What do I track first?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' 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 haveing some of my first clients come in tommarow 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 spacificlly. Tell me what works best.


  2. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    Jun 15, 2005
    humm... and people are paying you.... hmmmm

    anyhow record the drums and the bass first (bass DI to prevent bleed)
    if your drummer isn't keeping the timing, then.... hmmmm

    if there is part of the song where there are no drums
    have him keep the tempo with stick hits and cut them out after

    good luck!
  3. SIAB

    SIAB Guest


    Good Call,

    But I would like to mic the bass cab. So would I use the DI box Initially, on the bass to guide the drummer then re-record the bass with a mic like I want to? I wish these guys were paying me...


  4. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    Jun 15, 2005
    Innitially all the musicians should know their parts individually by heart and not need any guidance.
    Does the cab sound that good to be worth recording?
    Do you have a good mic that will do it justice?
    i'm not psychic but stick with the DI. track for when you mix

    but if you insist; you can re-record the bass and mic the cab.

    some side tips:
    you're the pro, you don't let them tell you how your job is done
    (just like you don't tell the drummer how to drum)
    they're paying you (well in this case not) for your expertise
    don't sell yourself cheap, be humble, but be confident with what you're doing
    your job is as much about "recording" the band as to creating a comfortable environment for them to deliver something worth recording

    and a forum tip; don't be posting the same question in multiple sections :)
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Ahhhh the great dilemma??

    Generally I set up the entire band first. I have been play through some songs, I start adjusting the microphones, I want them all playing together I want the groove spontaneity the moment.

    Now you have cut a couple of takes. There are things that need to be changed, make notes. Go back later and work on them, getting them right getting the moment to feel fresh.

    The beautiful part about doing it this way is that you will find certain mistakes that you know are quirky that sound right are in fact write.
    that's why they call it art.

    Remy Ann David
  6. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    If you wanna record the full band stick the amps in separate rooms or screen them off for separation. Give the band a mix of everything in the cans and record the whole thing, this way you have no issues with timing/groove. Alternatively, if you have less space/gear, set up a scratch mix of D.I.'d signals in the cans and track that instead as a reference. It's also a good idea to have the singer put down a guide vocal (in control room or booth - i.e. away from other microphones), keeps the energy together and helps everyone get behind the song and the performance.

    If you have a decent bass amp there's no reason why you wouldn't want to use it's sound alongside a DI signal, I do it as common practice these days. At one point years ago when I recorded a whole band in a single room in a situation where it all had to be totally live (the bass player played a lot of the intros, lots of cues and interaction going on) I actually built a "Bass mountain" out of a mattress, some sleeping bags, blankets etc. to isolate the mic. The player felt that the amp sound was necessary for the fullness of the bass sound, especially during solo sections.

    Live is usually best, since it'll have the right "swing" and you might actually get away with not having to re-do some things.

    Good luck.
  7. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Home Page:

    Lay down a click track with a digital metronome, you'll need to know the bpm of each song and how long the song is, the band should know this info.
  8. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004

    SHOULD is the key word. Usually when I ask a band what the tempo is, the lead singer just starts tapping or something. And then they all start trying to tap out their own versions of what the tempo should be. :roll:
  9. redbort

    redbort Active Member

    Jun 15, 2005
    i approve this fact!
  10. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    If the band aren't used to working to a click I'd be reluctant to try it in your situation.

    Also, I once recorded a band who had all their tempos worked out beforehand, they insisted on tracking drums without a guide, just clicks, and guess what, later they realised their songs were too fast for the guitars to fit comfortably around. They did it again with a scratch guide, no worries. Just a word of warning...

    If you have a decent drummer on your hands it's probably more hassle than it's worth.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    Just another .05 worth of air from the remote world...

    Most of my tracking is live location. I do very few "standard" multitrack sessions each year... like one or two. But, when I do them I sit down with the band and sketch out a workflow.

    We set up the schedule according to what the band is trying to achieve. My personal opinion is to try to get the whole band to track everything at once and go back to fix what we have to. There's nothing more refreshing than to catch the groove when they work as they would playing live.

    When the project is purely creative and the band is writing as they go, (these are a MAJOR PITA, but fun none the less) I try to work with them to get the song concept in place... acoustic guitar/vox, piano/vox, etc. then lay down click, rythym, and embelish as they request.

    It all really depends up what you can/have worked out prior to the session. The key is communication and taking notes... LOTS of notes. Refer to them often.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

Share This Page