GarageBand '11 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Customizing the guitar sound using amps, stompboxes, and effects


GarageBand '11 Essential Training

with Todd Howard

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Video: Customizing the guitar sound using amps, stompboxes, and effects

Now that we have got our double-tracked Fat Stack guitars here, let's make use of the fact that we have an entire stereo spectrum to play sounds within. Now if you think of wearing a set of headphones or listening to two speakers--a left speaker and a right speaker--GarageBand allows you to pan your sound from left to right around basically what's considered to be a stereo arc, and that positioning of sound can help give both differentiation between sounds, make something distinct, and create some room for sounds to stand on their own and have their own sonic space to live in.
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  1. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      1m 13s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
  2. 23m 4s
    1. Connecting instruments, MIDI controllers, mics, audio interfaces, and speakers
      4m 24s
    2. Setting important Mac OS X and GarageBand preferences
      4m 32s
    3. Creating a project with tempo, time signature, and key
      4m 37s
    4. Creating a track
      9m 31s
  3. 25m 42s
    1. Exploring Real Instrument tracks and setting a good input level
      6m 20s
    2. Exploring Software Instrument tracks, keyboard velocity, and MIDI
      6m 59s
    3. Exploring Electric Guitar tracks and monitoring
      7m 48s
    4. Positioning the cursor on audio regions to access different tools
      4m 35s
  4. 10m 23s
    1. Choosing a genre in the Project Chooser
      2m 3s
    2. Auditioning players in the band and hiring new players
      8m 20s
  5. 16m 45s
    1. Browsing and filtering the Apple Loops library
      5m 20s
    2. Dragging Apple Loops into your arrangement and choosing from alts
      6m 33s
    3. Jamming along with your composition
      4m 52s
  6. 35m 11s
    1. Setting tempo, enabling count-in and metronome, and dragging in a drum loop
      5m 22s
    2. Using GarageBand as a scratchpad for recording new ideas
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Arrange track to create song form sections
      3m 1s
    4. Splitting Apple Loops and choosing alternates to build a drum part
      6m 36s
    5. Recording multiple takes with cycle record
      4m 32s
    6. Punching in a small section of audio
      6m 20s
    7. Using Groove Matching to tighten up the rhythm of a performance
      5m 51s
  7. 33m 56s
    1. Tuning up and tracking a rhythm electric guitar part
      4m 26s
    2. Customizing the guitar sound using amps, stompboxes, and effects
      11m 44s
    3. Using Flex Time to fix a double-tracked rhythm guitar part
      7m 40s
    4. Using Cycle Record to record multiple takes for soloing
      3m 40s
    5. Compositing a final guitar solo from multiple takes
      6m 26s
  8. 19m 25s
    1. Recording a Software Instrument track
      3m 48s
    2. Editing the parameters of Software Instruments
      8m 44s
    3. Editing MIDI notes in the piano roll editor after the performance
      6m 53s
  9. 14m 12s
    1. Recording lead vocals
      6m 39s
    2. Correcting pitch with automatic tuning
      4m 16s
    3. Reordering, duplicating, and deleting song sections using the Arrangement track
      3m 17s
  10. 1h 7m
    1. Creating successful mixes
      7m 4s
    2. Pre-mixing
      15m 31s
    3. Equalizing tracks
      5m 51s
    4. Compressing tracks
      10m 13s
    5. Adding reverb and echo effects to individual tracks
      6m 39s
    6. Creating automated volume and pan moves
      10m 41s
    7. Freezing tracks to improve system performance
      2m 0s
    8. Using master track effects and automating a fade-out
      3m 31s
    9. Creating a final mixdown: Exporting a finished song to disk
      5m 40s
  11. 12m 51s
    1. Sharing your songs with iTunes and burning CDs
      3m 6s
    2. Opening a GarageBand project in Logic
      4m 26s
    3. Archiving GarageBand project files
      5m 19s
  12. 36m 44s
    1. Taking music lessons
      7m 32s
    2. Creating ringtones
      3m 50s
    3. Creating podcasts
      14m 12s
    4. Scoring a movie
      11m 10s
  13. 53s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course GarageBand '11 Essential Training
4h 58m Beginner Jul 29, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course is a comprehensive guide to the popular digital audio software from Apple, demonstrating the tools and techniques to create, edit, and publish music and podcasts. Author Todd Howard covers the ins and outs of the application, from interfacing with external devices, exploring Apple Loops, and recording instrument and vocal tracks to creating successful mixes, performing edits, and sharing finished projects. Additionally, the course introduces the new features in GarageBand '11, including Flex Time and Groove Matching, which provide powerful methods for editing and tightening up the rhythmic timing of tracks.

Topics include:
  • Connecting instruments, MIDI controllers, mics, and speakers
  • Creating a project and specifying tempo, time signature, and key
  • Jumpstarting the recording process with Magic GarageBand
  • Recording real instruments, software instruments, and electric guitar tracks
  • Compositing a final track from multiple takes
  • Creating, naming, and organizing song sections using the Arrangement track
  • Equalizing and compressing tracks
  • Adding reverb and echo effects
  • Sharing songs with iTunes and Logic Pro
  • Archiving GarageBand project files
  • Taking guitar and piano lessons
  • Creating podcasts, movies scores, and ringtones
Audio + Music
Todd Howard

Customizing the guitar sound using amps, stompboxes, and effects

Now that we have got our double-tracked Fat Stack guitars here, let's make use of the fact that we have an entire stereo spectrum to play sounds within. Now if you think of wearing a set of headphones or listening to two speakers--a left speaker and a right speaker--GarageBand allows you to pan your sound from left to right around basically what's considered to be a stereo arc, and that positioning of sound can help give both differentiation between sounds, make something distinct, and create some room for sounds to stand on their own and have their own sonic space to live in.

So having all of our panning knobs right up center right now is part of what's making this sound like very one-dimensional mix. I will play a little bit of it right now and just listen to it. (music playing) Okay, and if you are not listening to this on stereo speakers or in headphones right now, you are probably not hearing it to that degree. You may want to come back and revisit this chapter when you do have a stereo set of headphones on, so you can really hear it. What we want to do with our stereo guitar tracks is pan one hard left and one hard right, allowing each of those tracks to independently live in the two speakers, and it will create a much wider degree of space between the two, making this guitar track essentially sound huge.

It's going to be much wider than this sort of narrow center-focused sound that it currently has. So I am going to play the guitar track and the whole mix right now and as we go, I am going to pan the first one to the left and the second one to the right and go ahead and listen for the difference once I have actually panned them out. (music playing) Bring them back to the middle now.

(music playing) So another thing you're probably noticing is that once they are panned, they actually end up feeling a little softer. Basically what you're getting is 50% of the overall sound that was coming out when it was in the middle, because when anything is panned to the center, you're having an equal amount of sound in the left that you do in the right. So if we go all the way to one side, you're getting a little bit of attenuation down on the overall volume.

So we might need to bring them up in the mix a little bit. I'm going to go back to the beginning of the chorus and work with their balance just a tiny bit. (music playing) Okay, that sounds pretty good. (music playing) Now the other thing we have to think about beyond placement in the stereo spectrum is what is our overall sound doing? So we're going to focus a lot more on this during the mixing chapter, but for now, I actually do kind of want to tweak the overall guitar sound and see if I can get them blending in with the acoustic guitar a little bit better because it's got more of a clear, almost brittle sound to it, whereas these guitars are very, very warm and very chorused, so I want to kind of brighten them up maybe a tiny bit as well.

So what I want to do is actually solo out the acoustic guitar and both of the stereo electric guitar tracks, so we can hear just guitar. Let me go back to the top again, and I am going to open up my Track Info panel so I can start to look at the sound of my Acoustic Guitar, my Fat Stack left, and Fat Stack right. In fact, now that I say that and these are named the same thing, let me take a quick moment to name them properly, now that we have split them up. So now we've got Fat Stack left and Fat Stack right.

Let's go ahead and listen to these three guitars. I will use the right-arrow to skip ahead and get to the place where they all come in. (music playing) Now my sense is that I want to kind of open up the tone of the distorted guitars just a little bit to make them sort of have a little more life and kind of breath and sort of high-end quality to them. Right now, they are very warm and mid, which is great for a Fat Stack, but I kind of want a little more presence.

So what I am going to do right now then is solo just one of these tracks so we can hear the guitar and then work on editing its sound. And for the moment, I am going to pan it center so we can actually hear it in both the ears. The first thing I am going to do while I am playing is look at, by clicking once on the guitar amp, what the settings are for the preset for a Fat Stack on the amp and make some adjustments to just see what I can do with this tone a little bit. (music playing) More presence will make it feel brighter and more open.

(music playing) You can hear as I am going up and down with that, it sort of sounds more like it's almost like it's going, sort of opening and then closing. So here is the opening and closing. (music playing) So what you are going to try to do is find the sweet spot. What sounds good? What's the tone you're going for? So I am going to try to adjust this right now to my taste. (music playing) That sounds a little bit better to me.

Let me hear it with the acoustic now, see what we think. (music playing) I kind of like the sound of that. Since we've been talking about stereo panning, the actual movement of positioning your pan fader to the left or the right of the center, there is a number of ways you can do it. If you click and hold and drag up then the fader will go to the right; if you click and hold and drag down, it will go to the left.

You can put it back in the center by Option+Clicking on the Pan Fader, and the other way you can do it is by positioning your mouse in the middle and using your scroll wheel down, you can go to the left and scroll wheel up, you can go to the right. And that same actually effect works on the volume slider as well, so you can use your scroll bar if you want to, but it sort of jumps in pretty big increments, which is why I prefer to kind of get in here and drag it. They don't give you a whole lot of room here with the Volume fader so you sort of have to work with it in whatever way is best for you. So in addition to adjusting the amp settings-- let me go back to just hearing my Fat Stack Left-- I am going to look at our stompbox pedal here right now.

The preset for a Fat Stack comes with an overdrive pedal, but maybe we can add a little bit to that, sort of have some additional fun with our sound here. I am going to play again. Clicking once on Overdrive will bring up the settings for that particular pedal, so you can adjust them. We also have a sort of overall drive control on this pedal, a tone control, and Level. Level will just make it louder or softer, and the Drive kind of increases the grip of the distortion sound, and the Tone is almost like another presence we had on the amp itself.

So we were adjusting the amp's presence. This could adjust sort of overall tone to the right is this sort of higher tone, and to the left is sort of a lower warmer tone if we wanted to. I am going to leave that how it is there because that pedal's sounding fine to me right now. But that's how you can get in here and adjust this. If you'd like to see your entire library of stompbox effects, just double-click on any one that happens to be sitting in front of your amp, and you can see all 15 of them. There is a whole bunch of different ones here. There's a couple of choruses, some additional distortion pedals, the Grinder, the Fuzz machine.

There is a lot of tremolo effects and vibrato effects in some of these. The Vibe and the Squash Compressor can give you some additional compression. I encourage you to play with all of these. They all have a wide variety of sounds to them. For now let's just add the Phase Tripper phaser effect to our pedal by clicking and dragging and dropping it on the floor. Now, we've got Overdrive and Phaser. If I double-click, I will leave the sort of well editing mode and look at my pedalboard as it currently is. So here is the phaser. It's on. I can tell it's on because the light is on.

If I click the big button, I can turn it off. It goes gray up here and this light goes off, so you can bypass any stompbox effect easily by doing that. I am going to play the track back, and then I am going to turn the phaser on and show you want it sounds like to add that sound. (music playing) So the phaser is kind of a moving filter effect that sort of sweeps and swoops Even though the Phase Tripper is sort of this very obvious sort of almost obnoxious from highs to lows, and you can adjust the speed at which that swoop occurs with the Rate knob.

You can adjust how deep the swoop is at that rate with the Depth knob, and the Feedback sort of controls how much of these sort of other qualities of harmonics and sort of overtones that come in are involved in the sound. So as I play, I am going to sort of monkey with these knobs a bit, and you can see how fun it is to sort of mess around with this. (music playing) sound when you get it really cranked up, if you pull back on some of these and you can get the Rate kind of low, make it be a slow sweep, bring the Feedback down a little bit, you can kind of get a neat effect.

So what we'll do is I will keep this phaser stompbox in line here, and we will bypass it for now. And later when we're in the mixing chapter, what I'd actually like to do now that I've sort of heard this on the sound is when we get to a certain point in the song, maybe the chorus or maybe the pre-chorus--we can experiment-- we will use Automation in the mixing phase to kick the phaser on at that perfect spot that we want it on and then pull it back out where we don't want it to be there anymore. So I have one other thing to do, which is bringing this setting that I just made and the adjustments I made here over to my other track.

So I could just go into that track and do it manually, but of course, we have our friendly Save Setting down here. So what I am going to do is click it and call this Fat Stack II and hit Save, and now you'll notice it's actually been added to our presets. So I can go over to the other guitar track, which is still set to Fat Stack, and change it to our new setting, Fat Stack II, and it brings in that new presence adjustment and the phaser as is. I can un-solo that track, bring these back to their proper panning position, and now we can go ahead and listen to it in the song. And just so you can hear how it's going to be, I can manually throw the Phaser in as we run through here.

(music playing) So that's how easy it is and how much fun it is to experiment with all the different parameters you can adjust on your guitar amps, on your stompbox pedals, and also working with the stereo spectrum to really modify the sound of the instruments that you've recorded to bring your mix to the place that you're really trying to hit with it.

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