This is an excerpt from Recording Strategies – Planning the Perfect Session. Get Your Copy Here.
In the last two chapters we’ve been looking at the various things we need before we start getting some quality recordings down. Having the right equipment and a well-treated room is all a factor in getting your recordings to sound as good as possible.
Even though you could technically record whatever you wanted with the cheapest gear in a badly sounding room, I doubt you would like to release those recordings as an album.
Rather, by taking the care to have all the equipment we need and a fairly controlled room, we are now able to focus on getting the best sound at our disposal.
Before you start recording any instrument, take care to check it out and make sure it’s in its best condition. You don’t want to rush into things and record an instrument that buzzes or makes annoying noises.
First rule of recording: Set up your instruments and make sure they all sound as good as they can. – Click to Tweet!
- This means restringing the guitar if the strings are starting to sound dull.
- This means changing the drum heads if they are worn out.
- This means setting up the intonation of your guitar or bass if they go out of tune on the higher frets.
If you’re recording vocals you should make sure the singer is in good shape and doesn’t have a sore throat, a cold, or something else that could affect his singing. Hangovers are especially devious. You might not notice that there’s something wrong, but you won’t be getting the best performance from the singer.
Some guitar effects make the guitar amp hum. Make sure they are all routed correctly, and if possible use a noise gate to reduce the hum. Other times it’s just a matter of correctly plugging the effects together.
Other small things you wouldn’t necessarily think of are other noises instruments make. For example, listen to the really squeaky bass pedal on Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve been Loving You.” Things like this are overlooked many times, so before you start recording make sure no annoying noises, squeaks or buzzes make it onto your recording.
What Kind of Sound Are You Looking For?
You might also plan the type of sound you are looking for before actually recording anything. Depending on the genre you might be looking to record things differently.
Jazz drums might not need the same amount of microphones as a prog-metal band would. Similarly, a calm, finger-picked acoustic guitar might need a different approach than a hard hitting strummed guitar.
Think of your microphones as your paintbrushes. You can create any type of sonic palette from your microphones, but the genre of the music tells you what kind of painting you will end up with.
If you’re not a musician you might read a book on how to mic up a certain instrument and then follow those instructions. However, you can also use them as guidelines and start by doing one of the most important things of all:
This was an excerpt from Recording Strategies – Planning the Perfect Session.