Making the most of your demo.....


Well-Known Member
May 12, 2003
I was just approached by a band who want's to record their own demo. They asked me for some advice on specific things, and I fugured we could all benefit from a discussion on the do's and don't's of making a top notch demo.

First let's talk about the pre-production stage. Do you "produce" your demos before recording, or do you record first, and then attack issues like chord voicing, arrangement, etc.

With my own band, we usually have at least a 2 track running, and we regularily listen to recordings of our improv jams, as well as our rehearsals. I learn a lot from this and I think it really contributes to our music.

What do you do?


great post btw

when whe started we mostly just practice, then play some lives, then record a demo in studio without any preproduction state.
after that i learned a lot - now i am sitting for 5-6 hours a week at home producing material in cubase alone.
now i suppose to get a mixer? couse i realy want to invite my band teamates and not only to practice but to record and listen to the records a lot after that.
because nothing improves your material better then hearing it during production state
i think theres a lot of grammar mistakes in my post so sorry for my english ^^


My experience of recording demos are, that it mainly comes down to arrangements as opposed to have a killer sound.

The idea of having rehearsals recorded (always) is essential and is an extremely good advice. (which all bands should adhere) That way you have the opportunity to learn from misfits that would never have been exposed otherwise. The good thing is that you don't need heavy gear to accomplish that, just a decent boombox is enough for those lacking sufficient funds...

Too many times I've experienced bands coming to the studio with all instruments playing at the low end, (sounding like goo), saying: "Yeah, we want a HUGE and crisp sound". On top of that they have a baryton singer.

I don't know, but I've also heard that demos shouldn't be too "finished", as it narrows down the "A&R market" if you know what I mean. Unless the band already have a sound to be proud of that is, and don't want to be formed by the producers.

Rod Gervais

Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2003
Central Village, CT
We record at every practice - just one or 2 tracks - this maintains a bassline of where we are - and also if we wind up not touching something for a year or so - we have the archive to bring back our arrangement. It also tells us a lot about our dynamics.

For a demo i like to have that "live" sound - so we also do those out of a practice - that lets everyone know what you're really going to do on stage.

But i also add some tracks for that. Generally 6 mics total.

That allows me to mix the band in a manner that reflects our live sound more accurately - ( i duplicate what we expect from our sound man in a live preformance).

Happy Hunting



Well-Known Member
May 12, 2003
Neuse River Watershed
Biggest problem I've had with musicians who don't have a lot of studio experience is they get "their sound" playing by themselves, where they get a huge spectrum of tones that sound great by themselves, all gunked up with the rest of the band.

It is tricky to convince players that they need to thin their individual tone in order to thicken the end product. It's counter intuitive, but true.

The worst are keyboard players (I'm one, so no flames please). The stock patches on synths out there have this Voice of God sound that rules the entire frequency spectrum. Sounds great in isolation, but often just muddies up everyone else. When you start thinning that tone, it sounds much less Godlike in solo, but ultimately much better in context.

Hope this helps