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first time in recording studio


Richard W

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The bad news was, the gig we had scheduled for December was cancelled when the restaurant/bar called to say that they were no longer going to be a venue for live music.

 

The good news is, with this sudden hole in our schedule, the band is going into a studio for the first time to record maybe a half dozen tunes that we can use for promotional purposes.

 

Totally psyched! Never recorded (other than live video at gigs) before.

 

Any advice?

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Practice everything with a drum machine (in spite of what Jeff Berlin says).

 

Record the songs at a rehearsal, even if it's on a little boom box. Sometimes something glaringingly off can be caught.

 

If it's for promotional purposes, you may not need the entire song. Most people won;t listen to entire songs. Snippets of different styles might be better.

 

Cut all bass frequencies under 80. That's all hum. Pump 400 hz and 2 K. That's the meat.

 

Don't be intimidated. Play what you hear. If it's too much, you'll know. it's better to trim than to sound tentative.

 

Have fun.

 

Don't let Griffinator hear what you did.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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In big venues with full PA support, I'm a big fan of recording a stereo feed from the board during live shows. Have the guitar players bring small amps and turn these amps around like monitors during the show. I've found these recordings to be surprisingly good, and more than acceptable for promotional purposes. And if not, you get a real good idea of what the band needs to do better.

 

In the studio? I like using my own headphones even though the ones in the studio are better than mine; I know what my cans sound and feel like. And take some photos in the studio. They always look cooler than cool.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Don't suck.

 

What Erik said :thu:

 

Only ever spent one afternoon in someone's studio. I almost wrote "demo studio" but it was with the pre-Dapper Dans (i.e. without a lead guitarist). We ended up cutting about 14 tunes or so (most likely our entire repertoire at the time) and redid a few really good takes because we recorded everything live and did not realised we could do punch-ins :grin:

 

I agree on taking pictures. I took a camera and have about 3 or 4 pics, but they're special to me because it was my first (and so far only) studio experience. Also, I played a Yamaha TRBII 6-string which I parted with ages ago, and I'm a sucker for nostalgia :grin:

 

Other than that: have fun! Oh, and first takes rule ;)

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Got a question here, but I think this is still pertinent to Richard's topic.

 

Those of you who have recorded with a band or your own material - how do you handle the pressure of being in a studio, with every second counting (financially speaking)?

"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug
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Be as prepared as possible:

Musically---well-rehearsed

Equipment---in tip-top shape

Mood---positive

Other---no phones, no drugs, no alcohol, no friends or family in the studio

Studio preparation---make sure the engineer knows ahead of time what the instrumentation is, if there are any special sounds you like or don't like (playing a recording ahead of time for the studio can help "we are going for this kind of sound"

Playbacks---don't waste time on endless playbacks to hear how it sounded. If someone screwed up they will know it and if you have a great take, you should know that too. Keep playing through mistakes unless they are drastic: often it is much faster to punch in a note or two than to have everyone play the whole song over again.

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Got a question here, but I think this is still pertinent to Richard's topic.

 

Those of you who have recorded with a band or your own material - how do you handle the pressure of being in a studio, with every second counting (financially speaking)?

 

There's actually an easy answer to this--be fully prepared on every level. As our esteemed colleague, JeremyC says, have your gear working correctly, know your material inside and out and go into the experience with a positive attitude.

 

So the real key is to be prepared so that you can walk into the place feeling confident and knowing everyone in the band can play their parts without difficulty.

 

Yes, the recording environment can be weird... hearing everything through headphones is a little strange, and, yes, there's the added pressure of time equaling money, but close your eyes and really listen to yourself and the band... it's not THAT different from rehearsal/gigs... so relax and get in touch with the part of yourself that loves playing music.

 

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I second recording everything a few weeks before and listening back and altering your arrangement if need be so that you know what you are playing is going to work.

 

Pressure? Make sure you do the stuff that you can only do when the whole band is together first. Don't all sit round while the vocalist does hundreds of takes to get three words right or the guitarist does loads of overdubs then find out you've run out of time to lay down the other tracks. Each person can always come back one evening or another day on their own. Getting a whole band together for a whole day is usually pretty hard.

 

Make sure you have food and drink and something to read/watch etc. Usually it's a long day and you don't want people dissapearing off for food just as you're ready to record the next track.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

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Keep playing through mistakes unless they are drastic: often it is much faster to punch in a note or two than to have everyone play the whole song over again.

 

Which also means that unless you're married to the sound your amp and speaker produces, go direct instead of mic'ing the cab.

 

You already know your stuff inside-out. Key thing is to focus while you're playing. There's lots of distraction things to look at and think about. So don't. Stray focused on the tune.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Got a question here, but I think this is still pertinent to Richard's topic.

 

Those of you who have recorded with a band or your own material - how do you handle the pressure of being in a studio, with every second counting (financially speaking)?

 

 

You have to go into the studio KNOWING that some things are going to take some time. It's the nature of recording.

 

I KNOW from previous studio experience that the engineer and/or producer are going to spend a significantly greater ammount of time getting a sound from the drummer than they will in getting the bass sound. It's far more intricate process to mic an entire kit than it is to set levels on my DI and amp mic.

 

So what do I do with that time? Prepare some more. What does that entail?

-Tune EVERYTHING.

-Set up all of my gear so that when it's time to get a sound that I am ready for the engineer.

-Get my charts/notes ready.

-Check with the band leader on what order we'll be going through in terms of songs.

-Check my headphones.

-Get "refreshed".

 

You can get all of these things done and probably still chill while they work on a drum sound. But be ready to spring into action when you get called upon.

 

As for feeling a level of pressure because every tick of the studio clock means more money? Deal with it. You need to be prepared so that when it's time to play your parts, you just do it. FOCUS ON THE MUSIC. LISTEN.

 

And as Jeremy said, don't focus on minor flubs and cause the whole band to scratch an entire take. Punching in a bad bass note is not a big deal for almost any engineer. Believe me, I've done that more than I care to acknowledge. We had a saying in one of my old bands about punching bad notes. It was called "Plow & punch, fly & f**k!" It may not seem like the most perfect musical thing to do, but sometimes it's the fastest thing to do in the studio.

 

With that said, my own band just finished recording our new album which drops THIS SATURDAY! Here's the info for those of you in the NYC area.

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"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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Keep playing through mistakes unless they are drastic: often it is much faster to punch in a note or two than to have everyone play the whole song over again.

 

Which also means that unless you're married to the sound your amp and speaker produces, go direct instead of mic'ing the cab.

 

You already know your stuff inside-out. Key thing is to focus while you're playing. There's lots of distraction things to look at and think about. So don't. Stray focused on the tune.

 

An amp? WHAT'S AN AMP? : )

 

Almost nobody uses amps anymore and the bass ESPECIALLY gets the cleanest sound direct. This isn't a time to experiment with "your" sound. Just get the tracks down. The way to handle the pressure is to remember that worrying doesn't help. Keep the parts simple. And you can always punch in a bad note to correct it.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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Or...find someone with a Mac and make the recording on Garage Band.

 

These days I think learning GB is an essential tool for all musicians. Even if you;re not a master at it, you can record demo quality, work on sounds and ideas and save a ton of money in the long run. And when it comes time to go into a studio, you'll be that much more prepared.

 

Really, it isn't even an option. It's like having a cell phone or a GPS. It's simply a part of the job and a way of life.

JAZZ UN-STANDARDS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vE4FoJ4Cr4&feature=related

 

DON'T FEAR...THE REVERB! 60's Instrumentals with MORE BASS!

 

 

 

 

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Yes, what he said.

Do not use a bass amp. "Go direct, young man." (to rephrase a statement which may have been made by Horace Greeley.)

 

This doesn't fit every situation. But a DI is almost universally used for recording bass.

 

On the latest record I made, I split my signal: straight out of the bass to a DI, and then the output of the DI went to my effects chain and then on to my amp head and a cabinet that was in an iso booth. We blended the two signals and got some really nice tones. Which you can now check out on iTunes, since the album dropped today. Sorry, I'm just giddy with excitement!

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"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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.....in an iso booth.....

 

Which you can now check out on iTunes, since the album dropped today. Sorry, I'm just giddy with excitement!

 

First off: congratulations and good on'ya!

 

Second--Iso booth: yup--good point. Certainly that's how you can get your amp tone and still be able to do effective punch-ins. But for a first timer in the studio or people on a time budget, I'd be more inclined to keep it simple.

 

....Of course, that's easy for me to say since the tone I like best is the direct one anyway.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Thanks! The gig was a lot of fun.

 

The iso booth is a perfect solution when you want to mic an amp. But DI boxes have become the workhorse of bass recording. There are plenty of flavors of them on the market. Usually you can trust the one that a studio will have on hand. But it certainly does not hurt to have a DI box of your own.

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"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just thought I would close the loop on this topic. Our session was yesterday and went pretty well. The studio was very small, so the keyboard player and I ended up in the control room to play, while the rest of the band was in the actual studio. We did everything live and then overdubbed the vocals and harmonies. Managed to get through Out On the Weekend, Last Time, I Saw the Light, Hold Me Tight, Change Will Do You Good, Little Sister, and Wild Nights. Maybe only one or two bum notes on my part in the whole set, though we did have two or three takes on a couple of tunes. Final vocal work and mix next weekend and then...stocking stuffers.

 

I had a blast, though.

 

 

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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I Saw the Light,

 

OMG. We are so old. I have A Dream Goes On Forever in my solo act. Couldn't I Just Tell You didn't make the cut since I can' really sing it up the octave, and down an octave it just doesn't have that punch....and you can't really change the key in that one.

 

Congrats on the session!

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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Oh - this brings back so many memories. I was a big Todd fan.

 

I had a friend who was an artist make me a poster of the lyrics for "A Dream Goes On Forever" and gave it to the girl I was dating. It's hanging downstairs somewhere.

I don't play piano more than banging chords, but I have a nice arpeggiated arrangement of "Cold Morning Light".

I always thought "Is it my name" would work in a Christian-Rock play.

So many cool songs...

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm gonna add to what jeremyc said on two points:

 

Equipment: tip top shape -- time to take your session bass to the hospital for a checkup, even though you THINK it's fine. I've had the embarrasment of having an engineer turn up the 400Hz dial on my track to uncover a slight hum which was almost buried in the mix, but HE found it and showed it to me. It was coming from a bad solder joint on a Bartolini pre-amp on one of my fretlesses... something I didn't hear before the session.

 

Moral: it helps to have a 2nd pair of ears listening to your sound.

 

Mood: positive -- How many hours (and how much money) we spend in multiple takes and extra breaks because (a) someone is stressed out and blows the take; (b) someone has to tell his favorite story/joke as the engineer is waiting to "roll tape"; © the "girlfriend" (or "boyfriend") is hungry, bored, or needs to be held; (d) someone HAS to go to the bathroom right this minute; (e) someone is hung-over or still "buzzed"; (f) someone has to settle an argument right now before you "roll tape"... but IMHO the worst is... someone is LATE to the session. (no excuse really helps here unless it involves an emergency room)

 

Moral: don't let ANY of that GET to YOU. Remain calm and everyone else will respect you more. When the session is over you can calmly explain how every minute wasted could have been another minute of recording time.

:wave:

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someone is LATE to the session. (no excuse really helps here unless it involves an emergency room)

 

Interesting ironic anecdote:

 

When I was recording an album with a band back in 1999 (as the frontman), we had slotted my first vocal session to be this one particular night a few hours before I had to go to work (was working 3rd shift at the time).

 

I arrived about 10 minutes early to the session, got out of my car, and the engineer pops out the front door immediately and says "Your wife just called, she's taking your kid to the hospital, he's bleeding into his diaper!"

 

I bolted to the hospital at such a rate of speed that I actually beat the ambulance. Turned out my son had intesusception, which they were able to fix without surgery, but that was a scary car ride.

 

And that, my friend, is the only recording session I've ever missed. ;)

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I've been a Todd fan for a long time. I have really wanted to do "Love Of The Common Man" & "Black & White" from the Faithful LP for a long time. I just haven't been in a band that it would work with for a very long time.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

We are set to record a handful of songs "live" in the rehearsal space next week on Saturday. Should be interesting, especially since both guitarists have never recorded anything and I have only ever once spent a few hours tracking songs live.

 

We have selected 7 songs, of which 5 are definite and 2 are "extra". I believe there is only one song being recorded on which I usually do backing vocals, but there is a good chance our singer will do vocal overdubs at home and will also add the backing vocals, or perhaps he will get the drummer to sing them. All good to me, I am not really dead set on getting "my" voice on there :grin:

 

One thing I wonder about, though: there is one fairly standard 12 bar blues shuffle we will do, and I usually just play it simple, leaving more "fancy" (for my abilities anyway) stuff for other songs. Should I keep it simple here, too? Or add some of the stuff I usually play during other songs?

 

I guess I already know the answer ;)

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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