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Is Sarod picking worth learning to pick fast?

Sarod

For some guitar players, picking as fast as possible with the most accuracy (meaning as little missed notes as possible) is important. And when you talk about fast picking, one technique is called sarod picking.

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Do you hate reverb?

boss_rv_5_digital_reverbThere are more than a few guitar players out there who absolutely hate reverb. And I mean hate it with a passion. They want absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever.

How I feel about reverb is that it depends what you're using it for, and what type you're using.

The BOSS RV-5 to the right is a good example of some of the reverb types out there. It can do gated, room, hall, plate and even emulate a Fender spring reverb.

I think reverb hate stems from the fact that in some instances you just hear it way too much.

Here's a really condensed history of reverb:

"The sound" of surf music was largely in part due to the Fender's "Reverb Unit", originally making its appearance in 1961. That thing was a real-deal tube-driven spring reverb device; a licensed design from Hammond. Yes, as in the Hammond Organ Company. (I bet you didn't know that one!)

Okay so anyway, there were a lot of songs produced in the 1960s that had reverb plastered all over the place.

Then the 1970s came around; I call that "the dry decade" because while reverb was frickin' everywhere in the 60s, in the 70s it was almost completely shut off. A lot of this was due to disco and funk, where a no-reverb dry sound makes the drums and bass heard a whole lot clearer.

In the late 1970s however, reverb came back with a vengeance in the rock guitar world..

Oh, yeah.

However, when the 80s rolled around, not all was well in Reverb Land. In all music genres across the board, everyone was dousing their recording in super-washy reverb. And a lot of it was awful.

The biggest "offender" for reverb in the 1980s was undoubtedly the snare drum. Instead of an acoustic snare, it was replaced with a digital snare, had so much reverb on it that, well.. just listen for yourself:

Now I know the drummer for Def Leppard is one-armed due to a car accident, and I know that playing drums one-armed isn't exactly easy - but - you can't deny that there is just way too much reverb on that digital snare sample. The song is cool, but every time I hear it, all I hear is that frickin' snare. And I think it's the loudest thing heard in the song.

Then the 90s rolled around, and I call this the "digital reverb" era, because that's when all this crazy new digital gear started going into studios all over the place.

During this decade the reverb, thankfully, was rolled down quite a bit - but with a tradeoff. Instead of it being bonging and washy, now it "snapped" and "whooshed". Losing My Religion is a good example of this:

...and that's pretty much where reverb has stayed ever since. Sure, there have been minor (and I mean minor) variations over the years, but more often than not, "studio reverb" is considered that snappy/whooshy sound.

What about now?

Today we have the best of all worlds. In a single pedal like the RV-5 above, you can more or less get every reverb type that's ever existed. No, it doesn't reproduce all of them perfectly (no multi-effect reverb pedal can), but the point is that with some simple knob tweaking, you've got it all in a little box.

But should you use it?

Here's how I feel about that:

I personally believe the best reverb types for guitar are "room", "hall" and "spring".

A good reverb sound that pretty much everyone likes is the "sounds like it was recorded in a studio room" thing. And that's room reverb. As long as you don't overdo it, you get that classic blaring-humbucker-through-a-Marshall-in-a-small-room thing going on.

Hall reverb is good for classic 70s and 80s rock sounds like Runnin' With The Devil by Van Halen. Definitely a hall 'verb type.

Spring reverb is when you want to go old-school to the 60s sound because, well, that's what they used and it sounds cool.

In a live situation, my opinion changes.

I am 100% anti-reverb and 100% pro-delay for a live rig. Reverb on a live rig is a bitch to control because it will sound different even with the exact same settings at each different place you play.

The delay effect works a whole lot better for a live rig because a) in the audience it does sound like reverb, b) you can hear it a whole lot better and it's much easier to tweak it on a per-location basis, and c) you're not fighting against the natural reverb that's around you when you use delay.

In the studio, sure I'll use reverb and will readily admit that. But not live.

Studio Rats vs. Guitar Players

20337289I got a lot of flak because of my last bloggo, mainly because something happened that I totally didn't expect - I actually caught the ear (pun intended) of the audio engineering community and unintentionally hit them right where they live.

The article I wrote was for guitar players and not audio engineering dudes. First I got a load of crap thrown at me on Facebook, lost a few fans (boo-hoo), then comments came in on the blog and blah blah blah. All "amateur audio enthusiasts" (their words; not mine) and pro-level dudes.

To an audio engineer, hearing things like "PCs are dying", "The DAW is doomed" and things of that ilk are heresy. Why? Because they've pretty much spent all their lives working with big-box PCs and Macs, probably went to school for their craft (or are attending right now), and here comes me, this guy with a blog, with a jugular punch right to their livelihood (again, unintentionally), by saying the stuff they use won't be necessary in the near future. Whether it's a student studying this stuff or a 20-year veteran in the recording industry, they interpreted what I wrote as a kick in the face.

I've known a lot of studio rats over the years. And yeah, I call audio engineers who record music studio rats. If you're an engineer and insulted by that, don't be, because it's a term of affection. I don't get offended by being called "guitarded", which is way more insulting than "studio rat" ever could be. Consider that being offensive on an equal opportunity level. I'm guitarded; you're a studio rat; let's move on.

This is my take on studio rats: They have their place in the world; they are needed. But they're not the kind that encourage creativity in a recording environment.

Do you honestly think a studio rat would allow something this "ugly" to be recorded?

Nope. The studio rat would "clean it" and do other nasty things that would take away from the ugly that makes the above recordings so good to begin with.

I am a huge fan of doing more with less, and of course that's the exact opposite of the way a studio rat thinks.

The studio rat would reply with, "No, I like things to be small and compact, too!" True, but only in the physical sense. Ultimately what the studio rat wants is as much control as possible, and because of that they wouldn't be caught dead with a Tascam 488 as shown in the above video. Why? "Too limiting."

The 488 (which I did own at one point) is a great example of doing more with less because the limitations of the machine force you to be creative. If there's something the 488 can't do, you can't load in some software plugin that will magically fix everything. Whatever problem you encounter, you just deal with it and find a workaround. And that's where things get creative and, y'know, fun.

No, I am not saying to dump DAWs or digital. But I am saying that a good studio rat should be able to record with any machine that can record audio no matter what the platform is. To be limited to just one way of recording is just... bad. I mean, studio rats do go to school for this stuff, and they're telling me that the school only teaches one way of recording and that's it? I should hope not. I can record with a DAW, digital multitracker, analog multitrack or reels, but the modern studio rat can't?

I would challenge any studio rat to buy a DP-008, or heck, even a DP-004 (or if you've got really big set of balls, a 424) and record something cool with it. Did you just say, "NO WAY"? Why? You've got mountains of recording knowledge; you know how to wield one. You do know how to wield one, right? Can you accept a restrictive recording environment of a small-sized multitracker? It would be interesting to see if you could, or watch you squirm trying.

Remember, studio rat, you're supposed to be the smart recording guy, so the multitrack recorder should be easy for you... right? If I can wield one easily, you obviously should be able to do the same... right?

To my guitar player peoples, keep buying your multitrackers, keep recording, keep rocking; you're doing all right. And oh yeah, keep posting vids too. We still need more players on YouTube. Yes, I will bug you about it until more videos start getting out there. 🙂

To you studio rats, get off my nuts. Or if you're going to continue stomping on my nuts, take the restrictive-recording-environment challenge. I'll bet that you'll find recording creativity you never knew you had. Why? Art from adversity.

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