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- Don't rage till 5 in the morning with a session starting the next day........ it's a waste of Alcohol, Money and Studio Time... (but mainly a waste of Alcohol!!)
- Don't have the final "knock these songs into shape" 10 hour rehearsal the day before a session.You'll blow you're voice out and have blisters on your fingers.
- ALWAYS bring spare strings and drum sticks to a session... even if you have been playing since you were 4 years old, in every country in the world, free and Communist and have NEVER broken any before... you will on bar 3 of the session... it just happens that way... BE PREPARED!!
- A $200 Fender Squire Guitar does not sound like a REAL Fender Strat... even if it's from the first shipment!!! it's 1/4 the price of a REAL Strat cause it sounds 1/4 as good...!!..same goes for Cheap Drum Kits... $100 won't get you a John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) Drum Sound..you get what you pay for...!!
- There's no such thing as a "KYLIE BOX"... if you sound like Nicky Webster, the final mix with all the "gadgets" will make you sound better and smooth out lottsa things, but you won't sound like Aretha Franklin.
- If you're drum kit has skins that date back to BIG DAY OUT 1999, no matter what we do, the drums will still sound like mud being hit by a wooden spoon... buy new drum skins before a session.
- No-one will notice if there's a missing 1/16th note on the hi-hat in the 3rd verse... but EVERYONE will notice if the chorus sucks... focus on the important areas when recording!!
- As sure as night follows day, as sure as another KISS reunion, you will run out of time at any and every studio session... there are 2 sayings you will never hear in your life...
- Can the drummer please move his Porsche from the carpark!!!
- Oh... look at the clock, we have some time left over in the studio!!
Don't get to a session and catch up with what's happening on Big Brother... don't get to the studio and THEN have a cup of tea... be very careful with the time you waste... it could be used to get a better track or vocal... what would you rather, a cup of tea or a killer drum track!!!
- When budgeting for time/money to record your songs, remember there will a difference between recording...
- An 8 minute Gothic Epic called "The Struggle Of Man Through The Ages" which has a 6 part vocal harmony middle-section, that makes Bohemian Rhapsody sound like Mary Had A Little Lamb
- A cover of a 2 minute Sex Pistols song..
Surprisingly enough, sometimes two songs will take a very different amount of time to record.
Watch Out For the Tambourine effect!!!!!!
Picture the scene - the song has been recorded - sounds great, all agree. But someone says “You know what it needs - it needs A TAMBOURINE”.
If it needed an oboe we’d still have a fighting chance of reaching a YES/NO decision - but no, someone has mentioned a tambourine - not only do we have 15 people in the control room - we have 15 opinions on where and how it should be played because as we know everyone can play the tambourine.
DECISIONS TO BE MADE:
- Tambourine in chorus only?
- If so, maybe not the first chorus - too soon.
- Do we play 8ths or only on snare beats?
- Play tambourine with hand or hit with drumstick.
- If with drum stick, would it sound thicker with not 1 but 2 tambourinists?
- Can we flange the tambourine?
- Can we pan the tambourine (but only on the last chorus - for that building sensation)
- Who’s gonna play the damned thing?
- Should we go for take No. 9 or is it still a bit behind the beat?
- Do the 15 people in the control room still like each other or does everyone hate everyone cause every one of the ideas was everyone else’s except mine.
- Who pays for the 2 hours studio time it took?
You think I’m overdoing it, replace tambourine with guitar solo or anything - the more the voices, the higher the invoices.
The only people who should be in the studio are the band, the studio staff, and the manager (only if he has laryngitis)!! It takes resilience to perform a song repeatedly until you get THE take, to sing a song 5 different ways until you get the right attitude and it’s less embarrassing in front of 5 than in front of 10 (including your new girlfriend who thought you were great at Saturday night’s gig - but now isn’t quite sure because you keep getting THAT BIT AFTER THE CHORUS wrong every time).
Ever wondered why monks meditate in caves instead of in the middle of a bull fight? There are less people (and bulls) in a cave - it’s easier to concentrate with fewer people.
- Some Don'ts!!!
Talk music not gizmos! Go and see the studio and talk to the guy - if he does 10 minutes of technical talk, quoting silly things like Hertz, sound to noise ratios, floor noise, reverse phasing - quickly run away.
- Don’t spend 1 hour recording and 14 hours mixing. Don’t spend 14 hours recording and 1 hour mixing;
- Don’t start drinking beer at 11am and expect to boogie at midnight (you’ll be asleep);
- Don’t bring a gorilla amp into the studio and expect it to sound like a Marshall, etc. etc. etc.
- Don’t spend $10,000 on a 2-song demo for a local pub gig. However, don’t spend only $200 on a demo for the Sony A&R guy who wants to hear the band.
- Don’t go to a $3,000 a day studio to a guy who’s worked with Pink Floyd and Korn for your demo. Also, don’t go to a $20 an hour studio with a guy who has just recorded ‘Smelly and the Farts’ to record your upcoming worldwide release CD.
- Plan your session, don't spend 11½ hours recording band tracks for 10 songs and leaving ½ an hour for all the vocals, harmonies, tambourines, cowbell, choir and glockenspiel!!!
- Plan roughly 1/3 band record—1/3 vocals and overdubs 1/3 mixing time
Although the technical side of things is important, it’s more important when a band walks through the door to sort out the music and the logistics (style of songs, budget, purpose of recording etc.)
I’ve found the more technical the talk, the less the person knows about actually getting a sound. I know a guy who can quote the model number of the mike, the year of the amp, the polarity of the guitar pick-ups, but he doesn’t know what a good guitar sound is.More sadly these people think that knowledge = ability. Most 10 year old kids have more knowledge than Socrates had, so knowledge does not equal ability!!
Play some stuff - When an artist or a band comes in, I will always play something I’ve recorded in a similar style. Whatever the style of music you play, the guy should have something similar. If he doesn’t, maybe you should go to someone who does, otherwise you could be guinea pigs for this guy’s first recording of music with drums (for example).
However, listen to what is being played. If the vocals are clear, bass is fat and round, guitar is clean or grungy or good (whatever), drums are punchy with plenty of snare and kick, not dull and reverby; solos stand out well, and if things seem generally balanced it would seem that this studio could be for you. Don’t be silly and judge the whole by the specific - e.g. “I didn’t like the studio ‘cause that 2nd song had too much chorus on the guitar” - he might have been instructed to do so by the previous band - he might hate it too.
BUT watch out that you are not being played a $20,000 C.D. final product as an example of what your $200 demo is gonna sound like - ask for a similar price sample.
Meet the man - try and talk with the guy who is going to record you, not the guy who is trying to sell the studio time - he could be a dork but the engineer could be a great guy - or worse still - the opposite!! You will spend some time with him and the success of the session will heavily depend upon him, and your relationship with him - so meet him!!
Finally - there are lots of studios, but only a few good ones. With a bit of time and logic you can spot the difference - take the time!!
Permission to reproduce this article is available to all,
as long as you include attribution to myself including contact details
and let me know where you have used the material.
A# Sharp Recording Studio
Phone: +612 9153 9988
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