4 tracks recording

David Tristante

New member
Hi there!
Need some help.
I have a little TASCAM 414 4 tracks and I am trying to record a band ( some friends of mine ). I am new on it and I really do not know how to start. Well the thing is that I started, but I do not know if I did it the right way. The band is drums, two guitars, bass, and two voices.
I started by recording the drums using 3 mics, bouncing the tracks into 1.
Then the bass, bouncing with drums again to 1 track so I have 3 free.
Then one guitar and the other guitar, bouncing again.
2 tracks free for the voice and guitar solos and noise effects.

The thing is that the whole thing sounds like sh*t. What I did wrong?
The drums is the worse sound, How is the secret to record it? How can I optimize my equipment? Where can I find some literature explaining that?

I would really appreciate your help. Thanks in advance.

The problem I always had with my old four track (not as nice as yours) was with signal degradation. Sounds like you're experiencing the same thing. When I was trying to do multiple input sources to minimal tracks by bouncing everything got real small in the end. No punch what so ever.

Try getting a mixing board. The largest you can afford. I used to mix the bass and drums down to two stereo tracks, then record a stereo guitar signal (for thickness) and then mix that down to one track. Vocals went on two tracks for two separate parts, or one if they were ut harmonies.

In the end though, your best bet is to run the vocals straight in to tracks 1-2 and go for micing the whole band live with another two mics and putting them on 3 and 4. (Assuming you can record four tracks live.)

I prefer the latter sound. There's going to be a lot of trial and error, but it may lead to some exciting new sounds. Just remember, never move the mics until you've listened to the tape.
i don't know how tight of a budget you are on, but you might want to consider (if you haven't already) going digital. that might be able to solve your probably as far as it sounding like crap. your signal wouldn't get weak, because it wouldn't change being that it's digital, unless you just recorded it that way.

anyway, fostex is running there fd-4 for about $479. you get four tracks with an additional 2 for virtual takes. you can cut and paste, and bounce whenever and whatever you need to. of course if you want to stay with analog, that's cool too, but i think that when you bounce digitally it helps things because you don't lose any quality.

Real drums are without doubt the hardest instrument to record, too. It's even harder to record them than to mic up for a live gig.
Mic placement is critical. Keep trying, listen to the drums when they're still on 3 tracks. Do they sound good and big there? How about after the bounce, do they sound like you thought they would? Experiment with placement. I've been recording since march, and have 16 traks to fool around with, so I don't have to commit to a submix except for the toms, and I still am not thrilled by my drum mic technique. It's a heck of a lot better then it was, and I'm getting good comments by now, but I make my daughter play her set while I record every chance I get.

The more expeience I get the more I learn. You will too, that's part of the fun of this business, right?
Don't bounce tracks if at all possible...

Since you have a band:
1. Practice, and record a live basic track to tracks 1 and 2 in stereo.

2. Overdub lead instruments on track 3
3. Record Vocals on track 4.

If you are well rehearsed, you could also do Vocals Live and that gives you 2 tracks for extra instruments. Live is cool! it has feeling and dynamics.


Dom Franco
Thanks everybody for the answers.
Next tip is how can I get a good quality at the drum kit by using just two ambiental mics?

Shall I place the mics close to the drum kit and later record the guitars separately?


keep it simple.

your recordings sound so bad because you are bouncing and pre-mixing far too much.

can the 414 can record 4 tracks at once?

two mics for the band vocals and everything will work. Any other tracks are extra.
You have two mre tracks.

You've got abundance!

Use those two bonus tracks to overdub or simult record an instrument/vocal with a dedicated track.

Most of your work should happen before you been record. Rehearse the band to sound great live.

If you want to bounce.

two mics on drums about a meter apart (like your stereo speakers at waist level) Raise lower or angle to change the sound. One mic on bass. Buss L and R to record them straight on 2 tracks.

Add the two guitars.

1 st bounce
4 to hifi VCR or MD then back to two tracks on the 414 (Only do stereo bounces to keep it Spacious)

Keep the levels as hot as possible without distortion.

Add the two vocals.

David, it doesn't matter that the whole thing sounds like sh*t, the thing that matters most is HOW DID YOU GET THE THREE TRACKS ONTO ONE? Since you've already done it, could you maybe help me? Thanx so much, metaldroid. you know, I can play drums, bass, keyboards, guitars lead and rythm, sing and I've written over a thousand songs, but I STILL don't know how to bounce tracks. I got a Tascam 244 4 track. I should've got an 8 or 16, but they are 2fn expensive. Help!
Micing Drums and Avoiding the bounce is the way to go. I've got the same situation (drummer, 2 guitars, bass, 2 vox) and have found that any sort of mixing board will give you an incredible amount of control over the drum sound. I'm actually using a spare 4-track (two overheads, snare and kick)to mix directly for recording down to a single track. Just sit down with the drummer for 10 minutes and play with the levels. Giving one track over to each of the instruments, record the whole band live. I mix down to either VHS or a good tape deck, leaving two open tracks for vocals, along with a stereo mix of the basic tracks. I haven't been doing this for very long, but it works fairly well. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

I understand your method, and I think is quite interesting. However, I should get a mixing board... :)

These are my questions:

Don't you get the live sound of the other instruments in the mics of the Drum kit?

Do you record the guitars using mics or taking the signal out of the Amplifiers?

I appreciate your answer. Thank you very much.

To cut leakage into the drum mics (either from other drums or any other instrument not being recorded direct, you can look into "Noise Gates".

These devices are common to find on compressors, and what they do is only pass signal above a certain volume threshold. The assumption being that a kick drum will produce a much higher level in it's mic than the guitar across the room. Adjust the threshold so that the gate opens for the kick, but not anything else. You will probably have to have any amps facing away from the kick drum mic.
Mic bleed is occassionally a problem. If the drummer plays hard, you can loer the input gain. The mics will only pick up sounds in close proximity. Also, take a look at some of the mic sound charts and diagrams on this site. If sounds are hitting the mics at the right angle, like the side, they don't move the membrane as much. Hence less (but not completely absent bleed.) But if you can get a gate, go with that.
All amps are miced, not direct. Just tell the musicians they need to turn down a notch. Even on a marshall, the sound records better. Turning down the amp distortion gets some of the lows a little clearer as well.
Good Luck and keep experimenting. And ignore the drummer's questioning look when you put tube socks over the cymbal mics (try it for a refreshing cymbal sound!)
The technicolorprawn
This is crazy,
I wanna know how you got the drums on 3 channels then how the hell you bounced then to one with the bass. (a 4-track can play and record but not on the same track) still ended up with 2 tracks left and were able to free them up for the vocals and still have tracks left?> Whasup?????????