8+ Tips for Bands Getting Ready to Record
1. Not to be a jerk but…Practice.
Practice and the player is the single biggest variable to your recording performance. Practice makes perfect, and a ton of editing or a million takes all chopped up might make something passable, but it’s not going to be as good as a full take of the song, or at least a full section. All the solos and important arrangement should be rehearsed and ready to go. Try a practice take or two to get warmed up, then try 3 good takes. Pick the best one, and move on.
2. A plan
A plan for your recording session is a great idea. Deciding whether each song will be to a click track, or not, and whether the band will perform as a group, or one at a time. Make a list of each song, and a list of everything that needs to be recorded (Track Sheet). And a list of tempos, or any possible hang-ups, like solos, funky break-downs, etc.
3. Reference Material
What the overall sound will be like depends on the performance, the way the equipment is used, and the room and mic choices for the session. Get in touch with the engineer before hand and talk about what you envision each element of the mix to sound like. Make a list of examples of the type of production style you think will work best for your material. The engineer will have a good idea of how to achieve that, and may want to use different production techniques depending on what you want the final result to sound like.
Demoing is a great way to constructively adjust some of the fine tuning of your arrangement, performance, and tones. Sometimes the worst recordings are the most telling of potential problems that may occur later in the recording process. For example if the cymbals are so loud they are washing out everything else, maybe the drummer needs to hit the drums harder, or give the cymbals a little bit less energy so they don’t dominate the drum sound and wash out the mix.
Demoing gives you a base track to experiment with double tracks and different solos too. Even a phone recording or home studio recording is great for messing around with the song to get it in its best form for recording. Legendary artists of the past, almost always had a demo or were super well rehearsed before going into the studio and you should be too.
5. Fine Tuning
Experimenting with different arrangement, tempos, and chord changes or note changes during the demoing process can make your recording session a breeze, as long as you can commit to a certain way of playing it. A recording is a snapshot in time for the song, so endless improvisation can make for a messy recording. Whether or not you intend to perform it live like this, commit to way for recording and the session will go a lot smoother
6. New Drum Heads and guitar strings
New Drum heads and guitar strings can make a big difference in your performance. Don’t wait until the day you’re going to record to do it, you may be limited ti what is available locally and be forced to use something that isn’t going to give you the sound you want. I recommend ordering them well ahead of time in advance. If you don’t know what heads to get for the sound you want, ask your engineer and they will be happy to make some recommendations.Drum heads also may need some playing and tuning up a bit to get broken in. Guitars will sound betters and slightly brighter, but the tuning may be wonky at first, so a subtle break in can remedy that. Little details like guitar intonation, drum tuning and head choices can make a big difference in your recordings. There isn’t a plug-in in the world that can fix a guitar tuning setup problem. No EQ or sample plugin is ever going to completely fix your drum heads sounding sloppy, and the action of new drum heads feels better to play too! You can read a full article on drummers preparing to record.
7. Equipment Serviced and in working order
Amplifiers and all music related equipment should be properly serviced and at least tested before the day you’re going to record. How old are the tubes? If you can’t remember that’s a sign that you should have some backup tubes if you have a new amp and maybe even have your amp checked out by a tech if you have an older amplifier. Check all the tubes look to be glowing strong once the amp is fired up. You can clean out scratchy knobs with electrical contact cleaner spray, and any pedals or amps with “funky input jack” syndrome should be opened and the small arm that makes contact with the guitar cord, bended a little bit in, or replaced.
8. Scheduling Recording Time
Scheduling recording time should be done in as far advance as possible. Get a “penciled in” date for people to make sure they can call off work, or get other obligations squared away as soon as possible. Don’t forget about any important dates like weddings, holidays, family or professional obligations as well. Get together a deposit and make it happen. Sometimes extreme circumstances such as funerals, sickness, accidents and deaths happen, and we understand that recording may be impossible. We can reschedule your time if you have a deposit, but upfront payment is required prevent last minute cancellations and people flaking out. Its unfair to the engineer who’s trying to make a living and people who are willing and able to show up on time to have a ton of cancellations all the time, and it makes staying productive nearly impossible.
9. ummm. Bonus Tip!
Don’t forget to bring snacks to the studio and plan for meals, food, and drink. Performing on an empty stomach never yields good takes. Keep alert in the citywhen walking around, and don’t leave anything in your vehicle that is irreplaceable! A lot of musicians have their stuff stolen right outside their practice spot, or outside their house etc we’ve been lucky here but vehicles do occasionally get busted into downtown. (Our friend D @ Cleveland Street Glass collects the remnant glass shards and makes them into interesting jewelry and art pieces so buy her stuff too! )
Also, we have many studio photos in our photos gallery.