Recording in a Professional Studio? First time? Don’t Be Stupid!!
Recording in a professional studio for the first time can be pretty intimidating. Generally, it’s exactly the opposite experience of playing live putting everything you do under a giant microscope. You and your band are coming into an unfamiliar room and may feel uncomfortable. Conversely, that feeling adds to the unfamiliar. Also, leading you through the technical aspects is the recording engineer you probably just met that day. However, there’s no choice but to trust him/her to guide you through the session.Accordingly, this new stuff can be a bit much for virginal studio cats. Consequently, it’s easy to arrive overly confident, under-prepared, and full of potentially stupid mistakes.
These tips will help you avoid stupid mistakes while giving you the benefit of our decades of studio experience. As you get comfortable and know how to prepare, the studio can be a great experience. Incidentally, recording can be as much fun as playing live, if you’re ready. However, if you’re not, it can be a session in hell. The following are some stupid mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
First Stupid Mistake – Not preparing your instrument!
One of the worst common mistakes made by newly-recording musicians, especially guitar players, not readying their instruments. Have your guitar in as perfect shape as possible for the session. To begin with, it shouldn’t look and sound like you just finished a month of touring. Dead strings, bad intonation, dirty electronics and clanky frets are not wanted. Get a setup done. A good tech, with an hour on the bench, will have your instrument walking tall and sounding like it should. You’re going to be under the microscope, remember? Prepare to be scrutinized.
Watch this clip on how to do your own setups!
Second Stupid Mistake – Not knowing your material!
The first time you record in a professional studio will probably be done with your regular band. So, there’s no excuse for not having memorized the songs you’re going to record. Studio time is billed by the hour. Thereby, it pays to over-prepare in this area. Don’t rehearse while on the clock! Extra takes and mistakes can unnerve a greenhorn band. Thus, it can create arguments and crash the session. Know your stuff and keep the peace.
Spinal Tap in a full studio meltdown will show you what NOT to do! NSFW!
Third Stupid Mistake – Struggle with playing in time!
Most recording in the modern era is done to a click track, essentially a metronome to which the band plays. It’s impossible to do without a click track if you’re syncing electronics to live takes. Keep in mind, your song will sound like trash if the band is struggling to play in time with each other. It’s bad if they keep drastically speeding up or slowing down. Subsequently, try recording a few rehearsals before going into the studio. This will give you and idea of your sound, usually. If you have time/groove problems, fix them!
Here is a metronome lesson to get you started!
Fourth Stupid Mistake – Losing focus on your session!
It’s not a party. It’s a recording session! In fact, it can be an intense experience if you are new to the game. Don’t get too intoxicated or distracted while working. It’s a bad idea to get loaded if you’re green to studio recording. For example, getting high or into a text fight with your spouse can derail the session. Recording will take all your skills and creative power. Therefore, play it straight and your results will be better. Some folks only learn this the hard way. Studio time is just time reserved. Furthermore, good outcomes are not guaranteed. In short, either way you still have to pay the bill.
Fifth Stupid Mistake – Not listening to the recording engineer’s advice!
When a newbie ignores the engineer, it’s always a mind-blower. There’s nothing to gain from ignoring the advice of the person behind the mixing board? The engineer does this stuff daily. He’s probably mixed for a couple of decades, at least longer than you. Hence, it’s not the time to pretend you know more than you do. Nor is the time to try and impress with knowledge you don’t actually have. Check your ego at the door. The engineer is your best chance of having the session come out even close to how you’d hope. Lean on the experience of your engineer, don’t fight it. Usually, if you’re told to do something, it’s for a reason. Don’t be a diva.
Wonder what that engineer person actually does? Watch this!
Sixth Stupid Mistake – Expecting the engineer to fix your bad sound and playing!
Recording engineers are problem solvers. They fix issues we didn’t even know we had in ways most of us wouldn’t understand. That said, they are not magicians. A bad performance can only be fixed with so much studio trickery. The best way to sound good on a session is sounding good to start. Practice, a lot. Also, get your guitar setup done. Likewise, learn to use your amps and pedals to quickly dial in good tones. As a rule, the better you play and sound, the better your studio day will go. Conversely, Don’t think you can show up drunk, out of tune and sounding bad, expecting the engineer to ‘fix’ it. You are in for a rude awakening.
Think you can ‘fix it in the mix?’ Think again!
We hope you learned from this article and enjoyed reading it. Mistakes will be made on your first session no matter how you prepare. Hopefully, this information will help you get through that first day a little easier. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Also, please share it with all your musical friends. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio – Darrel Gil, a metalhead guitar teacher with a big obsession for shredding, effects & pedals, as well as a big fan of progressive music stuffs. Share the passions and loves on his blog: https://shredaddict.com/