back with their pocketbooks when you're pro. you're learning a lot it sounds like and that's worth all the bullshit. i haven't dealt with your particular brand of bullshit, but bullshit is bullshit; just stick to your guns and do your best. that's all anyone can ask.

alex
"While every effort has been made to ensure optimum sound quality, priority has been given to historic content and importance."

Electricide
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by Electricide » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:07 pm

I wonder if you're gonna have that attitude towards your clients when you branch out into other music
saultime wrote: I just want to haul off and kick the guy in the nuts

this just confirms for me that this guy doesn?t know what the fuck he?s talking about, and is most likely unhappy with his playing and blaming me

I?ve called (the hamptone) a ?colored? preamp?not that I?m even sure what ?colored" means

I also have to explain why I?m right and they?re wrong when I barely know what I?m doing

I?m not doing this for him.

Should I try and do a better job of pretending I know what I?m talking about, even when I don?t?
If you're clients don't like it then do what you have to than fix it. Get off your golden ears high horse. You didn't post about getting better sound, just about how to convince people that know slightly less than you that you're right.. :?

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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by bobbydj » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:09 pm

XXGABEXX wrote:
How do you deal with rednecks?
I just never call my family.
:lol:
Image

Bobby D. Jones
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(The Crudballs, Tyrone P. Spink, The Fuxx, Shitters, The Geighs...)

w_
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by w_ » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:23 pm

Yeah... I was going to play devil's advocate and say that comments like these:
saultime wrote: I?ve been tracking with the Hamptone HVTP2, which I?ve called a ?colored? preamp?not that I?m even sure what ?colored" means?and someone suggested that maybe the preamp is ?coloring? the sound of the instruments too much, and that maybe I should record them ?clean? through the pres on the board
make me think that maybe you should re-think what these people want, asking them for recording they like, etc., instead of writing them off as ignorant.

saultime
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by saultime » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:26 pm

This is supposed to be a collaborative effort?I?m not doing this for money, and I?ll trust my ears over the whiskied-up banjo player?s every time, thank you. My ?better sound? questions are peppered all over the board, take a look. It?s my gear, my time, and my name that goes on this music as engineer. All they have to do is show up and play. I think I?m wholly within the bounds of common sense.

Have you actually tried to work with bluegrass musicians before? They...we...can be hard to work with?even Bill Monroe REFUSED to let the sound man mic the bass.

Seriously, I don't need anyone to play devils advocate. Please try to be helpful :D
Last edited by saultime on Mon Apr 12, 2004 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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joeysimms
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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by joeysimms » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:32 pm

Then quit. Now (that last post) you're being a baby.


I kept reading through, looking for the redneck part, and didn't find any.
beware bee wear

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Re: How do you deal with rednecks?

Post by w_ » Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:33 pm

uh, ok. Yes, you are right. They are morons, and you are right, The fact that you own a colored pre and don't even know what "coloring" is says a lot. What exactly do you want people to say? Everyone to simply agree with you? Seriously, my HELPFUL THING to say is to ask them to play what they think sounds good, and go from there.
Last edited by w_ on Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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