CD/TAB Project overview
I view these projects as mini lessons as the content offers pads (chords) melody lines , add-lib phrases and discussions. My goal is to offer a value project with hi quality performance tracks and backup tracks. The intent is to have the song/track as close to a bandstand scenario as possible.
It's always about the song choice first . Traditional songs that are well known and well respected are the primary choice. From here selecting a song is based on Steel Guitar content, popularity and if it is bandstand worthy. A popular song that is NOT bandstand worthy may not make the cut , the intent of these programs is to get fellow Steel Players into a comfort zone on songs that they can participate with in a bandstand environment. Songs that basically everyone knows.
Once a song is selected I write a simple chart and arrange the song as I feel would be appropriate for a Steel Guitar project. Next is laying out a basic track in BIAB with the initial arrangement. What follows is the hard work. I spend hours with the initial track playing over it, recording, listening back over and over again and re-recording until I fall into a workable format. Melody , Pads ( chords ) and extended add-lib or solo's. The entire point of many of my projects is that the player can practice/rehearse only the basic melody lines and still be able to go out and jam or perform. They can come back to the add lib sections at a later date.
The Drum Track
Once the song has been selected and the arrangement is determined, the Drum track is written using various drum editing software programs and samples. This step is critical and probably takes as much time as the rest of the entire project.
The Recording Session -Pro Tools 12
Each song is a full recording session all by itself. With the Drum track completed, the work begins.
All instruments are recorded direct thru one of several outboard preamps to Pro Tools 12. Vocals are obviously MIC recorded.
Next is the all important Bass line. All I can say about this is that each note is planned and on purpose. Every note matters as either being important or IN THE WAY. Lots of half tones and whole tones which allow the Steel Player ALL the room for playing on the track. This , along with the drum track , is the most important element of the backing track. You will not find a busy Bass player on these tracks. A Fender 62RI Jazz bass is used on all of the Bass tracks, recorded direct.
Rhythm Guitars and/or other Instruments;
Rhythm Guitars or keyboards can get in the way real fast if you are not careful so they are used very modestly and with a very simplistic approach as to NOT get in the way of the Steel Guitar. Open chords and phrases which sustain are always good. Acoustic Guitars laying off the bottom strings is important as well. I mostly use Taylor Acoustic guitars.
Lead Guitars or Vocals
I will use the Electric Guitars to play melody lines to fill in for the vocalist , or indeed I will have my wife Bonnie sing the track. The intent here is for the Steel Player to play pads ( chords) behind the melody and learn how to fit in or lay back. Steel Players do not always have to play or be busy, sometimes a simple pad underneath is all it takes to make a song stand out. Sometimes you can just put the bar down and play nothing.
Lead Guitar solo's
Generally if the song can afford a Lead Guitar solo I will add it, and it will be more towards a contemporary style and away from the song melody. This allows the Steel Player the opportunity to play behind a Guitar player who is stretching across the chord chart. And of course, anytime I can grab an excuse to play the Telecaster is a good day. Same thing here, which ever Guitar offers the best matching tonality for the track is used.
Steel Guitar ( last )
By now, I should have all of the Steel parts defined and I should be well rehearsed, but typically recording the Steel parts is a very time consuming part of the project and requires close attention. I do not punch in over bad lines as I feel that interferes with the flow. I may break the song up into parts over 2 or 3 tracks but I do not overdub. I may also do 2 or 3 takes over a few weeks and generally know if a take is good or not right away, so, re-recording is the obvious choice. Projects may have some similar Steel lines or phrases from previous projects but also will incorporate new phrases. By the way, the Steel being a fretless Instrument is always recorded last.
Final mix and Master
Pro Tools 12. Some simple mastering is done with T-Racks Mastering Suite.
TAB / Discussion Tracks
Once the final track is done I go back and write the tab sheets on the PC , I check them two or three times but it seems that now and then I still overlook an error or two. The discussion tracks are done live of course as I will explain various elements of the project. If there is an element that I feel requires discussion, it gets a track. Some tracks have discussion tracks, others may not.
All projects are Licensed. Most of the projects are NOT my Music so Licensing is imperative, plus I don't want to get sued. A writer or artist writes a song, they own it, not me. Once the license is secured the project will be released.
How long does it take to produce and complete a Project ?
Several weeks . I have to feel good about the project in totality , it has to be right.
Delivery: US Mail or EMAIL.
I am very grateful and humbled by my many friends who have acquired these projects , it's a real honor to be part of the learning process.