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What do I track first?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by SIAB, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. SIAB

    SIAB Guest

    Hello all,

    Just had a quick question about tracking instruments. My question is, what do I track first? I sort of have this feeling that the drums are supposed to go first but I'm not sure. If the drums do get tracked first how do I insure that the timing will be just right when other instruments are added after I have tracked the drums?

    I am actually having some of my first clients come in tomorrow to start the recording of a demo. And just wanted to make sure I knew what was recorded first and then what follows that. I've done a lot of reading but no book has addressed this specifically. Tell me what works best.


  2. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    there will be people screaming
    ... track the band as a band and get as much down as possible in one GOOD take
    I get all that
    but it does take good resources and good preparation

    BUT to take the question at face value and remove any skill preparation or equipment latencies out of the equation ....

    I think that tracking any thing that can give the song it's timing/rhythm ... structure and feel
    such that the musicians that follow get the essence of the song
    should go down in the first run

    This can be drums OR it can be hands feet dustbin lids guitars or banjos..... could even be voice ... sample loop
    ANYTHING that has the guts of the song

    I don't like the term click track cos I feel that a simple click, click, click
    just doesn't carry the song with it

    It takes real skill and experience to carry your song through a simple quarter note click ... some people can do it but it's rare
  3. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    Getting the rhythm section down is pretty much standard, even if it is a scratch track. Begin with drums and bass (I usually track them at the same time with the bass cab in the iso booth.), then build on that. Kev has it right, many musicians can't follow a click track.

    Recording the WHOLE band for use other than a scratch track may not be feasible due to the problems isolating bleed-through. (I don't know your setup, but I know it's not for me) Plus, you'll usually find that the dynamics and groove of the song will be more natural when tracking seperate parts. This will allow the musician to listen to his band-mates instead of looking and really "feel" what the song is like on tape.
  4. Sometimes it's not, what instrument to track first but which musician can be tracked first. At least one individual out of the group will be the, backbone, and all the other band members will point them out if they don't step forward.

    I absolutley puke profanity under my breath after 10 takes. And musicians don't perform well at gun point.
  5. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    This is a no brainer. The most difficult and time consuming instrument IMO are drums. So you want have "keeper" drum sounds and performance. Go direct with guitars and bass for scratch tracks so the drummer has them to listen to in the cans. Then overdub the bass and guitar which ever way you want. If the song has a guitar intro or something have the drummer do drum stick clicks through it, dont forget a few measures ofcstick clicks before the intro starts as well.
  6. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Home Page:
    Also in interludes where drums cease and pick up again, unless you really want to stray there :wink:

    When Rush recorded Power Windows with Peter Collins they recorded the whole band, but everyone knew that they targeted at the drums to be perfect. All else was redone later. The fact that they used a click also is not important. That was just because they wanted to add sequences later. This method lays a burden on the drummer, but most drummers are able to deal with it.

    I know a band that wanted to record a song that started out with just vocals. They recorded nothing when the guide vocal was done in the first take. The consequence was that the vocals could not be redone and it was also difficult to redo anything else because there was no real cue but the guide vocals for the rest of the band.

    Good luck.

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