First experience in a real recording studio (Long)

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by LoJoe, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    I thought I'd pass along my experience last night for all those that have yet to experience making a recording in a real studio. It was somewhat intimidating, yet a total blast. One of the bands I'm in is a church band led by recording artist Dave Moody. He also has his own record label Lamon Records. He was commissioned by the church to produce a CD of our music to use for outreach purposes. The band met at his studio last night to lay down the instrumentals with the vocals being done next week. My experience prior to this was playing live only. I had no idea what it was like to play in a studio setting and it definitely took some getting used to.

    First, there are no loud amps. Your mix is in your headphones and my bass sounded horrible to me this way. The sound engineer wanted me to max out my gain, bass and treble settings so that he could customize the sound at the board to his liking. Although it did sound wimpy and thin in my headphone mix, the final result on the recording did turn out to be deep thick and full. It was better than I've ever heard myself sound. I also had to change my playing style. In live playing, I really dig in to be heard through the mix and above the rest of the band and vocals. In the studio, this did not work. On the first take my notes sounded like a percussive mess on the recording. That digging in resulted in a sound on the recording like BOYYYYnnnng BOYYYYnnnnnng. The leading edge of the notes was driving the lights into the red and the rest of the note was very pale in comparison. I had to learn to play with a very light and even touch. The engineer helped me with this my adding a ton of bass to my headphone mix. This really caused me to instinctively lighten up. As far as playing and making mistakes. When I play live, a clam here and there is no big deal. No one really notices unless it's really bad and you just keep going on. In the recording session, I was playing with total paranoia at first, thinking that if I made one mistake, we'd have to all redo the entire song. So...with this mindset, I of course screwed up right off the bat on the first song...all the way near the end. It was strange to be playing without the vocals as I often use them as a reference point for where I am in the song. I totally missed the tag. I was happily suprised to find that this mistake was no big deal at all. The engineer simply starts playing the section where you are messed up over again in your headphones minus your original bass part, you play along with it, and your correction is inserted seamlessley into the original song mix. It is impossible to tell where your new part was substituted. It was also very cool when it came to the tricky stuff. If I got a tricky riff nailed in one part of the song, but didn't get it as good when it appeared in another part of the song, they could simply cut and paste the good one like it was a dang word document. Again, impossible to tell in the final mix. Everything was done on a computer controlled multi multi multi channel mixing board that must weigh over a ton. Once we had finished a song, we got to sit on a big fluffy leather couch drinking bottled water like big shots while they touched it up. Then we'd get to hear the final result pumped through these very high dollar Mackie studio speakers and a huge powered sub-woofer. Man, I've never heard myself sound so good. I was like "Is that me??" It was a professionally mixed recording of us and it sounded like it too. I almost hate for them to corrupt it with vocals next week! Playing live is still my favorite and this may be the first and last time I ever do this (we finish up tonight), but what a total high it was to feel like a "star" for a few hours. Just incredible. Sorry to get so long winded about it, but it was definitely a rush to be remembered.


  2. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Ahh... memories of my first big studio experience came flooding back when I read that... But back in my day the recording machine was not a computer, but a massive 24 track 2" Studer multitracker (still sounds better than a computer BTW :spit: ).

    It's a whole lot of fun isn't it. :)

    You should try doing that in a live situation also. Turn your amp up - way up - and play really light. In my experience a lighter touch yields better bass tone.

    I'm surprised that the engineer had you max your bass and treble, I would have thought that he would prefer flat. I'm happy to hear that he didn't fix your "digging in" problem with compression, though. Lots of engineers would probably do that, just compress the living crap out of your overly-dynamic bass. Playing lighter is going to sound better.

    How did you record? Direct into the board? Mic'ed amp, or a mix of both?
  3. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Sounds like you were on a pro tools based system, yes it is VERY cool! A lot of people fell the whole cut and paste idea, and doing 20 takes and using the best is cheating. I say, whatever works.

    When we recorded the CD in my last band, I did the bass tracks in two days, the first day of which was 10 hours straight. I never knew playing could make one so tired, both mentally and physically.... I guess anything you concentrate on for long periods will wear you down!

    My experience was pretty much the same as yours, other than my rig was set in the drum room. I used a stingray 5, through and SWR 400s, and a henry the 8x8. We had two mics on the cab, an ambient room mic, and also a line direct, while I sat in the mixing room with the engineer, listening to it through the monitors. It's amazing the sound those tiny monitors can make!

    Fun experience, but also very stressful, I can't say I really look forward to doing it again!

    You can check out the final product at

    I reccomend the track "Take me", it is my fave song from that band. Lots of work, but sure sounds great!