Britt Arnesen

Folksinger - mandola - guitar

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6 Reviews
Britt Arnesen on SoundBetter

As a songwriter and band leader, I understand how to enhance, and not overpower the main message: you. I provide melodic and rhythmic support to folk, bluegrass, americana and other acoustic styles. My performance career with Pinegrass has taught me the value of rhythmic drive, and fine acoustic tone.

In 1948, a team of talented people transformed wood and wire into my favorite guitar, a Gibson J-45. Music is the ultimate transformation. I have played thousands of shows as side and lead. Having always played into a mic, and never plugged in, I coax great tone into the microphone whether on fingerstyle, flatpicking, or banging out a powerful driving rhythm.

My Kay Bass was built in 1943 and perhaps served overseas to entertain troops during WWII. I am a careful custodian of this historic instrument and use it to punch powerful bluegrass bass lines, or bow emotional arco parts to elevate dynamics for an epic bridge. I especially love a Big Finish. I match my touch and tone to the mood of the song so your music can flow. I am a dancer, and can produce the groove that compels movement in listeners.

Art is a holistic, immersive experience, capable of transporting us right off this planet. Some musicians stick to the technical aspects. That's important, but it's not everything. I seek technical excellence in my craft, but more importantly, I seek that other-worldly quality that will connect your listeners directly to the Muse. Your music is your conversation with the Muse and your audience craves a window into that.

Contact me through the green button above and let's get to work.

Credits

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  • Britt Arnesen

6 Reviews

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  1. Review by Rosie Cerquone
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    Britt continues to be very communicative, creative, and talented!

  2. Review by Isaac Callender
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    Britt is always fun to work with. Clear communication, good feedback, and great material!

  3. Review by Jeni Magana
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    Very easy to work with! Gave me clear direction so I knew exactly what to deliver when. She also had everything organized so it was very easy to track. And the song sounded great! I hope we get to work together in the future

  4. Review by David and Tiffany
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    Britt is a very talented arranger and vocalist. She has a unique vibe that adds the right amount of special to the record. We enjoyed working with her and look forward to experiencing more of her artistry.

  5. Review by Marcelo Politano
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    Working with Britt was fun and very gratifying. She is a very talented and professional musician that knows what she wants and knows how to provide the necessary tools for the other parts !

  6. Review by Rosie Cerquone
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    Britt is talented on every instrument she plays, as well as communicative and creative. Extremely professional!

Interview with Britt Arnesen

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: My most recent project was Nothing to Say by Elijah Jalil. I heard Elijah perform in Missoula and thought "Wow, that would sound great with a bluegrass beat behind it." Thus began a magical collaboration merging Hip Hop and Folk, bringing some much-needed color the to the predominantly White Montana music scene. Elijah has a magical singing voice and it was the challenge of my career to provide the instrumentation that could live up to it. He allowed me the creative latitude to sculpt the sound for every song. I had a chance to explore all of my instruments and bring in talented artists to enhance the soundscape. When I am an old lady in a rocking chair I am sure I will still love listening to this album.

  3. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  4. A: I have performed many times with Isaac Callender and he has played on my records over the years. I highly recommend him. I have recently started working with Rosie Cerquone and really enjoy her sounds as well.

  5. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  6. A: Nothing substitutes for a great performance. Don't let these debates distract you from capturing magic. Get the artist to the stratosphere with their performance, and then record it with the highest fidelity you can.

  7. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  8. A: Non-musicians often think this is all fun and games. They don't understand how it might take a full week of practice to record one little part. All that hard work makes the music feel so natural that they think it's easy.

  9. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  10. A: Music has been in my life since the start. Music owns me. I have devoted my adult life and career to it. I feel like it gets better every year. Doing music full-time allows me to devote the time necessary to achieve true excellence and keep growing.

  11. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  12. A: I rent my studio space from the local Missoula non-profit Free Cycles, which is in important community service. My studio financially contributes to Free Cycles. Inside, I have a medium-sized room with natural feel.

  13. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  14. A: Practice, review, redo, and redo again. Get your own stuff together as tight as you can before you bring in someone else. New layers should enhance, not cover up, what is already there. Less is more. Don't be shy about asking studio musicians to send you a short sample of what they would sound like on your track. Most importantly, remember to avoid the cognitivie fallacy of Sunk Costs. Just because you have spent time and money on something, doesn't mean it's right. Don't be scared to scrap what you have and start over if it's not working.

  15. Q: How would you describe your style?

  16. A: My musical style is rich and emphatic. I am grounded in familiar acoustic traditions but put my own stamp on them. For example, learning old fiddle tunes on guitar gave me the flatpicking skill to play fast and clean when approaching modern music. Trying to be heard over the top of banjos while gathered around a single mic at bluegrass performances, I have learned to overcome my quiet nature with powerful playing. I love utilizing the whole dynamic range to take the audience on a journey. My style is soothing and peaceful but has the power to cut through to a person's emotions. I take on each song with the whole of my self.

  17. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  18. A: Nothing substitutes for a great performance. You want to fix the problems as far upstream as possible from the chain: song to player to instrument to mic to post. The best improvements you will make are to the song, then the performance, and then the instrument. The rest does matter, but if someone is knocking it out of the park on a beautiful vintage guitar, it won't matter that you had them on Shure instead of a Neumann. Conversely, if you have an uninspired player who can't find the downbeat, no amount of production will take their Alvarez to the stratosphere. If a songwriter plays guitar "okay", it might be a production mistake to try to dress up their track, versus hiring a pro guitarist to replay it. I practice the simplicity principle of "first do no harm" --- every note that is played should be there on purpose, for a reason. Using extra sounds to cover up a deficiency creates clutter. I seek an efficient recording with as few tracks as absolutely necessary to achieve a rich soundscape and let the song's message speak directly. If you think of each track as an actual person that you would have to hire to be on stage with you, it can help to streamline the arrangement and maximize your resources.

  19. Q: What's your typical work process?

  20. A: First, get lots of sleep. Eat well and exercise and be at your best mentally and physically. Stay clean. Surround yourself with honest collaborators who believe in you but hold you accountable. don't distract myself at the studio. I leave the wifi off on the computer so I won't be tempted to waste time online. I cut myself slack when tired and go home. Sometimes I have days where I hate all the sounds. I sleep it off. Other times all the music is amazing and I stay up late dancing to it and wake up with a headache the next day. Whoops. I approach every song with the care and attention as if it is my own and I don't work on something unless I can give it my all. Each time I go to record, I run through different instruments and mics to see what combo is working best for the song. It's always about the song. I like to try things out for a day or two and let them settle before proceeding to the next step. It's hard to be objective when you have been working hard on something. Getting a little time off from it helps a lot.

  21. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  22. A: An all-original collection of Gospel songs with diverse collaborators.

  23. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  24. A: Sierra Hull is an amazing musician and it would be an honor. I have even written a few songs that I would love to convince her to cover. I wrote them in her style in hopes some day I could back her up on them. I think we would sound great together.

  25. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  26. A: I usually back up singer-songwriters who are looking for a more advanced acoustic sound. There are millions of singer-songwriters. Hiring quality backup can help you stand out in this crowd.

  27. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  28. A: My strength lies in the holistic construction of a song. I love to shepherd the process from start-to-finish and plug myself in when I am most useful. I began this journey working on my own songs but now I love helping others along, no matter where they start from. I can envision each track on a recording as a member of a band performing the song, and direct the parts to a synergistic whole.

  29. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  30. A: I bring over three decades of study in musical craft. I have toured the West as a solo singer-songwriter and bluegrass band leader. Having performed for thousands of live events on a variety of instruments, I know how to construct full sounds from individual components. I also know what works and doesn't for getting people dancing, crying, or even laughing. It is my mission to draw the artist to the Muse, and allow the audience to witness it and join if they like. Through years of discipline and study, I have learned how to facilitate this conversation to produce recordings of the highest grade, while retaining a natural feel.

  31. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  32. A: I love completing and extending the ideas of other musicians. I frequently work with singer-songwriters who have great ideas but need more resources (technical and otherwise) to execute their vision. Acoustic guitar is a more demanding instrument than people realize. A strong guitar track can make all the difference to the delivery of a song. As a fellow songwriter, I can usually hear what my client is "trying" to do and take it the rest of the way to completion. My favorite thing to do is to play exactly the part they are playing ---but better! I have a broad vocabulary of musical ideas from years of collaborative gigging, so I know when to say "this needs a fiddle" or "I think you should an electric bass instead". By the time we are done, we have a full end product.

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Sunrise by Elijah Jalil

I was the producer, arranger, recording engineer, editor, upright bassist, acoustic guitarist, backup singer, and mandola player in this production

Terms Of Service

Please discuss your individual needs. Final pricing depends on the length and complexity of your material. I offer reasonable revision(s) and will discount for multiple tracks on the same song.

GenresSounds Like
  • Gillian Welch
  • Sarah Jarosz
  • Nanci Griffith
Gear Highlights
  • 1948 Gibson J-45
  • 1957 Gibson J-50
  • 1943 Kay Bass
  • 1891 Martin Parlor
  • Heiden Mandola
  • Gold Tone Banjo-Mandola
  • 1917 Vega Banjolin
  • Ear Trumpet mics (Mabel
  • Chantelle
  • Delphina)
  • Neumann mics (KM-184
  • KM-185
  • TLM-103
  • U-87))
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SoundBetter Deal

Half off multiple tracks on the same song (piano, backing vocals, bass, guitar, mandola)