I just recently finished Grade 2 of Justin’s course and am currently consolidating for the next 3 months. In Justin’s video about consolidation, he warns about how to avoid a rut. After watching that video, I decided that I needed some structure to make sure that I move forward so I decided to have a long-term goal of playing and recording all of the songs in Justin’s Rock song book.
I’m calling this a study instead of a challenge as I really want to suck out as much knowledge as I can from each song and make sure I’m learning something however small from each one I tackle.
As I said I need structure, without it I get lost very easily! So, here’s how I’m structuring this study:
Each song I’m going to try and take at least a month to get right and post. This is because I’ll be working on other songs and books as well, so I want to give myself as much time as possible to get through even the easy songs. For the harder ones I may take even longer. The point is to get to the songs to a point where I feel like the quality is good enough to post and I’ve learned as much as I could from each song.
I’m going to try and find backing tracks to as much of the songs as possible. I’m not a singer (interest is there but not yet ready to pursue) so I’d like to play with backing track for it to sound as good as possible and also to help make sure I have to rhythm right. I check and found backing tracks for most of the first 15 songs. So it doesn’t seem to hard to find, especially since many of the songs in the book are really popular.
Each post I’ll give some details on what I’ve learned and how I’m getting the sound I used. This is for me to chronicle what I’ve learned and just to give context to those who are interested.
Then I’ll post the song and move on!
I’m hoping that I’ll keep going and eventually post every song in the the entirety of Justin’s book, but that will take years as I am not at the level to be able to play all of these yet. So, with that in mind I’m going to be doing one section of 15 at a time (Exactly how his book is set up).
My first song in this series! AC/DC is one of the songs that got me into Rock so there just isn’t a better song to start this off. My recording isn’t perfect as you’ll see but I do feel that I got it to a point where I feel comfortable sharing.
What I’ve learned:
Always tune your guitar before playing! I realized after I uploaded the vid that I sounded slightly off, I checked, and my tuning was slightly flat. I decided to leave it up anyway because you live and you learn!
Muting strings with your strumming hand. You have to do the rests just at the right time to get the Rhythm right. This song helped to get my strumming hand used to muting!
The last module in Grade 2 has a whole lesson on slash chords so here’s the first one I’ve used for an actual song! D/F# is tough, and Justin shows 3 different ways to play it. I ended up using the one he suggests in his song book which was the most comfortable for me.
Not new, but first time using it to record a song is the mini A barre chord. When I was practicing this during module 10 I couldn’t quite get it but now I’ve done it so much I get it more right than not.
The hardest part of this song for me was the Rhythm. It starts in the and after 3 so keeping the rhythm tight was difficult for me at first. All of AC/DC’s songs have really tight rhythm so I knew getting this right was key to doing justice to the song.
I’m using Justin’s Highway to Hell Katana patch on the bridge pick up to get the sound. I had to add extra gain in an OBS filter to mix the sound to a point that I felt was acceptable.
Love playing this ! And you seem to be doing well from what I could here. When the band kicks in full volume your LP is buried but ok in between. Only thing I would add is keep the strumming hand going with the beat as you seem to be a bit stop start and only gearing up when its time to hit the strings. Constant movement will ingrain the beat and feel.
Having said that. sounding good.
I noticed that too, yet another thing I learned. Just because it sounds good with the beginning of the track doesn’t mean it will sound good throughout! I’ll be sure to listen throughout on the next one and add some more gain if needed.
Almost tempted to re-record and post. But that would take away from the spirit of the study methinks. You live and you learn!
Absolutely! It’s something I’m working on constantly. It’s particularly hard in this one for me since I’m doing down strums on the ‘ands’. That completely threw me off at first.
I applaud this topic idea Alexis - kudos and good vibes for creating a public challenge and motivation for yourself.
Highway To Hell. What a blast and a killer song to get started with. You have done a good job and should be very happy with your play along. On occasion you narrowly miss the timing - AC/DC are just the tightest of tight on their rhythm parts so that is no reason to beat yourself up. If you were stood in the recording room with them, playing along, the wall of sound and the visual cues would make it easier to be more crisp along with Malcolm’s playing. Well done too for not drenching your guitar tone in over done buzzy distortion. I have seen so many covers of AC/DC on youtube etc where the player dials in a tone like an angry wasp. The Young brothers played mainly clean. LOUD … but clean. The volume levels can’t be replicated at home but it should not be approximated by turning the gain to 90% plus. And you did not.
Really fun song! This one is a no brainer for me, but there are other songs in the book that I either never heard of or only vaguely listened to in the past.
When I first purchased this book I also added the Spotify playlist that Justin put up with all the songs and have been listening to it for months until now when I can finally start attempting the beginner section. It’s a great way to explore different artists in the genre and find new (old) bands to explore their music.
That was great, Alexis. You are well away on your adventure to play these 15 songs.
You mentioned use of backing tracks, video production in OBS, and some of the processing done in OBS. Given the nature of the project, you may find it worthwhile to investigate using a DAW to record your play over the backing track. That will provide more flexibility to get the sound balance right, though would have a learning curve.
Many here that can support you if that sounds interesting.
Keep rocking and look forward to the next song in due course.
That would be ideal! Working with a DAW would allow me to change the levels within the project without having to re-record as with OBS Correct?
I’ve used audacity in some capacity with my current occupation, but I have no experience syncing audio and video recorded in separate programs. I’ve used OBS because all of it is done in the process of recording which is awesome. It seems the fatal flaw is that I have no control over the audio post recording. Are you familiar with programs that can assist audio/video syncing?
If it helps, I have access to an Adobe premiere pro license through my work. I have no idea if it does syncing, but I know it’s popular video editing software that I would assume does it.
You’ll find that the sync of video and audio is not as hard as it sounds. You just have to make sure there is an audio track on the video to sync with the audio in the DAW.
Depending on your setup there are many options.
If you are interested perhaps start a topic in #gear-tools-talk:hardware-software-recroding to discuss recording and syncing audio and video. Start off sharing the gear you have. I know you use OBS and are playing an electric. What would be of relevance would be audio interfaces, PC/laptop (particularly the operating system), and camera
The easiest way to sync is to add a 1 bar count of a click track or drum beat. Most DAWs support video input (I use Reaper). So you can record your audio at the same time as you record in OBS. Drop the OBS video into the DAW and align to the click track. The waveforms are very clear so a doddle to line up. You can then mix the track and get the levels where you want them. Mute the video track and then export original video with the mixed sound tracks.
That’s a starter for 10 but as David says, if you want to pursue this create a topic on the subject as there are many ways to do this and many DAWs. Above is just a taster to maybe pique your curiosity!
Premiere Pro definitely has auto multi track audio sync. You’ll need to do something like what @DavidP and @TheMadman_tobyjenner suggest and record audio with your video source. And clap, or count-in clicks, or what I usually do which is totally forget to do that and line up the audio waveforms of the start manually (which is more annoying but not that hard either).
Sounded cool and badass! Will be hard to keep it at a similar level with all the remaining 49 songs DAW is definitely a way to go, I am sure once you dig into this bottomless hole you won’t get out of it that easy
Time for song 2! I’ve been playing this song since the stuck 3&4 lessons in grade 2 but I when I did it for this I wanted to make sure to play it with a backing track.
What I’ve learned:
Rhythm is key! When I started to play this with the backing track I noticed how terrible I was at playing the 16th notes properly. I added a 5 minute rhythm section to my practice routine where I at first tried 16th notes at the same BPM as the song with a metronome and slowly started to add or remove strums to get the pattern. I don’t have it perfect yet, but I’m happy enough with it to post.
Garageband, my long time PC died so I decided to get a mac as a replacement to mess around in garageband. Previously I was using Audacity but man is Garageband crazy intuitive!
Adobe Premiere. I used OBS last time but the audio levels were off and with OBS I couldn’t go back and adjust the levels post recording. I work at a university that provides me with a license to adobe products so I started messing around with it. Even added a fancy title card with the free adobe stock titles.
EDIT: Forgot to add dynamics. There’s a part of the song that gets really quite and at first I was just playing the pattern as normal. I realized it sounds way better if I play it really quietly and you can really feel the build up. I think in the original there less strums, but I think this sounds pretty cool too!
Eb tuning and I’m using the my Boss Katana’s acoustic guitar simulator (who knew it had one), which I think sounds pretty good. I initially wanted to play this with my acoustic but I have no way of getting a clean recording of it. So I found these awesome live sets from Boss’ website that included an acoustic patch: Songwriting Collection by Rafael Bittencourt | BOSS TONE CENTRAL
So here is Every Rose has Its Thorn! (Advice and feedback always appreciated and welcome!), also for those who want to listen to the previous song there is a handy table on the first post with anchor links!: