“It seems like what Jud can offer is endless— a good ear, instrumental skills, a warm and welcoming presence, and a deep knowledge and wisdom about what makes a good song.” - Bold Riley
Trying to decide which songs to put on your album? Trying to decide if that third song is too long, and whether or not you should sing that in Eb instead of E? We’d love to help!
Not that we’ll force our opinions on you, but if you’d like some input, we can help. If you have questions about your songs, Jud Caswell is both a winner and a past judge of the legendary Kerrville New Folk Competition. His song “Blackberry Time” has been taught by Pat Pattison in the songwriting curriculum at Berklee College of Music. And he has offered pre-production song counseling and workshops for years.
“I think what makes Jud so unique is his humility and patience in the studio. Jud is very intuitive and perceptive. He listens keenly to my ideas and my process and he cares about the outcome of the project. He's invested creatively and offers gentle, but profoundly helpful, ideas and guidance. For me, there's just a trust and a comfort level with Jud that makes working together easy.” - Lisa Redfern
The Producer makes artistic decisions about arrangements, performances, which songs should go on the album, which order they should go in. A Producer has a vision about what the album should sound like, and should be in the studio working to make that vision a reality.
Usually the artist coming to record is going to be producing or co-producing their own album. They have strong ideas about instrumentation and arrangement, and will be judging the quality of performances as they go on tape.
Sometimes, however, the artist is looking for someone to step in and take some ownership of the project: to help make artistic decisions and bring their own aesthetic to the music.
Jud has co-produced many of the albums that have come through Frog Hollow Studio. On many other projects, his role has been more strictly an engineering role. We can be as involved as you would like us to be.
Tracking is where you get it on tape. It’s about choosing and positioning microphones and getting the best performances out of every musician. It might mean setting up a whole band and recording everyone live. It might mean turning on a click track and slowly building up layer after layer of overdubbing.
A lot of musicians are able to do some recording on their own computer. Often, however, home recordings suffer from noisy, reflective environments and harsh or dull sounding inexpensive microphones. And even excellent gear can sound awful if its not used well.
At Frog Hollow Studio we have a well-conditioned, well-isolated room and excellent microphones, preamps and converters, and the experience needed to make them sound great. If you would like to use Frog Hollow as your source for tracking, we are excited to help you get great sounding recordings.
“'Higher Ground' is the best work of my life - made possible by Jud's amazing engineering!” - Peter Macdonald Blachly
Mixing is taking separate tracks (i.e. vocals, guitars, kick, snare, keyboard) and blending them together into a single stereo file that can then be listened to via CD, mp3 or online streaming.
The mixing process involves setting the relative volume of each part, as well as shaping the equalization, adding a sense of space with reverb and delay, and controlling the dynamics with compression and limiting. There’s also a lot of arranging that can take place at the mixing stage, choosing to bring parts in and leave them out to reinforce the dramatic arc of a song.
At Frog Hollow, we mix digitally in Logic. Most of the mixing we do here is on projects that we have recorded here, but we are happy to work with files recorded in other DAWs. As a Mac-based studio, we can open GarageBand files natively and work from your initial tracks seamlessly. Contact us to tell us more about your project!
“I can't emphasize enough how important it is to me that I have an expert ear and an expert technician next to me when it comes time to edit, mix and master. I know Jud will make sure the magic that happens in the recording studio comes through your speakers.” - Tate Gale
After mixing, the final step to a finished project is mastering. Mastering is the process of taking a bunch of separate stereo tracks (mixes) and pulling them together to make one CD. In some cases, you will want to work with a dedicated engineer for this, but in many cases we have completed all the engineering work right here at Frog Hollow.
- Setting track order
- Setting track-to-track volume, so no one song is too loud or quiet
- Setting the fade-in, fade-out and silence between tracks
- Controlling the overall EQ of each track to ensure a consistent sound
- Often, mastering engineers are asked to make albums “louder.”
Serious, high-budget mastering involves hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of specialized processors, thoroughly engineered listening rooms and decades of experience. Although we don’t have the costly equipment and listening rooms of the big mastering studios we are able to provide a high quality product that to most ears is indistinguishable from what you would hear on major studio projects.
We offer attention to detail, careful listening, years of experience and some of the best mastering software that money can buy. We can give you the confidence to send your album off to the manufacturer knowing that it is going to sound great on a wide range of playback systems.
If for some reason you can't get to Frog Hollow Studio, Frog Hollow can come to you! There are lots of reasons you might want to record in another space - either for the convenience of band members, the sound quality of a particular room, or the need to record an instrument that isn't portable. We've gone to chapels to record choirs, homes to record grand pianos, practice spaces to record bands, and hotels to record overdubs with traveling musicians.
The sound quality of our live rig meets the same high standards of our permanent in-studio configuration, and we are able to offer up to 4 separate headphone mixes, overdubbing, click tracks -- virutally every tool that is available in the studio. With up to 18 channels of input, on-site recording by Frog Hollow Studio is a powerful and fexible tool. Contact us to see what we can do to help you capture the best of your music!