Using Reaper to create jam tracks?

Discussion in 'Recording Tips and Tricks' started by chayhurst27, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. chayhurst27

    chayhurst27 Spring, Texas

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    Hey folks,

    I just wanted to see if there were any forum members out there using Reaper to create jam tracks- including rhythm guitar, bass,and drums (as well as keys or anything else)? I've recently tried doing this, mainly to force myself to really study blues structure, and it is definitely a bit of a learning curve since I'm essentially teaching myself bass and drums. For the drums, I've been using a MIDI drum pad, and that has helped me understand drum grooves a lot more than just fiddling around with a virtual MIDI keyboard inside of Reaper. I'm definitely learning a lot, and its forcing me to really use my ear.

    Peace :D
     
  2. JestMe

    JestMe Student Of The Blues

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    I have Reaper and think it is a good tool, even though I haven't used it a great deal.

    I would point out to you, though you likely already know, there is a full and very complete video course on the reaper site.

    https://www.reaper.fm/videos.php
     
  3. CaptainMoto

    CaptainMoto Blues Voyager

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    Not a Reaper user but I applaud your efforts:thumbup:
     
  4. PapaBear

    PapaBear Guit Fiddlier

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    I have Reaper, also! One of these days I'm going to open it and look around:sick:
     
  5. paparaptor

    paparaptor Central Scrutinizer
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    Nope. I have it installed on my computer, but haven't spent any time with it. It is one of several DAW software packages I have installed. I keep thinking I'll learn more about others when I have time, but I never open a DAW until I need to do something and then I'm always doing my best to get it done, so I go with what I know. It ain't Reaper.
    I've never attempted to do a complete jam track, but I have done a couple where I found drum tracks doing 12 bar patterns and put bass and a couple guitars over the top. I have keys here, as well, but I don't practice keys enough to lay down anything I want to listen to more than once.
     
  6. Elwood

    Elwood blues nut

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    Guys, honest question. It seems that from the digital audio interface (Mackie in my case) to the DAW (Reaper, I need to learn about it but that is the one I have finally settled on one) is cut and dried.

    Are you plugging your instruments directly into the interface? Like no guitar / bass amp?

    I am confused on this simple thing. The tones? Do you diddle with the computer for all your settings? This seems to have all the allure of artificial ins..
    If you run into a "real" amp (with only a headphone out) I wonder if you introduce a bunch of noise into the environment with all the stellar specs?

    And then, it seems no matter what, if you care to hear what you are doing, along with what you are trying to do it over (multiple tracks) it seems one is doomed to a playing experience with your head in the cans in order to control the sound levels in the room (feedback, echo, artifacts....).

    Beginning my learning with the DAW I feel like I am slowly descending into Dante's inferno (Reaper seems to have a ton a ref. material so I am hopeful), I just want the comfortable feeling that I am taking the correct path down.

    I'm hoping that having fun playing, and getting a descent result recoding, are not mutually exclusive.

    I never thought I would be asking what I would do with the other end of the bleeping guitar cord.

    Dear Abbey, Dear Abbey....signed, Noisemaker.
     
  7. paparaptor

    paparaptor Central Scrutinizer
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    The answer is, "it depends." For most of my recording, I use an Eleven Rack. It also happens to be my main practice amp. You can obtain similar results using any of a number of available amp modelers (Kemper, Line 6 Helix, Headrush, Axe F/X, Positive Grid Bias) or even something as simple as a Sans Amp pedal. You can also use an amp with a digital (usually USB) interface or an amp with a DI audio output into whatever computer audio interace hardware you're using. None of what is listed above requires the use of headphones.

    One other thing that my 11r allows me to do is record a dry instrument signal in addition to the modeled output. That way, if I don't like the modeling I used when I record, I can use the processing within the DAW to tailor that dry signal into anything I want. I use Cubase and it has a pretty decent set of factory plug-ins to emulate various amps and effects. Again, as the dry signal is recorded at the same time as the modeled signal, no headphones are required.

    Prior to getting the 11r, I mic'ed my amps when recording. I've used both Shure SM58 and Sennheiser e609 microphones, close mic'ed on the amps I have around. They both are proximity sensitive, so the further they are away from the playback source you're listening to, the less likely they are to appear in your final recording. When I was recording this way, I had a pair of small Polk audio bookshelf speakers for playback and very rarely did I need to use headphones. Considering these aren't pro recordings, I could listen to the isolated guitar track(s) and either could not hear any or heard so little of the ambient backing track as to be inconsequential. Obviously if I was doing a recording for something other than my own amusement, I would have probably put my playback through headphones. From time to time, I did that as well, but it wasn't SOP.

    If I am recording more than one instrument, I use my Presonus mixer as my recording interface instead of the 11r. I have two Eleven Racks and feed the audio out from them into the Presonus.
    In February, I had some visitors and we did an impromptu recording. You can find it here. https://youtu.be/C0B0efajiP0

    On it, I had the two guitars through two different Eleven Racks. The bass was being run through a Fender Bassman 100 combo amp and I had a SM58 stuck in front of the speaker. I also had a Shure SM58 stuck just off camera that allowed me to pick up our conversation prior to playing. That mic was muted as soon as we started playing. It was all captured with a Presonus Studio Live AR12 USB as a mono ambient mic, mono bass mic, and stereo output from each Eleven Rack. The discrete tracks were captured using Cubase 9.5 and mixed to what you hear in the video.

    For recording vocals, you really don't have much choice but to use headphones, but again, in a home studio environment and using a dynamic mic (such as a Shure SM57 or SM58), you might be able to get by without headphones due to the proximity effect of the microphones. It depends on what kind of isolation you're looking for in the finished product and how loud your backing material is.

    I hope that helps.
     
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  8. Elwood

    Elwood blues nut

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    whew! Thanks for the patient reply. You answered a few questions I didn't ask, but should have. My glossary is also expanding, now I understand "dry", usually a different connotation.The mic thing may be an option for me to keep the feeling I'm used to (coal fired amplifiers) but I do see the value of having a duplicate "dry signal. I just stepped out of the wayback machine. My music tech experience is apparently very primitive. you know, mics go in the PA, bring your own amp or amps depending on the room and drummer. I'll google up the stuff you mention, and look at the signal flow/s you use. If nothing else so I can get an idea of how you and others are doing such amazing stuff.

    I ordered a set of monitors on crazy sale from MF so at least I won't watch the cones of any speakers I value launch into excursion wonderland.

    No matter what, this will be an improvement. Running the looper to get two guitars and a bass down without gross errors or losing anything but the e-drummer off the looper is a major PIA. I guess even headphones would be easier to accept.

    Helps a lot, thanks again. (That is a very cool and most appropriate song of the day)
     
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  9. CaptainMoto

    CaptainMoto Blues Voyager

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    My 2 cents:
    As you're discovering, recording with your DAW opens up more rabbit holes then you could imagine.
    For purposes of this discussion, I'll suggest that there are two major elements that apply to your situation.
    First - Developing basic DAW recording skills.
    Second - Using amp modeling & guitar effects.


    As for DAW recording skills, all I can say is, take your time.
    Learn the basics and as you progress, increase your learning as needed not based upon what's available because, there's just too much info available and it will distract you from the important things you need to know
    You will never know it all..NEVER...so find some good tutorials on the basics and learn to apply those before you venture too far down the rabbit hole.
    About recording guitar amp modeling & effects:
    All the options available to you as a guitar player such as pedals and multi-effects processors like Line 6, Boss, Headrush etc etc etc........are also available as plug-ins in your DAW.
    So, the sky is the limit on what amp and/or what effect you wish to use when recording with plug-ins.

    Most DAWs come with a suite of free plug-ins that can be used to enhance your recordings, such as compression and EQ, reverb and your interface probably also came with some free plug-ins.
    They also come with some sort of free amp/effects modeling pug-ins so, find those and just plug your guitar into the instrument in on your Mackie and have fun.

    Here are a couple random vids on what Reaper has and how to use it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4tOzcr94ks
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYFOX72Z0nY


    To hear what you're playing in your DAW you have two choices, headphones or monitors.
    If you do either you should not get any room noise or feedback.
    The ElevenRack that Papa references is a unique tool, it is both an interface and a standalone effects processor so, it is designed to send it's signal to either an amp or into the computer DAW for recording.
    Your Mackie is most likely an interface only and therefore sending it's signal to an amp is not going to give you the best results and may possibly damage your amp.

    If you want to record the sound of your own amp, you have two ways to go, micing your amp or record out.
    If you choose to mic your amp, you simply plug a mic into the "mic in" on your Mackie and place the mic in front of the amp.
    There are a few recommended mic placement techniques but, you can experiment with what sounds best to you.
    Most often used technique is to place a dynamic mic such as an Shure SM57 or a Sennheiser 609 right up against the cloth of the amp slightly off center.
    If you want to use the record out, you need an amp that has that feature built in or you can acquire a separate piece of gear to do that but, that's a whole new can of worms.
    If your amp has a record out, you can run an instrument cable from that jack to the Mackie in, but..........I'd suggest reading the manual because the record out from your amp is probably a "line level" and it would be stronger then either mic or instrument level signals that your Mackie expects to see.
    One last point,:
    "Headphones out" from an amp is not typically the same as record "line out" and therefore may not deliver the best noise free signal.
     
    #9 CaptainMoto, Mar 25, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  10. Elwood

    Elwood blues nut

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    First off...Hey Chris, sorry if I hijacked your thread. Wasn't my intention. Your post got me typing and maybe I should have posted this up in another thread somewhere?

    Capn, hot diggity damn! I believe you and Papa have straightened a few things out for me. I've been watching Kenny Gioia's vidios and they are great, but the ones you put up show more of a direct working model than I have come across so far. If I printed what you guys wrote it will be dog-eared before too long. I really appreciate the patience shown in your posts.
    I have never been thrilled with lots of tweaks on an amp. When I went from Bassman to Ampeg V4B it took me a while to even appreciate the mid controls on the v4b, three knobs were plenty (but oh, that tight punch out of the Ampeg).
    Slowly I realize any result from my recording that can even be remotely close to what I hear you guys doing (talking recording here, playing is another challenge) requires me to learn to drive, not just get in, give 'er hell, and hope for the best. So, I need to be patient and methodical.
    This is why I asked for help. I get real frustrated when I patiently and methodically learn to do something dead wrong.
    I am optimistic that sometime before spring turns to summer I'll be recording something so at least you can tell what I did wrong. Right now, I work like crazy and get something, where with my stuff, in my room (or in cans), I can hear the two or three instruments I recorded. I start to think I hear them because I know that they are there. I'm afraid in a more common listening situation, the "time sharing" between instruments comes out as holes or missing parts (that could still be the case but now I'll find out :) ).
    The signal flow stuff and descriptions of modules and stuff connect with my thinking and will help a lot.
    I have felt so challenged trying to learn, and learn to use, the playing stuff (musical) that is here on this board (thanks to Griff and all of you guys) that I was avoiding any additional complexity. Aint gonna work! The looper is great fun, and I'm glad I got it, but I have come to the conclusion that trying to use it for a recording studio is most suitable to vocabulary development.
    I'll figure out what I can do with my amps for signal path. The Rumble 200 is smarter than my frontman 25r, but with the ragin cajun that little amp sounds good with a tele. I fell prey to another "stupid deal" from MF and have a MXR mic on the way. Whenever I find my old mic case I have an old shure and ev in there, I'll be more than set that way. My little Mackie has two channels but that's about all I have anyway, it does have nice specs.
    I probably won't do much soon, but it oughta be a little better when I do. It will still be simple, relative to your work. Right now I'm running the boxes and practicing little chords for peace of mind and relaxation!
    Thanks again for encouragement, taking the time, and sharing your knowledge and skills!

    Steve
     
  11. Iheartbacon

    Iheartbacon Blues Newbie

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    Personally, I couldn’t get used to plugins. Either I didn’t know what I was doing, or the latency and lifelessness of it through me off too much, but I never could play well and more importantly never enjoyed it.

    Feeding a modeler or miced amp signal to the interface is worlds better for me. My latest toy is an Amplifire 6 which has great modeling and a number of output options. I can send one output to a full range speaker and another to the interface to record. That lets you listen in room as loud as you want with no bleed issues. I can also just send the signal to the interface and use headphones to monitor the guitar and the backing/click track. With the headphones on the interface listening to the already modeled signal, the latency is super low. Not at all noticeable compared to running through plugins and monitoring the results. You can also record the dry guitar signal and the processed signal simultaneously (if you have open channels on your interface) if you want to go back and re-amp, or maybe run the dry signal through plugins after the fact.

    So, I would suggest a physical modeler, like a Kemper, Axe, Helix, Amplifire, 11r, or an SM57 and a real amp.
     
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  12. CaptainMoto

    CaptainMoto Blues Voyager

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    Steve,
    Glad to help. I don't know much but, I don't mind sharing whatever I've picked up.
    Just as in guitars & amps, recording gear is a personal evolution.
    Keep it fun, once you lose the fun, the creativity quickly diminishes.
     
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  13. CaptainMoto

    CaptainMoto Blues Voyager

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    I've never bonded well with guitar multi effects units , effects plug-ins or modelers.
    I use tube amps and pedals, my most frequent recording technique is blending the record out with a mic'd amp.
    My amp mic is usually a SM57, although I've also use a 58 and a few other dynamic mics.
    I recently added a ribbon mic to my bag of tools and I'm starting to blend that in.
     
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  14. Elwood

    Elwood blues nut

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    At this time I agree with the mic input solution. It should feel better to me, which will lead to the fun, and keep me putting along. I can also visualize this more easily than the amp modeler thing, should be a shorter learning curve to get up and running. Also, I may get good enough sound to try my Martin which sounds nice but is acoustic sans-anything electric.
    Mr. Bacon, I believe your experience could easily be mine.
    Capn, you know lots!!!
    Now watch, after all this my first effort will probably be a very simple thing. If I can do one guitar with a "vocal" recorded better than I have been doing, well, I'll be delighted!!
    You guys all threw me a line at a very good time, I do appreciate it!!!
     
    #14 Elwood, Mar 25, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  15. Iheartbacon

    Iheartbacon Blues Newbie

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    I was in that place for a long time. The current top modelers with the latest firmware are getting to be pretty darn good. Really, at this point the top tier amp modeling is virtually indistinguishable from a real tube amp. Where they still fall short is the cab modeling sounds like a mic’ed cab and not an amp in the room. Great for recording but not the feel you are used to from a tube amp. If you turn that off and run the model into a real cab, you give up cab versatility but the feel is REAL close now. That said, I am trying to get used to that mic’ed cab through an FRFR sound and feel because it has a lot of advantages.
     
  16. CaptainMoto

    CaptainMoto Blues Voyager

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    I agree,
    The modeling stuff sounds very good.
    I discovered I just have an aversion to endless menus.
    I just prefer the tactile world of analog gear.
     
  17. aleclee

    aleclee Tribe of One

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    Latency is a . . . cruel mistress. With most affordable interfaces, latency can be a major irritant. Even if the amp sim sounds good, the lost feel due to latency is a drag.

    My approach is similar to Papa's but with a Helix. I only record a dry signal and then use Helix Native to do the processing on playback. That way I largely separate the guitar sound from the performance. I've had enough great takes with mediocre tone that being able to dial in my sound after the fact is a big advantage.

    As far as miked amps vs. modelers, I went down the digital path, mainly because of volume constraints. While it might take a bit to get a modeler dialed in, the modeler's day-to-day consistency and ability to record at zero volume made it a relative no-brainer, particularly since I'd already invested the time in dialing in my digital rig. Your mileage may--and probably will--vary.
     
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  18. dan5150

    dan5150 Shredding the Blues

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    To the OP's original question, I have created a demo/scratch tracks where I have played all of the instruments. I am using Pro Tools, but the steps are basically the same. For the dum parts, I sorta "cheat" and find and pre done MIDI files. Groove Monkey makes some great ones (they have some blues patterns in their free sample pack) that was enough to do a track based on "Sweet Home Chicago".
    I have also just downloaded full midi versions of songs and after importing into my DAW, just deleted all of the other instruments except drums. I then use whatever sampler that came it to play back those drums sounds. I now use EZDrummer, as I find the thier samples to sound great.
    Then I just record all of the other individual parts on top of that. It does take awhile but you learn a TON in the process!
     
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