by Mark Newelldrums guitar production
Top Tips for Recording Musicians
So you’ve done it. You’ve managed to round the guys up, get enough practice sessions in and piece together a good 3 or 4 tracks. Next step is getting them recorded so you can start to show people how good your band really is outside of that cramped venue with a busted PA system. While searching for studios and the process of recording an EP may seem daunting, we’ve written up a few tips to help you along the way.
Record your own demos
Recording demos of your tracks is one of the first things your studio manager/engineer will ask you to do. It allows the band to have something to reference while they’re recording rather than just playing along to a click track. However, everyone knows that studio time in any studio worth looking at doesn’t come cheap. Recording your own demos beforehand will cut down on time wasting and allow for more time recording and polishing the mixes on the actual EP. These demos can be extremely rough and all you need is a mixer, a few mics and software/hardware to record on to. If you don’t have all this at hand, perhaps you have a friend or a few friends that can lend you gear for the cause.
Maintain your gear
While a couple of higher end studios may offer the musicians their own instruments to record with, many won’t. This is why it’s important to maintain your gear before and during your studio time. This involves replacing all your guitar strings and drums heads and making sure everything is bang on in tune and sounding its best. It’s also a good idea to replace any cables you think may be getting old or dodgy just to reduce hum and improve clarity. Mixing and mastering can fix many things, bad sounding gear is not one of them.
Don’t take the back seat
Don’t assume that just because all of your material is tracked you’re free to sit back and play xbox for the duration of your stay. The mix engineer may looking very intimidating sitting in front of that seemingly endless board of knobs and faders. But as a musician, your ears are just as valuable as the engineers. If he’s not quite nailing the sound you hoped for on a particular track, let him know. Like you he’s only human so communication and compromise is imperative throughout the recording AND mixing process. Yeah! Stick it to the man, man.
Over budget your studio time
As we’ve said, studio time doesn’t often come cheap. This is why many smaller bands have a specific target of money to save then ring up and book their studio time the second they have their pennies stacked. However, if you save a good few hundred quid more than you’re expected to use you’ll have a lot more time for experimenting and really nail everything without the worry of running out of time/money. If you don’t happen to use all of your money, you have some spare cash to put into your next recording session. Or to spend on a new “earthy yet sweet” beard oil. Or to buy ANOTHER Boss DS-1.
So there we have it. A few tips to help you make the most out of your first recording session. As you learn the ropes of a studio you’ll be able to tailor your experiences to your bands needs. And remember, a studio is a place to be creative and experiment. Bigger bands will often admit their best songs were written on the spot in a studio minutes before hitting record. So get experimenting and enjoy your first time in a big boy studio!
Until next time,
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