Author Archives: williams

Timing is Everything: 4/4 vs 6/8

One of my favorite songs from Bee Gees’ pre-disco era is “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” It’s a classic pop song from the early 1970’s era, complete with a lush string section and beautful harmonies from the Brothers Gibb, It’s also a song that uses a 4/4 time signature – the most common time signature in pop and rock.

Have a listen:

In 1972, the Al Green, before he was “Reverend Al,” did a cover version of the song, which in my opinion, takes the original and raises it to entirely new level. Of course, with Mr. Green’s enormous talent and soul, any song he does will sound amazing. With his version of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” he changes the time signature to 6/8 – a time signature that is popular with many classic soul ballads.

Listen to Al Green’s Version:

See the difference? To my ears, the 6/8 time signature is less “choppy” than the 4/4 version and leaves a lot of space for Reverend Al to do his magic. What do you think?

Video: Blue Note Records and Rudy Van Gelder

I’ve talked about Rudy Van Gelder previously on this blog. I came across this short video about the legendary label, Blue Note Records and prolific recorder, Rudy Van Gelder. I find it interesting how they discuss the “3-Day Rehearsal” as a preparation for recording. I think this is an excellent way to prepare for a recording session – especially if you are recording a band live.

A Young Eric Clapton’s Electric Guitar Demonstration.

Here’s a cool video that shows a young Eric Clapton demonstrating how he gets different sounds on his electric guitar and sheds some light on his fingerboard technique. This video was shot during the Cream days, when Clapton favored Gibson guitars. Enjoy!

Eric Clapton interview and guitar demo 1968 from Robb Navrides on Vimeo.

Hat tip to the excellent website, Open Culture

Blog Update

I apologize for being so lackadaisical  about updating this blog.   I could make excuses about the summer and my being busy working on new music, but I won’t.

Meanwhile, here in Seattle, we’re experiencing smokey skies because of the large forest fires in the nearby Cascade Mountains.   This brings me the video below.   It’s a perfect song for people in the west.



In the meantime, this title becomes more and more meaningful:



Neil Young: Songwriting & Life at the Ranch 1971

I came across this fascinating video showing Neil Young, circa 1971, hanging out on his California ranch. This time period is right before he released his masterpiece, Harvest. We also get to meet, the “Old Man,” the subject of Neil’s classic “Old Man “.

As a songwriter, it’s not surprising that Neil’s ranch environment played such a vital inspirational role in his music of the day. Hat Tip to the excellent music blog, Aquarium Drunkard!

David Bowie’s Creative Process

While cruising the internet, I came across this fascinating video from 1997, David Bowie’s “Inspirations.” (Hat tip to the always excellent website, Watching the video, we get a glimpse into Mr. Bowie’s creative process. What really impressed me was how he constantly pushed himself out of his comfort zone in order to grow as an artist. Whether you’re a Bowie fan or not, this 15 minute video about art and creativity is well worth watching. Enjoy!

Video: My Top 5 Christmas Songs

NOTE: This post was originally published last year. Moving it it to the top because of the time of year.

The holiday season is the time of year when I would normally  be talking about that “chill in the air.” However, with the reality of climate change,, that is not the case for many people.  One thing that is consistent with this time of year are classic Christmas songs.

There are an abundance of wonderful Christmas songs.   From the obscure to the over-played staples of popular culture, we all have our favorites.   As I stared working on this post, I realized that narrowing my choice down to five songs would be a difficult task.

Here is my list (with one Bonus Track.)   What are your favorites?

John Prine: Christmas in Prison


Jim White: Christmas Day


Bill Haley and the Comets: Jingle Bell Rock

Barking Dogs:  Jingle Bells

Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas

Bonus Track below the fold

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Microphone Review: GLS Audio ES-57 and ES-58

GLS ES-57 & ES58


I am starting a new feature, highlighting some of my more popular posts for new visitors to this blog.  This article,  originally published in June of 2012, has been this blog’s most popular post.

Incidentally, I continue to use these microphones in my studio.   I have yet to have any issues with them.  They are solid work horse mics that do an excellent job.   Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.


I first heard about these microphones while browsing though the forums over at Gearslutz. These low cost Shure SM57 and SM58 knockoffs, available through Orange County Speaker, rated very well with people from the on-line recording community. Because they are so inexpensive – as of this writing, the mics sell for $29.99 (U.S.) each (You can get a slightly better deal if you buy them in quantity) – I decided to take the plunge and order one ES-57, (SM57 copy) and one ES-58-S (SM58 copy with an on and off switch). I would find out for myself if the internet hype on these mics was true.

Testing 1…2…3…

So how do these mics compare to their more expensive counterparts? The first mic I tested was a ES-58-S. Right out of the box, I noticed the weight of the microphone. This isn’t some lightweight mic that’s going to fall apart with ordinary use. In fact, it seems built like a tank and can obviously handle the normal wear and tear of both studio and live use.

My first test was to use it for a vocal recording. I have to say, the results were astonishing. The mic seemed to have more of a Beta 58 sound than that of a standard SM58. The mids and highs were clear and crisp.

After my promising start with the ES-58, I was anxious to crack open the ES-57 to see what it could do. Once again, I was impressed by the feel and the weight of the mic. My first test with the ES-57 was to see what kind of results I could get recording an acoustic guitar. I aimed the mic near the 12th fret of my trusty Guild D4 guitar, positioned it about 6 inches away and started playing. The results were excellent and in my opinion, just as good as an SM57.

To further test these mics, I recorded snare drum hits, with both sticks and brushes, and also tried them out on some hi-hats. Again the results were excellent and definitely comparable to the more expensive SM57 or SM58.


The bottom line – these mics are winners! I will definitely be utilizing them in future recordings. Since you can get three of these mics for less than the price of one of the higher priced Shure microphones, it’s obviously a great deal. If you are looking for new dynamic mics for your band or for your studio, you can’t go wrong with the GLS Audio mics.


Model Number: ES-57
Uni-Directional Dynamic Microphone
Designed for Musical Instruments & Drums
Sensitivity: -72dB at 1,000 Hz (Open Circuit Voltage)
Frequency Range: 40 Hz – 15,000 Hz
Lo-Z XLR 3 Pin Balanced
Impedance: 300 ohms at 1,000 Hz
Size: 6 3/8″ long x 1 3/8″ Head x 7/8″ End

Model Number: ES-58
Uni-Directional Dynamic Vocal Microphone
Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 15,000 Hz
Sensitivity: -72dB at 1,000 Hz (Open Circuit Voltage)
Dual Z Compatibility
(Lo-Z XLR 3 Pin Balanced & Hi-Z 1/4″)
Impedance: 300 ohms at 1,000 Hz
Size: 6 7/8″ long x 2″ Ball x 7/8″ End

Originally Published 02/12

JUNE 2012 UPDATE: Here’s a song I recorded with the GLS mics

Drum Recording Techniques

Let’s face it – Many budding recordists are intimidated by the prospect of recording drums. There are so many questions and variables. Does my room sound good? Will I have phase issues? Do I have the right microphones? There are a lot of opinions on this topic and here on this blog, we’ve talked about it before.

Here is an excellent article by recording engineer Barry Rudolph from Pro Sound Web. Don’t be intimidated by the specific microphone recommendations. Not everyone (including yours truly) has access to such great microphones. However, many of us do have acceptable microphones with similar polar patterns. Here is a taste of what Mr. Rudolph has to say:

I find that recording drums has very much to do with your monitor mixing as well as the actual sound you are getting on both the individual drums and the total drum kit.

Sure, if I place the drum mix well above the rest of the backing tracks, I can hype the listener into thinking the drum sound is big and muscular. Tilted monitor mixes can make you think you have a great kick drum sound merely because it is very loud.

Pulling the drum mix back into a more realistic mix perspective reveals the true size of the drum recording as it blends with the rest of the instruments and vocals.

When placed in mix perspective, I can assess the relative tonality and balance of the individual drums and judge the overall kit-ambience quality. Low and high frequencies as well as dynamic range are also better judged at this level.

Click here to read the entire article with excellent information: Pro Sound Web The Wonderful World of Microphone Techniques for Drums

Hat tip to the twitter feed of Women’s Audio Mission. An excellent source of information for people interested in recording.