Andrew Ford
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Tape Don't Lie

It really does not. I was so excited to tape my first instructional video. This process was all new to me, and because of my inexperience I prepared 4 times the amount of material I needed to prepare. Just before the red light went on to record the video I was informed that I couldn’t read from any notes. What? Over 50 pages of details and information! Can you say uh oh? So we finish recording, 2.5 days for 8 hours a day, and I get back home to Los Angeles feeling pretty good about what we accomplished. Eventually I get a copy of the video to approve, I was shocked by what I heard. There were so many uh’s and umm’s in my commentary. I was totally unaware. If it was in any way practical, I would have recorded the whole 7 hour video again. I went from being so proud of that video to totally discouraged. Now after time has passed I have come to realize that despite the issues with my commentary, there is a boat load of useful lessons and instruction in that video. But the point is, had I not heard the recording, I wouldn’t have any idea of what I really sounded like. Tape don’t lie.

When recording bass for others in the studio they occasionally want to solo the bass, or more often solo the bass and drums together to see what they “really” have. When I first experienced this I used to cringe while listening back, it was like being under a microscope. Of course the experienced producer looks past the small imperfections to focus on the overall groove, but you do hear everything when listening back in this fashion, I mean everything. One thing I did is started recording myself more at home, tweaking my technique, working on my time, muting to limit string ring, and in general listening for the things a producer or engineer would be listening for, feel, ideas, energy, dynamics, sound, etc. Tape don’t lie.

When doing my youtube tutorials I take the extra time to program drums and chords for a song so I can play it without hearing the bass from the original track and so the student can benefit from hearing only my bass clearly. Now there are ways to eq the bass out of the original recording of a song which is also useful. But I want to hear what I really sound like in the most pure form possible, and I want the student to hear what they “really” sound like, musically stripped down. Of course, overall groove is way more important than the perfection that some in this digital age are slaves to, yet there are benefits to paying attention to the details. Tape yourself at home, tape your band live, tape other bands, analyze and make changes, make the tape your friend instead of your foe. Remember, “Tape don’t lie”.
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