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Scroll I : Basics

Producing a traditional Dub Reggae track in 6 steps

This page will give you a basic idea of what producing Dub is about. Since Dub is an artform which evolved from the recording techniques available in Jamaica back in the seventies the equipment used in this example is from that period too.
Of course nowadays you can use modern equipment which offers far more possibilities especially when it comes to editing and controlling details of the production (hard disc recording, mixing automation, ..). It is felt by some producers however that real dub must be mixed by hand in real time as a "direct-to-tape mixing performance".
After getting an overview on this page you can find more information about individual aspects of the recording process in the specialised scrolls.

  1. Get the following equipment:
    • multitrack tape machine
    • mixing console
    • amplifier and speakers to monitor your music
    • a second recording device to capture your final mix
    • effect units: delay, reverb
    • cables to connect everything
    • instruments & players: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, horns, percussion, vocals
  2. Record a song or at least a basic arrangement.
    • Make sure each instrument or instrument group is recorded on an individual track of your tape.
  3. Start by making a basic mix: Set the levels and equalizing for each track on the mixing desk so that all elements are well balanced. (This alone is an art in itself, but this site is about Dub not about general recording techniques so we won't go into details here.)
  4. Run the song and switch on and off individual tracks during the song.
    typical settings are:
    • all tracks switched on
    • just drums & bass
    • all tracks except drums & bass
    • Voices are usually only thrown into the mix occasionally.
  5. Use the different effects on the individual tracks.
    typical techniques are:
    • Connect the effects to the auxiliary sends of your mixing desk. Thus you can apply an effect to a single track only.
    • Set delay times to match the song speed (use whole beat, half beat, tripplet timing.. very typical: one and a half beat)
    • reverb or echo on the snare drum; not everytime but once in a while
    • Change the delay time during the song - this leads to echoes bouncing up and down in pitch (only on analog delay units).
    • echo on the offbeat guitar: Open the aux send slowly over 2 bars letting the echoes accumulate until they start to overcrowd the sound then switch off the offbeat track. The delays will go on for a while and fade out.
    • Make sure the sound stays crisp: keep bass and drums dominant; Don't open all aux sends at once.
  6. Repeat the whole mix many times and listen to the recorded dubs afterwards. Then select the best version.

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