Recording Guitar Striving for Perfection
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Recording Guitar –
Striving for Perfection
We are all aware that money does
not grow on trees. In addition, we also know that studio time is very
expensive. So, shouldn’t you be as prepared as possible when getting ready to
record? I’d like to suggest some ideas, learned from my own experience, to
prepare you for your venture into the recording studio.
Get comfortable with your recording
Due to time and cost, many guitar
players are currently recording guitar tracks in their own home studios. Often
times the drums are being recorded at a recording studio. The guitar player can
then take home a wav file of the drums, import the wav file into their recording
rig, and record the guitars. This is the ultimate scenario. Tracking in your
own studio will relieve the pressure from you as the performer. You are able to
take your time getting the perfect take comfortably in your own environment.
If you have your own studio, I would
highly recommend practicing your guitar part while sitting in the same chair you
will use when recording. In addition, practice your part along with the mix
that you will use before recording. This will get you used to what you will
hear when recording. Personalize your studio so it makes you comfortable. This
could include bringing rugs, pictures, posters, or even strippers. It’s up to
you, although the strippers may be too much of a distraction!
Are you really ready to record?
You don’t want to waste your time and
money, nor anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter whether or not you own your own
recording set up. You need to be prepared to record. This means being prepared
both mentally and physically. The best way to be mentally prepared is to build
your confidence through practicing the part to be recorded. Keep practicing the
part until you can play it without any mistakes. When practicing, you also need
to analyze your playing on a deeper level. For example, when you play the part
are you creating any pops or noises by scraping or bumping open strings? All
those little scrapes can suddenly become problems in the studio. When
practicing, be sure to focus on playing the part as clean as possible. One
trick I use to mute open strings and cut down on noise is to fold a piece of
paper towel and place it under the strings close to the nut.
Ask yourself if you are playing the
part as clean as possible and if you’re articulating each note. If you don’t
feel you are, you should practice the part with a metronome. Try slowing the
metronome down to clean up the part, and then gradually speed up the tempo. Ask
yourself if you have bitten off more than you can chew. If it’s time to record
and you’re still not ready, consider revising the part to something easier for
you. Keep an open mind and consider changing your fingering or trying to play
the piece at a different position on the neck.
Is your gear ready?
Ask yourself this question at least a
week prior to recording. You don’t want to be rushing to change your strings
before heading to the studio. You might discover you are out of strings! I
recently went to change the strings on a guitar I was going to use to record.
It just so happened that one of my tuning pegs actually broke off. I would
hate to have discovered this right before recording. This is why it’s important
to get your gear ready ahead of time. Have your speaker cabinet in the correct
place and mic’ed up ahead of time. Have your amplifier and stomp boxes set up
the night before. Then when it’s time to record you can just come in without
stressing about your equipment. If you are going into a professional studio
then create a checklist of things you need to bring.
Have you created a demo of the
I usually demo a guitar part before I
record it. You can create a rough take of the song and each part. This can be
a huge help, even if you have to do this on a two track cassette recorder. By
creating a demo of the song, you can verify that the part you are recording
actually fits the song. I have discovered that sometimes a lead run I’ve
created may be a few notes too long. I can catch this at the demo stage and
modify the part. Creating a demo of the song can also help you find the correct
tone and effects to enhance the song.
The big day!
Try to avoid stress before recording.
I usually record in the morning because it’s the most stress free part of the
day for me. Find a time that suits you. I have noticed that the amount of
sleep I get really affects how well I play, so don’t go into the studio hung
over with 4 hours of sleep!
Be sure to warm up by playing the part
you plan to record, but also play a song you enjoy. Often times I will warm up
by playing the part to a metronome and gradually increase the tempo. Then I try
to play something fun in between each time I increase the tempo.
If you’ve done your homework (practice,
practice, practice) you should feel really strong about the part you are
recording. Use that confidence to your benefit. Don’t settle for a mediocre
take. Stay calm and patient and the good take will come. Take a break if you
start to get stressed or play something fun. The part you’re struggling with
can suddenly become easy after taking a break.
If you have your own studio and still
can’t seem to get that magic take, then just call it a day. Practice the part
and knock it out the next week. It’s better to take your time and be satisfied
with a better recording.
I hope this helps you in getting
the perfect take!
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