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Preferred Way To Record a Band

Discussion in 'Recording' started by vdrummer, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. vdrummer

    vdrummer Active Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    I would like to get opinions from the group on which way is the preferred way to record a band. Individual tracks of each and if so use a metronome, or record the whole band together (in my case bleed over is not an issue) using scratch vocals?

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I prefer the core group together at once. Use a SM58 for the scratch vocal since it may not be, the scratch vocal, in the end. If you have a scratch vocal in the end? You may need to treat it with some Preparation-H?

    If the song is consistent, you may want a click track? Otherwise, I hate click tracks except for the first countdown start measure. But the drummer can do that. Thanks to computers, everything can be quantized to remove any element of humanity.

    I'm not really human. I'm the beautiful and always fallible...
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I have to agree with RemyRAD that it just sounds more... REAL to record a band all at once. When I record by myself in my home studio I usually use a click track to record the drums, 'cause playing by yourself at 230 bpm's is sorta tough, but I'm really starting to think about trying to do without the click. I guess if a drummer playing with a band needs a click track then maybe it's time for a new drummer? :lol: It's sort of tough to slow down and speed up when playing to a click, and music tends to sound better when a song isn't a constant tempo set in stone. And quantizing... I'm not even gonna talk about that.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    A LOT of drummers cannot do the clik track. They simply cannot stay in time with it. Some can though and if you want to edit then its essential to have a time code somewhere. All of the drummers I use can play to a klik. A couple of them can lay down scratch tracks just to get the band the right feel and then reproduce the track without anyone else along for the ride.
    This makes for very clean and quiet tracks especially in my small room which is subject to a small amount of bleed no matter how good I am with the gobos and the mic placement.

    As for scratch vocals I agree with Remy. Use a mic that sounds like its gonna sound just in case, though again, in my room, thats not usually an option due the size restrictions. But it is good enough for any demo tape you could ever want and makes for a great start to tracking a song.

    I will put up a 58 or a very hyper cardioid patterned dynamic to capture this. An AudioTechnica 6100 is great for this or an Audix OM7 and they really do sound better than the 58. They do cost a bit more but its worth it.

    Unless I need to build something and need a hammer.

    Remember to to put the singers mic in its best null position relative to the band and make em keep it on the stand just in case it stays recorded.
  5. jg49

    jg49 Distinguished Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Davedog wrote "Unless I need to build something and need a hammer." That quote seems so familiar.....
  6. vdrummer

    vdrummer Active Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Thanks for all the input, I would have to agree that the whole enchilada is much better, I feel you get the energy of everyone together that is missing from single recording. Now if I can only get our inexperience drummer to get in the pocket. Maybe I'll try a click for the drummer or put one in his ear.

    Remy you not only provide great advice but great humor as well love it!
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    In an ideal world that band would be tight, and the room would be great. Big enough to get some space between performers and maybe a few iso rooms for vocals and drums. Then you could have everyone play at once and still get clean tracks for every instrument. Of course, that's not happening in my studio or most others.

    One thing that you might try as a compromise if the band isn't that tight and/or the room isn't that good (or big) - record one acoustic track (usually either drums or vocals) and have all the electric instruments in the band go direct. If you start with vocals, use a click or a simple drum machine beat (which most people have an easier time playing to than a click). If you start with drums you can go with or without a click. Either way you have a clean drum track that can be tweaked. After you have fixed the drums you can either reamp or rerecord the guitars or just use the direct sound if you have plugins that sound good enough to you.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    Personally, I can't see myself doing anything other than recording the whole band at once.

    I record in a church, the chancel is about 8m x 6m but is quickly eaten up by the instruments and pulpit.

    So far things have worked well just recording stereo mixes off the board into the PC but I'd prefer to have the vocals separate, for compression/proper levelling.
    Also, if we were going to record something properly, I would make sure to strip things down to the core group, and add extras (such as tambourine/extra guitars) later.

    Useless fact: the tambourine is louder than the drumkit in our band.
    Lovely delicious 7KHz flooding the place.
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Total agreement:

    Very few drummers can lock up with a click track. I've only ever worked with a couple that had that very rare skill. I much prefer to record the whole band together - the rhythm section at the very least. If you can get enough isolation to track the bass, drums, rhythm guitars, keys, etc. all at once - the song will definitely have more 'feel'. Unless the vocal is stellar, we usually go back and replace the scratch-vocals. I'm not necessarily looking for a perfect vocal take, there's a hard to define quality I'm listening for. So sometimes it happens during the live-tracking, because the singer gets into it more while they're playing and feeding off the energy of the rest of the band. I wouldn't erase the scratch vocal until I was sure the dubbed vocal was going to be better. Squeaky clean isn't always what you're looking for.

    You should be doing multiple takes of each song until if feels great for everybody. And if the rhythm section has some swagger, the whole thing will come together much easier. Sometimes the energy is high when everybody's a little nervous and that good energy translates to the recording. Other times you have to do it until they're loose and relaxed enough to let it flow. It depends on everyone's temperament. You have to be able to assess and adapt.

    And if you don't have 100% isolation, for the love of God... please don't let the guitar player (or other soloist) run the whole thing into the ditch trying to improvise the world's greatest lead break. If he's consistent, let him do it with the rest of the band. If you don't think he's going to nail it when it counts, track the mother of all solos after the rest of the instrument tracks are nailed down. Otherwise, you have a blazing hot solo over an uninspired rhythm. Or worse yet, the ultimate rhythm groove ruined by a guitar solo that sounds like they were trying to play wearing mittens. And if you've got too much mic bleed you can't do anything about it, you have to go again and try to get the ultimate rhythm groove back. I'd rather give them a rough-mix and let them work out the solos on their own time.

    Good luck.
  10. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    The best way to record a band is the one in which they are the most comfortable, plus the capabilities of the room.
    Some play better all together.
    Some only think they play better all together, but actually play better when it's only 2 players at a time. (or less)
    Some can play to a clik, some can't. Don't force what's not natural.
    It's you that has to adapt to the way the artist works best.
  11. MightyFaulk

    MightyFaulk Active Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    This has been an interesting read because I'm so used to doing single instruments at a time I've been convinced that the art of recording an entire band at once has been lost.

    From the perspective of engineering: recording a whole band at once brings up a lot more challenging sound issues but can really pull off a natural feel (like everyone said).

    From the perspective of a drummer (I've been drumming longer than engineering): Playing to a click track is as important as being able to play para diddles. To me, tight recordings come from a tight tempo. I enjoy tracking drums with just a scratch guitar and a metronome. Bring in the rest of the band later while I nap on the couch!
  12. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Another thing I would like to mention about a band playing all at once is that it raises the performance level. Recording by yourself listening to a drum track is only so inspiring. Also, one can't forget the visual cues that can be communicated when a band is playing all at once, like if the guitarist or drummer does a solo section all by him/herself and will cue the rest of the band when to come in. I guess it just bugs me when there is no tempo variation in a song -- it's almost like a song being at one constant dynamic level: it just sort of grates on you. Anyone else feel this way? And it's sort of tough to change tempos, speed up, or slow down when playing to a click.
  13. Link555

    Link555 Distinguished Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    Great Thread!
    Personally I have worked both ways. The last band I did used a click and did the drums in one take. The bass and Guitars and Scratch vocals laid down track at the same time. However We only kept the drums from that session. We then went back and and put the bass down, then guitars then vocals.

    It worked mainly because the drummer was GREAT!

    The next band coming in will be live off the floor for everthing. We may try different rooms for isolation and do the headphone thing, but it is likely they will all end up in the same room.

    With vocal Overdubs later.

    Bleed City- but better groove and feel.

    We serve the song, how we make it real doesn't matter.
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    It depends....

    Each piece, album, group, yada, yada, ad nausium is different.

    The question is what the environment is...

    If the goal is a live album... guess what... Yer' trackin' live.

    If the goal is to build a beast from scratch, then you're sometimes recording single drum hits on a final track...

    I enjoy tracking in general, so it don't make a rats ass to me what order, or even how much we track at one time.

    If the band is coming to you to record, it's your responsibility to help them determine just wtf it is they want as an end product, and how you plan to deliver what they want.

    If no one gives a crap about what they want as an end product... then do whatever makes you the happiest...

    But good luck on gettin' that bunch of loosers back when they get signed for a 3 album contract, on a sweet 360 deal where you coulda' had 5%.

    You gotta at least be somewhat involved in the process of taking a band through an album.

    I mean... go back and look at Motown...

    The songwriter drove the bus... no song... no record, no music...

    The rhythm section layed down the groove. Maybe tracked vocals next, maybe they did horns and BGV's...

    It doesn't have to be a click unless it needs one.

    If I'm tracking a 40 voice gospel choir, there's no way on God little green earth, I'm gonna try to put any muso on a click, unless he's been rehearsing with one.

    By the same token, If I'm building beds... sure... and it's fine if I don't.

    But if its NOT working, you gotta be the one to step up and tell the group that a click just ain't happening... try different things.

    It's knowing the difference between knowing when to step in and sayin' something , and encouraging a logical process.

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