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Upsetters/Black Ark sound questions

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:16 pm
by Klaus5
What gives the guitar solos (well, the freestyle melody thats played on guitar in the background of alot of upsetters tunes) that very distinctive sound? The almost wahwah sound which doesnt vary much and distorts on the higher and louder notes. I suspect phasing is a part of it, but i dont understand how if it is.

Similar thing with the high hats, what makes them sound so distinctive and tinny? Very high pitched and clinky with very little reverb (the natural "reverb", if thats the right word, when you hit a high hat. its closed and goes "TIK" rather than "TISCH", but sounds quite unlike any other high hats ive heard) and quite a small frequency range i think.

The sounds i am on about are demonstrated in this clip from Roots Rock Reggae (about 1 minute in) though thats not EXACTLY the high hat sound im on about (but pretty close, and i cant recall a better example off the top of my head)..

I hope you understand what i mean!
Any ideas? Thank you.
(please keep in mind that i am a novice, so keep it simple-ish!)

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:55 pm
by unityunityunity
I've seen this clip before, still never saw the whole movie yet.
anyway, I'll throw my 2 cents in about your questions.

For the guitar.. at first when they start and when hes soloing it sounds very dry without any effects on it. Its got that natural, almost twangy tone to it. I also think its one of those plastic guitars. Later, when they are playing the song again it for sure has a phase on it and some reverb.
Also, the other guitarist playing the skanks...sound just as crisp and the piano, dry without effects.

As for the drums...aside from what kind of drums they are and how they are tuned, its all about mic placement. I couldn't really tell where they were in the room, but if you wanna get that clinky, metallic and crisp sound outta the hi hats you wanna put the hi hat mic closer to the bell of the top hi hat, they used this method on old soul and r&b records. Also for hi really gotta fool around with the exact mic placement and EQing. Judging by the room the drummers in there might be some Very light reverb going on there...if not, Scratch it probably throwing that into the chain. I always love the sound of the drums on anything Lee Perry produces...well, all the instruments really.

Well now, Just like the narrator says... " its just these kind of rough edges that give reggae this kind of raw song that can never be copied abroad."

Also its hard to replicate the sound because of the exact instruments they use, the amps, the mics, and of course who is at the desk. :D

So I guess in short, if you cant record your hi hats dry and the way they did, maybe just boost up the higher frequency and cut out the lower ones.
For the Guitar, keep it crisp and raw on the skanks, Phased out and spacey on the solos.

and I know its already been said somewhere on this board but ALWAYS just mess around with the sound and try different things cause thats what DUB is about. :o and make ya own sound....but the black ark sound is dope. So I too wanna borrow some ideas. haha. :grin:

hope i helped a tiny bit.

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:50 am
by Klaus5
Yes that was very helpful thank you. Sorry ive been late replying.

Using samples where the mic is placed close to the hi hat (im using reason drum sampels) gets me much closer to the sound im after.