Samples and Guitar Pedals

Something I try to do as often as I can is re-record beats that I make through a chain of guitar pedals (sometimes reamped through a guitar amp, sometimes not).  I like the idea of trying to make the samples sound different than just the stock sounds in Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, etc.  Re-recording samples kind of brings them to life.  It gives them some character.  Warmth, color, grit.  It's a lot of work but I think in the end it's worth it.  I believe this process helps push a project to the next level.

One of the songs that I focused a lot of this process was the A New Normal song "Hushed Colors" (from the album Raison D'etre ).  This whole song basically is about the groove and how the samples continue to change throughout the whole song as I add more layers of efx using guitar pedals.

I wrote a very simple beat.  Kick, snare, hi-hat, and a tambourine.  BUT the complexity is in how the drums are affected by the pedals.  First off I used a real sampled snare of mine (a 6.5x14 Black Panther maple) mixed in with a fake snare in Ableton Live (so the mix was half real snare, half fake snare).  The rest of the samples were all digital. 

Next I set up all the analog gear.  Here was the chain: computer - interface - Radial Engineering reamper DI - Ibanez Keeley mod analog delay - Electro Harmonix memory man analog delay - Line 6 Verbzilla reverb - T.C. Electronic Nova Delay (digital) - Vintage reissue Ampeg SVT-VR head - interface - computer.  I did not mic the bass cab because I used the line out on the Ampeg head.

Basically I recorded eight bars of the beat five times total.  Each time I would repeat the eight bars I would turn on another guitar pedal.  I recorded each section by themselves so that there wouldn't be any noise or interference from turning on or off pedals during the tracking (and allow for any tail from the effects to smoothly decay).  Here is a playlist of the different takes in order of how they were recorded: 

You'll notice that I also included the "intro" beat at the very bottom of that playlist.  At the beginning of the song I recorded the beat through the Nova Delay on it's reverse delay setting.  I recorded myself manually changing the delay mix amount from 100% to 0% over the course of 8 bars.   Here is the complete song: