Captain Beefheart's Ten Commandments For Guitarists:

That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH...Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL...Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY...You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That's your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song "I Need A Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he's doing it.

8. DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT...You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE...When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

How to achieve the highest sound quality from Ableton Live (updated)

Many of the default settings in Ableton Live 8
are intended to optimise playback smoothness and keep CPU usage low. This is great for performance and working on a track but doesn’t provide the highest sound quality available from Live.

Perhaps you are at the final stage of a project and you wish to ensure you have the absolute highest quality playback and effects to bounce down a high quality recording. This is when you can tweak settings to achieve higher quality output. All these settings will increase the load on your CPU and you may want to freeze tracks before and after engaging the high quality settings.

What to change:

Audio Effects:
Several of the audio effects in Live have a hidden High Quality (Hi-Q) mode. This is accessed by right clicking on the title bar of the inserted effect, and selecting “High-Quality”. Tip: if you want these settings always to be on, save this as the default by also clicking “Save as Default Preset”.

High-Quality mode in EQ Eight effect menu.

High-Quality mode from the right click menu is available in the EQ Eight, Flanger, Dynamic Tube, and Saturator effects. Other effects have options in the right click menu - check out the “Crisp” setting in the Chorus. Note that the EQ Eight has the lower quality as default you may want to click “Save as Default Preset” after turning on the HQ mode; this way, the EQ Eight will appear in the high sample rate version every time you use it. High Quality mode uses a higher sampling rate which reduces unwanted artefacts and produces a much cleaner result, at the cost of a slightly higher strain on your CPU.

The standard
reverb effect has a option drop down box called “Global ... Quality” in the middle of the effect. Three modes are available, Eco (default), Mid and High. Setting this to High will improve reverb quality, using greater amounts of CPU power to create richer sounding reverbs.

Tip: rather than have loads of reverbs on many channels/tracks - which will place pressure on your CPU, consider using the effect sends and have one instance of a reverb running with the tracks pointing to this send channel (the A and B buss channels on the right).

Sample Clip Settings:

Enable the Hi-Q setting button in a sample clip to maximise playback quality, particularly of high frequency sounds. This should also be turned on every time you transpose a sample’s pitch. This is found in the Sample settings (double click a clip to reveal):

When multiple clips are selected the Hi-Q button is also available so you can alter the settings of many clips at once.

From the Ableton Live 8 manual:
Samples processed with the Hi-Q algorithm generate less distortion, particularly at high frequencies, when transposing a sample and/or matching an imported sample's sampling rate to the system's sampling rate. With this mode enabled, samples can be transposed roughly 19 semitones in either direction before aliasing is likely to be audible.

Note: As of Live 7 onwards, the Hi-Q mode uses an algorithm that produces even smaller audible artifacts than in previous versions. Although we think this has greatly improved sound quality, any Sets made in older versions that used Hi-Q mode may now sound different. For this reason, we have provided a Legacy Hi-Q Mode option, which is enabled by default in the Options menu whenever you load an old Set that has Hi-Q enabled for any clips. Simply disable this option if you wish to use the new mode.

Ableton 9 update:
In the preference window of Ableton 9 you can set the default sample clip rate and pitch conversion quality. This means that any clip when imported into your Ableton project will set to Hi-Q automatically.

Preferences Hi Q Ableton 9
Ableton Live 9

High sound quality for Ableton Live:
  • Set audio effects to High Quality mode using right click menu
  • Set clips to High Quality playback
  • Leave plenty of headroom when recording audio at 24bit
  • Don’t set the audio buffer too small when at final bounce down stage of a project to avoid clicks etc.

Images from Ableton Live Suite 8 & 9, although these features are in earlier versions).

Updated: April 2013

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