Wilfred “Frenchie” Leimiux has been playing guitar in bands slightly longer than I have been alive. I first met him when we began attending our new church here in SE Virginia about a year and a half ago. We’ve talked about recording a few songs pretty much ever since. When I had a four-day weekend recently it seemed like the right opportunity.
We met at the church and I brought a tote full of gear with me. Frenchie brought his axes and his Zoom R-16 recorder (the same one I borrowed for this recording session). Our sanctuary is pretty live and not necessarily in a good way, so I wanted to kill as much of the natural slapback and ring as possible. I brought an old wool quilt that my wife and I would use on our bed in the winter back in Illinois. We haven’t needed it yet, here. I draped it over two boom stands set up as “T”s across the front of the platform and viola, instant gobo.
The plan for the day was to record two songs. The first is an original by Frenchie:
Man on A Mission
To start we recorded the scratch tracks. These are the basic tracks which will be used to set the timing and form for all the “keeper” tracks. Frenchie plugged his acoustic guitar direct into the R-16 and I mic’ed up his voice with the V69. He stood facing the quilt and we ended up with surprisingly quiet tracks.
Once the scratch tracks were down. we tracked each of the other instruments individually. Frenchie plays a hollow-body electric in a funky Rockabilly style. I recorded the electric guitar to three tracks – I put my Apex 215 on the tube amp that he always plays through and took the stereo outputs from his pedal board direct.
Then I moved the 215 over to the bass amp and we laid that down. The bass amp had two different speakers – one huge (~14″) and one smaller (~6″). I moved the mic between the two while Frenchie played and decided the smaller speaker had the more usable tone for the mix. The big one was all too low, leaving the bass without any definition. The small one had nice balance without sounding “tinny.”
We moved back up front and set the V69 for acoustic guitar. I aimed the mic toward the joint between the neck and the body of the guitar from a little bit off to the side of the guitar. The results are pretty nice.
Lastly I reset the V69 for vocal and we laid down the keeper vocals. I all cases we did everything in one take – stopping, backing up and punching in if he made an egregious error. Frenchie wanted vibe far more than perfection, and I can respect that. Vibe was in plentiful supply that day.
Back home I laid down some drums, Wurlitzer piano and Hammond organ. We’re going to get Karen our worship team leader to sing some backing vocals and then we’ll be ready to mix.
Who Am I
The popular song Who Am I is a favorite at our church and a really meaningful song for Frenchie. We tracked this one slightly differently, eschewing the electric guitar for two tracks of acoustic. He strummed one track and fingerpicked the other. Back home I added a nice piano line to complement his acoustics.
The plan for this one is to get Karen to sing harmonies and play some percussion. Then I hope to get the whole praise team together to sing gang vocals on the choruses.
I hope to make a video out of this one using photos of our church in ministry to the community. We’ve been active in community ministry ever since the foundation of the congregation in 2010.
Packing up, we headed out the door to get some Chinese for dinner. Praise team rehearsal was only an hour away…