Budget Gear for Late '60s Soul Sound

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

Blazemidnight
audio school
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:15 pm

Budget Gear for Late '60s Soul Sound

Post by Blazemidnight » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:15 pm

Hello Tape Op Community!

This is my first post! I?ve got some gear related questions for you all. I?m trying to achieve recordings that are sonically similar to artists like Bibio, Adrian Younge and even the Daptone or Truth and Soul rosters.

If y?all ain?t familiar with Adrian Younge you gotta check him out. He did the soundtrack to the blaxploitation spoof ?Black Dynamite? and has a number of albums, collaborations with William Hart to Ghostface. I know he?s a user and advocate of authentic gear from the '67-73 time frame. Here?s an amazing instrumental tune by him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gq8M9w2Wwc

Here are some other tunes that have the kind of sound I?m looking for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AZUW6JNChg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc14WWNbm10
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXDskgUc63Y

I?m looking to recreate these sounds with budget gear. I understand that achieving vintage tones begins a the front end: the player, instrument, room, mic and preamp.

So with that in mind here?s my current bedroom recording setup. Right now I use a Saffire 6 USB interface for tracking. Mic-wise, I primarily use an old Electro Voice RE10 and a cheap Radioshack electret mic from the 70?s. I plan on acquiring a few more old Electro Voice dynamics. I have a number of free tape saturation and vintage style plugins, like Massey Tapehead, Klanghelm?s IVGI, as well as spring and plate impulse responses for reverb.

Would a preamp be a worthwhile upgrade from my focusrite interface to achieve the sounds I?m after?

Would a reel-to-reel be a must for recording or using as a preamp? Or am I fine just using cassette decks and my computer?

Reamp box: worth it for processing audio with my guitar pedals?

Any top secret tips on capturing virtual instruments in such a way that they sound like more like their physical counterparts?

Thank you very much for reading my, admittedly, long ass post. Hopefully together we can gather some tips/suggestions for everyone that loves that dusty, soulful late '60s sound!

User avatar
A.David.MacKinnon
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3249
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 5:57 am
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:58 pm

The gear is less important than the approach and techniques used.
The sound of those records (and most records of that era) is the sound of real people playing together in the same room. Google for sessions photos from Motown, Stax, Chess, Fame, etc, etc, etc. You'll see lots of players together in the room usually with gobos to provide some isolation. The whole backing track was cut live. Sometimes the vocal too. Sometimes the music was cut live and the vocal and horns/string overdubbed. If someone made a mistake you either started over or left it in. The whole approach was about the musicians needs coming first. Set them up so they can see and hear each other and let them make the sound in the room. The approach was about capturing what was happening in the room, not using the studio as an instrument. Track counts were limited so minimal micing, and submixing mics to a single track played a big roll.

Read this for insight on the Daptone sound - http://www.funkydown.com/downloads/shitty2.pdf

Read this for insight on pretty much everything you ever need to know about everything, written by one of the greats - http://www.malcolmchisholm.com/documents/

User avatar
JWL
deaf.
Posts: 1869
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 7:37 pm
Location: Maine
Contact:

Post by JWL » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:07 pm

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:The gear is less important than the approach and techniques used.
The sound of those records (and most records of that era) is the sound of real people playing together in the same room. The approach was about capturing what was happening in the room, not using the studio as an instrument.
Great advice here. Here's what I think matters in order of importance:

1. The quality of the performances in the room.
2. The quality of the sound in the room, which is a combination of the instruments used, the placement of all the instruments in the room, and the room acoustics.
3. The engineering technique (ie, where you put the mics, various isolation strategies such as gobos and using null points of the mics to your advantage, etc.)
4. The quality of the mix (ie, mixing/engineering technique).
5. The quality of the recording gear you use.

Blazemidnight
audio school
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:15 pm

Post by Blazemidnight » Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:23 pm

Thanks for the responses guys. Very good advice. It all comes down to the quality of the music: how good the tune is and how well it is played, trying to tap into something that will evoke something within the listener.

I have plenty of tools already at my disposal. Cassette decks, DAWs with analog emulations, fender guitars, tube amps... Now is the time to stop lusting after gear and start expressing myself with chords and sounds and melodies.

Here's my soundcloud by the way. I like to make electronic music and hip-hop mostly, but yes lately I'd like to move away from sampling and inject more homemade analog tones in my songs.

https://soundcloud.com/timid-soul

Blazemidnight
audio school
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:15 pm

Post by Blazemidnight » Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:46 pm

Actually here are a few demo type tracks I did. I played everything through the magic of overdubbing. These tracks are actually played quite sloppy, but I just wanted to put this up for y'all to check out.

https://soundcloud.com/timid-soul/sunsh ... ce-forever
https://soundcloud.com/timid-soul/bizar ... ful-colors

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3509
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:40 am

Edit-- Fixed... Should have been "wouldn't rely too heavily on the cassette deck..."

===================================================

Hi there,

Great topic. It's been said before (many times), and it's been said above, so the "real players in real room" thing we'll consider as "ground covered."

As far as gear-- I wouldn't rely too heavily on the cassette deck; there are some neat tricks to pull, but as a general recording medium, you can definitely do better (even if you are fully behind the "back to analog" concept). Track width and tape speed are important.

Drums-- See what you can find used, but if you get a good set of drums (any of the "name" brands, or even an old set of Kent's), you can do a lot with heads and tuning.

Virtual Instruments-- One good trick is to amplify/re-amplify; if you plug a keyboard bass or guitar into a real amp, this can do wonders for a more "realistic" tone. Moving air = good.

Pre-amps/faking old school preamps-- Try minute amounts of distortion; add more until you hear it as "too much," then dial it back. This can be with real gear or a plug-in, but distortion (the analog kind) can be a beautiful thing, and covers a multitude of recording sins...

Vox-- Don't do too much editing, and for the love of all that is good, make them sing it (don't do a lot of Melodyne/Auto-Tune pitch fixing).

GJ
Last edited by Gregg Juke on Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:14 am, edited 4 times in total.
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3509
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:41 am

PS-- Checking out your Soundcloud; it sounds like you're on the right track!

GJ
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

User avatar
floid
buyin' a studio
Posts: 872
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:39 pm
Location: in exile

Post by floid » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:17 am

if you work by yourself, doing a reamp while tracking the next instrument can help you get the live feel.
Village Idiot.

Blazemidnight
audio school
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:15 pm

Post by Blazemidnight » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:52 am

Thank you for suggestions Gregg! Oh man how I would love something like a Slingerland set!

I would definitely like to experiment with some reamping techniques. Imma go mess with some mics and stuff right now!

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3509
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:16 am

Re: Slingerland, et. al.-- Start with a snare drum. In fact, several choices of snare drums is a great way to get "new" drum sounds...

GJ
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

numberthirty
pushin' record
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 11:39 am

Post by numberthirty » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:11 pm

Blazemidnight, what exactly is there in your current set of recorded sounds that isn't quite "there"?

Having your take on what you think does and doesn't work might shed some light.

User avatar
DrummerMan
george martin
Posts: 1336
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 12:18 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Post by DrummerMan » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:45 am

Soundcloud stuff sounds really good to me. Definitely on the right track. I especially like the drums on Sunshine Love Forever

Agree with what was said: Yes to players. Yes to being in a room together.

That being said, there are some gear choices and techniques which will contribute to that last (or middle or whatever) 10%.

This is not to say that you need one because you don't, but tape machines are cool. I personally feel like you can get almost to the same sonic place without them, but sometimes it sure is just easier to lock in the right sound on tape. A Tascam 388 definitely has a kind of awesome shitty sound (and one of the best direct bass sounds I've ever gotten). In terms of tape speed, I know that the Daptone stuff at least used to be recorded at 15ips (instead of 30), because of how it affects the low end, so if you do go the tape route, don't worry about the highest fidelity machine. I know there were some 388's and other small format machines in the Daptone/Truth and Soul Family.

One nifty trick I did ages ago was to prerecord direct guitars and sampled keys digitally to a sampled drum loop. Then, when it was time to record live drums, I reamped those instruments to their own amps and mic'd those in (or near) the drum room as if it were a band playing along with me. All of that went into the 388 where I added bass and horns, but you could easily do that all digitally.
Geoff Mann
composer | drummer | Los Angeles, CA

Blazemidnight
audio school
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2014 4:15 pm

Post by Blazemidnight » Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:46 pm

Thanks for the info on the Tascam and the reamping tips, Drummerman!

Numberthirty, one sound I'm looking for some insight on in particularl is achieving that old school soul piano sound. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbZxZuD1M_Y

What would be the best way to emulate this in the box? Possibly blending a grand with an upright sound perhaps for that imperfect haunting quality? I definitely will try reamping like Drummerman said. As a big fan of east coast hip-hop, I've always loved beats that sample those gritty piano samples from old soul records. So if anyone has any tips for that gritty soul piano sound I'm all ears.

User avatar
A.David.MacKinnon
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3249
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 5:57 am
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:28 pm

That sounds like a grand or baby grand. I've never had much luck getting those sounds in the box or with digital stage pianos. If you've got the space you'd do better to find yourself a decent upright on craigslist. If you've never recorded piano before it can be a steep learning curve especially with an upright where half the job is avoiding the sounds you don't want (mechanical noise etc). It's well worth it though. There's way more mojo in a bad real piano then a good fake one.

numberthirty
pushin' record
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 11:39 am

Post by numberthirty » Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:22 pm

Along the lines of the above post, do you have any sort of access to an actual piano?

- Friend?
- Family?
- Another person who records?
- Local church that might throw you a bone?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests