Before you hit the ‘record’ button, here are five recording preparation tips to help your session go smoothly…
If you’re in a band you’ll no doubt be familiar with the concept of regular rehearsal for gigs. After all, if you ‘fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’, as the phrase goes…
When it comes to recording, this kind of organised prep sometimes gets overlooked.
Whether you’re recording at home, or in a studio with an engineer, making the most of your time is crucial.
To help your sessions run smoothly, here are five recording preparation tips.
Rehearse. And when you’ve finished, rehearse some more.
You might think that you know your songs well – after all, you gig every week. When it comes to recording, just ‘knowing’ them is not enough.
Every fluffed note and mistake will be obvious, so anything less than ‘perfect’ won’t really cut it.
Rehearse until you can play everything perfectly. Rehearse on your own, and rehearse with the band, too. The last thing that you want is to be playing take after take after take.
Aside from the time, and money (if you’re in a commercial studio), the more takes you play, the more tired and frustrated you’ll get and ultimately, you’ll become less likely to get a good take.
Plus, if you get parts recorded quickly, you may be able to squeeze an extra track into your session… (It’s worth rehearsing more than you aim to record for this very reason).
Maintain your instruments
With any luck, your recordings will be around for a very long time. It makes sense, then, to have your instruments sounding at their best.
Restring your guitars with enough time for the strings to stretch in. Consider re-heading drums, and make sure anything that rattles, buzzes or crackles is fixed before the session.
Tune drums and guitars, and make sure that any set-up/ intonation issues have been sorted our before the session.
Though you’re not playing a gig, the same ‘Murphy’s Laws’ apply. If something can go wrong, it will. Bring all of the spares you might expect to bring along to a gig.
Sleep well and eat right
This is often overlooked, but is one of the most important things to for recording preparation- perhaps its some rock ‘n’ roll cliché (‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ etc).
Whatever the reason, ensuring that you sleep well the night before will not only mean that you have the requisite energy for a night in the studio, but also that you’ll be able to stay focussed.
You’ll most likely need to eat at some point during the session. However tempting it might be to binge on fast food and sugary drinks or snacks, try to resist – energy levels will inevitably slump shortly after you eat.
Ideally, you should eat something fairly ‘wholesome’- enough to keep you energy levels high, but not enough to send you to sleep…
Record your rehearsals ahead of the session
Recording your rehearsals ahead of the session can be invaluable. Firstly, it will identify any ‘problem’ sections, enabling you to give them a bit more attention, and ‘iron-out’ any issues.
It also allows you try out different arrangements, and variations, with the benefit of being able to listen back and assess them.
The recording method doesn’t have to be complex- in many ways, the simpler the better. Roland’s R05 portable recorder is perfect for this. Pocket-sized, mic-stand mountable, and capable of providing premium, stereo recordings at the touch of a button, you can capture practices and rehearsals with ease.
Sessions have a habit of throwing up unexpected obstacles (I’m having flashbacks to a session that was halved due to diesel being put into a the tank of a petrol driven car that one of the players was travelling in…)
There’s not a lot you can do in those situations, but following the above should stand you in good stead for everything else 😉
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.