Studio preparation

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by PunkerTrav, Nov 21, 2004.

  1. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    My band is going to be recording in the next few months. This will be my first time in a serious studio environment. To be honest, I'm already feeling nervous.

    I want to be as prepared as I possibly can when I walk in to the studio. To those of you who have some experience in the studio, how do you go about preparing yourself? I would greatly appreciate ANY feedback you can give me. Please point out any things I should make a point of doing or not doing.

    Thanks alot,
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Bring two more cables than you need -- one of yours might break, or someone else in the band is going to forget theirs. Bring plenty of picks if you play with one, as you'll probably lose several in the pressurized atmosphere of the studio (and someone else might need some). If you've got effects, bring power adapters AND batteries (just in case you forget either one). Make sure you're in tune as much as you can -- nothing screams unprofessional more than an out-of-tune recording, and that's a wasted take -- thus wasted time, and wasted money. Know your parts inside out, backwards, slower and faster than you actually play them, and have each tone (if you use more than one) written down with EQ notes and pickup settings.

    Most important, stay relaxed and calm. There's a lot of money involved in buying time in the studio, and it's easy for arguements to get out of hand when you're on someone else's time and not your own. Keep it cool, have a good time, and record some good music!
  3. Dynna


    Oct 23, 2004
    Make sure that you and the drummer can play the tracks that you're recording with just the 2 of you. Actually before that, make sure that your band knows what songs, what keys, what instrumentation, and exactly how to play all of it in their sleep. Especially if budget is a concern. Have your gear ready, and in tune with all of the other instruments. Have spares of everything of course. Make sure that your part ALONE is up to snuff. All the changes and tricky parts have been taken care of, and that your technique is under control. Equal tone and volume in your notes when it calls for it, any quiet sections played properly(playing aggressive and turning it down in the mix doesn't really cut it, unless you want that).

    Heck, if you know your parts are taken care of, learn what the other players parts sound like so that if they suddenly go deaf or choke in the studio, at least someone knows what the guitar should sound like.

    And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make sure you've critically listened to yourselves BEFORE going into anything remotely close to a pristine audio environment. Throw up an old ghetto blaster with a tape deck and built in mic to record and listen to yourselves if you've never done it before. Your first listen to playback will be disheartening to say the least, and maybe push some to the brink of anti-peristalsis if they've never heard themselves before.

    BE PREPARED, but above all, HAVE FUN WORKING.
  4. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    All of the above is great advice. I'll add my 2/100th's of a dollar, from someone who has not only been in the studio as a member of a band but as a "sideman", in which time is the boss' money:

    Make sure all your gear is functioning at 100%. If you're miking an amp, make sure you've got no hum for the electronics and no rattling from the cab. New batteries for active basses and efx, even if you're using adapters - you very well might find some hum introduced from the power and have to unplug. If you're not super-proficient at setting up your bass, have it done by a professional... but not right before the session. I've found it best to have it done a week or two beforehand, as to let it settle in. The same with restringing, unless you want that Über-bright new string sound. Which leads to...

    Know the sound you want to have, but be flexible about changing it to suit the needs of the music. The tone you use to play alone while practicing as well as the one you use for live gigs may not fit in the context of a studio session. A good engineer knows what frequencies to work with to make you sound the best as a band, and not just you alone as a bassist. Use and trust that experience. If possible, speak to him/her before the session to find out their preferred recording methods for bass - be it a DI, miked amp, or combination of both. Choose your battles wisely. If your tone is unusual to begin with, you might have to "fight" to take it to tape. For winning this, you might have to give up using your exotic effect during the guitar solo. Pick what's most important to you.

    Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you know you can nail that one insane riff but not make it through in entire song without a dropped note or two, that's okay. Take that almost perfect take and punch in - it'll save time over multiple takes of trying to get 100% in realtime. Know if you need to play in the same room as the drummer for visual cues (in which case you'll have to be sure you can work with a headphone mix) or if playing in the control room with kickin' monitors is better for you.

    Generally it comes down to one phrase: "Have a plan for everything". Think of every scenario and plan a workaround. Busted string? Have spares. If you only own one bass, beg, borrow, or steal a second. Starting at 3:00? Be there at 2:30. Stay sober, for the music's sake as well as not spilling a beer in a console worth more than your year's salary. ;) Charts aren't cheating, they're professional.

    ...but have fun while you're doing all of the above. :D
  5. I put this together, it's not what I wanted it to be- but...

    Regardless of how well you think you know your songs- have a scratch vocal over stuff. Years ago, before ProTools, my band at the time recorded our "hit" song and we played either one to many or one too few bars of the pre chorus. Best part is we didn't notice it until we were doing vocals. That track was gone, regardless of the editing we did.

    Fresh batteries in everything. Good, non buzzy cables. Know your stuff. Recording your stuff on a boom box is a great idea, you'll hear new things- there was a time (also with the same band) that there was one note that I played that was a major when the guitar chord was a minor. I never heard that minor until mixing (we'd been playing the song for months). No one else heard it except me and I can't stand to hear that recording- it eats at me.