Tips for the Recording Session
Once you get in the studio, you want to make the best recording you can. Here are some tips on thing you can do maximize the recording process. Be sure to check out the tips before arriving at the studio. [Note: Click on highlighted words to go to their definition in our glossary.]
(1) Keep your instruments in tune. Tune before each take. Not only guitars, basses, and strings should be tuned often, but the drums should be tuned up before the recording session begins.
(2) Drummers should consider arriving earlier than the rest of the band. It takes time to set up a drum set and get the mics set up properly.
(3) Use equipment you're familiar with. Even if your cousin has a brand new $5,000 guitar, it won't sound much better than your current guitar if you're not used to playing it.
(4) After setting up, remove instrument cases and bags from the studio. Take them outside or put them in the back of your car. It will provide more room to work and you won't be tripping over them.
(5) Don't stop playing every time you make a mistake. If you do, you'll spend all day trying to create a perfect track. It is much easier to overdub or punch in to correct an error after the track is recorded.
(6) Don't use a lot of effects while recording. It is better to record the tracks dry and add the effects later. Effects (such as EQ and reverb) are easy to add, but nearly impossible to remove.
(7) Keep it simple. Many bands and artists want to fill up numerous tracks with sound. They end up with a poor sounding mish-mash. Listen to your favorite CD. In most cases time you can easily pick out the vocals, drums, guitars, and other instruments. If you can't do that with your recording, you probably have too many tracks muddying up the sound.
(8) Double tracking can be a nice effect, but overuse it and it becomes boring. Consider double tracking the vocal for the chorus only.
(9) Always get the sound you want while recording. If someone says, “We can fix it in the mix,” don't believe them.
(10) Make the studio comfortable. Bring snacks if you like. The vocalist should drink plenty of water, but not too cold. Ice water can restrict the vocal cords and make it more difficult to hit those high notes. Consider drinking hot tea with lemon and honey.
(11) Have a professional attitude. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. These substances inhibit coordination and memory, affect your hearing, and impact your perception of pitch and tempo. You may sound better to yourself, but not to anyone else.
(12) Appoint someone to be the spokesman. You can bring a producer or you can nominate a member of the band to be the decision maker. It's alright for everyone to chip in with ideas, but if no one is in charge, things can rapidly degrade into arguments or ego battles. You want to keep the studio atmosphere relaxed and creative.
(13) Take occasional breaks. This will help relieve ear fatigue. After a little quiet time, you may pick up things you weren't able to hear before.
(14) Know when to quit for the day. If you are tired, you will not be giving your best performance and it will show in your final product.
These are some of the tips to help you make the most of your recording session. Be sure to check out the tips before arriving at the studio.