Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Recording Silent Night


I’m trying to record Silent Night with a few different instruments. I’m doing this in 3/4 time.

My plan is to do the bass note followed by the chords on the guitar. (Bass - strum - strum, Bass - strum - strum, if you will). I also want to record another guitar part arpeggiating the chords, and the banjo arpeggiating chords as well.

My question is, will these three things clash?

Doing it with Ableton, so this is a very steep learning curve. I could use Audacity, but I really want to go deeply into learning how to record.

Thank You,


If I were doing it, I’d start with a click track. That helps me immeasurably until I get enough pieces going to hear the feel.

As far as the dueling arpeggios, it could get a bit busy, but you don’t know until you try. Doubling parts can be nice. Try it out and see if you like it (it is your recording). If seems too busy, my thought would be to have something like the GTR doing full time arpeggios and the banjos sprinkling arpeggio highlights and phrases above it.

One last thought: Don’t be bashful about doing something like starting really stripped down and developing the instrument mix as the song progresses.

Looking forward to hearing it!

Fantastic suggestion Mike. I will definitely use that.


If the banjo arpeggios don’t work, might this be a good application of the teardrop lesson?

I don’t know anything about Ableton, but if it’s like GarageBand or most other recording software packages, there are numerous benefits to clearly defining the specs of the recording project when creating it. For example, setting the BPM, time signature, and key goes a long way when manipulating things after recording in GarageBand.

Just some thoughts.

Thank you Mark…What is the teardrop lesson? Did I miss something?


It’s 4/4 time, but you could easily alter it to fit 3/4.

Just listened. It sounds very happy. I’m going for very reverent, so it will be a challenge.

Also, Ben mentioned how it swings. If I hear Silent Night correctly, it kind of swings the first line of the verse, and with the rest of the song being more straight time, which may make for even more of a challenge.

Got one track down that I’m kind of happy with. Hopes it’s done before the 25th. :crossed_fingers:

So far, I’ve recorded a Organ track and a Bass track using a Yamaha MM6 synthesizer. The organ is ridiculously loud. I had to turn down the bass or it clipped like crazy. My SM 58 has very little power, as indicated by the height of the waves below.

I know the order I’m recording these is messed up. Not a lot of experience here.

Is a pre amp needed for the mic to come up to necessary levels? Any suggestions are appreciated.

Also, I’m recording into my computer via a Focusrite midi interface.

If you’re running your mic directly into your PC, check all of your audio settings. In the Recording section of the Windows Audio interface, you’ll see a Levels slider for the input channel. You may also see a Boost option, depending on your hardware and drivers.

If that doesn’t help, a preamp may be in order.

Thanks Mark…was not familiar with those windows settings. I’ll let you know.

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Yeah, I’m actually running the mic through a Focusrite audio interface, then into the PC. I did check into those windows settings. Nice to know they’re there if I need them.

Figured out for the time being that I just need to lower the input levels on the instruments, (so hopefully I can get around the need for a preamp or CloudLifter at this time). I think as long as all the wavelengths for all tracks are at a similar height, I can fine tune them later. (Your thoughts on this would be appreciated).

Got horrible latency with the mic now. Once I get that figured out, I figure I’ll be able to start progressing more quickly.

Thank you,


That 's probably your best bet for now. Adding volume is way easier than dealing with clipping or mixing hugely different volume tracks.

That could be due to the conversion the interface is doing to produce a digital signal. I’m not familiar with your particular interface. On the bright side, if that’s really the problem, the delay should be constant across the new track, meaning that you can just shift the entire track over a fraction of a second and sync it up with the previously recorded tracks.

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That’s good to know. I’ll consider that after I’m done recording all the tracks.

Ableton also offers some optimization settings to deal with the latency. Lots to learn.

Sorry in advance if I say anything that you don’t need. I am just kind of mentally running through everything.

On the low mic level: 1) Did you turn up the gain on the focusrite? An SM57 will take almost wide open gain on mine. 2) Is the pad button off? That is for hot signals (so you want it off for the mic). 3) Also check the instrument button. I don’t remember which way it should be, but you could try it both ways. 4) Move the mic closer to the instrument

On the hot line level inputs: 1) Turn the pad button on. 2) Instrument button off. 3) Adjust the gain

On mixing the levels… you don’t have to adjust the input signal to balance. You can adjust the levels during playback. So with recording each part, set the gains to get a decent signal without clipping. Then use the software to balance the levels on playback. If desired, you can “automate” the volume so that it changes levels for different parts during playback.

Looking forward to hearing it!

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On latency… I think I’d get that squared away so I wouldn’t have to fuss with it. It’s been a long time since I have used Ableton, but I think there is a pretty easy process to eliminate it. Should be in the manual. Like Mark, worst case, if all else fails, shift everything as needed.

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Yes turned up the gain, and it can get pretty high before it clips.

By pad button, do you mean the “48v” button? That’s off now, but not sure I had it on earlier.

I’ve got it turned to instrument, but I’ll switch to line and see if that helps.

Will not get a chance to look again until night. Off to see “The Grinch”! :grinning:

the 48v button should be your phantom power on off switch

Which has no use when using an SM58, yes?


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