Satellite (Elliott Smith) + an original

I posted a few times and have spent a deal of time browsing and reading but never posted AVOYP. Here’s a cover of Satellite by Elliott Smith and an original. Awkwardly done with an old mic and a 58. Justin’s lessons/talks on anxiety and singing while playing carried me here and I’m thankful.

I’d also appreciate if I could get feedback in terms of what Justing guitar lessons could help me improve most. I know for sure I need to work on rhythm, as an example…


You Killed Her (original)


What a marvellous debut post in AVOYP, Ben.

I think you are perhaps far more accomplished as a player, singer, and song-writer than you appreciate for yourself, based on your post text here and Introduce Yourself post.

I thought both the cover and original showcased excellent right and left hand technique plus you have an engaging vocal style. Some excellent variation and dynamics in You Killed Her in the way you voiced chords.

From a recording perspective, your setup is delivering good tone and quality of both guitar and vocal. Though I did think perhaps the gain on the vocal mic could have been turned up a little for Satellite. And you do have a little headroom on the overall level relative to the YouTube norm (check out Stats For Nerds if not familiar)

To satisfy my own curiousity, how are you making the recording, gear and tools?

From a Community platform perspective, we have recently adopted a practice of categorising original songs and covers into separate sub-categories. Not a big deal but for future reference you can share covers in AVOYP and go over to #community-recordings:originals-not-covers to post separate Topics for your original songs.

Look forward to more and your thoughts about other players efforts.

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Wow, I thought those were fabulous. Well done! I think playing fingerstyle and singing is very challenging, maybe that’s just me…I love Elliot Smith and really enjoyed the cover and the original.

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Hi Ben,
This is quite impressive and far beyond what I can do, but I read that you have also performed live … well I can imagine that was good with what you are performing here :sunglasses: :clap: :man_bowing:

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Those were incredible! You think you need to work on rhythm? seriously? it sounded great to me. Also,You Killed Her is a terrific composition - you should be proud.

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Oh wow, a lot of kind words, I really wasn’t expecting so much. I felt pretty anxious after posting and kinda had to step away for a day. I mean, I think I speed up and slow down too much. If you click around on the seekbar you’ll see that the tempo varies a lot throughout the song. I always ignored using the metronome and I’m worried if it’ll be hard to fix. I struggle so much doing double-tracking while recording. It’s like I either have an anxious, higher-tempo start that mellows out and slows down, or a the other way around. As if my strumming is tied to my heart rate :melting_face:

Well I have an SM58 for the vocal and this weird mic my dad gave me which reads “Tran continental studios making the hit.” for guitar. It had a 60 cycle hum so I took out the on-off switch and somehow that fixed it. Both are going into Garageband via a Mackie proFxv6 (overkill for what I do, but where I got it the price almost the same as the plain 2 XLR interface.) I cut a tiny bit of both the high and low on the board for the guitar, and just boost the highs a smidge for the vocal.

In the DAW I just put EQ to cut a few problem areas on guitar. I use Analog Obsession’s “LOADES” for de-essing and “LA2A” (1176 modeled I guess but doesn’t mean a lot to me) for compressing the vocal, and Apple’s “AUDynamicsProcessor” to compress the guitar. Then I just run all that though the LA2A on the master track thing, and boost the gain to where it’s averaging around 18 “LUFs” and not really peaking past 14. A friend warned me about the Loudness Wars so I’m trying not to over-compress and over-boost things.

It’s really seeing the braveness of others playing here as well as Insta/YouTube that encouraged me to do as well. I need to do my due diligence and be more vocal and supportive to share the positive energy.


Great to see another ES fan. His work has been the most inspirational element in my musical journey by far. Trying to sing and play fingerstyle for me is like hammering the square peg into a round hole for quite some time til I kinda get a feel for how it all syncs together.

P.S. I don’t know if there’s a way to reply to each person individually in one post, I don’t want to spam/bump up too much, so I I’ll also just say thanks to Roger and Twistor58 here as well for the kind words, it means the world and helps me feel better about working up the courage to post AVOYP

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Thanks for the gear and recording details, Ben.

The second mic also looks like a dynamic vocal mic to my (rather uneducated) eye.

Sounds like you are doing well in the DAW. When it comes to mixing much is highly subjective. I would have liked the vocal a little louder on the ES cover but perhaps not your taste. Boosting the vocal either by a little more gain on the AI or raising the level of the track in the DAW.

18 LUFS sounds pretty conservative. I expect that you could raise your levels a few dB on the track faders, either one or both, without getting into trouble, either clipping (over 0dB) or breaching the YT norm.

I set my DAW up such that the fader on the master is always kept at 0dB adjustment. I do as you do with some fx on the master. I’m not sure what the LA2A features are, if it maybe includes a limiter (some do). My last plugin is always a limiter setup at around -3dB with TruePeak enabled (I think that ensures that the software models what happens between samples). That ensures zero clipping and you can adjust the setting to raise the volume controlling how much limiting is taking place. I usually also have a compressor in front of the limiter, keeping it gentle on the master ie a low ratio and gain reduction around 3-4dB. That seems to help the overall sound.

I suggest you try that and experiment with your LUFS target to get a little closer to the YT norm without squashing the life out of the recording.

When composing a reply you can include as many quotes from preceding replies as you would like. Just keeping scrolling back up the Topic, highlighting text and quoting. I also always @mention the person I am quoting so they know I have replied specifically to them.

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Hello Ben, what a wonderful AVOYP debut :star_struck:.
Both songs are so well played and sung. You should be very proud of you :+1::clap::smiley:.

It was the same with me until recently. This steady tick-tick-tick-sound was nerve wracking. But as I noticed some problems with keeping a steady speed (yes, the strumming is bound to the heart beat :grinning:), I finally gave it a try, and it really worked. It’s a very efficient ‘training tool’ :wink:.

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Screenshot of setting up this first quote - I highlighted the text I wanted then clicked the grey quote box (you can also just press q on a keyboard).

Screenshot of a second quote.

Ben, that was really excellent, terrific playing and singing.
I must confess to not having delved into Elliott Smith apart from viewing Justin’s lessons - I think I would like his music.
I get a Nick drake sort of vibe from the cover and your original.
Is your timing and tempo off-kilter?
Well, yes, but unaccompanied as you are you can get away with it. Unless you want to play with others or double track record. Then you need to be on it. The most noticeable parts and where you may wish to polish things are the transition phases in your original, smoothing them out somewhat.


Very nicely played on both songs Ben and I particularly loved the original. Both songs were picked beautifully and your vocals were really suited to both songs.

Oh using mentions is a good idea. I’ll see about taking more advantage of the headroom. Yeah, cross comparing the videos Satellite definitely could have had louder vocals, I agree. And if I could pick your brain a bit, I feel that my recordings usually have really abrasive highs on the guitar. Good place to hear is on the transitionary bit in the original song, I guess it’d be called the bridge. Any suggestions for how to smooth it out/darken it up a bit? Maybe it’s the mic…

Thank you for the kind words. Yeah using the metronome feels like a drag at times but I thing I need to change the mindset from “chore” to “training” or something more positive.

Oh that’s really super cool, I didn’t notice that you get a tooltip if you highlight text. Let me try it out:

I love Nick Drake, he’s one of my favorites. A lot of my songs have imagery of nature. While I’ve always loved nature, I can’t say his influence isn’t creeping in. I think the vocal style may also be sorta close.

Definitely, I notice this myself. It’s usually on the transitions. I think something about moving to a different section shakes me up, either in a good way or a nervous way. Practice, practice I guess. It really feels like driving a stick shift. The song shifts gears and, well, if you don’t have a good handle on the clutch, you’re gonna get some herky-jerky.

Glad to hear the vocals suit the songs, thanks so much for saying that. Singing is my least confident point, so they tend to be real quiet and probably off-key since I’m tense. Trying to sing more with my chest lately. Also wanting to sing more melodically. I feel like I either sing the root or the 5th of whatever chord I’m playing which isn’t too terribly interesting :person_shrugging:


Starting to get beyond my level now, Ben. I’d suggest working with EQ, a combination of boosts and cuts. But finding the critical frequencies is challenging (for me), but with some experimentation you should be able to achieve a tone more pleasing to your ear.

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Hi Ben, I nearly missed these (trying to reduce online time) but glad I didn’t :smiley:
I remember you mentioning you had some originals and glad to see you started sharing.
Good on you!
I’ve only ever heard amazing things about ES but have obviously not exposed myself to his music properly, as doesn’t grab me yet. Your guitar technique is a pleasure to watch. Cool :sunglasses:
I’m way behind you on the curve of playing/performance/production, so can only offer comments as as a common listener.
You have a lot more variation in your guitar playing (picking/stumming/tempo) than in your singing. Your voice is really pleasant on the ear without a duff note, but of a similar volume and expression throughout. Many singers do this as part of their style and that’s great if intentional, a kind of indie-folky vibe :sunglasses: I’d be curious what it would sound like if you spat out “You killed her, you f#@~n’ monster!” with a bit of venom or something similar :thinking: :rofl:
Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to ‘perform’ (if that’s what you want).
I had a listen to your other two as well, really liked Dazed & Confused.
Pop them over in a single post in the originals section :smiley:
Oh yeah, if you go to the trouble of writing lyrics, share them. Someone is always interested :smiley:

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Wonderfully done! I’ve never listened to Elliott Smith, but your performance sounds incredibly professional to me. Yes, the tempos change from section to section, but if I hadn’t read your post, I honestly wouldn’t have realized that this wasn’t intentional.

If you want to steady things more tempo-wise, there isn’t much to do about this other than to practice more with a metronome. I am probably not the best person to give advice on this, as I don’t play with a metronome as often as I should myself. But I was an aspiring drummer at one point, so I’ll take my best stab anyway. My apologies if I cover something you already know! Just doing my best to sum up the topic as best I can.

Your experience that you play faster when excited is a very common one and is a big reason most musicians need metronome practice. If you find it too difficult to keep up with the metronome in some sections, definitely slow it down to a tempo where you can comfortably and confidently keep up with it, even if this means a painfully slow speed! You should never try to play something faster than you can really handle, and this is the main reason to play with a metronome rather than the recording. If you have one of those apps where you can vary the recording’s tempo, or if you can already comfortably play at the recording’s speed, then go ahead and do that if you find that more fun!

It’s okay for it to feel painfully slow. That’s just what happens when you’re not used to using a metronome. It may also be very frustrating to find cases where you struggle to play something slower than you are used to or are able to, but that, too, is a natural reaction, and a sign that this is a passage you need more work on. True mastery of a part means being able to play that part at a variety of speeds. Learning the places where you tend to rush and learning how to hold back will take practice, but once you’ve done that a few times, it should become easier. It may help to have the metronome go every eighth note instead of every quarter, or perhaps some other subdivision.

One great tip I learned from a Benny Greb video was to let your body move to the beat while you listen and while you play to help you keep time, whether it be bobbing your head, tapping your foot, swaying your whole body, whatever comes most natural for you without interfering with your playing/singing. I suggest doing this both with and without the metronome.

The transitions from section to section are probably going to be the hardest, and so you’ll want to concentrate your practice on those (i.e., start right before the transition and end right after, then repeat just that section until you can do it smoothly, then make sure you can still do the transition smoothly if you start a few more measures before that).

Personally, I think performances/recordings should always be without the metronome, and that the metronome is just a practice tool to help you get a better sense of steady time, but there are some professional performers who swear by a click when performing, so decide for yourself which performances you are happiest with.

Anyway, I hope this didn’t come across as a lecture or condescending. I think your performances were fantastic and probably much better than anything I’ve done. This is just a topic I’ve spent a lot of time researching.

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Thanks for the kind words brianlarsen! Thanks for listening in to another song as well. I have 15 or so originals but I’m don’t want to post too much or it’ll feel weirdly self-promotey since I’m busy lately and not super active otherwise. I’ll be uploading them to YT passively but may only post about one here once in a blue moon.

I totally agree and it annoys me sometimes, as I said I always seem to sing the root or 5th of whatever chord I’m playing. Generally anything beyond that is just because I had a vocal quiver at one point that sounded neat. As Justin said, “If it sounds cool, it is cool!”

Thanks for kind words and suggestions, perfectlyGoodInk! This bit right here really is genius. It’s interesting because I recommend that approach to people for chord changes, but really you could scale it up a level to song section changes. It’s like abstracting the idea for 1 minute chord changes routine which Justin shows.

Not at all. I really appreciate your kindness in sharing experience and information. :relaxed:

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I really enjoyed your two songs Ben. The Elliot Smith one was great, super singing and playing. Your original was excellent. Again really well played an sung.

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Aw thanks so much! I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in my singing so it’s a booster to hear that :slight_smile:

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Wow, you’re really good. Your original song was great, so was the cover. Nice share.

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