Monday, November 3, 2008

Bare Minimum Preparation for the Studio

If you search around the internet or talk to studio guys there are lots of tips for getting ready to enter the studio. They are all great and mostly true. But many of them consider the ideal situation. An yeah, of course it is nice to able to meet this ideal.

But let's be honest, most bands are not ideal. Instruments and supplies are expensive. My band included, we don't have the money to have the best instruments in tip-top shape, re-tube and burn-in amps, re-head all the drums, acclimate them, etc. Basically we have to work with what we have or what we can afford.

So I would say this is some of the bare minimum stuff:

  1. Rehearse - Seems obvious. You can definitely piece together songs in the studio. But knowing them is best. At least be able to play the songs and tightly. Studio magic is fairly limited and we can only make a great performance perfect, not a bad performance great or even good.
  2. Drums - Most important thing here is to tune your drums. The heads can be old as long as they are in tune. Yeah new heads and cymbals are nice too, but if you like the sound then I can make it work. Even if I sample replace the whole drum kit, that tuning bleeds into the overheads which I can't fix. Also at least tape down any rattling parts and WD-40 any squeaks.
  3. Intonate Guitars and Bass - Tuning is the most important here which is obvious. But bad intonation will make all your notes out of tune. I can do this for you if you don't know how.
  4. Change Guitar Strings - Ok maybe they don't have to be super new. But it is $3-$5 a set. Even if you don't like the "new string" sound, break them in a bit. Old strings intonate badly and you loose pick attack. I can do this for you if you are unable.
  5. Be Ready for LONG day - For cheap rates, most folks block book a day. I do the same. A 10 hour day is pretty standard. Some guys will push 12 hours. Yeah it is broken up a bit while you rest/listen/other members track/etc. but be ready for quite a day. There is rarely a "really quick" in the studio. So get plenty of rest and don't party down too hard the night before. If you feel bad, it will be a bad performance.
  6. Vocals - Your body is your instrument. So take care of it. Eat well, take some vitamins, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest.

Beyond that, have fun. Studio time doesn't have to be stressful and stiff. Head in there confident and rock out. If you are having fun and putting energy into it, it will show on the recording.

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