"No Mick, I can't remove your accent from the vocal tracks."
11Tips for A Successful Project
Know your material. Thoroughly rehearse and learn the pieces you will record before you enter the studio. Try rough-recording your material with a boom box, or whatever is convenient, during a rehearsal or performance. Listen to your recording for conflicting rhythms, wrong chords, arrangement, strained vocals and anything that can be improved by rehearsing.
Discuss your needs and goals with the engineer in advance. Play your rough recording for the engineer so he has a good idea of the style and sound of your group. Plan a recording strategy together.
Make sure your equipment is in good repair. Guitars, basses, keyboards and amps need to be free of electronic noise. Guitars and basses should be properly adjusted, with correct intonation and free of fret buzz. Make sure your strings are fresh! Electric basses that do fine in live performance often lack the high and midrange frequency content that allows them to punch through on recordings. Changing your strings can help. Tune frequently during down time. Bring extra strings.
Drummers, use your best sounding drums and cymbals. Your engineer can probably improve the sound of your equipment, but it takes valuable studio time and the results will never be as good as with first rate equipment. Drums should have good sounding heads. The tuning lugs should be packed, so they don't rattle. Tune your drums before entering the studio. Bring extra heads. Try not to use unfamiliar or new equipment.
Reed players, select a few good reeds before entering the studio.
Singers, rest your voices before recording. Discuss strategies for saving your voice with the engineer before you begin tracking. there are several ways to minimize the amount of singing needed to obtain clean tracks.
Be on time and ready to roll. When you arrive at The Sound Quarry™ your engineer will already have done as much preliminary setup as possible "off the clock." However, at The Sound Quarry™ as at any studio, you will be charged beginning at your scheduled time even if you are late. Why not make the most of your dollars by arriving a few minutes early?
Too many cooks spoil the soup. Minimize the number of people (and therefore opinions) in the studio. Some groups hire an independent producer. Others produce their own material. If your group is going to produce its own project, it may be wise to give one member final say. Another approach is to let each musician produce his own tracks with a single band member who will oversee the whole project. For example, the keyboard player can be responsible for the quality of the keyboard tracks, but should try hard not to offer too many opinions about the bass tracks. Your engineer can serve as producer or as a valuable second set of ears if you like.
Realize that every musician has unique skills. Your project may turn out better if you give each musician some freedom to try it his own way. It is OK to record a part more than one way, then compare.
Know when to stop. As Les Izmore once said to John Tesh, "There's too much #*$! in this arrangement." In an overdubbing environment the temptation can be strong to add more and more tracks. At some point, additions will detract from what has come before. Consider adding variety by having parts "lay out" at times. Contrasting instruments can share the same space easier than like instruments. Mix high and low pitched instruments, sustained instruments with percussive.
Garage in, garbage out. Make sure you are satisfied with the tracks as you record them. If you have concerns, this is the time to discuss them with the engineer. Some things can be easily repaired by the power of digital editing. Other things may be time consuming or impossible to fix.
Let your recordings breathe. Certain performance imperfections can actually enhance your project. Squashing every bit of individualism from a performance can leave a project sounding sterile.
Be prepared to have fun! You will achieve your best performance in a low stress environment. The beauty of multitracking is that you are allowed to make mistakes enroute to your perfect performance. Advance practice will boost your confidence. The first take rarely makes it into the final mix. Punch-ins are normal. So, relax and let it flow.