Recording basic tracks sans-drummer

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Ken Buseman, Mar 6, 2001.

  1. Ken Buseman

    Ken Buseman Guest

    I need to record some songs where the drummer may not be around to do the initial tracks. I was thinking that I would bring in the acoustic guitarist (songwriter) and record that with a click track minus the vocal, then add the drums, bass, vocals, etc. at a later date. I was wondering if I will lose some of the feel of the song this way and if this is not recommended.
  2. dgooder

    dgooder Guest

    Hey Ken,

    It has been my experience that the feel may suffer from doing it the way you mention, but all situations are different, and it may work just fine. One thing I might suggest is to use something other than just a click track, say a programmed groove to play along with. It may help the feel.

    I think the best situation is to have the basics played live with everyone in the same room, but in this gig, there are no rules - only guidelines. Do whatever you must to get the job done, and learn from each situation. I've been amazed on many sessions what works when, initially, I thought it wouldn't.

    Dave g
    570-839-1019 570-350-3422
  3. Hi Ken--

    My opinoin on this is stronger than David G's. While you may get a good thing happening by the final mix, I'll guarantee that it will be harder by far to go with the plan you describe. I've done it myself several times-- the latest just last month.

    First: David's suggestion to use a pattern rather than a simple click is excellent. But also track something a drummer likes to play to on another track for his overdub day: ie shaker pattern and cowbell quarter notes.

    Second: Be ready to redo the acoustic guitar after the drummer plays, as the original one will most likely sound wrong once the real tracks are in.

    Third: Have a bass track and a bass handy for drum day. The drums will sound funny without one.

    Fourth and most important: Get the drummer to play live with the songwriter. I know it's difficult if this is a singer/songwriter project, but the hassle is worth it. Every time I go through that hell, I tell myself never again.

  4. cjogo

    cjogo Guest

    We never use "live" drums in the studio...we provide the FatKat drum (21)pads with the combination of a Kurzweil rack. The Kurzweil allows us 10 seperate outputs, which gives us flexiblity at mixdown/,,,Also very easy to edit the MIDI info at the final mixes.>>>The percussiontist can play live in the room but with no leakage!!! We can provide a seperate pattern/metronome feed to the remaining members (if the drummer is not at peak timing)..or the direct feed from the live drummer.

    crystal studios cjogo :roll:
  5. glitchless

    glitchless Active Member

    Feb 15, 2001
    Home Page:
    This can be a disasterious senario if the singer/songwriter is inexperienced at working with a click, or even a drummer for that matter. At least with the drummer there is the option of him following the singer rather than keeping time.
    If there are songs that wont require the drummer this would be the time to plan on working on them.
  6. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    This CAN be done. But, it will be very time consuming. It's kinda like doing a remix at the tracking stage.
  7. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    Although I have found it easier as a musician to record basic tracks with a band I have heard some interesting results from the method you describe. Charlie Drayton told me that Trevor Horn recorded Seal's "Crazy" starting from an acoustic guitar with a click. All the tracks were then done as an overdub. He also said that it was very dificult for him (Charlie) to work this way. Apparently Trevor Horn records a lot of tracks and does a lot of editing and comping. It's not the way I like to work but I admit I like the end result.
  8. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    On our latest CD, because I was busy directing the band, I played all my keyboard parts into a midi sequencer and recorded them to two tracks with a drum machine bass and snare part on a third track. The band came in and layed down the bass, drums and rhythm guitar parts at the same time. It worked really well and I didn't have to concentrate on four things at once. On one tune, our drummer was so locked to the tempo we decided to keep the bass and snare click track on the album.

    I agree the use of just a click can be hard for some musicians to play with. Also, if there are tempo changes or timing changes in a tune, I'll use midi to create the drum click track and record it to one track ahead of time.

    On acoustic recordings I'll use a stick hit and a tambourine sound for the click and lay the guitar part or even a keyboard bass track down for a guide. They usually get erased and redone after the rest of the group has recorded their parts.

    The main point is to make sure the musicians know how to play the song on their own without hearing any other part. If they don't know how the song goes it can be a mess.
  9. cjogo

    cjogo Guest

    Since I have been a drummer for over 35 years--everything starts around a great "click"----be it a click from the recorder (VS1680) or the Midi (Kurzweil). We usually perform all the tracks on the FatKAt pads--{i have been performing live and in-studio, along time on pads, although the drum pads do seem to frighten most drummers.} So many performers are not "everyday" recording artists and hence are prone to many re-takes,,just to get a groove--so this method saves them studio $$ and have always been happy with their results.... thanks cjogo
  10. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Every click I've ever used has exactly the same problem - they all slow down during the chorus.
  11. dgooder

    dgooder Guest

    We usually perform all the tracks on the FatKAt pads--{i have been performing live and in-studio, along time on pads, although the drum pads do seem to frighten most drummers.}

    I would never ask a real kit player to use pads in the studio. The stick on a real head Vs. ANY of the pads available is enough to throw the feel of the most accomplished player, not to mention the lack of vibrations felt through the air and the infinite dynamics available on real drums. It's like asking a Stradivarius player to play a K-mart special.

    Dave g
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