Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

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jester
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Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by jester » August 6th, 2009, 6:38 am

I'm very comfortable with computers, but completely inexperienced with any aspect of recording technology or practice. I'm interested in doing some extremely basic recording on a Mac--myself on acoustic guitar, myself singing, recorded separately and synced, maybe adjusting tempos if I want to play a hard lick slower and then match it to a faster song, that sort of thing. I don't think that I'd be particularly interested in applying drum loops, or using effects, or anything like that.*

I've looked briefly at things like GarageBand and Logic Studio, and I really can't make heads or tails out of them, even GB, which is supposed to be easy to use.

Can someone recommend a tutorial that will get into the basics of using these programs for this purpose? I've seen a few of them but they didn't really help me out. Also, if I have access to Logic Studio, is that something I should use, or will it be overkill/too complicated?

*(I am interested in generating backing tracks, but I get the impression that this is rather difficult--that is, if I wanted to create a blues backing track in a specific chord progression. But that's a separate question.)

faultythinking
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by faultythinking » August 6th, 2009, 8:54 am

There's a really basic one on the Apple website I've just found - here
Although that seems to skip the bit about needing some kind of actual recording device (e.g. microphone!) that will connect to your Mac (e.g. external sound card?)
Does that help?

I did mess around with recording my acoustic just with my MacBook's built-in microphone. I got sound into the Mac, but it wasn't nice :lol:
FT
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Probably just twisting...

Scrybe
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by Scrybe » August 6th, 2009, 10:41 am

I don't think Logic would be too complicated for you, but I doubt you would use all of it's features, so I wouldn't buy it if you've never used a computer to record music on before. GarageBand will work fine, and there are a number of free programmes you can use. I've used Audacity on a Mac, and I believe Reaper (which I've not tried) is also compatible with Macs (and free).

I'd be tempted to suggest trying a free software programme before buying GarageBand, Logic, or any other programme. The downside to this is that there are less "tutorials" available for lesser known programmes. GarageBand benefits from the Support Discussions forums on Apple.com, where you'll find many members who will happily nswer questions if you have any trouble. But many GNers use Audacity, so they could help you get started with that, too.

Mostly, I'd say don't worry - there's a learning curve to any piece of software, but there's also a learning curve to the whole process of recording in general, and if you've never recorded before you'll make valuable progress on this latter learning curve regardless of which software you buy or use.

Hope this helps.
Ra Er Ga.

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boxboy
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by boxboy » August 6th, 2009, 11:15 am

Hi, Jester,

Do you own Garageband? It should be on your machine if you've bought a new Mac in the last several years.
If so, it is dead simple to use, so start there. The link faultythinking provided is a great introduction. As he mentioned, you'll need some way of getting a fairly hi fi signal of your singing or playing into your machine. A decent USB mic or an inexpensive audio interface (plus mic) would be all you need.

If you don't own Garageband, start with Audacity. It's free and easy to use.

I'd toss Logic Studio right out of the equation. It's 500$ and miles more complex than your stated needs.

:)
Don

jester
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by jester » August 6th, 2009, 6:41 pm

I do have GarageBand, and a friend of mine has a copy of Logic that he got at a huge student discount, so I can play around with it on his computer. I've also looked at Audacity. For now I'm happy to use the built-in mic on the computer--I know it'll sound horrible but I'm just trying to get a sense of how to work with the software, not to actually produce good-quality recordings.

I guess my definition of "dead simple to use" is different, because even looking at those videos, and casually playing around with GB, it's not clear to me how I would actually do the things I want to do.

Clearly I need to get together with someone who knows how to use this, for a few hours, and just ask a whole bunch of questions until I'm at the point where I can learn more on my own.

boxboy
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by boxboy » August 7th, 2009, 6:58 am

Maybe concentrate of some basic recording to start.
If you follow the steps in the video faulty provided you're halfway there.
After you record your guitar, go under Track and select New Track. In the pop up window select Real Instrument Track.
This will create a second track for recording your vocals.
Make sure the Mic is assigned as the input source under Track Info as in the video demo.
Rewind to the start, hit Record and sing over your guitar playing.
Done. Your guitar's recorded on one track and your vocals on the second.
:)
Don

Scrybe
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by Scrybe » August 7th, 2009, 5:20 pm

I'll add this caveat...

Don't sit down with a composition you're desperate to record perfectly and use that to learn how to use GarageBand. When you run into any difficulties, you'll be doubly frustrated at not knowing how to fix it, and you'll be extra stressed when trying to play the parts.

I'd choose a cover song you already know well. Or just pick a simple chord progression and build something around that. Use it to learn how to use GarageBand. Follow boxboy's advice using a cover song you'll be more relaxed, as you already know all the parts and it won't have as much "personal significance" riding on it. If it helps, make notes of what you've done as you do it, so the next time you come to record, you have a guide in front of you.

Take your time and don't expect perfection straight away. Apologies if this is stating the obvious, but guys spend decades doing nothing but the recording of music, and even they don't know everything. They've had moments of feeling totally overwhelmed, just like you feel right now. It can be good to remember this when the learning curve seems huge. Just like learning guitar, it is worth recognising your achievements whenever you've learn something new. Heck, you've even progressed a little further down the recording road by starting this thread. Good work!

Good luck, and have fun!
Ra Er Ga.

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http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

Chris C
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by Chris C » August 7th, 2009, 7:18 pm

Hi Jester,

Garage Band is as good a mixture of simplicity and power as you will find. Any software you use will require a bit of study, but you can't go far wrong starting out on GB. I would leave Logic Studio until you have learned the basics with Garage Band.

The video tutorial linked to is a very good start, but you'll need to change a couple of steps for your first attempt, as you want to use the built in mic.

First, open the System Preferences panel on the Mac (before you even start GB). Open the section for sound and make sure the inbuilt mic is selected for input. Then do a quick sound check (sing and strum) and adjust the input volume slider if you need to. Depending on what you have connected (and what else you use) you may also need to check that the correct input and outputs have been selected and that it hasn't defaulted or swapped to something else (e.g. Line In) each subsequent time, before you open GB.

By default, GB should use the System Preferences settings, so you can now open GB and set up a new project with an audio (real instrument) track. When you strum or sing, the green line track indicator should now start moving (top left of screen where the track starts - each track has its own indicator). You're now pretty much good to go. Click on the red button and go for it! If no signal shows up then you may need to re-check your input settings (as in previous paragraph). If you change them then you may need to close the project and re-open it to pick up the change.

If the effects panel mentioned in the tutorial isn't showing up, then click on the letter i (bottom right corner) and the panel will pop up. You may also need to check that the input settings there are also right (as shown in that video).

You could start by doing some simple strumming and trying to keep time with the bar lines and click. Then try singing and recording at the same time. Then have a go at recording the guitar first and your voice later, on another track (this will need practice). Later you can buy a proper audio interface which will allow you to record two tracks simultaneously through two mics, or a mic and a guitar lead, or whatever.... Onwards and upwards from there...

Good luck. The first day or two can be slightly confusing, but it's not too hard really. :)

Cheers.

Chris

jester
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by jester » August 9th, 2009, 8:58 am

Thanks, everyone. I've started to play around a bit, and to use the manual, and I am getting a better sense of how to use it. Unfortunately I realized that I can't even play around with my own playing--my Mac Mini doesn't have a built-in mic of any sort, so I will have to pick up at least an inexpensive mike, if not a USB interface. But I think I'll be able to get the hang of it eventually.

Will stick with GB for now, and hold off on Logic.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Scrybe
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Re: Advice for beginner on GarageBand or similar?

Post by Scrybe » August 9th, 2009, 4:06 pm

You can get a USB mic (which will plug straight into your computer) but I would go with a USB or Firewire interface and a Shure SM57 mic. The Shure mic is inexpensive (around £50-60) and will be a key part of your rig over many years (these mics are used by everyone from home enthusiasts to professionals in Abbey Road for micing instruments; for vocals I'd recommend the SM58 which is a standard vocal mic for live gigs and around the same price as the SM57, though for now working with just the SM57 would do fine). A USB mic might seem a better investment in the short term, but if you replace it 6 months from now for something better, then it turns out to be a waste of cash. Also, a Shure SM57 will hold it's resale value better than a cheap USB mic.

All that being said, were I to buy a USB mic, I'd take a good look at the Blue Snowball, because Blue mics are generally very good quality for the price. But I have no experience with that particular mic, so this isn't an enodrsement or recommendation of it.

For an interface, Firewire connections can result in much better audio quality, but there are well documented problems with audio firewire gear not being compatible with most firewire chipsets (the best chipset would a Texas Instruments chipset). So, unless you fancy adding an expansion card to your computer which has a TInsts firewire port on it (and this will set you back around another £50, and I'm not even sure if Mac Minis allow you to add expansion cards....I'm on a G5 and haven't owned a Mini), I'd either go with a USB interface or make sure you can return the Firewire interface to the store you buy it from if you have trouble connecting it with your computer. I can't recommend any particular interface without knowing a few things like ideal price range, and how many instruments you wish to record at once, and what type of instruments you want to record (vocals, guitar, midi keyboard, etc.).

Hope this helps.
Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe

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