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Lo tech 
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Post Lo tech
How's that about a 70+ year invention which still cannot be equalled by todays digital technology?
I happen to own a Hammond XK-system and and a Ventilator (the world's best digital emulation of a Leslie 122 cabinet). Sounds great until you hear the real stuff:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVAhgf7MLv0

I'm not about nostaglia - I am just saying that product coming out of "business models" can never ever beat stuff which has been designed by blokes who simply wanted to make the best they can. Yes there is more to it. But just listen to that stuff. Hooooooly sh......!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:09 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
That's the blessing and the curse of the democratization of technology. Stuff that's handmade by expert craftsmen is simply not very accessible to the typical hobbyist musician. So when the technological trends start to shift with that musician in mind, compromises have to be made.

My drummer has his own little studio in his basement. Considering the circumstances, the quality of the recordings he can make is pretty competitive. But we know why it doesn't sound like records that were made before the advent of this type of tech. To get that old sound, you'd need very loud but relatively clean tube amplifiers, sturdy old mics, analog consoles, two-inch tape, low-output passive guitar pickups and good tone wood, those old-school Ludwig snares with the huge sound, etc. That stuff is out of reach for the basement studios, and it's getting to where the professionals don't use it much anymore either.

I also think that musicians in general aren't as good as they used to be, but that's a slightly different issue.


Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:36 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
That's what I'm talking about.


Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:37 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
On the upside, you have groups like this who deliberately reject these changes and try to emulate the timbre of earlier recordings.

It's an interesting idea. You could almost make a movie about the process of doing the detective work, acquiring the equipment, reverse-engineering each little element in the sound, and so on. A lot of those old groups, producers, and engineers didn't exactly keep great track of everything they used and how they used it.


Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:11 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
Got your idea. I never ask a drummer to use a Ludwig Black Beauty and the sound guy to mic it with two Shure SM 57s just because it's been done a gazillion times in the past and it worked. BTW: that sound guy very often is yours truly - hard times my friend.....

My idea of producing good music is trying to balance both (within budget - if I wanted to be rich, I wouldn't be a musician, but than again I am unable to do anything else). Never old "lo tech" just because it's "the real deal" and never new hi tech because that "how it's done now". I am against pre fabricated ideas - and even this is a pre fabricated idea.

I just love those modern, crisp and "exploding" sounding drums which can only be produced with modern top notch software plugins combined with painstaking "audio photoshopping" (IMHO the heart and soul of any pop/rock album) as opposed to the often dull, cardboard drums of the 70s (which sounded o.k. on scratchy vinyl but that's an oldtimer talking) or the fake crap of the 80s. Guitars? yep they sounded great during the 60s and 70s. 80s = what guitars, where, who? 90s = oh that unplugged hand made cigar box stuff. 2000s = yep getting there again.

Reverse engineering: good idea - but only so much - and with a grain of salt.


Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:25 am
Post Re: Lo tech
I see what you mean. I definitely have my own set of ideals, and I suppose they're based more around specific recordings (i.e. specific groups/engineers/producers) than any single era.

Example: as much as I dig the early Black Sabbath albums, the production quality is not great. The overall timbre is thin and dull. So I guess you have to rule them out when you pick out the good qualities of '70s recordings, even though Black Sabbath is one of the most important rock bands of that time.

Other groups recording similar music at the same time--e.g. Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin--were much more immaculate. Zep in particular might have been the first rock group that figured out how to get a decent drum sound. I like big, natural-sounding, woody drums that give you the impression that you're in the room with them... but, of course, that involves a lot of cheating with unnatural mic placement.

The accounts of what Page went through to record the drums on Led Zeppelin IV are pretty funny. He had mics tucked away in every conceivable place. I think he was putting mics in kitchen cupboards when they did "When the Levee Breaks".

Guitar sounds in the '80s? Bad times in general, with a few exceptions. Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, and Allan Holdsworth were probably getting their definitive tones at the time. EVH, in particular, had a pretty basic setup when you think about the kind of gear that was becoming available at the time. I think most of his early '80s stuff was recorded with just a single SM57 right up on the grill cloth. The engineer put some studio reverb on it, but I don't think they messed with it much beyond that.

Other than those guys, yeah... it's a big drop-off. Most of the guitar guys at the time had tones that sounded like a cross between a shrieking peacock and a typewriter. Lots of hardwood guitars with overwound ceramic pickups running into a whole room full of signal processing crap.


Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:04 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
Ha! Another person finally agreeing with me that the 80s sucked big hairy ass regarding music. On tv the "drummers" mimicked to electronic drums (from early analog drumboxes through MIDI programmed - I did tons of that stuff myself, had to to pay the bills). Guitars: crappy fuzz distortion plus wobbly chorus. Yeah sure! O.K. Andy Summers and his Tele where great, but that was/were the late 70s...

Hammond, Mininoog and Rhodes were gone by 1983. Yamaha DX7 was the shit. I never owned one. What a heap of crap. I thought most people were deaf at the time. I still think. But oh wait.... an even worse keyboard came in 1987: the Korg M1. My ears bleed when I think of it. As soon as Korg made massive profits by providing the sounds for "acid house", they made a much better keyboard, the T3. As if it was magic, all the crappy sounds were there plus the same sounds in much better quality. "We listen to our cusomers?" - "Thats called progress?" I call bullshit!!!! They had the "good" sounds all along, they were just holding back. Business model anyone?

Black Sabbath: yep, "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" doesn't sound that great even on the remastered CD (as you mentioned, the drums are rather weak, but drums sounded weak on almost any album in the ealy 70s - except perhaps for Phil Collins who "out Gene Grupa-ed and out Buddy Rich-ed Keith Moon so hard, the poor bastard didn't even know what hit him - trust me. Phil Collins is underrated and Keith Moon is overrated. Berklee College of Music anyone?) but it is a fantastic album ayway. And yep: Zep IV still kicks serious ass and probably will forever.

Anyway: I am an oldtimer, so I can recall hearing this shit on vinyl through cheap stereo equipment. Loved it then - love it now (please take into consideration that back in the early 70s attention spans and available technology were like a galaxy away - plus: this stuff was brand new = in its embryonic state - back then! Hard rock with a real string orchestra in 1973. Not to shabby!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESFH1gNsARw

Hey, this is not two guys rubbing each others back. Jump in and say what's on your mind folks!!!!


Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:36 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
Ok then, I have to say for the most part I really enjoy 80s/early90s rock music, I love bands like Poison, White Lion, Tesla, Cinderella, Danger Danger, Firehouse, Slaughter, Winger, Ratt, Europe, XYZ, Mr. Big, Extreme, etc.

I like some 70s stuff too, one of the best guitar players from that era is Uli John Roth, it's a shame that era of the Scorpions isn't as well known as they're other stuff.

Not a fan of the muddy heavily downturned guitar sound that many grunge/alternative bands in the 90s used, most of the time it just sounds rather bland. It's dissapointing that most bands today seem incapable of playing more then three cords, sometimes a more minimalist sound works in the case of some Nu-Metal bands like Saliva, but most of the time it ends up sounding stale and repetitive(like with Green Day, who I find indescribably boring)

I don't really notice a difference in drums most of the time, unless it's sounds REALLY bad(like on St. Anger)

Here's a related Cracked list you guys might appreciate: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-rock-stars-you-wont-believe-are-secretly-musical-geniuses/


Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:40 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
Vexer wrote:
Ok then, I have to say for the most part I really enjoy 80s/early90s rock music, I love bands like Poison, White Lion, Tesla, Cinderella, Danger Danger, Firehouse, Slaughter, Winger, Ratt, Europe, XYZ, Mr. Big, Extreme, etc.

I like some 70s stuff too, one of the best guitar players from that era is Uli John Roth, it's a shame that era of the Scorpions isn't as well known as they're other stuff.

Not a fan of the muddy heavily downturned guitar sound that many grunge/alternative bands in the 90s used, most of the time it just sounds rather bland. It's dissapointing that most bands today seem incapable of playing more then three cords, sometimes a more minimalist sound works in the case of some Nu-Metal bands like Saliva, but most of the time it ends up sounding stale and repetitive(like with Green Day, who I find indescribably boring)

I don't really notice a difference in drums most of the time, unless it's sounds REALLY bad(like on St. Anger)

Here's a related Cracked list you guys might appreciate: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-rock-stars-you-wont-believe-are-secretly-musical-geniuses/

Hey thanks for the input! Will check out your link and references.
Dig this: back in 2009 I played the Hammond organ wirh a gospel band/choir on a biker festival. The band who played after us was "Europe". Their big hit was "The final Countdown". Which is obviously stolen from Vince Di Cola's music for the training montage of Rocky IV.
Check:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwvoTDoO9Hg

And here's the "homage"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw

I still smile when thinking that their keyboarder played a lot of Hammond sounds from a stock Nord C1 (excellent piece of gear BTW but still.... man, this hasn't even drawbars). But I played a Hammond XK-3 system in a custom B3 cabinet running through a true Leslie speaker. I am positive that the "Europe" keyboarder thought. "Fuck!!!" And I didn't even come up with the real deal: a vintage Hammond B3 through a Leslie 122. Welcome to "Europe".... At least I try my very best when I accept a gig and you bet your butt that my rig blew that Nord out of the water.

Europe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd3SBW1vnMQ

Our humble presence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slv4EjQc ... ure=relmfu


Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:07 pm
Post Re: Lo tech
Vexer wrote:
Ok then, I have to say for the most part I really enjoy 80s/early90s rock music, I love bands like Poison, White Lion, Tesla, Cinderella, Danger Danger, Firehouse, Slaughter, Winger, Ratt, Europe, XYZ, Mr. Big, Extreme, etc.

I like some 70s stuff too, one of the best guitar players from that era is Uli John Roth, it's a shame that era of the Scorpions isn't as well known as they're other stuff.

Not a fan of the muddy heavily downturned guitar sound that many grunge/alternative bands in the 90s used, most of the time it just sounds rather bland. It's dissapointing that most bands today seem incapable of playing more then three cords, sometimes a more minimalist sound works in the case of some Nu-Metal bands like Saliva, but most of the time it ends up sounding stale and repetitive(like with Green Day, who I find indescribably boring)

I don't really notice a difference in drums most of the time, unless it's sounds REALLY bad(like on St. Anger)

Here's a related Cracked list you guys might appreciate: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-rock-stars-you-wont-believe-are-secretly-musical-geniuses/

Well, the quality of the musicians isn't necessarily at hand, though the 1980s was kind of a mixed bag in that regard as well. For every great guitarist--ex. Warren DeMartini, George Lynch--there were guys like CC DeVille and Mick Mars, who, at best, were probably playing in the wrong genre.

But yeah, there were definitely a lot of greats in that period. A lot of my favorite guitar players were probably at their most prominent in the '80s, because being a great guitar player was something you could get famous for doing. It wasn't like the 1990s, where people thought you were an asshole if you played solos.

The main trouble with the 1980s is the production trends of the time. Big, boomy reverbs, very primitive electronic drums, chorusing on nearly every clean guitar... I'm sure it sounded good at the time, but it's like CGI. What seems really cutting-edge at the time seems cartoonish after a while.

I think skillful guitar playing has made a comeback, too. I'm not exactly tuned into the current trends, but you can turn on the rock radio stations these days and hear new bands playing guitar solos. 10 years ago, it was a lot rarer.

---

On the subject of old technology and great players, here's an absolutely face-melting guitar solo from a certain famous guitarist who was born in 1915.


Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:24 am
Post Re: Lo tech
Jeff Waters from Annhilator is one of my absolute favorite guitarists, the band may have gone through several vocalists, but Waters was the glue that held that ship together. I personally didn't mind the hi-tech feel of the 80s, I wasn't around back then, so when I first heard albums like Def Leppard's Hysteria(which pioneered the electronic drum sound in a way) I was really impressed, I never cared for the dull and hollow sounding guitar tones of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, it felt like most grunge bands were trying too hard to go in the opposite direction and wanted they're music to sound raw and unpolished, while sometimes that minimalist sound can work, it often just sounds really forced.

I agree that guitar playing seems to be better then it was ten years ago, Halestorm, In This Moment, Dragonforce, and Orianthi in particular have impressed me the most.


Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:41 am
Post Re: Lo tech
Orianthi is great. I haven't heard a lot of her stuff, but I heard a duet she did with Steve Vai that really impressed me. She was also great in This Is It.

Funny story about Jeff Waters: when Dave Mustaine was reactivating Megadeth, Waters was a big fan favorite to be the new lead guitarist. Dave heard the rumors and made some wisecrack in an interview about how he didn't think Waters could do it, because you can't be in Megadeth unless you can play the "Symphony of Destruction" guitar solo. Waters then uploaded a YouTube video of himself in which he basically goes, "Hi Dave," then proceeds play the solo beautifully, note for note. It was a nice little slice of humble pie for Dave.

Dave ended up going with a guy named Glen Drover, who played his own stuff well but kind of embarrassed himself on the solos written by Chris Poland and Marty Friedman.


Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:48 am
Post Re: Lo tech
O.K. please just let me go back to the 80s (musically) for a moment. Event though there was already some kind of heavy pop music globalization and opinion-making going on, still every country had its own music. Yep, it's a little more compicated that this. A lot of stuff sung in English didn't come from the US neither from the UK or Oz.

I also should mention that I am a keyboard and drum guy. I love great guitar playing, but I always leave that and decisions regarding sound and phrasing to guys who really know. So, just as anyone, I am biased and this is just my angle/take on it:

Someone who didn't live through the 70s (preferrably with some interest in music) can't imagine the huge changes that occured around exactly 1980. Suddenly everybody in a group seemed (or was asked to) care about image. No more regular guys with lots of hair with instruments, cluttered up that looked like a vault (think Zappa and Mothers with gigantic drum kits and keyboards from four decades all on one stage). O.K. one must be very careful not to get pop mixed up with rock, but image started to be extremely important in all ganres, especially with the advent of MTV. No more looking at album covers trying to figure out how these guys actually look until you find an album with actually their mugshots instead of just designs from Roger Dean or Hipgnosis.

Exactly around 1980 the industry picked up on late 70s underground punk (which was rubbish and always meant to be rubbish, it was anti virtuoso-rock). Now we had pretty girls with thin voices (O.K. I liked Blondie with Debbie Harry but Nena, please!) singing 8or better, trying to sing) to minimalist electronic music (guitars still were there), ridiculously over-produced by the then newest technology. Pop music had no dynamics any more. It was for example the exact same snare sample all the way through the song, and that had to be a fortissimo sample. Stradium rock bands ruined their sound by including ill-fitting synths just to sound modern. Oh and the overuse of reverb wash!!!
Correct: with the 90s it started to go smaller and "back to acoustic", and again quite a bit too much.
It might be hard to find real good compositions nowadays (unless you know various connaisseurs), but one can chose between various production sounds. Some serious stuff made in makeshift recording rooms and bedrooms thes days. I'm glad the 80s are long gone... But that is my opinion based upon my own taste and esperience.


Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:43 pm
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