Helpful Tips and Such

Crafting and recording music is so much fun, but there's a lot that goes into productive sessions...

Preparation


- Practice over your parts; make sure you're fresh on everything! If a guitarist has a lead that he's even a bit shaky, it could turn into a huge frustration and waste of time in the studio. I've seen it enough to be certain of that. Yes even though you're paying me, I hate to see time and money wasted.



- Consider doing pre-production work with the producer / engineer. It may be simple as having him over to a practice or two and getting some helpful feedback.



- Make sure the whole band (if there is a band), understands the direction the band wants to take things. Keep everyone in the loop, especially if people are coming in at different times. It really creates an air of goodwill ….

- Communicate with you engineer and producer about any target sounds or goals you may have.

- Communicate with your engineer and make sure the band as a whole understands a general overview how the record process will most likely flow.

- Seriously consider taking a day or two off from work and work in the studio all day. You can then focus on one thing for the day and devote all your energy into it. Not only that, you'll see some real progress and potentially save money in a few ways.

- Get enough rest before sessions so you're at your best. Oh yeah, and with that, eat somewhat healthy! You'd be amazed what those two can do for you!

Drummers


-- Get new heads if you can. And tune ‘em well. Check out Prof. Sound's Drum Tuning Bible

-- Borrow good cymbals if yours aren't the greatest. Ask your friends, the engineer / producer, you'd be amazed what you can get your hands on. Some not-so-great cymbals can stick out like a sore thumb and really take away from the drum sound.

-- Borrow some various snares and cymbals solely for the sake of diversity and experimentation. You never know what delightful surprise lies ahead! Also some unlikely things can sound better…

- Everyone be comfortable with a click track – Especially the drummer. If you can play to a click, it will make the overall recording tighter. It'll make sure you're staying in time the whole song. Also it allows for any editing (think beyond drum edits, copy and pasting instrumentation, looping neat things…) and future programming and remixing! Thar so many benefits friends!

There are “alternatives” to clicks, such as looped shakers, drum loops, simple looped sounds or beats….we can do something that's more natural for you to lock onto. There is nothing restricting you to a click/beep/tick-tock sound at all.

- Do some warm-ups when you are at the studio before recording. Don't think you're wasting time and money not getting things recorded immediately. We're looking for the best results. Practice time in the beginning will save much throughout the process and yield great results!

Guitarists


-- Same thing as drummers, if you can get a hold of a few different guitars and amps, it's to your benefit. You could do the same rhythm track on the right and left with a different sound, leads with a whole other sound… you know. Cool stuff. :) Often times the studio will have a few amps or even Native Instruments Guitar Rig that you can take advantage of too.

-- If you're gonna put new strings on, do it a few days ahead and play the guitar(s) a bunch and get those strings stretched well. With that, here's a handy technique for stringing that really helps with keeping in tune (it's been around a long time, but seldom employed) see the Taylor Guitars tech sheets, Changing Steel Strings: The Taylor Method

In The Studio


Headphones and monitoring


-- When wearing headphones, this is your link to the music. Don't ever feel afraid to ask the engineer to turn them up or down.
-- If there’s something you need to hear more of or less of, let the engineer know.
For instance, after most of the drums were recorded for a band, we learned that the drummer wasn’t happy with his cymbal sound, because his hits were too light. It was then discovered that he had too much overheads in his headphone mix. He decided that he needed to compensate for the apparent loudness.
Learn some lessons from this example: You shouldn’t have to change your playing dynamics based on thinking you’re too loud or quiet because the headphones are misrepresenting something. Always bother the engineer if something doesn’t sit right, so we can fix the problem. Almost everything is adjustable!

Singers / Vocalists


-- Do a little warming up before you get to the studio. Do some more warming up when you get there.

-- Hot tea is awesome. Lemon and honey is known to be helpful too.

-- Stay away from milk and other mucus causing agents.

-- When recording your vocals, don't feel as if you need to stand rigid and perfectly still! Of course there's the need to keep unwanted noise out of the recording, but don't make yourself unnatural and tense. Much noise and shuffling sounds can be done away with easily, but it's impossible to make a rigid, unconvincing performance sound good. Life is full of motion...sway around, hop up and down between sections...whatever you need.

-- Don't think too hard. Don't overanalyze. HAVE FUN WITH IT! Put your heart into it. If you're standing in front of a microphone, you or someone else has already decided you can do it. :)