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July 24, 2006

Filed under: music»recording»sketchpad

Musical Sketchpad, Session Eight

Very much a work in progress.

This is a pretty short audio file--only a couple of minutes long. It's still only instrumental, and doesn't it develop very much. But I'm posting it for three reasons. First of all, this is the next all-new original I'm working on, and I thought people (someone? anyone?) might be interested in hearing a song as it develops from a riff (this .mp3) to a scratch vocal version to a full structure to the final, polished version. So this song will be the subject of the next few sketchpads.

Second, it illustrates a quick object lesson for any other budding engineers out there. I don't know if I ever made it clear, but I've never been entirely happy with my recorded bass sound. The lack of balance can be partially blamed on bad headphones (now remedied) but was also caused by a lack of bass and a shrill high end (see: the distortion from Sketchpad Seven). I had thought that running the direct output from my bass amp's preamp section would give me a better sound, but it seems to interact oddly with the Tascam, and the result is not significantly better than before. Concerned that it might be a problem with my pedals, I tried swapping out my MXR distortion for my old Digitech Bass Driver.

Now, the Bass Driver wasn't necessarily an improvement. But it has two outputs--one marked "Amp" with a clean signal, and one marked "Mixer" that adds a speaker simulation for direct recording. And while I wasn't necessarily happy with the overdrive I was getting, I did notice that it sounded remarkably better through the Mixer output. A few quick patch cable switches, and the final result was to record my usual pedals through the cab sim on the deactivated Bass Driver. Now what the laptop hears is a lot more like what I hear from my amp. There's a bit more meat and less rattle from the MXR's distortion, and the clean channels have a better growl to them, with a more contained bottom end. All thanks to the speaker sim on a (nowadays) $50 pedal.

Finally, I'm putting this up because I think this is probably my favorite background loop for anything I've done so far, and the bass riff isn't bad either (although the chorus progression may have to go). I'm really looking forward to putting the rest of the song together.

Future - Present - Past