How to Prepare for an Upcoming Recording Session

The big day is just around the corner. You and your bandmates have got the funds, booked the studio and have written and rehearsed the songs. But how can you ensure you get the most of your recording session? The key is good preparation.

Most studios charge by the hour, so it’s essential that you don’t waste any of that time doing what you could have done before. Here are the five essential preparatory steps that you need to take before you walk into your session.

1) Plan the Guide Tracks and Recording Order

To save dilly-dallying and decision-making in the studio, plan before you get there what the guide track will be, and who will do it. It tends to be a guitar part and a vocal line, that the other musicians can then follow, but you can discuss as a band what will work for you.

In case you’re not yet familiar, a guide track is a rough recording that’s used to guide the rest of the band as they record their parts.

When you’ve decided what the guide will be like, then it’s time to decide what order you’ll record in. Most bands go rhythm sections first (starting with drums), then go onto lead parts and finish with vocals.

2) Have your Pedals Ready

What pedals are you going to use, if any? Whatever you decide, make sure you have them ready with their power supplies or batteries. By ready, I mean set up as well as present. Many looper pedals are capable of an enormous amount of settings, make sure you have it set up, ready and know exactly what you’re doing.

It’s worth noting here that some studio engineers and producers prefer you not to use pedals whilst recording. Some would rather you record clean and choose from their selection of effects, whilst some use a technique called ‘re-amping’, to play your clean recorded sound through the amp after recording and adding the effects then. This can enable a cleaner signal that’s easier to manipulate.

3) Pack Spares!

Strings, leads, picks, sticks, batteries, underwear… Whatever you think you’ll need. It’s amazing how many things like to break during a studio session! Save yourself an extremely expensive trip to the shop and take spares with you. It’s not worth the risk.

4) Plan (and try out) Additional Parts

If you have wonderful ideas in your head about harmonies and additional instrumental parts, try them out before you get into the studio.

I know it can take away from the creative magic a little bit, but it will save you time, money and your bandmates’ frustration. There’s no harm in planning your creativity.

5) Drinks and Snacks

I know this sounds a bit mumsy but please remember to eat and drink! If you don’t take drinks and snacks to the studio, you risk getting grumpy, wasting a lot of time wondering about where to go for food, dealing with grumpy bandmates and losing creative energy. Let’s be honest, you feel the excitement of a child, don’t you? Well, pretend to be a kid and take a packed lunch on your trip!

Some of these are obvious, but I hope they’ve helped you to prepare for your session. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning who will record what and when and, of course, keeping fed and hydrated. Planning can put you in control and will make sure that you get the most out of your money in the studio. However, all of this said, remember to leave some space for those little magic, accidental moments. They can be what makes music special.

Good luck in your musical adventures! 

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