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Going into the studio: Record 'Live' or individually?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by embellisher, May 20, 2005.

  1. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    We are going back into the studio in July.

    We have a 12 hour block for $350. Not bad for a full ProTools studio with a decent engineer.

    In the past, we have tried doing a scratch live recording, and then going back and redoing all of the instruments independently.

    The last time, we played live, and just fixed the things that needed cleaning up, overdubbed guitar solos, added vox, etc.

    What is your/your band's preference, and why?
  2. I like to play the songs as a band initially with the main goal being getting the drums tracked and complete. The rest of the band has headphone mixes with amps in other rooms so as to not bleed into the drum mics. Might as well record all the other instruments at the same time too, just in case you get a killer track you want to keep, but count on them being scratch tracks.

    Once the drums are down, move to bass and lay down the bass while listening to the drums tracks. Have a guitar, or other melodic/main instrument, play a scratch track for you if needed for change cues, etc.

    Guitars next.
    Keys, percussion, whatever else next.
    Vox last.

    This is my preferred method.

    Of course, if you intend to record live, record live and punch in and Protool later to cleanup.
  3. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    There's no "right" answer, it just really depends on the band and what the drummer is comfortable with. When I'm playing drums, I generally get used to only listening to the guitarist onstage, so when I am in the studio I'll play along to guitar, vox, and click. Having the whole band play it live just gives me too much sonic input to try to play off of and I like the flexibility that a click gives when recording drums.

    I'm recording a four piece rock band (gtr/bass/drums/vox) right now, and our method is to have everyone but the vocalist come in and play through the songs live, since that's how they practice. I'm keeping the drum tracks and, if they're usable, the bass tracks. But after the drums are done the plan is to have the guitarist and bassist back in to record their stuff together to the pre-tracked drums. Then once all that is finished, the vocalist will lay his stuff down and it'll be mixing time.
  4. bassturtle


    Apr 9, 2004
    It depends on the situation. Most of the playing I do anymore is in the studio, but it's usually as a hired gun so I'm just coming in when they ask me to.

    If it's a project that I have some creative control with, I like to track drums and bass at the same time while the vocalist lays down a scratch track. Then go back to retrack the guitars and vocals. That's how I like it, anyway :)
  5. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    With my old band, most of the time we went in and all played together. Then came the overdubs and punches where needed or wanted.

    On certain tracks, though, we'd record one at a time. Usually those songs weren't a straight ahead, three piece (guitar/bass/drums) sound like our other songs and involved more elaborate instrumentation (synths, different percussion tracks, etc); they were more "studio pieces."

    My personal preference, though, when working in a band situation, is to go for that live feeling as much as possible.
  6. ERIC31


    Jul 1, 2002
    Maricopa, AZ
    I am fully more into doing it as a band. I'm much more interested in the feel of a take than the individual notes being played. That's too sterile for my taste. I like the way "live in the studio" sounds. It's cool to go back over the vocals and so on, but it's (the band) got to be live.

    This depends on what kind of music you're playing too.
  7. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001

    This is exactly how we are doing it. we just recorded the drums two weeks ago. at home i layed down guitar and bass scratch tracks and handed those off to the rest of the band so that we can all work on our real-deal tracks simultaneously.

    the fun part is that everyone in my band has their own home recording setup and we all use different host software...so far so good, no timing issues.

    we have to do the live setting, because we never play a song the same way twice and anything it that is rhythmically accurate like a drum machine sounds too sterile to me. i like the little changes. the hard part is that i have to practice to the drum tracks a few times to make sure i have all of the changes in that particular recording down in my head.
  8. That's a great question, Jeff, and it's definitely been on my mind lately because I've got recording sessions with both my bands coming up soon.
    Over the years, the vast majority of my recording experience has involved getting the drum track down while everyone else plays scratch tracks, and then going back and overdubbing the rest of the instruments. I really like doing my bass as late in the game as possible, so I can hear everything else that's going on and tweak as necessary. Plus, I really enjoy playing in the control room with just the engineer and no one else around.
    At some point, with some band, I'd like to try going for full live takes. I've been listening to this new Kings Of Leon record a lot lately, and they recorded every song live and didn't fix anything.. if someone messed up, they just started the song over (granted, most of us don't have the studio time or budget to do that), but, wow, the album has this wonderfully loose, live feel, like you're listening to a band playing.
  9. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Embellisher, It does depend somewhat on the bands vibe, how many pieces? are there lots of synth or string parts involved? and the type of band? a classic rock or old school R & B group, would seem to have different requirements then say a Hip-Hop or Urban Gospel group. That said, I go by the "Liver the Better" school. there is no substitute for the chemistry of musicians feeding off each other, even on solos, and I think the Bass/drum connection works better when you can feel each other.
  10. We do it live, with everyone spaced away and using cardoid mics to minimize bleed, also set up a room mic and to catch the character of the room. We don't really have solos so hearing the individual instruments is less of an issue. We don't usually do overdubs because of this, it would make whichever instrument was doing it stand out a little more, and the levels can generally be fixed with a little compression and a smidge of noise gate.
  11. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I could tell you how I wouldn't do it again. I came into a situation where the band had half of the drum tracks recorded by the time they realized they needed a real bass player rather than a guitarist with a bass. They didn't record to a click, so I had to come in, write a line, and try to make it jive with the...um...timing idiosyncracies the drummer displayed months after the drums had been recorded.

    They're the worst songs on the album, and a frustrating experience for me, trying to match the drums, and for the engineer, who tried to fix it all in Pro Tools, i.e. move the drum hits back and forth. The tunes sound good, but not as natural or energetic as the remaining half of the album, where we tracked the drums, bass, and a scratch guitar together.

    I much prefer, when I have a say in the matter, to record bass/drums/guitar/vocals live, while planning on only keeping the drums. Often the bass track is fine this way, too, and everyone has a reference for what the guitar/vocals are going to do. I like to record the midi information on any synths used, in case you just want to tweak a patch during mixdown or something. Obviously this applies mainly to standard rock bands, but the principle could be used to record anything.
  12. Same here, bass direct for no bleedthrough on the drum mics, then fix up any bass parts that need it.
  13. My preference is to do everything as "live" as possible- basically just go in and punch the fixes and add vocals. That's the way I've always done it until working with my current band. The past two records we've done has been an adventure with pro tools.

    Yes, it's really nice being able to "fix" and transpose sections at will, but there's something different than the "good old days" of going to tape or even to ADAT.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    It really depends upon your players...I much prefer to run live takes with all members, because I think you get a much better feel than you do with all overdubs...which sound like overdubs to me. I like a recording to feel like everyone is in the room and playing together...it feels much more natural. My usual tactic is to strip stuff down to the basic parts with vocals (from the control booth) and then once you've got your take you can repair or add parts from there. It saves studio time, since once you get a good take you don't have to re-layer everything.

    After that I like to go in and re-record all the vocals...except with the vocalist in my band right now...her scratch track almost always sounds better (feel, tone, comfort, emotion) than another go. Like a lot of people, the best motivation and inspiration comes from playing WITH others.

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