How To Prepare For A Recording Session

Top Three Session Crimes

As a recording engineer, I have been involved in many great, smooth, productive recording sessions. I have also been involved in some…not so productive situations in the studio. I will give you some advice to help you get the most out of a recording session and not waste your time and money wile recording.

Studio Crime #1 – Unprepared

The most common mistake I see that results in a very unproductive session is musicians being unprepared. Know your parts! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in leaving some play room for magical studio moments, and that being so solidified on every part, and having every detail of the song is mapped out will take away from the natural feel. But play room is just that, play room. There is a big difference between leaving some room for magic, and writing your parts in the studio. You should know the song structure, have your parts well rehearsed, but leave enough space that maybe an amazing drum fill will just happen, or a lead guitar riff that accidentally ends on a different note and sounds great, or an ad lib vocal that ties it all together!

Studio Crime #2 – Unrehearsed

It is not enough just to know YOUR parts, you must know how everyones parts work together. Before getting ready to record a song, you should play through the song and make sure that everyone is changing chords at the same time, that everyone knows where beats are pushed, or straight, and make sure that everyone is in the same key! Yes…this has happened before. It seems simple, but please make sure. It will save you, your wallet, and your sound engineer a lot of time and aggravation. Not to mention if it is you who didn’t take the time to work it out and make sure there part worked with everyone else, your band/group wont be too happy with you.

Studio Crime #3 – Saved By Technology

The final point that really slows down a recording session, is artists relying on technology as a crutch. By this I mean drummers who, “cant quite get that fill at this tempo, but you can quantize or program it and make it sound good right?”, or guitar players who, “cant actually sweep, but we can cut it in note by note and make it sound like I played it”, or singers who “cant hit that melody, but you have auto-tune right?”. Recording technology has indeed come a long way, but it is not meant to be an excuse not to practice. Think of these abilities that we have as engineers to, lend a helping hand. We have the power to nudge parts around, copy and paste and even tune them once they have been recorded, but we do not want to “create” your parts.

If you follow these guide lines, I can guarantee that your next session run smoother, and you will make the most of your studio time.