Creating an Indie/Vintage sound.

JakJak

New member
Hey guys,
I was wondering whether any of you could give me advice on creating an Indie/Vintage sound when recording and mixing.
I am particularly interested in the sound of Bombay Bicycle Club's acoustic material (and electric), The Foals- Total Life Forever and Arcade Fire's sound.

I know this is a vague question, its probably hard to answer.
Just any tips maybe?

Cheers,
Jack
 

aaronmcoleman

The truth is out there!
Cool bands, and cool sound. Use a 'colorful' compressor/eq/pre for at least the vocals (or whatever combination of those that you have). You can also add a touch of distortion to the acoustic guitars, and I would also avoid compressing them too much, especially acoustics. I use a tube mic (NTK) for vocals to warm it up a bit. Also, I've just started using ribbon mics and they sound pretty old school too. The ribbons make the acoustic sound full and natural, so add a little distortion to that (tiny bit) and you'll have a super cool indie sound.

These tips may not get you to sound just like the bands you mentioned, but if they all tried to sound like some other band we wouldn't like them so much.
 

James K

Member
Hi,
I record quite a lot of vintage sounding stuff. I think the main thing is to record as it would've been recorded i.e. don't use loads of mics on the drum kit and then try to make it sound vintage using processing and plugins etc.

This is how I would record a 'vintage' sounding track (and I think I usually manage to make them sound pretty accurate)

Miking:

Drums:
Three mics. One condenser (I use an Oktava MK-219) overhead about 6' in the air, above the drummer's head. One condenser (I use another Oktava MK-219) about 2' in front of the bass drum, pointing at the centre of the drum. An SM57 on the snare, pointing at the rim at about 45 degrees and 2" away.

Bass: I usually DI the bass. Just straight into the desk via a DI box. No compression, EQ etc.

Guitar: I get the right 'vintage' sound on the amplifier and then either mic using one SM57 about 2" from the centre of the cone, up against the grille, pointing at the centre. or I use an Oktava MK-219 condenser with the pad switched in about 8" away from the grille and half-way between the centre and the edge of the cone. Whichever you feel gives you the better sound.

Acoustic Guitar:
For that vintage acoustic sound I mic fairly close to the guitar (I mic further back for a modern sound). Put one condenser about 6" away from the neck-body join.

Mixing:

For a vintage sound I either use no compression on the drums or compress the whole lot (all three mics) about 4:1 soft knee. EQ to give you the sound you like. I don't compress the bass and apply EQ boost at about 100Hz. I usually don't compress or EQ the electric guitars at all. I give the acoustic guitars a slight treble boost to bring out the brightness. When mixing, keep the drums and bass fairly low, they were always seen as backing instruments. Drench everything in loads of reverb and you should have a pretty authentic vintage sound.

Oooh, and record it to analogue tape ;)

That's just how I do it. I hope it'll be useful in some way

Cheers
James
 

JakJak

New member
Wow thanks James,
This is an amazing detailed explanation, I will definitely experiment with some of these ideas.
A few questions:
Would you always suggest mic-ing the amps rather than recording straight through the interface?
Also to get the right 'vintage' sound on an amp, what would be a rough guide line on how to achieve that sound?
And any recommendations for any not too expensive amps? (I have a Bogey acoustic amp but I reckon its cheap and crap)
I have a Shure SM68 (dynamic) and an SE Electronics 2200a (condenser), will I get by ok?

Many thanks,
Jack
 

aaronmcoleman

The truth is out there!
For the Acoustic mic the guitar and forget the amp usually. Read the stickey in the recording forum on acoustic micing and that should be a good place to start. I'd try putting either mic about 12" away from the 12th fret and slightly angled toward the sound hole. That is one of the most common sweet spots. I don't do anything direct except bass sometimes.

For electric micing the amp will go a long way for the vintage sound. Scoop the mids to get some of the more American sounds (fenders from 1960s and 1970's). I wouldn't put too much distortion/gain for that style. And mess with the reverb on the guitar to get the sound you want.

Those mics should be fine to start with. Your gear should grow with your skills.
 

James K

Member
For the Acoustic mic the guitar and forget the amp usually. Read the stickey in the recording forum on acoustic micing and that should be a good place to start. I'd try putting either mic about 12" away from the 12th fret and slightly angled toward the sound hole. That is one of the most common sweet spots. I don't do anything direct except bass sometimes.

For electric micing the amp will go a long way for the vintage sound. Scoop the mids to get some of the more American sounds (fenders from 1960s and 1970's). I wouldn't put too much distortion/gain for that style. And mess with the reverb on the guitar to get the sound you want.

Those mics should be fine to start with. Your gear should grow with your skills.

agreed.

I'd just add that it'd be good to experiment with different distances for the acoustic mic. 12" as aaronmcoleman suggested is great for getting the nice, bright acoustic sound that most people are after though. If you want a more 60's bassy, slightly clangy and more percussive sound (like on the early Beatles tracks) then move it to about 6" away. But again, just experiment moving it about.

Also, if you're looking for an English guitar sound rather than an american one, I think the sound is more middly so just dial in some more mids to the amp.
 

James K

Member
+1

Excellent post indeed, James.

What do you think about using a SansAmp GT-2 as DI on electrics?

Regards,
Jim

Cheers :) Erm, I've only ever DI'd guitar a couple of times just through a normal DI box. They sounded okay for a clean sound, not great and probably too clean for a vintage sound. I'd just say give it a try and see what it sounds like.
 

aaronmcoleman

The truth is out there!
DI boxes tend to sound pretty "honkey". You really need something else. So if you have no amps GT-2 would probably be better than DI. I've never used one, but I know DIing a guitar usually sounds awful. Even with the pedals in front it's not going to be great. I would say try it and see if you like it, but that's probably a waste of time. If your options are DI or GT-2 I'd go with GT-2.
 

JakJak

New member
James,
to get the right 'vintage' sound on an amp, what would be a rough guide line on how to achieve that sound? Levels?
 

James K

Member
James,
to get the right 'vintage' sound on an amp, what would be a rough guide line on how to achieve that sound? Levels?

Erm, it depends what sort of sound you're going for. The vintage sound I usually go for is that 60's choppy sound like on early Beatles records or other records from the period. I usually use a telecaster on the bridge pickup, volume and tone wound up full. I run it through a Fender Blues Deluxe with the bass set around flat, maybe slightly boosted, and the middle and treble boosted. I turn the volume up quite high to overdrive it slightly. It really depends on what amp your using so I'd say just set the tone controls to flat and play around with them a bit without doing anything too major like scooping the middle.
 

James K

Member
If you're going for an overdriven sound it gets a lot more complicated (IMHO). I usually set my tele to the bridge and use the overdrive channel on my Blues Deluxe with the gain set about half way and the EQ fairly flat, slight treble boost. Again though, just play around with what you've got.
 

aaronmcoleman

The truth is out there!
For overdrive without driving the amp, I use a tube screamer pedal all the time. It has a nice slightly overdriven sound, to pretty heavy. It's good for older blues sounds and versitile enough to get some modern tones too.

From the music you seem to like, I think a tube screamer in front of any good amp will help you out.
 
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