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Any advice for recording in a studio?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by night_mail, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. night_mail


    Oct 18, 2017
    Dekalb, IL
    Hello, I will get to record in a studio setting in a couple weeks, which i have not done before. Only taking one day for bass so must make best use of time. Any tips on how to best prepare; what did you bring, how did you manage pedals, amp settings etc.? Would like to hear other's experiences with recording in a studio and any advice on how to make it go smoothly.

    BOOG, halech54, Smooth_bass88 and 5 others like this.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    know your part(s)! that's it. the rest is secondary, especially if your signal will be recorded direct into the console/mixer. good luck! :thumbsup:
  3. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Don't tell the engineer how to do their job.
    Come rehearsed, don't waste their time. OK to do multiple takes, OK to take advice if you have a producer in the room. But make sure you are ready to lay track when you get there. You'll get a lot more support from the crew if you respect their time and process.
    And don't spill your frozen daquiri on the console.
  4. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    yep - use that daiquiri to quell the red light fever!
    Peteyboy likes this.
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    How are you at playing through headphones? If this is a new skill to you, you have 2 weeks to practice! :)
    Schonbrun, MrLenny1, sonojono and 2 others like this.
  6. bassburner

    bassburner Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2008
    1) Relax - But if it's chemical relaxation, not too much
    2) Whoever is paying the bill is the boss - If you or your band are paying for studio time don't let the recording engineer boss you around. Although don't completely ignore their advice either.
    3) Don't be afraid to ask for anything you need - place to sit, place not to sit, weird mix in the headphones or monitors. I've recorded at times with just the kick and vox.
    4) Fresh strings if appropriate - obviously not if your sound is 10 year old flats
    5) Bring multiple basses if you can to get different sounds
    6) Record direct as well as through pedals, amps, etc - You can always add more later but can't take away. Although the engineer should know that one.
  7. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    Know your parts, and learn to play with headphones on.
    For amp settings I’ve found that lots of people tend to set their equipment for bedroom settings and get disappointed.
    Use your live settings.
    But then if you just go straight into the board with a mix down later then that won’t be an issue.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Highroler79 likes this.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Best studio results take the same preparation that deliver the best gig results.

    Know your parts cold, and be able to execute them convincingly under less then ideal circumstances.

    Recording can expose "holes" in the songs you don't clearly have worked out, but have successfully faked your way through, lookout for those parts!

    "rehearse" your recording: plug in to something at home, with headphones, play your parts and listen for areas of trouble to improve. Practice against a click, simulate the situation as best you can.

    Be helpful and cooperative, not a prima donna snowflake. This causes others to help and cooperate with you.

    Don't let perfect be the enemy of done.
  9. Charley Umbria

    Charley Umbria I'm Really a Drummer Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Rock City, TN
    Be early. Be prepared. Be patient. Be in tune. Be the guy who makes everything else easier.

    If you have spare parts or equipment that you or your bandmates may need, have it in the car (ask me why there’s an Altoids tin full of guitar picks in my drumstick bag... :cool:).
  10. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    ^^^This guy gets it.
  11. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Make sure your bass is well setup and, this is critical, is properly intonated for the setup, type of strings and tuning (s) you intend to use on the session. Practice recording to a click if that's the plan for the studio.

    Addendum: Learn how to fret things in tune. I had a player in my studio right before the start of the pandemic that would "over grip" everything he played and despite being perfectly in tune on open strings and using a bass that was properly intonated, he was ALWAYS bending things slightly sharp on fretted notes. I ended up having to Melodyne all of his takes. Your remaining time to work out this kind of thing is limited, but worth looking at if it's a problem. It absolutely ruined that session when we spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what was wrong with his perfectly tuned and intonated bass that wouldn't play in tune. Turns out it was the player and I promised to fix it in post.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
  12. Peteyboy


    Apr 2, 2018
    Los Angeles
    If you'll be playing to a click track know the BPM for each song and rehearse them thru headphones with a metronome. If you make minor mistakes while tracking don't let it throw you - just push thru. You can always punch in corrections later if you need to. Check your tuning after every take. Play standing up.
    Lesfunk and Highroler79 like this.
  13. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    Recording studios can be a bit of a pressure cooker. I’ve seen arguments break out between life long friends, producers vs artists, artists vs engineers etc

    Be cool, be supportive and be friendly. Things can take time in the studio and it gets frustrating but it is also a lot of fun when it’s going great.

    Be early. On time is late. Accept you’ll be early and still have to wait a few hours before you do anything, just accept it now and move on.

    Make sure everything is working correctly, batteries, cables, instruments intonated and in tune. Things do break but nothing screams like amateur hour when you’ve forgotten to bring all your leads and tuner or whatever.

    Know your parts cold but be open to the fact they might well change once things get going but the more time you save the better you get.

    Try to be sparing about overdubs and punching in. I’d only say do it if either the engineer or someone asks you or you are truly unhappy with a particulars aspect of it. The more you have to redo a part the more time you have added to the editing process, which already takes time anyway. So again, the more time you can people the better you are doing your job. My aim is to get my part done as quickly as possible to buy them more time later on in the session the singers and multi tracks for guitars/keys etc. If it’s half way through the the session and we are still tracking bass, which is one of the first instruments to get recorded something has gone very wrong.
  14. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Get your gear in the best working condition possible. Know your parts inside, outside, sideways and backwards. The engineer can help you decide whether to record dry and add effects later or just print them.
    The main key is know your parts. It makes for a pleasurable experience for all involved. Be prepared to learn something so stick around. Every time in the studio is a great opportunity to learn tricks or how to get the sound that works for you and the track or even phrasing. You might want to bring a portable recorder for homework.
    Now start perfecting your part so you can find out if that’s the definitive bass part or maybe something hooky is the way to go.
    halech54 and Highroler79 like this.
  15. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    The best advice. Don't write/arrange/rehearse on the studio clock. Over-prepare yourself musically. Other than that, make sure your instrument is clean (no dirty pots!) and the strings are the way you want them. I only ever record direct from bass to the board, so I don't have to worry about FX or amps. Engineers love that. If you're carrying in an amp and a pedal board, be prepared for the engineering staff to sigh a lot and take a lot of time getting you dialed in. And... time is money.
    mattj1stc, Highroler79 and JRA like this.
  16. Lots of good advice here. Here’s one more piece: use the rest room before you start tracking.
    red_rhino, Engle, knumbskull and 3 others like this.
  17. Have a sit down with everyone involved and decide before pushing record on track one if this is going to be a precise, best effort of the band type of recording or if it's going to be a "that take was good enough, the mistakes make it sound more natural" kind of recording. Align you visions, as it were. Some people go in and throw a bunch of tracks and hope they come out of it with something good. Other people walk in with a blue print, knowing where the main tracks go, what the overdubs will be and what the out come is predicted to be. Very rarely do these two types get along in the studio.

    At this point you should have already laid down some rough tracks at home, so you know where the song is headed and have a good feel for tracking with cans. There is so much pre-production work that can be done that will maximize your hourly time spent at the studio, while minimizing the time spinning your wheels on the clock. Unless "The Studio" is some dudes computer in his basement and you don't need to worry about hourly rates and blocks of time. Even then, it's best to be respectful of dude's time and come in prepared
  18. DanAdams


    Nov 3, 2013
    How has no one asked, 'Are playing with other musicians or not?'
    If applicable, DO NOT be precious about a pedal board.

    If you are playing with other musicians, and practicing with other musicians, try practicing without facing each other. The biggest surprise in the studio for me was not having the same visual feedback I had become accustomed to; completely seeing the drummer.
    I became a recording engineer, and rhythm section togetherness is high on my priority list.
    All this probably just sounds silly in COVID times.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
    Schonbrun and halech54 like this.
  19. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI
    In addition to what everyone else has said, I might suggest to not have any expectations going in about what they capture for your sound. Be open minded and trust what the engineer is doing, especially if they are experienced. When they play back your track, it may not sound as clean as what you expected, it may sound a little rough and clanky. But, if they like it, you should like it, because once they add what they want to add (effects and eq), it will probably sound completely different and completely awesome in the mix with the rest of the band.
    Omega Monkey and TheReceder like this.
  20. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    Nope, there is more than that.
    Which is why I was surprised it took until the 11th post before this was said.
    And this! Nothing worse than doing what you thought was a great take to find on playback that something doesn't sound quite right.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    Jan 25, 2021

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