Going into the studio can sometimes be overwhelming and it may be hard to know exactly how to prepare. In this article we are going to review some of the most important tips and ticks to keep in mind when entering the studio for your next recording project.
How to Prepare Your Band
1. Find the right studio and engineer.
Every engineer has a sound…some like to use tube pre-amps and analog equipment, while others do everything through a single interface straight to their digital software and plugins. With this in mind, you should decide what type of sound you are going for and locating someone that aligns more with your vision. As an example…If you are going for a Led Zeppelin style sound then you want an engineer that likes that analog/tube/tape sound and strives to add that to their own mix. If you are a hip-hop artist however you probably do not want to go to the same engineer as the rock band.
Selecting the proper studio is also very important. Many don’t realize that you can turn any place into a studio if you have mobile enough gear. Some of the most popular tracks of all times were recorded somewhere other than a sound treated studio. If you ever get down to Muscle Shoals AL. stop in to some of the historic studios such as Cypress Moon, Fame, and Jackson Highway. These studios have produced some of the most iconic music in history. A great studio is anywhere that you can get a great sound in a relaxing environment and sometimes a natural reverb and room sound is exactly what you need.
2. Practice your parts and know exactly what you want to play.
You want the sound to be as clean and smooth as possible going in so that you have to manipulate it as much to get a quality out. To do this, you need to practice your part nd start thinking of the layers. You may have 1 guitar part because you are 1 guitarist…but you will probably need a couple riffs to layer adding depth to the final mix. You will also have times where we will need to double the part so you will want to be able to stick the landing every time you play it.
3. Are you all playing together or 1 track at a time?
There are two ways you can go about recording a track. 1. You can all play at the same time 2. You can play each track 1 at a time. A band that is extremely tight and have a great location with a good room sound may want to all plug in, mic up, and record. This style gives you a great live feel and some bands really shine in this style of recording process. When you play 1 at a time, you can refine the song and mold it to be something a little different than the original idea. If everyone needs to be right on and there are a lot of layers to the sound, then we may want to start with a scratch track with a click and build it up. In the end, it really just depends on the capability of the studio and how the band preforms best.
4. Know your budget!
The key to any project is to KNOW YOUR BUDGET. Don’t spent time in the studio re-recording tracks and punching-in when you could have worked the issues out with some preparation. This time drains a budget and causes a lot of recording projects to sound flat and unprofessional in the end. The bulk of the budget was spent early in the project and when the time comes for mixing and mastering, the funds are not available. Be careful and budget appropriately.
5. Learn to be open to a little change.
In the end, be open to a little change. While recording, you need to experiment a little and find something that will elevate your recording to that next level. Every major band adds production elements to their tracks and you should as well. Keeping an open mind can make the recording experience fun and will help you evolve as a musician.
If you follow these steps you will increase the chances of coming out of the studio with the album you hear in your head. The key is to make sure the quality of the recording going in is outstanding so the mix coming out is even better. If the playing is sloppy and inconsistently played then it increases the difficulty in generating a great finished track so making sure you have prepared for the studio is just as important as practicing for a live performance.
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