The Rubens’ Hoops


‘Hoops’ by The Rubens on an album of the same name, was awarded Triple J’s Number One song in the 2015 Hottest 100 competition. The band is comprised of drums, guitar, bass, keys and vocals. For our sound-alike, we’ve allocated musician roles to ourselves for guitar, bass and keys, we’ll outsource a singer and the drummer has been provided for us. The song is structured as follows:
Verse 1 (two parts)
Chorus > Outro
Despite the members of our band not being The Rubens, we may still face some copyright issues. While the work we’re doing falls under the Fair Dealing/Fair Use and some education exceptions laws in Australia. Unfortunately, the fair use laws are case-by-case. We’re definitively safe because of the ‘non-profit’ nature of our work In the ‘real world’, we may face the following:
  • Presendences established by using artists that sound similar to other popular artists. For example, Carlos Santan sued a beer company because they “used a Santana sound-alike” (Anderson, 1990) for a commercial.
  • ‘Tortious misappropriation’ – defined by Bette Midler’s successful lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company for hiring an artist to imitate Midler AFTER Midler declined the offer to recreate her hit for an advertisement.  
This is quite a traditional arrangement, and is (admittedly) not particularly exciting. However, The Rubens add enough variation within the songs arrangement to retain the lister’s attention. While the drums played live are acoustic drums, the drums that start this track, and continue throughout are not particularly  live sounding. Besides a ride and hi-hat (with high pass filters set quite high), the drums are basic and very mono with a kick and snare and occasional rack tom hits or floor tom used for emphasis. The snare itself sound dampened and layered with a clap and something else with a lot of high frequency information. The Triple J live video posted below show a tambourine attached to the hi-hat, which lends itself further to the high frequency sound. The drums will need to be recorded with particular focus on the kick and snare. While we’ll use a room mic, the hats, ride and tom will need to be close mic’d so we can have as much control as possible over the few crucial drum elements in the mix. We’ll use some dampening techniques on the snare, such as a towel or tape, and the kick drum should be dampened as well to keep it fat.
The guitar in the song (which hangs mostly in the right-side of the stereo image) is a decidedly ‘Fender’ sound, characterised by a ’spank’ to the tone, and not much low frequency information. Further investigation into the film clip reveals the guitar player playing a Fender Stratocaster, and the Byron Bay live performance above shows a Fender ’65 amplifier coupled with a Gibson 335 style guitar. Other live videos show a Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster, or the Fender Telecaster. I’ve begun to experiment with a tone for the sound-alike, using the ’65 emulation included with Apple’s Logic Pro 9. The emulation sounds great, but for the ‘realness’, we’ll mic up a clean guitar with a 57 and maybe a large diaphragm condenser or Royer R101.
Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 12.47.46 PM
The character of the tone is clean signal drenched in tremolo, and the springy reverb typical of Fender amplifiers, giving the guitar its own space in the track. Despite being quite minimally and calm strummed, the guitar is a feature because of the space the tone gives it. The bass guitar sound in the track is solid and sits nicely in the pocket of the chord progression. The tone is mostly clean, but distortion or fuzz is added at regular intervals to assist in the weight and depth of the song.
ANDERSON, S. (1990). Retrieved 5 June 2016, from
What is fair use? | ALRC. (2016). Retrieved 5 June 2016, from
Mushroom Presents: The Rubens – Hoops (Acoustic). (2015). Retrieved from “”

The Rubens – Hoops (live on triple j) (2016). Retrieved from “”


One thought on “The Rubens’ Hoops

  1. Good to hear you’ve started experimenting with guitar sounds for this. The court cases you mentioned relate more to the way in which those tracks were used which were seen to be in contravention of the artists’ moral rights. You would still need to make sure you had obtained a correct license from AMCOS if you were to release your soundalike.


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