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Getting ready to go into the studio Dec 6 - questions?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by embellisher, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    This will be my fourth time, plus two live recording sessions, but I don't really count those.

    My originals band is recording three of our songs. We are getting an entire Saturday at a ProTools studio for $400. We were going to try 4 songs, but the engineer was concerned that we may not have time to mix the songs properly in that amount of time.

    What I want to find out from everyone else is what you do to get yourself ready for a studio date?

    Obviously I am woodshedding the material, and also woodshedding with a metronome. We are going to play live, but the drummer is going to have a click in his cans, so we need to make sure that we are rock steady.

    Any other suggestions from you more experienced studio ho's?:D

    Thanks a lot!:) Now, back to the 'nome!
  2. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    If you're *really* worried about it, you might try having the whole band play with a click, maybe put it in the PA mix at your practice room. Put it at a volume where you have to *listen* for it... With bass/drums/rhythm/scratch vocals all going with a click, it's sound can get a little lost in the cans when you get into the studio, especially when you kick into a song section that's more intense and prone to speed up. The band can lose the click together, and then you'll have three or more guys all trying to find their way back to the beat once they can hear it again -- not pretty!

  3. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Is your drummer either exceptionally talented or experienced with playing to a click? If not, I predict trouble. The most important thing to do is have your drummer comfortable with a click. As long as you know the songs you should be fine.
  4. Slot


    Oct 17, 2003
    Sydney - The Shire
    Concentrate on nailing the dynamics of the song, not just the notes man.

    Ive found that sometimes when recording, everyone is so tense about not stuffing up/wasting money/playing with the click, that the band forgets to play with good use of dynamics, and the final result is a flat, heartless, waste of money.

    A band i was playing in a couple of years ago scored a free session in just about the best studio Aus has to offer(301). We went in there cocky, underprepared, and hungover from the gig the night before. All i can say is, what a waste. All the notes were there, but it had no dynamics whatsover, and in turn, when i listen to it, i cringe.
  5. If you're recording it all live anyway, i say leave the click. Assuming your drummer can keep good time, i think the click should only be used if the instruments are all recorded separately, to keep consistency across the recordings.

    the hardest part of a click is the fact that if you can't hear it, you're on.

    i've been recording my band's first EP recently, and the click track sound was a cowbell. hearing the tracks now, i miss hearing that cowbell on all 4 beats.........
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    We are all working independently with a metronome, and using one at practice as a band.
  7. xax712


    Dec 25, 2001
    Northwest Arkansas
    We're an acoustic band so what we did was after screwing around alot of the time and recording crap tracks, but it helps if your keyboard player owns the studio, anyway finally to get the good tracks our singer/acoustic player sat down and recorded just him and the click track, then the drummer went in then the bass, then lead, then the singer and and acoustic back again. You can do one song if you have it down in about an hour or hour and a half that way. So I think you could get 4 songs pounded out. But about the dynamic thing, that's true, we lost that and I hate to hear our cd, we did record it like 2 years ago though, so no worries, we're actually looking at going back into the studio soon, but drummer issues are holding us back.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes. :)
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Great idea! Thanks.

    Thanks! I learned that the last time, and that was just an 8 hour session. This place is in the boonies, so food is a must.

    Thanks to everybody else who has answered as well.

    Anybody else?
  10. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Playing with a click...bad idea.

    I recommend doing a scratch guitar/vocal track using a click. Then, drop the click and let the drummer and you play to that on the playback. Then come back to fix the vocals.

    I have a great drummer, but he plays to the rest of us. If we start to speed up, he moves along with us. When we realise how fast we're going we all try to come back together. He has a horrible time with a click.

    If you do the scratch acoustic thing (you can even do it before you go in and burn it onto CD to have the studio play back) then the drummer can still play to the music.

    If you are totally used to playing live and are going to have issues with the drummer maintaining a steady tempo, he really really really needs to practice playing on a click if that's what you'll do.

    We did some cuts where the rhythm and tempo were tough so we just ran them live. Then we used the computer to average the bpms, then we ran a click just for the scratch track.

    I think it worked best that way.

    Otherwise, there's no rule that you can't have the tempo swing a little even on a recording. I'm sure there are some classic tunes out there where the drummer was drifting.
  11. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I'll be going into the studio with FA in January.

    What we plan to do is get the drums perfect first - perfect sound, mix and time. That way, the rest of us can play along to the drums (plus a dummy guitar track) when we do our tracks.

    Order of things will be, AFAIK:
    Drums->bass->guitar->guitar leads->other overdubs->vocals

    To prepare, we're already practicing four times a week now and we've already done a couple of pre-production tracks. A couple of weeks before we go in, we'll rehearse every day. If we're not ready by then we never will be!

    Stuff to bring - food, drink, video games! ;)
  12. Bring extra strings and batteries (if you play an active bass)!

  13. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Also tools, in case you need to do a quick setup adjustment.

    After all - you don't want to have to use your backup bass on a recording!
  14. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Don't get bogged down in multiple takes. Accept the first or second take - those are usually the best. The more takes I do, the worse they become, and when I finally nail it, they lack the urgency and emotion of the original take. Learn to accept the small mistakes as part of the overall vibe (if possible).
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I am bringing my gear box, which has strings, batteries, tools, and way to much other stuff in it.
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Interesting advice. The last project I did, we were strapped for cash, and tried to record too many songs. Every time I listen to a couple of the songs, I think 'Man, I wish I would have redone that part!'.:(
  17. Restring your basses.

    That's what I would do if I were going into studio anytime soon.
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    After rehearsal last night, we talked over a few things, and decided against using a click.

    And we are going to record live, which is the way that we did it the last time. Our guitarist said that he feels like his playing would lack 'fire' if we didn't all play together.

    But we agreed that if anybody is unhappy with their take, they can either redo it, or if it is something small, punch it in.

    This is ProTools, which I have never worked with. But punch ins should be a snap, right?
  19. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Two of the ones that I am recording with have new strings. I need to get a set for the Jazz.
  20. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Embellisher, I've started posts here a couple of times, but each time I have sooo much to say, the post keeps growing and growing and I have to stop...aaaaargh. :hyper:

    Anyway, lemme try and get a "in a nutshell" vibe goin' on. Dig.

    Yes, punches with Pro Tools are a snap...but using Pro Tools should not affect the way you track at all. Relax, make sure everybody has a good mix in the cans and just play brotha! The first take or two may very well be the best...but not necessarily. Be honest with yourselves and each other. Don't settle for a sub-par take because of time constraints!!!

    Which brings me to...IMO you are setting an improbable goal of recording and mixing three tracks in a single day. I can dig if money is an issue. But would you rather spend $400 and have one killer track, or end up with three rushed and sub-par performances? Remember the last time? :meh: Pro Tools can't fix groove.

    The most important thing is to get the best drum track possible. Don't stop for your own or anyone else's mistakes, unless it's a total train wreck. If you've got a good drum track everything else can be fixed.

    Is this a straight Pro Tools studio, or do they have the analog thing as well? If they do, I would strongly advise that you record through as much analog gear as is available, and/or mix to analog tape and then dump it all back into Pro Tools. It will add the warmth so often missing in straight Pro Tools recording. Sorry, but I can't explain this further on the technical side, if you can dig.