Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Old methods versus the new

I have a nephew who when he was very young many years ago he would take and slow down the speed on the turntable to get it right and today he is a very accomplished musician . Just mentioned that because today all we have to do is make a few clicks and it is slowed down to where you can hear and see what it is you have to do. I guess I am about as well versed in tab as the next guy but back then we did not have that available to us either through ignorance or it just was not there. I do remember finally getting some tab by the Ventures and learning “Walk don’t run” I wore that one out . We are lucky to have all this tech savvy stuff at our disposal . The old wire recorders where we you could set it for reverb and play with reverb and today all you do is adjust a dial . I guess what I am saying we truly live in a very informative time and music is easily learned because of it . the more players the better I always say . Play till your fingers hurt and then some, enjoy the music . If any one has a story to tell of yesteryear technology then feel free to share with all of us.

We were talking in an old post about how much recording has changed. In the 80’s we recorded our demos of a full band on a 4 track cassette. When you got to the real studio it was the same basic technology… just bigger tape with more tracks and more toys. Pro studios would have multiples of 24 tracks, which was the base capability of the tape decks. Volume automation was expensive truly mechanical automation (with servos or possibly well trained gnomes moving the faders). Now for anywhere from $60 to a few thousand for a DAW, one can have higher fidelity, virtually unlimited tracks, unlimited effects, the audio does not degrade with multiple recordings, one can graphically copy and paste clips, and one can automate just about anything you can imagine. It’s a whole different world. Sometimes when recording and I start complaining about the capabilities of a given plug in, I slap myself around a bit when I remember how things used to be.

With all that said, I really enjoyed recording with the 4 track. When you got a good sounding track, you felt like you had accomplished something.

J.D. Crowe learned to play the banjo by having his sister pick up the record needle and move it back a little bit–over and over and over while he tried to get the lick.

This method of learning to play would discourage most people from making any progress, but if you really taught yourself to play like this you’d be really, really good.

I’ve heard of folks putting a stack of quarters on top of the record to slow it down some.

We used to have a couple pennies taped to the needle to help keep it from skipping. I hadn’t thought of that for years until I saw Shawn’s quote.

Old tech eh?

I remember old Akai and Tandberg reel to reel tape decks and that a few of the better models would have Sound On Sound capability. You could actually hear one half of a stereo track and record that single mono track and a new track on top of it. Of course you had to get the recording levels exact the first time cause there was no way to change that level at a later time.

Now, as far as listening to something and learning it, the big advance in that area was a nice Teac cassette deck that I owned where you could set an A (start) point and a B (end) point. Then the deck would automatically rewind and repeat that section till the tape wore out if you liked. Some folks would play their 33 1/3 records at 16 speed and learn riffs and licks that way, but at that time, I was strictly a rhythm guy.

I still am a rhythm guy at heart fighting to get his hands to be lead player hands. :blush: