How to know when you’re ready to record

So how do you know when you or your band is ready to hit the studio and start recording? This is a common theme that has popped up in the various bands that I’ve been in, and it’s a regular question for most musicians starting out.

Talking from experience, I once hit the studio with my band to record an EP when we were all super-eager and keen, but in hindsight the recording could have gone a lot more smoothly if we had better prepared in advance.

Not to say that you can’t write in the studio, Graeme loves it for example. But your time and budget might need to be higher.

Some Key Indicators

You know when you’re ready to start recording when the following happen:

  • You and/or your band’s parts have been finalised. This means that when you rehearse, you will be at a stage where you perform the same part every time. This is a good indicator to let you know when a song is finished, when you have stopped tweaking your part and it’s set in stone.
  • You have performed your songs live. Most musicians like to have songs 100% finalised before they perform live, which goes back to the first point I made. Also after having performed them, you will know which songs your audience warm to and which ones you enjoy performing in general, which will add excitement to the prospect of committing them to “tape”.

Preparation

Recently I worked with a client, who again was super keen to enter the studio to begin a new recording. We started by recording an acoustic guide, which would be followed by layers of other guitars and vocals later on. During the session it emerged that the song structure and tuning of the guitar due to intonation issues was not 100%. The planned guitar overdubs took a long time as they were being created on-the-fly, and also no lyrics were written for the song. All in all, the session was a useful learning experience for the client but certainly not the most efficient use of time and money for them.

So the main points to remember when preparing your songs to be recorded are:

  • Make sure that you and/or your band have finalised your parts. This means that when you rehearse, you will be at a stage where you perform the same part every time. This is a good indicator to let you know when a song is finished, when you have stopped tweaking your part and it’s set in stone.
  • Make sure your instruments are set up correctly. For guitar, this means that intonation (an often overlooked aspect of guitar setup) is correct, the truss rod is adjusted correctly and new strings also helps. To correct intonation issues, speak to a guitar tech or learn how to do it yourself here: http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Up-a-Guitar
  • If you intend to play to a click, make sure you practise before you hit the studio.
  • It’s a great idea to record a simple demo to share with your producer.

Featured Image – Ethan Kan

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