E06 - Guitar and Bass Editing


When it comes to editing, I like things to sound real but the best possible version of real! This week focuses on how I edit guitars and basses to achieve a super tight sound without it sounding lifeless.


Step 1 - Know your Grids

Grids show us visually where the every bar, beat, and subdivision of beats exist inside of our session. Knowing how to see your grids is really important so you can quickly and effectively edit instruments. Learning how to quickly show more, or less of these subdivisions and how to lock your edits to the grid, or slip outside of it is of vital importance if you want to edit quickly, and accurately.


Step 2 - Edit to grid?

Now a criticism of modern music is it can sound lifeless due to the lack of ‘feel’ created by notes that fall outside of the grid. People are often describing something that is too well edited. The imperfections are what make something human. Keeping small errors in parts is something I like to do. Assuming that the performance is good, the way I edit anything melodic and rhythmic, (like guitar, bass, piano) is to get the start of each bar on the grid through the whole song using warp markers. Then I won’t touch anything else in the take unless there is a clear mistake, or if the part requires a huge amount of syncopation. This lets parts feel human where they need to, and have super tight rhythm where it suits. This is something that is done to taste, but I think if a part is well played, then it shouldn’t need much editing at all. However that places the responsibility on you to get the parts recorded well!


Step 3 - Edit first, Comp later

Now that each of the warp edits are in place, I feel it is easier to compile the best parts of each take. This comping process is simply compiling up the parts that you like, into one final take.


For me, when it comes to comping, I like to find my mistake, or part that could have been played better, and replace as little as I can get away with. I will use warp markers to line up the transient of the mistake, and the well played part to the grid. This means that when I slip my edit point to just before the transient of the improved part, the takes will line up perfectly, leading to a cleaner more transparent edit. 


I like to set edits fractionally before transients inside of the DIs to help with the sound of fades. I then apply quick crossfades of no more than 10ms and end up with a seamless take.


At this point I like to duplicate this part to a new playlist before the edit has been consolidated.


Step 4 - Cut Silence

Once this has been done, I go through the part, and take out any silence that may occur, again making sure to have fades before and after each part begins. These fades tend to be really fast at the start of the part (5ms) and longer at the end (30-100ms). This part is really important, as fades done improperly, or at the wrong time can result in glitches and pops that will sound horrible through an amplifier. Now you may be thinking, why don’t you just use a gate? The reason is simple. I am yet to find a gate that is as precise or clean as manual edits. This process may only be necessary in the most syncopated and tight parts, where absolute silence between notes is a necessity.


Again I will now duplicate this to a new playlist just in case I need to go back to it at any stage.


Step 5 - Consolidate the Edits

Now that I am happy with my edited, comped, and cleaned part, I will consolidate it down to one file for the sake of cleanliness, and to commit all of my edits to audio. In addition, certain processes work better when fades have been committed to the audio file such as many elements of the AudioSuite.


Step 6 - Use New Playlists

Finally I feel I should mention how useful playlists can be when it comes to edits. At the end of each of these processes I am duplicating what I have been working on to a new playlist, and then continuing to edit. By keeping multiple copies of your edits as we have done, we can go back and amend the edits should we uncover any issues in the future. If we don’t have any issues, then thats great, but when deadlines are approaching it can be easy to miss something!