Get your band ready for the studio
Expert insight from top UK producer Gareth Rodgers – It’s true that with modern recording and editing software that a poor musical performance can be ‘polished’. But this is absolutely no excuse for poor preparation.
If you’ve taken the time and effort to build your song to a point where it’s ready to record, surely you want to do everything you can to ensure the best results?
Preparation of hardware is key before a recording session. Have your guitars, bass and electric guitars set-up correctly. These instruments have a crazy thing called ‘intonation’, which ensures your perfect tuning across the fretboard. It sounds obvious, but when guitars are set-up and tuned correctly, the difference in performance quality is profound. Plus, it’ll be much easier for your singer to pitch themselves if they’re not battling across a sharp B-string in the rhythm track!
Drums have pitch too, are your shells tuned? Are your cymbals clean? Tracking great sounding drums is often the foundation for making great records. You wouldn’t build a house on sand now, would you?
Playing in the studio can be a bit tricky at first, especially if you’re used to playing together in the same room. Breaking down a song requires a little extra thought to produce a mix as cleanly and honestly as possible, while still sounding like you intended.
There’s no substitute for knowing exactly what each band members need to do. Studio time can be expensive, so it’s not ideal for writing parts last minute. Although, I have worked with several bands who like to write vocals as the other parts are being tracked. That approach can be a bit hairy at times, but the sense of pressure really does bring out the best in some folks! However, it’s not recommended..
Your producer may have certain ways of doing things, which is a given as there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of doing things with the plethora of methods available these days. So be prepared to work a different way than you might be used to. Trust your studio team to get the best results whether tracking one instrument at a time or as a whole band playing together.
Making sure you know your parts, along with ensuring your gear works and is in tune, is one big leap towards a great product and a more enjoyable studio experience. That is after all why we do it, isn’t it?
Demoing numbers is now very common. Anyone can record at home now with packages like FruityLoops, Reason, Logic, Garageband and Pro Tools at competitive prices. Recording your songs yourself can be a great way to prepare for studio time. But don’t forget – it’s the song that’s important – not the rate of reverb decay. Let your producer worry about the technical end and focus on writing glorious music, for without tunes there would be no studios (a scary thought)!