So you have arranged and rehearsed your songs until you can all play your parts backwards and in perfect time with feeling while standing in a freezer. Time to head into the studio. But first…
You, drummer, get some new sticks and heads. A full set of heads is pretty expensive, so if you’re on a budget, just replace the skins on the bass drum and snare drum and make sure you tune them to get the best tone possible. Yes, new sticks make a difference, but old sticks won’t kill the recording. Consider using a bigger stick in your snare drum hand than in your other hand, so the snare sounds nice and strong in the mix. Lastly, check for rattles and squeaks on your kit. Studio mics will hear it all, so the cleaner, the better.
Guitarists and bass players – Make sure your instruments are studio ready. Strum some chords at different positions on the neck. If it isn’t in tune everywhere you play you need to fix the intonation. And when in studio, check your tuning between every take. Especially if you are using new strings…which you should. Have a spare set handy too. Also bring a spare cable and batteries for your effects pedals.
Keyboard players…Just make sure you are familiar with your instrument so you can quickly tweak your sounds and effects if necessary. And it wouldn’t hurt to bring your own midi and audio cables and pedal.
Vocalist should do vocal exercises regularly. It helps increase your range and makes your voice stronger. Your body is your instrument and it needs to be fit. Do your exercises before recording so that your voice is warm and sounding it’s best. Don’t drink anything with sugar or caffeine as sugar gums you up and caffeine dries you out. Water (not ice water) or herbal tea is best.
Finally, if you haven’t rehearsed with a click track, don’t record with one. It will likely suck the feeling out of your playing. We want feeling in our music, that’s what it’s all about, that’s the magic. Speaking of feeling…Sometimes music feels better when we’ve had a drink or smoke, but that is often just an illusion. Playing and instrument well takes precision. Warm up properly and the feeling will come. Nail the recording then party. Get the keyboard player to drive you home.
Note: I have nothing against keyboard players. It’s just that I’m a drummer so I wasn’t about to do the usual make-fun-of-the-drummer thing.
Next Time: Congratulations, your recording sounds great! Now what? You make a video, of course.