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Recording Mythology, Pt. 39 / By The Way (readers questions answered)



‘Yo John: Ever time I plug my microphone into my new preamp and turn up the gain, it sounds like a trombone playing an E%. It’s like hyper loud and the drivers in my monitors flap like dish rags. What am I doing wrong?’  

-Therman D., Roanoke, VA.


Yo Ther: the short answer would be ‘attempting to record,’ but I shan’t offend you. I need to know other pecularities in order to answer your question, but it sounds as if you’ve got the attenuation switch on the preamp set wrong for the type of mic you’re using. Is it a low or high impedence mic? Hi-Z mics do not require phantom power. I can’t stress how important it is to read the freaking directions that comes with all of your equipment. Did you make all of your cables? Were you careful to solder the connections properly? Those low-Z connections can be tricky. You didn’t try to save money by buying speaker cables instead of instrument cables, did you? Speaker cables won’t work because they’re unshielded.

By the way, 1) The name is Johnny, 2) the word is ‘every’, not ‘ever’, and 3) what the hell is an ‘E%’?




‘Johnny: My cat Ceefer projectile vomited her wet dinner all over my console. HS/WTF can I do to clean it out? Please hurry and answer, her slash is drying!’   -A. Reader


What do you mean, ‘What can I do to clean it out?’ Sheesh. Well, first, unplug the damn thing. Next, get a small sponge, a roll of paper towel and put a 50 vinegar/50 water mixture in a spray bottle. If she blew chunks all over the sliders and pots, gently pull all of the knobs off and then, after dampening your sponge, mop up the goo. Then spray a bit of the mixture on a couple of sheets of paper towel and clean off any residual splatter. If, as the case seems to be with cats, Ceefer (I’ll get back to that name) was probably perched up on top of one of your $700 monitors and aimed her hack directly into the cooling vents of the unit’s transformer. Buck up, dude. If you are familiar with this electrical, flashlight-in-your-mouth type of work, remove all of the screws that hold the cover onto the electrical access. (Oh, BTW, and ROFLMAO, please do not kill yourself with a huge blast of stored electricity. If you insist on digging farther, take extreme care not to touch the leads of those gigantic black or gray cannisters with arrows printed on them or you’ll get the life shocked completely out of you.) Use some electrically inert objects like chopsticks to carefully tweeze and remove the lumps of matter (and hair; I know how that stuff looks) from amongst the heat sink, the resistors, and the little green and orangish-brown capacitors. Dab the area with the sponge to remove most of the wetness. Head cleaning swabs work well for this task. Remove the fuses, one at a time, and clean beneath them, too. Use a blow dryer to completely dry any remaining moisture and then put the thing back together. 

By the way, don’t take it out on your cat. Since you didn’t sign your name, I know that 1) you’re a guy, 2) you own cats in an attempt to pay penance for being cruel to them when you were a snotty nosed kid, and 3) the name ‘Ceefer’ is supposed to make people ask, “What does that mean?” and then you smartly reply, “C fer cat.” Try again Ace, I’m onto your game.




‘Howdy Captain! My band is having a problem and I was hoping that you could help sort it out. The lead singer doesn’t get along with our drummer. One night during a gig, the singer got drunk and slugged the drummer right in front of everybody and ordered him to tighten it up. What would you suggest?’  -Gary R., Jackson Hole, WY.


Hey Gary. Uh, that’s really funny, dude. When did you write this letter? Things certainly have a way of sorting themselves out, don’t they?

By the way, the neck is still holding up on the Paul, I presume.




‘Hello Johnny, great blog. Concerning the full revision for International Standards for Equal Loudness Contours (ISO 266), what are your thoughts?’  -Annonymous, G.B.


Dear ‘Annonymous’, are you presuming that I’m a stereotypical dumbass American Southerner? For your information, I am fully cognizant of the ‘full revision’ and happen to think (as if you really cared) that the criteria, as well as the subsequent testing done in order to arrive at the original measurements, were conducted an environment more closely approximating a ‘real world’ context. What the revised chart does reflect, in my corn-fed opinion, is simply indicative that the equipment used for taking said measurements is more sensitive than the instruments used when the original tests were conducted. The new chart in no way suggests that the test subjects, nor the human race, have undergone any type of miraculous ‘evolutionary modification’ which has altered their sensitivity to, or their ability to hear, various frequencies. Stick to the old chart.

By the way, at least your question made you seem smart.




‘Hi Johnny: It takes forever for our vocalist/guitarist to get a vocal take that he’s satisfied with. I’m convinced that if he records the tracks separately, he can concentrate on first the guitar take, and then the vocal take, doing a better job at both. Also, he doesn’t ever want to use a click track. He defends himself by insisting that he can’t get ‘in the zone’ when things get ‘all technical’ or when he has to track the parts individually. What would you do in this situation?’   – Eric K., Orlando, FL.


Eric, I’d probably just insult his ineptitude for the studio until he cried and quit the band. Barring that, you could just replace him and quit telling him when you guys are recording, thus giving him the old Syd Barrett heave-ho.

By the way, you’re not just using him for his gear, are you?




‘Oh Captain, my Captain; have you ever heard of a band called the ‘Wrecking Crew’? This band was supposedly pretty big back in the sixties, but I can’t find anything on them.’  -Brunt S., Post Oak, MD.


Bwaa-hahaha. Finally, a real question. Dude, what would you think if I told you that half of the bands from that era that you have heard of didn’t ever really exist, and that they were, in actuality, The Wrecking Crew? What if I told you that many members of this completely unknown ‘pretty-big-back-in-the-sixties’ band were, themselves, very prominant and well known artists? Well, you’d better sit down, because I’m about to rock your freaking world.

It has always been widely suspected that the music business was a money-making racket, but relatively few people have any idea to what extreme this is true. Lucky for you, I do. After all, I don’t call me Johnny Nowhere for nothing.

Have you ever heard of Al Casey? How about Carol Kaye? Hal Blaine? Louie Shelton? Earl Palmer? How about Leon Russell, or Glen Campbell? Ah, those ring a bell, do they? Well…

Back in the sixties and early seventies, most of the bands recordings that were made famous on AM radio were really just one band: The Wrecking Crew. I’m not implying that some of those ‘bands’ didn’t exist in some form or the other, but whether it was Mason Williams, the Monkees, Wayne Newton, the Partridge Family, the Ventures, or the Beach Boys, the music on those studio recordings was being played by the best of the best: The Wrecking Crew. For instance, I could keep writing for the next twelve hours, and during that time, we could sit here listening to all of the pop tunes which this band was responsible for, and you’d know every one of those tunes by heart. It’s enough to make you want to shoot yourself. But look: some players just can’t handle studio work. The demands can tax the nervous system. Bands were for looking cool and going on tour to promote the records, but with studio time and the record production costed, the most effective way to record the hits was with crack musicians who could get it right on the first or second take. That was The Wrecking Crew. I’ve actually seen Glen Campbell play ‘Classical Gas’ at twice the normal speed. The dude was the guitarist from hell in any style. I’m a big fan of Campbell. And Carol Kaye nailed more memorable bass parts than any of her colleagues. I could elucidate, but I’ll do you one better:

For those of you who aren’t afraid of the truth and have waded through my, primarily, self-entertaining monograph thus far, this special link is your reward:

The truth awaits, but be prepared: You can’t unread this, and you’ll never hear those old songs the same way again.



About Johnny Nowhere

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter/composer and owner of Hell Paving Company, music publisher. Johnny doesn't really exist outside of the music industry and Facebook. He is simply a figment of my imagination.

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