Studio Night

Tracking the Hammond (part 1)

I wanted to record some of the delicious sounds of my modified Hammond B-2 organ a few weeks ago.  Given the fact that the studio is in the basement but the organ is not, I had to come up with some way to control Pro Tools remotely, as well as a way to hear playback of the song while recording.  And I needed to figure out how to mic up the Leslie speaker.

Controlling Pro Tools was the easy part: I have a Frontier Tranzport, which is an RF remote control that I can use for all kinds of PT functionality.  It has been ultra-handy for tracking vocals as I stand at the mic, and it works upstairs as well, so that part of my setup was handled.

Monitoring playback and the track being recorded was a little bit trickier.  I had intended to use my “in-ear” monitors, which are earbuds connected to a wireless receiver.  I planned to plug the headphone output of my PT interface into the wireless transmitter for the in-ears and monitor playback.

Unfortunately the wireless receiver and earbuds were in my gig case.  My gig case was in someone’s truck.  Several hours from my house.  Crap.

I was not to be stopped, however.  I have a long cable that has a 1/4-inch stereo connector on one end and two mono 1/4-inch connectors on the other.  It came with my Parker Fly guitar, which has magnetic pickups and a piezo pickup in the bridge.  The cable was designed to allow you to have one output for the magnetic pickups and a separate output for the piezo.

In this case I used it like a big stereo splitter.  I plugged the stereo part into the output of my PT interface, then routed the wires upstairs (through a tiny space beside a heating duct – got to love old houses).  I brought the wireless transmitter rack upstairs and plugged the two mono ends of the cable into the left and right inputs on the transmitter.

But wait – I don’t have the earbuds or the receiver, so why would I do that?  Turns out the transmitter has a headphone output on the front panel.  Aha!  I plugged in a pair of headphones and I was ready to hear playback.

Setting up a microphone for the Leslie proved to be the biggest challenge.  Well, not the setting up of the microphone, necessarily, but finding a good mic position and setting levels.  Since I was tracking by myself it was a little bit of a headache.  I’ll get into the details in my next post.