1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Being Prepared

Discussion in 'Recording' started by audiokid, Sep 13, 2000.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:
    Being Prepared, what tips could be suggested in getting prepared for a first time in a studio?

    How close should we practice the songs before we begin in the studio; still keeping them fresh sounding?

  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    "Being Prepared, what tips could be suggested in getting prepared for a first time in a studio?"

    When you can walk into rehearsal, and after a 15 minute warm-up period you can burn thru your set without any errors that bug you to the point you'd want to do it over again, you are ready to go into the studio and record. "Errors that bug you". That's the rub... When you're in your basement, you can't hear yourself with the same un-cluttered, microscopic, crystal clarity that you will in the studio. You can barely hear yourself at all for that matter! You can't hear when the fret buzzes every time you slap the E string with your thumb. And you just aren't bugged when you play that F# instead of F in that run every time you go into the chorus. And never mind looking out for your band-mate's mistakes. The mistakes go by you, or you gloss over them. Even if you KNOW you made a boo-boo, you don't want to admit it, especially if it means the whole band has to start the song from the top again. So, you have an uphill battle if the basement is the only reference you have to determine how prepared you are.

    Enter the 4-track.

    Hey, to find out if you're ready to record, why not... Record Yourself!!! (V-I!)

    Well, there are a few reasons why not.

    One, you might never make it out alive. You get so caught up in the whole recording process and trying to perfect the recorded SOUND, that you forget you are there to PLAY the SONG. (A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to be in a bunch of bands. Now I record for a living and don't play in any. Not that that's a bad thing, just realize that can happen to you too. And let me tell you, recording gear is an expensive habit, and a hard one to break!)

    Two, you make yourself lazy. The worst thing to do in the world is let a performer know they can "punch in". Once you have a 4 track, you get used to the idea of punching in veeeeery quickly. You begin to use it as a crutch instead of a last-ditch lifesaver. Instead of rehearsing songs from beginning to end, you rehearse only enough of the song to get a "take". And the "takes" keep getting shorter, and shorter. By the time you get to the studio, playing an entire song all the way thru is a completely alien concept. That is unfortunate, because that is the very thing you set out to do in the first place, in order to keep the cost of recording down. Not playing a song all the way thru is a great way to rack up a huge studio bill and never, ever finish.

    However, if you can pretend it's not a fun toy to play with, and it's really just a person in the audience at your show, then the 4 track can help you hear a little more of what you really sound like. This doesn't guarantee you'll hear every nuance that will be painfully evident in the studio, but it's better than nothing. Also, having a 4 track recording doesn't guarantee that you'll listen to it objectively. You have to be honest with yourself. Pay attention to your mistakes, especially the ones you make repeatedly. And then work at correcting them. This is not an easy thing to do. When you were rehearsing, you thought your band would be the next Led Zeppelin. What comes out of the speakers later sounds like Led $#!+-on-a-stick. Not too good for the ego, but better you hear that in your basement by yourselves instead of in the studio, in front of engineers, girl/boy-friends, roadies, financiers, etc.

    So now, 4 track in hand, you start on the long road to sounding like you know how to play a song. "But how long IS that road," you say? "Every time I record I hear more mistakes, more things I can fix. Everything bugs me more and more..."

    "How close should we practice the songs before we begin in the studio; still keeping them fresh sounding?"

    When you can no longer trust yourself to make these decisions...

    Enter "The Producer".

    At the very least, a producer is someone who can listen to your music objectively - an outsider, who is not so emotionally connected to the song that every subtle vibrato seems like a philosophical treatise, nor that every soulful mistake is an offense to humanity. He/she should be someone who's ears you trust enough to tell you "you're playing F# and it should be F", or "sounds great, let's book a session." A good producer should understand your artistic vision and approximate what the final product will sound like. They should know what needs to be done in order to get from the basement to the record store.

    This is a person you hire to make decisions that you will have to live with until your band's cd deteriorates and no longer plays. (I hear that's a long time, and with new advances in digi technology it might get a lot longer.) That is no small matter, and deserves its own thread.

    Hope that helps somebody.

    Angelo Quaglia
    AQ Productions
  3. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Ok, 1/2 hour after all that typing, and I come across aubrey sims' website...

    Excellent work aubrey.

    Sorry I can't be more enthusiastic right now, my fingers are bleeding and my eyes are drying up and falling out of their sockets.


    Angelo Quaglia
    AQ Productions
  4. JeffreyMajeau

    JeffreyMajeau Active Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Angelo, you've got some good thoughts in there. I might suggest passing on the 4-track recorder as a preparation/rehearsal tool, precisely because of the potential pitfalls you pointed out. A decent cassette recorder is really all you need to capture and critique a rehearsal. Most folks already have one kicking around so there's no need to lay out money that might be better spent when you finally get into the studio. It's quick and easy to set up and start recording, letting you focus on the music instead of the technical end of things. And, as you won't have the option to "punch in" to fix a mistake, it forces you to play your songs all the way through and see what you've got.

    In the end, it's all about having the discipline to honestly evaluate where things are at as you move through the rehearsal and preparation process. And that's hard to do. I always solicit feedback from fellow musicians and engineers who aren't involved in the particular project, so I know that I'm getting objective input. But remember, it's important to do this with people whom you trust will give you an honest appraisal of things.

    Jeffrey Neal Majeau
    Audio Designer/Recording Engineer
    Wave, Inc.
    11 California Avenue
    Framingham, MA 01701
    Phone: (508) 626-9900
    FAX: (508) 628-3698
    Email: jeff@wave-inc.com
  5. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Why did this thread die so quickly?
  6. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    I'd say, make sure each band member can play his or her part flawlessly in one take. Realistically, this hardly ever happens. So if the band thinks that they know the songs perfectly, it's the best they can be prepared entering the studio. As far as keeping the songs fresh, just get some hot chicks to drop by the studio so the musicians wanna show off.
  7. warlock

    warlock Guest

    OK I'll put in a bands (with no producer, this is how it is for most of the bands here) view.
    If you are in the studio the first time you are going to make mistakes. That is for sure. No matter how good you practiced the songs. The mistakes can be so insignificant while tracking that you choose to keep them (becuse you are paying by the hour and it is your aftersession beermoney you are wasting at the moment :) ), but then when you listen to the recording after a few months. The same little thing will start to bug you. To the point you cann't listen to that song again.
    And there is the thing that playing in the rehearsal room, playing live, and playing in the studio are completly different things. As the topic said "the first time". If up until now you have played only in your rehearsal room, and given a few gigs the chance you get a drumkit to sound good in the studio are very slim. Same goes for guitars. If you don't have yourown very good setup that you know and have played with a lot. You'll never get a good (suiting) sound in the studio the first time. You don't even know what you want. They give you a $1000 amp and until now you've only played direct to the console or with busted up gig amps ofcourse it's going to sound good the moment you plug your guit in. But is it the sound that is right for the band?
    So IMO it's a good idea to take someone (no gf's or close friends :) ) along if you go to the studio the frist time. They'll give you some perspective on things. Even if they aren't producers they listen to the stuff from another angle and point out stuff that bothers them.

    OK hope this made some sense,
  8. Rog

    Rog Guest

    My advice would be to figure out how you want the song to sound. Live is live, recording is something different entirely. Work out idea of what else you want to throw into the mix, from the Vienna Boy's Choir to a tambourine. Similarly, work out what you DON'T want in the mix. It's tempting for guitarists to want to multitrack 10 guitars for chorus. More often than not, less is more. You need to think about these things, espeically if you're on a budget with no producer present to break up the fights which start if everyone isn't 100% in agreement on what they're aiming for.
  9. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    I have some stuff posted on my web site that may be of interest:



  10. stoat

    stoat Guest

    Harvey - followed your links, and the advice looks good (I'll be printing it out for my band)
    Looked at the rest of your site, by the way, and I'm astounded by the prices you're asking for the equipment/experience on offer in your studio. I live in Dublin, Ireland and have been looking around for a 'proper' studio in which to record my oddball-rock band in for a while now, and it seems to me that there's only two places that come close to yours and they cost the equivalent of around $950 and $1500 a day (Totally Wired and Windmill Lane respectively).

    (If I'm wrong, I'd be delighted to be corrected - anyone familiar with Dublin studios?)
  11. Here is a link to our "Tip's" page,


    Pretty much the same as Harvey's with a few differences.

    We also have a "It's Your Money" page that is my view on picking a studio to spend you money at!


    Hey Harvey, I guess you and I own the only JBL 4311B's left on the planet! :cool:
  12. McAllister

    McAllister Guest

    Prior to our first album: As there was no dedicated singer we rehearsed the songs with no vocals so that everyone knew what was going on without vocal cues. This allowed us to concentrate on feel & we nailed the instrumental tracks ASAP.
    We also rehearsed a LOT. I seem to recall 5 days of rehearsal (we lived in the same house) immediately prior to tracking and running the songs 2 or 3 times each rehearsal.
    Of course: new strings & heads when necessary; batteries, cables & extras; all problems fixed.

    Prior to making our 2nd: we 4-tracked a lot so that the guitar player could 'hear' where he was going to do overdubs and get an idea of what those might be. This saved considerable time when we were paying for it.
  13. davemc

    davemc Guest

    Be happy that your sounds that come out of drum kits, guitar amps etc are what you want to sound like.
    Not something you are used to??

    No use bringing CD's of your favorite bands if your sounds do not sound any where close to start with.

    Funny thing is microphones pick up what the instrument sounds like, not what you would like it to sound likeā€¦
    My G&L and Soldano sound great when someone else but me plays it, as I am not the best Guitarist in the world but have good equipment.

Share This Page