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Recording takes playing to the next level


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Greetings, fellow Gibson Enthusiasts,

As mentioned in my introduction,  like Rip Van Winkle, after his many years of slumber,  circumstances in life have brought me back to a long dormant passion, guitar playing.  Widowhood and a big empty house put me in a state of mind conducive to getting intensely into guitar playing again.  I seemed to reach a plateau in my playing because of one missing element-feedback, or the ability to listen to what I had played. I approach every guitar playing session as a journey of musical discovery. All of the world's wonderful songs are sitting on the fretboard waiting to be discovered. Like a prospector searching for gold nuggets, I'm always looking for new note combinations or progressions, to commit to memory.  I sometimes deliberate play dissonant chords just to remember not to play them again. I suppose way back in my teens, I may have handicapped my playing by being left handed yet playing guitar right handed. I know that approach isn't unique but truthfully, I don't think I could play left handed now. I'm also self taught, but in elementary school I (poorly) played violin but at least I learned to minimally read musical notation and could play great hits like the Merry Widow Waltz and other totally forgettable simple songs.  I put down the violin and didn't pick up any instrument again until my mid teenage years and this time it was a guitar. The often shared story of playing until one's fingers bleed was true, but that's due more to impulsive impatience at that young age than anything else.

Fast forward to December 21st of the past year and had a Eureka moment-after investing in Cakewalk recording software and some of their hardware to connect the out circuit from the Amp to the computer input, I immediately got bogged down in the complexity of the Cakewalk Screen.  Online tutorials were of minimal value.   I had observed some players putting a Microphone in front of their amps at some distance away and felt maybe that was a better approach than a direct line to the (Dell XPS) computer. My Eureka moment came when I typed in the program query, "Sound Recorder". Lo and behold, the most basic and simplest recorder function popped up on the screen. I set the Mic up, plugged the Mic in to a USB port (my Mic is a Pro-formance condensor P755USB) Turned on the Amp and started playing. I could see by the minimal waveform display on the small display window that it was recording. Ten minutes later, I paused the recording, give it a file name John Trk 1 Dec 21  23 and saved it. I was delighted to have it play back the next morning.  I now have 77 tracks recorded since Dec. 21st and being able to listed afterwards has helped more than anything else recently since my return to playing.

I have encountered a few problems, however. First, is when you use a Windows program to record, it will be default make it a WMA (Windows Media Audio) type file. If you send the file to someone and they have a Mac computer, they won't be able to playback the file. I found a WMA to MP3 converter online called VLC.  At first, it seemed to work, but the sound quality was significantly degraded. My question to any savvy recording folks is what would I need to convert WMA files to MP3's ?  (or maybe MP4's but they are mainly for videos, right?)  A friend of mine uploaded a software program called Audacity and I know there's another called Reaper (with a 60 day free trial) but I want to spend less time figuring out how to record and edit and more time playing. Especially on the first 20 tracks or so I recorded, the first couple of minutes intros are not worth keeping-I need to edit those out and save the rest of the file.  Any suggestions or ideas?  I guess I'm more committed than I thought because I've taken out a small ad in my local paper seeking others to jam with.  I made sure and added, "no big egos, please." Prima Donnas  have their place in an Opera, but not in Rock music. (more great musical groups have broken up due to personality differences, than any other reason I can think of) Being able to get along with others is essential when there's a collaborative musical  effort involved.

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Hmmm...maybe I was being too "wordy" so I'll simplify. If you wanted to discuss at home recording techniques with someone more experienced, where would you go? I checked out the guitar groups on Facebook and it's mostly folks wanting to share guitar demos with others. Nothing wrong with that,  but does Reverb or some other site have discussion forums about home recording?  Alright, that's everything in a nutshell... Thanks!

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On 4/2/2024 at 4:44 PM, Pinch said:

You should be able to export any and every recording as an mp3, regardless of which DAW you use.

I'm somewhat naive about terminology. What is a DAW?  I'm just looking for a WMA to MP 3 file converter that doesn't degrade the sound quality or sends a copy to Asia while I'm using it. I would readily pay for such a program. Any suggestions? Thank you kindly for responding, Pinch.

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DAW = Digital Audio  Workstation, i.e., your recording softare. When you export the song from the software into a file that can be played on its own, you should be able to set what format you want the song in. Check if there isn't a menu somewhere there where you can change the file format to "mp3". 

That way you don't have to convert it, plus you won't get the quality loss that the conversion results in.  Hope that helps. 

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Okay, gotcha' now. I suppose my next stupid question is what DAW (for PC's) would you recommend for the technically challenged? I gave up on Cakewalk; looked at Reaper and experienced the same nausea from it's complexity.  I'm regrettably from the PHD school, you know, "push here, Dummy".  I suppose since I can navigate my way through Adobe Photoshop 7 there's still hope that I might find a DAW user friendly enough to attempt to use.  I'll continue looking around, I realize this forum is suited for more sophisticated users so I'll step back and do some more personal research and maybe record a few more WMA tracks this weekend. Happy Solar Eclipse to everyone.! Here in Eastern Ohio things are going to get dark on Monday.  Thanks Pinch for your suggestions.

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