The majority of my projects are bands. A lot of the info below is geared towards multiple instrument tracking, but there are also general tips for anyone coming in to the studio. Please, please, please read the info below.
Think of recording as if we are building a house. We’ll start with drums – we’ve got to lay the foundation. We will set up, tune, figure out the best tones possible, and track all drum parts for the whole project. This is usually done to a click track or scratch track. Once we’ve got solid parts for drums, we’ll tear down and move on to the next instrument. Once we tear down the drum kit, that’s it. There is no going back to a part to replay something that isn’t correct. So make sure you’re paying attention while we’re tracking. You can’t build a house on a foundation that isn’t solid. Next we’ll track guitars or bass – putting up the walls. Again, this is like the drum tracks where we’ll knock out the guitar track for the whole project before moving on to another instrument. Then we’ll move to vocals, synth, and other not so typical instruments – we’re putting our roof on. Vocals and auxiliary instruments are a lot easier to work, production and recording wise. Once we’ve got everything tracked, we can begin mixing the project. Think of this as doors, windows, electric, plumbing, picking carpet colors, etc etc. We’ll kick around some mixes and move them through mastering. Time to get the furniture in the house – We’re making our house shine. And ta-da, you’ve got a finished project (Or a move-in ready house).
Before You Come to the Studio
1. Know your songs like the back of your hand. It is much easier to track a part that you can flawlessly play over and over rather than just trying to struggle through it one time just to get it down. On top of that, learn to play them without any other instrumental accompaniment. This also reduces the amount of crossfades on your songs.
2. Learn to play to a metronome. Playing with a solid tempo not only locks your songs together, it makes them sound more professional. Also playing with a click track allows for simple editing, copying and pasting of tracks to be made quickly and easily.
3. New strings sound better. If you REALLY want to use your own guitar, restring the night before. I do have a vast collection of guitars and basses that are ready for use. Especially a lot of which have been sought after for their specific tonal quality. Remember, just because it’s ‘your’ guitar, doesn’t mean it’s the best.
4. Old, beat drum heads are going to sound like old, beat heads. Make sure you have decent heads on your drums. I CANNOT stress this enough. I pride myself on not using drum triggers/drum samples. It makes my job exponentially more difficult when I’m working with heads that sound like junk.
5. Bring plenty of sticks, picks, strings, etc. You never know when you may run out.
6. Get a good nights sleep before the day of recording. It always helps to be awake and able to concentrate (Coffee is always a plus too).
In the Studio
1. Arrive on time. If you don’t care enough to show up on time, why should I care?
2. Be open to suggestions.
3. Don’t expect everything to sound incredible as soon as it is tracked. It takes time to mix down a project. It will sound rough at first.
4. Bring food and drinks. Very Tight Recordings is a recording studio, not a Giant Eagle.
5. Show up sober and stay sober. Simple.
6. Tune. Tune. And re-tune.
7. If you hit a rough patch, don’t be afraid to take a break.
8. We will end up experimenting with different sounds, tones, instruments, amps, and microphone placements. We will have to do some tinkering before tracking. It’s not always plug and chug.
And above all, be respectful to others and to your surroundings.