Preparing to Record:
More info on the studio can be found at www.studiozpro.com.
Keep in mind the gear list changes on a constant basis, and if there is something you
need, we can probably get it, just worry about the music when you come by, leave
the rest to us.
Here are some helpful threads about recording to check out. If youve worked with
me before you KNOW what a stickler I am about drums, but there is still some good
stuff in here:
TUNE YOUR INSTRUMENTS and PRACTICE!!!!!!!!! dammit!!!!
Funny thing. Many times when a band is looking to book my studio, the first thing
they ask is ” what’s the price ? “. The fact that that should be near the LAST
question they ask is for another discussion.
My point is: IF you are worried about cost, then why the !@#$ mutha!@#$#
goddamn ^%&* hell, would you blow most of your time on stuff that could have
been totally avoided, saving you half the cost of making your record????
It makes me feel bad…VERY bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind taking your money, but I would rather be putting
it into your album than intonating your guitars on the studio clock.
OK, so even though I will be losing money, I’m posting some URL’s that I
hope will save you SERIOUS time in the studio, save you some money, get a better
sounding product, AND hopefully you will learn that you can do most of this yourself (not to put any techs out of business,but…)
OK, first of all intonation of guitars and basses. For those who have dealt with me
before, you know I always warn about this ahead of time. Well, many times I’ll get in
guitars and basses that are so far off, any tracks they make will be unuseable until
they are repaired
That’s a pretty good link. The gist of it is,
play your 12th fret harmonic,
tune it right to pitch,
now HOLD down the string on the 12th fret
check the tuning
If the fretted note is sharper than the harmonic, make the string longer by moving
the string’s saddle AWAY from the neck.
If the fretted note is lower than the harmonic move the saddle towards the neck.
This can get tricky on Floyd Roses, but its something you ought to learn to do.
Repeat until the string is perfectly correct then repeat for the other strings.
ANYTIME you change string sizes, adjust the action ( string height), adjust the bow
of the neck ( truss rod), and, FOR SURE, before you go into a studio, check the
intonation. Weather can also play havok with this. You will be amazed just what
your guitar can sound like properly set up.
OK, now, DRUMMERS!!!!
Anyone who has worked with me knows what a drum nut I am (though I’m actually a
Drums will usually be the most expensive part of your recording session. For the
most part the drummer MUST play the whole song correctly all the way through, though we
know there are exceptions. Drums take the longest to mic and get tones for. If
your drums aren’t up to snuff, or your drumming skills aren’t up to snuff, right then
and there at the very beginning of a session, your album is already compromised.
There is precious little to do to possibly make up for bad sounding drums or poorly
OK, first of all, AVOID like the plague drums that have matching dimensions. That
means if the kick drum is 22″ diameter AND 22″ deep, there are going to be
problems. Not going to get into the accoustic theory, but matching dimensions are
usually VERY bad news! VERY VERY bad news. The waveforms generated by such a
drum tend to cancel each other out and have no ” throw “. Even at the tuning
point of maximum resonance these drums don’t have much to say. A very popular
manufacturer who used to, and many times still does, make excellent drums, is
guilty of this time and time again. I don’t know what is going on over there,
but just because it says ” [name withheld to protect the ignorant] ” on it is no
guarantee of anything!
Next, THROW AWAY the factory heads. I don’t care if they’re on the bottom where
they don’t get hit – it doesn’t matter. These glorified pieces of Saran Wrap need to GO!
Unless you REALLY have confidence in the distant mic sound of your kick drum,
make DAMN SURE there’s a mic hole in it, and make sure it isn’t too low to get a mic
in…your live sound guys will also thank you for this.
Take a VERY careful look around the drum for cracked screws, hardware, missing
lugs, and loose anything…I kid you not, on more than one occaision drums have
come in missing lugs, with the drummer unaware….I am NOT joking.
That link is great. You may agree or disagree with many of his findings and
techniques, but they DO work, so its a good start…PLEASE if you are a drummer
read that link.
OK, so we got the technical side out of the way, just as importantly (perhaps
more), is the performance side of this.
In tune? Now, PRACTICE DAMMIT!!!!!!
OK, you’re in tune, and your drums got all their lugs, new heads, etc…
Take this for what its worth – I have had quite a few problems recording bands
lately that just weren’t ready. The worst part is, sometimes the bands have
GREAT songs, that just can’t come across for lack of skill. If you suck and your song
sucks, no big loss, but if you are a kickass writer, but can’t play, then it gets
frustrating….I get all hooked on the song and really want to put it out great, but
the foundation just isnt there…ugh ugh ugh.
This might sound harsh, but if you WANT to suck, go somewhere else. Yeah it’s your
money, but its also MY name that will look bad putting out subpar records.
So anyway, here’s a little more ranting, if you come to me, or anyone for that
First of all it would be cool if bands REALLY practiced together. Everyone knew
where they were supposed to be and when. And aware of what the other is doing.
Too many times I see bands that are somewhat tight at the beginning of a song, but
then as it goes on it is totally ambiguous where ” 1 ” is at all times. And people are
just roughly playing as if they had an idea of what the song was, but not really
anything else. A LOT of times people play WAY faster than they are able, and it
sounds like CRAP on tape. Might look good live, but sounds like ass.
It is of CRITICAL importance that the drum part be looked at. I warn people time
and time again, but they don’t always listen – then, it’s too late. Yes, I CAN edit your
stuff till the cows come home, and usually create a decent take out of whatever.
Sometimes it is beyond even editing. And when it is played WELL, with maybe a
few tiny edits, it sounds a zillion or so times better than an edited together take.
EVERYTHING in the song depends on those drum parts being good.
They are the reference for the tempo, the timing, when to come in, when to go
out, where the ” 1 ” is, etc… This can’t be stressed enough.
So here are some specifics: There are ALWAYS exceptions to these but you get the
1: Hit your drums like you MEAN it. tip tapping and flim-flamming on your drums,
ESPECIALLY toms, is going to make for a crappy recording. Dynamics are one thing,
poor control is something else entirely. If your hi hat is louder in your snare mic
than your snare is, we have a MAJOR problem. Slower and harder is always better
than fast and crappy. For a GOOD example of fast and hard, see ” Scott Travis “.
2: Dynamics AGAIN. Be aware of your dynamics at all times, keep it STEADY when it
is supposed to be steady, and build it up when it needs to be built up. If you are
holding the rhythm, don’t go tip TAP tip tip TAP TAP tip. you are being distracting
and not helping the feel of the song at all. In fact, you are ruining it in most cases.
3: GOD DAMN TOMS…toms are like artillery. They can have a MAJOR effect,
especially if they are pinpointed accurately and used sparingly. If they are dropping
down like rain, you get numb to ‘em and just ignore them, hoping that you don’t
meet the ”one that has your number”.
I wince when I see a drummer bringing 5 or more toms into a session. Sometimes
they use them all, and make everything sound great. Most of the time though, it
becomes a flim-flamming mess and a nightmare. Unless you are really in control it is
possible that every tom that you can to add a few hourss to your mixing time.
Toms are a BITCH. If they are hit HARD and steady, they add killer accents to the
song, and are no problem at all. If they are played lightly and sloppy, you gotta
spend the rest of your life trying to find some electronic fix to make them work in
a mix, whether it be triggering them, or gating or some radical EQ’ing, whatever,
its better to just WHACK them when they are supposed to be hit.
Many times a band will bring a CD of a group to show what they want their toms to
sound like. You will nearly always notice, those toms were played HARD and SLOW,
giving them time to build up all their energy. AND they are in a point in time in
the song where they are not interfering with anything else and nothing is
interfering with them. So of course I say ” no problem”.
The drummer then goes on to do some tip tap flim flam rolls using every drum in
the drum set 60 times in a 250 BPM fill in a 120 BPM song, AND the cymbal is louder
in the tom mic than the tome is! You think I’m kidding…
If in doubt, Leave it out!
4: Fills. You really dont need to be playing fills at all times do you? At LEAST let a
rhythm be established SOMEWHERE in the song. Somehow Minor Threat pulled fill
after fill off AS a rhythm on the out of step album, but still….Fills should ACCENT -
not take away. It’s like the little boy who cried wolf – do it too much no one pays any
attention. Sticks flying looks great live, but * Tape cant see your tattoos*.
Be DAMN SURE where beat one is and make sure the timing on your fills isn’t at
some godawful weird tempo that makes it impossible for the bass and guitars to
fit. AGAIN, be DAMN SURE you come back in on one.
AVOID AMBIGUOUS FILLS AT ALL COSTS!!!!
AVOID AMBIGUOUS FLIM FLAMMING ON THE TOMS AT ALL COSTS!
There should NEVER EVER EVER EVER NEVER be a question of where another
instrument is supposed to play, EVER. Can’t stress that enough. Remember you are
competing with thousands of other bands out there. Loose, sloppy timing will get
you the axe for SURE, 100 % EVERY time, make NO mistake about it.
Fills are great, they really make you look forward to hearing the next part if done
right. They can really accent a mood change in a song, or herald in a new part.
Done wrong, they will multiply your studio time and associated costs, and no
matter how much money is thrown at it, will still sound a lot worse than it should.
That’s a lot to think about for drummers. You can see a lot applies to guitars and
bass as well, but I’ll type something up for the string stranglers later.