Recording to a click shenanigans

KamaK

Platinum Member
When I sit down to record an idea for a song, I open Garageband, set the key and BPM.


I lay down a scratch guitar track to the click. I lay down a scratch bass track to the click. I then lay down a drum track to the click with the guitar/bass scratch tracks. These three tracks are all to the click. You can solo each track with the click and they're dead on.

Remove the click and play all three tracks together and they sound uncanny and ever so slightly out-of-alignment, as if the feel/nuance is somehow broken. I then go on to record actual not-scratch guitar/bass to the drum track and everything sounds correct.

Questions are:

Does anyone ever get to a point where the 1st-take scratch tracks work together cohesively?

Is the issue I'm having sound like a guitar playing issue, or a drum playing issue? (I checked and USB interface latency is 43ms, and compensation is enabled)

For some reason, I had it in my head that this issue would disappear as my drumming improved.
 
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beatdat

Senior Member
I think the issue is that, when laying down parts to a click track, the click track is the reference point and all of the parts are playing to it. When you take it out after having laid down all of the other parts, the reference point is gone and so the parts may now seem "out-of-alignment" (even if ever so slightly). But, once you record new parts to the drums, the drums now become the reference point.

Also, what you consider to be "out-of-alignment" can simply be the difference between "click" time and "human" time, the latter being more forgiving than the former as a result in the different reference points (ie. click v. human time).

And, please clarify, when you lay down the subsequent bass/guitar parts to the drum track, is the click still playing?
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
Well, the point of the scratch track is to be a temporary reference. The idea being that once the drums are recorded, the other parts will be re-recorded using the drums as the reference.

I'm thinking that what you're hearing is just the nature of the beast and it gets fixed when the rest of the instruments are laid down again?
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I doubt that it is an equipment error. Even with a click, it is easy to wander a bit. If it is an equipment error, it's probably a latency issue. I have used GB for years and never had an issue, but when I first started recording, my Sonar did not like my computer and the result sounded like I really sucked at playing drums.

Solo the parts in question and add the instruments one at a time and you will find your error. it will probably be on your weakest instrument.

You could also try to lay down your strongest instrument and play the other instruments along with it.

Or, put a simple drum scratch track down first and play the instruments along with it.

It's also simple to open the editor and look at the drum track and see exactly how close the snare and kick are. The guitar and bass are harder to see.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Clarification: Yes, once I lay down an actual non-scratch guitar/bass to the drums (with the click turned off), everything is absolutely fine.

For some reason, I simply imagined that everything would eventually sort itself out and that I would get a more convincing first-draft of material without having to go through the additional effort.


Let me upload a scratch track to Youtube real quick .....
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
You need to lay down the drum track first to a click, then lay the guitar and bass over the drum track and not the click. This will bring back cohesiveness. Of course, you need to have things pretty well figured out in your head-map.

Lots of trial and error brought me to that conclusion. It's possible to do melodic first, but melodic playing has a lot more "give" when compared to a click. Notes on instruments like that are "softer" than the very succinct percussive definition of a drum or cymbal note, and it's possible to play along to a click and have it sound fine, but also have it sound weird when put with percussion to the same click.

If you really need a true "scratch" track in solo recording... Don't put a lot of effort in, and don't use it as what you're playing to when you do the drums later. Use the click as the time source and turn the scratch guitar down way low so the click is super dominant... Then try to ignore the scratch as much as possible. Play with the click.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm hung up on the 43 ms latency. Is that after compensation? Sounds like a lot. My gear runs at 0 ms latency after compensation.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I've uploaded today's failure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE86QowbPBI

So what we have here:

1: Recorded guitar fart track to click...
2: Record bass fart track to click (just play the tonic on the beat).
3: Record drum track to click and scratch tracks
4: Listen to all three tracks together.

Sounds like a bunch of disjointed crap.

After this, I can go back, record the guitar on a real amp with proper consideration for the part, same for bass, and it all sounds awesome.

43ms is raw latency, which GB compensates for automagically. The compensation in GB is quite good as long as the raw latency isn't too high. When you have a raw latency of ~250ms, you'll start to hear artifacts.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I'm hung up on the 43 ms latency. Is that after compensation? Sounds like a lot. My gear runs at 0 ms latency after compensation.
I didn't see that part of the post at first.

Once in a while the latency will go off the rails on my GB and I have to close/open it. I don't know what the actual numbers are but, it either sounds great or it is horrible. :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've uploaded today's failure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE86QowbPBI

So what we have here:

1: Recorded guitar fart track to click...
2: Record bass fart track to click (just play the tonic on the beat).
3: Record drum track to click and scratch tracks
4: Listen to all three tracks together.

Sounds like a bunch of disjointed crap.

After this, I can go back, record the guitar on a real amp with proper consideration for the part, same for bass, and it all sounds awesome.
I notice nothing when just the guitar and bass were playing. I would put the discrepancy in the drum track. Not everywhere, just a few places, a few backbeats specifically.

Some backbeats sound a little behind the click to me.

Were the guitars run straight through or miced?

I'm assuming the drums are miced. Maybe the latency, if it's not at zero, is more pronounced on the drum tracks because they use mics? I'm guessing.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I notice nothing when just the guitar and bass were playing. I would put the discrepancy in the drum track. Not everywhere, just a few places, a few backbeats specifically.

Some backbeats sound a little behind the click to me.

Were the guitars run straight through or miced?

I'm assuming the drums are miced. Maybe the latency, if it's not at zero, is more pronounced on the drum tracks because they use mics? I'm guessing.
The guitar/Bass tracks are DI through the same interface that the drum mics are plugged into (R16). I typically record my guitar-ideas at night (post garage) when the kids are asleep, so no amplified scratch tracks.

I'm going to have a critical listen to the drum tracks again, as I didn't really hear anything off other than the rack tom in the chorus. You're probably right though, and I just suck at drumming. I really need to fix that.

Doesn't the whole piece (all three tracks together) sound disjointed and uncannily wrong to you though, or am I simply being hypercritical.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
I would put the discrepancy in the drum track. Not everywhere, just a few places, a few backbeats specifically.

Some backbeats sound a little behind the click to me.
Yeah, I agree with larry on this. Nothing too egregious though. Plus, I like some of your fills.

43ms is raw latency, which GB compensates for automagically. The compensation in GB is quite good as long as the raw latency isn't too high. When you have a raw latency of ~250ms, you'll start to hear artifacts.
Wish I could add more to this, but I simply don't know enough about digital recording to do so. But, I do think that is one of the best typos I've ever read.

Have you ever tried this process with an analog recording? Were the results the same or did everything line up? If the results were the same, then maybe concentrating on the drums a little more is in order.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I don't hear latency. I thought I heard the guitar waver a bit but it might have been a time signature thing that caught me off gaurd.

I can hear some waver in the drums. You can check all the tracks together by expanding a bit or go to the editor screen

I really dig the song !!

I'd turn the guitar track way down (for reference) and play the drums to the click, then add the other tracks with the drums and click playing.

Also, you don't suck at drums :) The deviations are very very slight. Try listening to the isolated drums without the click and see if you sense deviations. The fewer notes you are playing, the harder it seems to keep 100% on track. Even simple things take a few tries to get perfect. And, you are being hyper critical. Everything blends together in the final mix.

I can't wait for the lyrics!!!
 
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oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..I've uploaded today's failure..

To be honest, i havent seen a lot of things posted here that sounded that much better than this (from 2.12 i mean), both regarding your playing and having a very nice song idea..

If you consider this a complete failure, then i am getting pretty curious to all the things that you have actually worked out..
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
So the consensus seems to be: Wonky drums, get back to practicing....

Now I'm pissed. ;-)

I guess I know what I'll be working on for the next month. The sad thing is that I have hundreds of these "idea for a song" motifs recorded, 2-3 a day, every day, and all are likely to be similarly deficient.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
And, you are being hyper critical. Everything blends together in the final mix.
Two very good points, both on their own but particularly in conjunction with one another. If one or the other doesn't help allay your worries, knowing both are true should.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
To be honest, i havent seen a lot of things posted here that sounded that much better than this (from 2.12 i mean), both regarding your playing and having a very nice song idea..

If you consider this a complete failure, then i am getting pretty curious to all the things that you have actually worked out..
Two very good points, both on their own but particularly in conjunction with one another. If one or the other doesn't help allay your worries, knowing both are true should.
I hear what you're saying, and it is extremely kind. The bottom line is that I'm tired of sucking. While I have no expectations of ever being a great drummer, it's essential to me that I be able to pull my head out of my ass for 20 bars whenever I have a song idea. I want to invest 30 minutes in a motif, and be able to hand it to a singer/writer/producer/band without feeling that I'm selling myself short because I can't sound like a real drummer for a 45-second loop of an extremely simple groove.

So thank you. I'm gonna focus on drums-to-a-metronome for a month and see if things improve.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
So the consensus seems to be: Wonky drums, get back to practicing....
Very slightly. If you are looking for a master recording, you would be doing several takes anyway. In the end mix, the drums would not be on top anyway and the slight variations will disappear.



The sad thing is that I have hundreds of these "idea for a song" motifs recorded, 2-3 a day, every day, and all are likely to be similarly deficient
THAT is a sad thing?

Dude, you are a multi instrumentalist song writer. The drums are but a small fraction of most songs. You need to put everything you can down in reference form and not get sidetracked with details. If you sing, or write lyrics, you need to get vocal tracks down also. If not, you need to get these tracks to someone who does.

This is not the stage to get crazy over details. Keep cranking out the melodies and get the basics tracked.


I'm gonna focus on drums-to-a-metronome for a month and see if things improve.
The more you practice, the more you will improve. Aim for perfection and settle for pretty damn good. If you chase perfection, you will get stuck in a quagmire.
 
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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
So thank you. I'm gonna focus on drums-to-a-metronome for a month and see if things improve.
I would just keep doing what you're doing. Record stuff. Use the drums as the master track for recording bass/guitar, not the click. You might be surprised.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
When I’m in GarageBand, I play a drum track to a click. Then I play every instrument to the drum track without the click. Then after it’s all done I go back and do the drums over again. All without quantization

For me that’s always givin me the tightest, cleanest recordings
 
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