Recording Session Do’s and Dont’s
My favorite thing about working in a recording studio is getting to create something different everyday. No matter what the session or the style, there are always new challenges, new sounds, and new experiments. I love being able to try new techniques to get that perfect sound, pushing people to get that perfect take that gives you goosebumps, and finishing with a product that the band/artist can take away and be proud of. I have made so many great friends working in studios, and am very excited to continue to do so in this amazing facility!
To help people prepare for a recording session, or just to figure out whether you should be booking studio time or just rehearsing in a garage, I’ve listed some tips that I’ve picked up along the way below. I’ve answered some of the most frequent questions I get as an engineer, as well as the five ways in which I see sessions “go south.” Have a read, and hopefully they help you prepare for a super-productive and musical session!
The Top 5 Mistakes I See When Prepping for a Session
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Making small adjustments to a drum fill, or a lead guitar riff is fine in the studio! However, if you come in to your session not knowing your drum beats, bass lines, guitar parts or vocal melodies, you will waste valuable studio time. Your band mates wont be too happy with you either.
Be Well Rehearsed!
If you play in a rock band, and after band practice in your parents’ basement you come upstairs to find all of your moms expensive plates broken on the floor, your guitarist probably kept sneaking the volume up on their amp between each song. This then made the bass player turn up, the drummer hit harder, and your singer has fallen over from yelling so hard. Playing loud is okay, you’re a rock band! But chances are you are not hearing everything that each band member is doing. When preparing for the studio, make sure to go through each part with each instrument and make sure that everybody is changing chords at the same time, make sure everyone is in time with each other, and make sure that every part fits with everything else.
Multiple Takes is OK!
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t lay down your part in one take. Chances are your favorite bands/musicians didn’t track their part in one take. The magic of being in a recording studio situation is being able to play your parts over again until you are happy with it! At the end of the session, you will be hearing that part forever. It is better to play it ten times, nail it and love listening to it, rather than saying that you did it in one take and cringe every time you hear it.
Don’t Count On “Fixing It In Post”!
As a recording engineer, the software we use to record and edit has amazing capabilities. This is not an excuse not to practice! If you find yourself saying, “This part would sound awesome, but I cant play it, but they can make it sound like I did in the studio,” this will waste a lot of your studio time, and the engineer won’t be too happy. Remember, we have the technology to replace all of your snare drums with cat noises!
Bring It With You!
Come to your recording session prepared with everything that you may need. Bring a few extra packs of strings, bring extra drum sticks, bring some green tea and honey (this actually helps a lot, singers!). It’s bound to happen, so why waste time having to run out of the studio to go buy more of these things when they break?
FAQ’s about Recording Studios:
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Q: My friend has a recording setup with ProTools, what is the difference between that and coming to a recording studio?
A: There are a few key differences. The first is experience. A lot of people have professional software, and a few nice microphones, but the person running it is inexperienced. Having the ears, and skills of a professional is invaluable. For example, someone may have a Stratocaster, but that alone does not make them Jimi Hendrix. The other is the space. Putting a few panels of acoustic foam on a wall and a large rug on the floor does not turn a room into an acoustically treated space, ready to record or mix. There are thousands of details that go into creating a
recording space. From angles, to materials, to where the furniture is positioned, right down to the locks on the doors, a recording studio has left NO detail unattended, and no expense spared to provide you with the perfect space to get the most out of your instruments.
Q: I don’t have a band or accompaniment, can you provide this?
A: Of course! We are more than able to help you find any instrumentation you may need for your recording session. From classical to jazz, from country to death metal, from opera to soul, we have you covered over a wide variety of genres and instruments. Its just one of the perks of having award winning teachers working in the same building!
Q: How long will it take to record an album or a demo?
A: There are a lot of variables that need to be taken into consideration to answer this properly. Overdubs? Live off the floor? How many band members? Instrumentation? Style of music? It could take anywhere from a few days, to a few months! This is a question that needs to be answered on a session by session basis.