Recording Tips

If you are fully prepared for the session then you will save time and money.
Here are a few tips to make sure everything will run smooth.
before the session

1. Get a very good night's sleep.
2. Agree on which track(s) you are going to record and get them rehearsed as well as you can (with and without vocals if you are a band!)
3. Change the strings on your guitar or bass the day before, and make sure they are stretched in. They will sound new on the day, but probably won't need re-tuning as much!
4. Re-Skin your snare or whole drum kit if you are bringing your own.
5. Make sure you have plenty of plectrums, drum sticks, leads etc.
6. Bring some throat soothers for your singer...
7. If you are going to record to a click track, make sure your drummer and bass player are comfortable with it.

during the session

1. Arrive on time, and get tuned up.
2. Bring some CD's to show the engineer what you'd like to sound like.
3. If you are used to your own amplifier bring it along, you know how to get a good sound out of it!
4. Keep your guests ( friends and mother ) out! It's your recording. Guests will distract you and may sway your opinion of how the music should sound.
5. Unless you have unique effects, record individual tracks clean and add effects later - this way you can change your mind.
6. Get the sound you want while recording. We don't buy "fix it in the mix" as many studios do. Never assume that you can fix an issue in the mix.
7. Determine a band spokesperson ahead of time. An engineer getting five different opinions on how to mix will grow tired and might cause him/her to rush through the job. Ultimately, too many opinions will wreck your mixes.
8. Guitarists, Bring a different guitar along with your main one, using a different guitar for overdubs can make them stand out!
9. The voice is an instrument.....honestly. Practice before going for a take.
11. Bring any previous recordings with you, pick out bits that you don't like with them, and make the engineer aware of them, and any suggested replacements etc.


guitarists

If your paying money for an important project, it makes sense to spend a little on your main guitar so that it's sounding the best it can.

If the guitar is old, or has had a bashing during gigs, it's probably a good idea to visit the internal wiring, or get it seen by a professional tech. Over time, especially in smokey atmospheres, the solder joints tend to become less conductive. A professional tech will normally change the solder for a small fee and
check out the neck alignment.

Keep a tub of fast-frets or lizzard spit handy to preserve the freshness of the strings and frets during the session. Taking spare sets of strings or even a spare (re-strung) axe is a good plan.

Make sure all your FX pedals have new batteries.

If you haven't rehearsed your material, you will hold the session back, and maybe create friction within the band. Ideally the band should have discussed and agreed on everything about the material before the session, if you want to save time. The engineers are available for going over any sounds you would like to achieve, or giving suggestions.


drummers

Start With A Great Sounding Kit - This may seem like a logical tip but you’d be surprised at how many people forget it when recording drums or anything else for that matter!If the drum kit doesn’t sound good at the source, there’s no tip or trick out there that can improve the sound of what’s been recorded. Similarly, if you’re trying to get a “big drum sound” but working with a small sounding kit (or vice versa) you’ll have a hard time doing so.

Pre-Production Is The Key To Recording Great Beds - Don’t make the mistake that many beginners do and wait till you’re in a tracking session to figure out the arrangement. It’s too late at this point to make changes and you won’t get nearly as good of a recording than if you had worked with the drummer beforehand. Get a notebook and map out the song before entering the studio. Instead, meet with the talent early on and figure all the details out ahead of time. This includes things like mapping out exactly how long each section will be and deciding on a proper tempo. Also, solidifying how the drum beat is going to develop and change throughout the song is very important. Keeping this tip in mind ensures that your drum recording session goes as smooth as possible with no wasted time.

Have Your Drummer Practice With A Metronome - Even after you’ve gone through the whole song’s pre-production, there’s still more that the drummer needs to do. They have to practice the song, either with a band or scratch track, until they’re confident in it. Above all else they should practice playing to a metronome at the decided tempo as much as possible. This is something that a lot of amateur drummers don’t have experience in and it makes a big difference.

singers

Get Hydrated and Stay Hydrated - You’ve probably heard that singers, actors and public speakers need to keep their voice hydrated, but what does that actually mean? Just bringing a bottle of water on set or to a session is not going to cut it. For your vocal folds (sometimes called vocal cords) to be performance-ready, you need to have been drinking a decent amount of water at least one hour in advance of using your voice. To understand why this works, think about how marinating translates into more tender meat. When you take time to marinate before cooking, the end result is that meat becomes tender and more enjoyable to consume. Water is to your voice as the marinade is to meat. By drinking a cup of water at least one hour before you need to use your instrument, you’ve taken steps to optimize your vocal folds. When fully hydrated, your vocal folds become more elastic. Hydrated vocal folds allow you to do more with your instrument because they are pliable and ready to respond.

Invest in a Good Night’s Sleep - Make sure that you get a solid, undisturbed night’s sleep before you have a recording session or performance. Your body needs time to recharge. While you might think sleep is overrated, think again. According to science (and experience), the hours slept before midnight add extra oomph to the quality of your sleep! Even celebrities like Arianna Huffington know you’re only at your best when you’ve invested time and energy into strategic slumber. Huffington recommends that you remove obstacles to sleep like screens and cellular phones from your bedroom. Relying on your mobile device to wake you up in the morning? Replace it with a battery-powered alarm clock. Make sure your bedroom is also dark enough – it’s never a bad idea to invest in blackout curtains.

Protect and Pamper Your Voice - Just as a parent looks out for and meets the needs of his or her small child, you should be pampering your voice and protecting it from the various dangers in your immediate environment. Remove yourself from situations that you know irritate your voice or make it difficult for you to maintain good vocal health. Many voice actors avoid strong scents, may ‘fake cheer’ (open their mouths to cheer but not actually yell) during sporting events or even skip spicy foods, especially if they have acid reflux. You know your body and your voice better than anyone, so you know what these ‘hazardous’ things are and the steps you can take to baby your voice. Something else you can do to protect your voice is minimize its use. Opera singers, for instance, may go an entire day without speaking in advance of a performance. While you might not be using your voice as intensely as Renée Fleming or Roberto Alagna, vocal rest is a definite must for anyone who relies on their voice as part of their profession. This goes without saying, but yelling is never a good idea when trying to save your voice. Whispering puts stress on your vocal folds because whispering in the classic sense (not stage whispering) doesn’t allow for the vocal folds to vibrate. The folds need to come together to create resonance. When you whisper, those folds are tight and strained, unable to meet in a way that creates a healthy, resonant sound.

Warm Up Well - Your voice is kind of like a car. In order for the engine to purr, you need to give it time to warm up. Once your vocal folds are sufficiently hydrated (as per tip #2!), warming up your voice is so much easier. It’s supple and moves more freely during your vocal warm up. And on that note, your voice needs to start slow. Humming is a great go-to for easing in your instrument. When you are humming, be sure that your jaw is loose and your teeth are separated to create more room for resonance. You can also try yawn-sighs that take your voice from the top of its range all the way to a growl in the depths of your lower register. Remember, as a voice artist, your instrument is your entire body. That means all of you! From your head to your toes. Roll out your shoulders to release tension, perform breathing exercises and ensure you attain proper posture to help you prepare. Physical tension can live anywhere though, so if you hold tension in a certain place (be it your neck, in your fingers, clenched toes, etc.), be aware of it and find ways to release it. Because language is central to a voice artist’s performance, you also need to think about other parts of your body that should be warmed up like your resonators and articulators. Tongue twisters, facial exercises and sung scales are good for any voice artist, whether the performance is for spoken word or belting on a Broadway stage. The tongue in particular needs to loosen up so that you don’t trip on your words. A good vocal warm up should explore all aspects of phonation. The sillier you look when you warm up, the better your warm up will be. Try standing in front of a mirror and don’t be afraid to look foolish!

Right Before Your Session - You can do all of the above and still fall prey to unexpected vocal pitfalls. Here’s a strategic plan to preserve your voice starting 1 hour before your performance. Be awake at least one hour before you need to use your voice. This will give you time to properly hydrate, as well as go through with any dietary choices you have made in advance of a performance. Drink a glass of water one hour before you need to perform. Remember, the water will only take effect one hour after it has been consumed. Expecting water to work in the moment only sets you up for disappointment. Protect your instrument from the elements. This may come in the form of cold weather, cigarette smoke, or seasonal allergens that affect your sinuses (which can affect the way your voice sounds) and more. Take appropriate measures to protect your voice. Live in a cold or dry climate? If you live in a region where you experience cold temperatures or endure high elevations, wearing a cotton scarf or tightly knit neck warmer that covers your mouth (and possibly your nose) will provide somewhat of a barrier between your instrument and the air you’re breathing. There’s nothing worse than preparing to perform and letting something like a blast of cold air, dry air, smoke from a wildfire, the exhaust from a vehicle or secondhand smoke mess with you doing your best.