Recording videos with a guitar Salon International

The Bassett Bros., the name of Ian and I’s classical guitar duo, recently recorded five videos for Guitar Salon International (GSI). While there are only three videos out as of this posting, I have to say I’m quite pleased with the results!

I’ve always been a fan of the GSI videos. The cameras shots are beautiful, the sound is crisp, and the overall production looks so professional. Not to mention - the talent pool they get to play in their videos is incredible! Everyone from Pepe Romero, to Marc Teicholz, to Scott Tennant, William Kanengiser, Andrew York…the list goes on! I’m proud to say now “The Bassett Bros.” can occupy at least one list with such Guitar giants!

Guitar Salon International is a retailer of fine classical guitars. To give you an idea, most of the guitars Ian and I played were between $7K-10k. That ain’t cheap! Their main business is finding these instruments good homes. So they started making videos many years ago to demonstrate the quality of their instruments. Over time, the YouTube channel has grown considerably and is one of the great Classical Guitar performance channels available on the web!

For all you Music Joynt friends, the main reason I wanted to make this post was to let you know how the “sausage was made” to produce such awesome videos.

Guitar Extravaganza

Since we were making 5 videos, the Guitar Salon folks laid out 5 matched pairs of guitars. The videos each use a different pair of guitars made by the same luthier. All of the instruments had different qualities of sound, which I think really come across in the recordings. The good? Getting to play on many different fine instruments! The Bad? Only really having time to play each instrument for a few minutes before recording. As many of you instrumentalists know, all guitars have different characters and it takes a bit to get used to the dimensions of each one. Alas - a privileged problem to have!

Performance Setting

The videos make the performance space seem like a cathedral of guitars. Well, the ceiling is quite high but the actual space is not that big. What makes it look so good? The beautiful wall frame cases, the paint, and the LIGHTING. Check out this picture from the set:

We had to wait until the sun went down at 8:00pm since the natural lighting of the windows messes with the setup they like to use.

Cameras

There were 4 cameras set up. 3 were stationary, and one was operated by Felix, the engineer/producer of the videos. The manned camera allowed for zooms and pans. A DSLR was used to give that high quality focused look in front, with a slight blur in the back.

Audio recording

I asked Felix about his preferred DAW, and told me that Logic Pro was what he used. The microphones were plugged into a Scarlett interface that went directly into his iMac (which he said was pretty old), and into Logic. After receiving our editing notes (see below) he added some compression, EQ, and a little reverb to round out the sound of the guitars.

Performance

For each song, we did about 3 full takes. The idea was to perform each piece even if there were mistakes, then we could listen to each one and create an edit map of which part of each take to use for the final video. Like I said before, it was not easy to play on 5 different guitars! Usually you get to warm up to an instrument, and adjust your technique according to the guitars physical differences. By the time I felt warmed up on one guitar, it was on to the next one!

Editing after the shoot

Felix sent us the raw audio from all the sessions then asked us to create edit maps of each song. Here’s an example of what I sent back for The Flatt Pavin:

THE FLATT PAVIN, JOHN JOHNSON, arr. FREDERICK NOAD

  • Track 02A (00:00-00:32)
  • Track 01A (03:10-03:19)
  • Track 02A (00:42-01:40)
  • Track 01A (04:18-04:28)
  • Track 02A (01:50-02:06)

Here’s the “juicy” part. As you can see, we were happy with Take 1 and Take 2 so we bounced between them for the audio edit. Felix then matches the audio of each track to the corresponding video, then changes the camera angle every time there is an edit point to make sure everything looks seamless! Pretty cool, huh? You’ll notice there are a lot more camera angle switches than just these edit points, but watch the Flatt Pavin video can see a camera switch at 32 seconds after we start playing.

Other business considerations

GSI essentially asked us to volunteer to shoot these videos. Think of them as advertisements for each of the guitars, while also advertising The Bassett Bros. by exposing us to their large YouTube subscriber base. There are three videos out as of this post, so head over to GSI’s YouTube page to subscribe and see more!

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