Old 02-08-2019, 11:37 AM   #1
toleolu
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Default Takes and comps versus playing it right to begin with.

I've been working on a bass track for a cover my wife wants me to do. I just bought the bass guitar last week, so being new to playing bass, naturally there's a bit of a learning curve. I've got 80 to 90% of the bass line down pretty good, but I'm still making some mistakes. Should have it down in the next few days though.

But it got me thinking, in the real world, how much do real musicians and engineers rely on using takes and comps to get a part the way they want it, over just playing it right to begin with?

I don't expect a recording to be perfect note for note, and in my case, I don't have any time constraints so if I want to spend a few days, or weeks, getting a part right, that's not a problem. (Other than getting bored with playing that part.) But I am curious as to how the pros do it.

Thanks
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:00 PM   #2
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It's almost always to fix one note, on bass it is something like a bit of buzz or slightly wrong part of the picking finger creating the wrong tone. It's easy to go in and swap it out for the stronger note and no one is the wiser. Easier than listening to the whole take again after re-recording again and again.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:11 PM   #3
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But it got me thinking, in the real world, how much do real musicians and engineers rely on using takes and comps to get a part the way they want it, over just playing it right to begin with?

ello- well hands down i'm a total fan of performance perfection-- on stage you get 1 take-that's it.
although today 1 can literally carry a studio in their back pocket- a stage performance will probably be getting all pre daw effects+processing done at the amps/cab/fx box+pedal/mix console eq++ stages..
aside from all the normal,everybody kinda likes genres- such as pop/rock/jazz/blues/classic etcetc.. i've always really admired rappers,dj'n,and the art of them-- live**> these guys always do everything 1 take-or scrap it...
it's the very same for turntabalist dj's-- with competitions such as dmc-the contenders need to be totally on point+ the top of their game/class -to win da prizes!!
no mistakes allowed-or,basically your performance is seen as a tainted 1..<this is a class,a list players levels.
all should aim for this^ =break records as 1 makes records..

+although i do not respect all the military services do globally- 1 thing they do best is training- there is no room for lightweights or people who cannot carry their own,or their buddies weight-literally- to earn a green beret-1 must be close to physical +mental breakdown,but once the cap is earned-it is very well respected+earned.
^applying that kinda rational,or mindset to music+ practice> is obviously a key.

Last edited by Bri1; 02-08-2019 at 12:19 PM. Reason: 1xtra
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:24 PM   #4
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It's almost always to fix one note, on bass it is something like a bit of buzz
Buzz on the E string is the biggest problem I'm having, it's tuned down to D flat. I've raised the string height a tad to compensate a bit, but I still have to be careful when I finger that string.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:29 PM   #5
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it's always better to get it right during the performance. With vocal recording, the hardest thing to get right when comping or punching in is matching the tone and character of each take segment, which if wrong can't be fixed in the mix. I'd imagine with instruments, things like finger pressure, posture relative to the mic, and other physical things could also change between each take....but controllable. What's even worse, coming back to do a take on another day where things like temperature, air pressure, humidity, time of day etc can alter the sound of the performance and can't be controlled.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:29 PM   #6
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But I am curious as to how the pros do it.
If the player is pro, it's that one flub as Fergler mentioned. I've played bass in a similar realm for almost 20 years now (guitarist who needs bass from time to time) so chances are I'd move a note or punch a note and not worry about it because I'm a guy who plays bass, not a bass player.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:32 PM   #7
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It's almost always to fix one note, on bass it is something like a bit of buzz or slightly wrong part of the picking finger creating the wrong tone. It's easy to go in and swap it out for the stronger note and no one is the wiser. Easier than listening to the whole take again after re-recording again and again.
Agreed. If the part overall sounds good, then substituting bits here and there is fine.

When you can't seem to get the part to sound "right" though, if the performance overall just isn't good in some way, it's well worth spending some time practicing and recording new takes.

Or you can be like me and play everything perfectly the first time because I'm the best.

Pandora's box has been opened with non-linear editing. Comps are a part of reality for anyone running a studio.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:39 PM   #8
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heh-a fantastic performer will perform a role beautifully,anytime,anyplace.
studios were always just a place to record,sweeten+master+ maybe hangout/party..
focus on the performing-if your going to perform.
if your into mixing-forget performing-concentrate on mix + studio techniques..
or,try to be superperson and do it all by yourself..solo is an option. =)
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:44 PM   #9
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I'd imagine with instruments, things like finger pressure, posture relative to the mic, and other physical things could also change between each take....but controllable.
I watched Kenny's video on Takes and Comps earlier today, and that was kind of the impression I got. Relying too much on that to fix things could make the overall performance sound a lot worse than just a few mistakes.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:49 PM   #10
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I watched Kenny's video on Takes and Comps earlier today

+lolz-with all due respectxxx- forget kenny-forget books-forget all but your target.
by staying focused+not chatting about doing,+actually doing-well,you actually get more done.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:49 PM   #11
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I watched Kenny's video on Takes and Comps earlier today, and that was kind of the impression I got. Relying too much on that to fix things could make the overall performance sound a lot worse than just a few mistakes.
Correct and way back "in the day", mistakes were usually fixed on the spot with punch ins. "Comps" were just the player playing multiple versions or improvisations of say a solo on multiple tracks. Later one would "compile" the coolest parts of each of those track down to the final result, but less about mistakes when comping.

I often still comp in that traditional fashion from time to time because unrehearsed stream of consciousness is often better sounding than nailing something that is rehearsed.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:55 PM   #12
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I often still comp in that traditional fashion from time to time because unrehearsed stream of consciousness is often better sounding than nailing something that is rehearsed.

heh-yes;it's fun todo- but your then stepping into the remix arena-not live performance--it can be done- editing on the fly--even that can be seen as a performance these days-- live loopers n such remixng-live.
comps+takes are all post record<> productive edits- saved for cd,vinyl or other media duplications.
it's totally fine to play bum notes and slack performances,because we are not yet robots--and we seek perfections.
allthough some humans today are even getting to insane robotic levels of perfections.... sigh great!!
keep it comming!!!! >the blanks-i meant..
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:57 PM   #13
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I often still comp in that traditional fashion from time to time because unrehearsed stream of consciousness is often better sounding than nailing something that is rehearsed.
ha, I have a song I have tried to record 4-5 times in the last few years since the first recording after I wrote it, and I just cannot capture the vibe of that first recording no matter what I do. Dahhhh it bothers me!
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:57 PM   #14
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Time to let the noob flag fly here.

So the "punch in" would be my first take was pretty much what I wanted, but there were a couple of areas where I got some buzz, missed a note, etc. I would record a second take, but just record over those areas rather than the whole song?

That makes a lot more sense.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:22 PM   #15
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Time to let the noob flag fly here.

So the "punch in" would be my first take was pretty much what I wanted, but there were a couple of areas where I got some buzz, missed a note, etc. I would record a second take, but just record over those areas rather than the whole song?

That makes a lot more sense.
I've played bass since I was 13 and always try for a perfect take.(Note the word try). That only happens after sufficient runs through of the song to become totally familiar so as not to think - just play. However there are usually a couple of notes that glitch for one reason or another and I may drop in a new phrase but sometimes I'll just slice out the same note from elsewhere in the track and drop it in. Depends. My best tip: Play the tune through until you are fluent. Then record. Have fun.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:52 PM   #16
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Time to let the noob flag fly here.

So the "punch in" would be my first take was pretty much what I wanted, but there were a couple of areas where I got some buzz, missed a note, etc. I would record a second take, but just record over those areas rather than the whole song?

That makes a lot more sense.
Yea exactly. The wording gets more complex in non-linear/takes/comps talk with today's DAWs but essentially, yea, set a selection round that bad note. Right-click record on the transport bar, and choose punchin time selection, hit record and play right through and it'll just record in that spot you selected.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:53 PM   #17
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ha, I have a song I have tried to record 4-5 times in the last few years since the first recording after I wrote it, and I just cannot capture the vibe of that first recording no matter what I do. Dahhhh it bothers me!
I so know what you mean.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:23 PM   #18
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I often still comp in that traditional fashion from time to time because unrehearsed stream of consciousness is often better sounding than nailing something that is rehearsed.
I do this too. If the phrase is just right tonally, but the playing a bit sloppy, then I might learn it properly and record it again.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:48 PM   #19
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My best tip: Play the tune through until you are fluent. Then record. Have fun.
That's my method. I want what I record to the best I can do. I don't consider myself a musician, just a guy who plays guitar (and now bass) but I do take a little pride in the quality of my play.

Besides, as has been stated many times on this forum, you can't polish a turd. 😁

Thanks once again to everyone for your help, can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Getting ready to tee off, (My apologies to all of you up to your butts in snow right now 😁 ) be back on later tonight.

Mahalo
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:01 PM   #20
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My best tip: Play the tune through until you are fluent. Then record. Have fun.
I agree, but I record the practice, too, just in case I get lucky and nail it early on. It doesn't happen often, but I want to catch it in case it does. As a rule I end up deleting the early takes, but best to catch an accidental miracle if it happens.

Years ago I was in the studio with my bandmates. The guitar player was laying down his lead and was having problems. He told the recording engineer to stop recording for a bit because he wanted to get it down right without the pressure of recording. So he went ahead and played it perfectly. He lamented the fact that it wasn't recorded and the engineer told him that he'd ignored the request and recorded it anyway. Smart fella!
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Old 02-08-2019, 04:45 PM   #21
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My best tip: Play the tune through until you are fluent.
To expand on that, don't stop every time you make a mistake, play through until the end of the song for each take. The exception is if you train wreck so badly everything after that point stinks recording wise. There is huge value concerning and above and beyond recording where playing all the way through is concerned.

Another point on that subject is one will end up with loads of takes near the beginning of the track and one, two or few at the end as well as causing one to get really good at playing only part of the song.
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Old 02-08-2019, 06:41 PM   #22
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To expand on that, don't stop every time you make a mistake, play through until the end of the song for each take. The exception is if you train wreck so badly everything after that point stinks recording wise.
I read an article years back - I forget the context - but a producer would force players to keep going after the 'train wreck,' only to point out the way they felt once they knew the take was 'throw away.' "Keep playing like that," he said.
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:24 PM   #23
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To the points about recording practice and not stopping when mistakes are made, I totally agree with both points.

I generally use both of my electric guitars and my acoustic in my songs, plus now I have the added dimension of the bass. I'll record the parts I intend to use those different instruments for and use those for working on the tone I want. I can start tweaking the tone even though I know I'm not going to use the track itself in the finished product.

As far as stopping when I get something wrong, I always play everything all the way through. Sometimes I stop when I keep making the same mistake at the same part, but that's more a matter of frustration. One of those GD'it moments.
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Old 02-08-2019, 10:37 PM   #24
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To expand on that, don't stop every time you make a mistake, play through until the end of the song for each take. The exception is if you train wreck so badly everything after that point stinks recording wise. There is huge value concerning and above and beyond recording where playing all the way through is concerned.
Guilty! I will screw up and then think about how I screwed up while trying to play the rest of the song and it becomes a mess rather quickly. I stop and go back to the screw-up and start recording from there... until the next screw-up...
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