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Thread: First time in the studio - tips?

  1. #1

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    First time in the studio - tips?

    I've been playing for more than twenty years, but in August I'll be heading into the studio with a band for the first time and frankly, I'm terrified. We'll be spending a weekend at the studio with a full-time sound guy and a producer.

    Since I only own a JP6 and JPXI, I'll of course be bringing those (the band's other guitarist will probably bring a host of Les Pauls, strats and teles to round out the collection).

    Do you have any tips for a first-time recorder? Things, you wish you'd have known the first time?

  2. #2

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    Wow. My first recording session I wanted to be like Steve Lukather, a "one take wonder". The first part we tried to record we moved on after take #26 to come back to it later. It was humbling, to say the least. For just about everyone else in the planet, 3 takes and a punch-in is good going, and more than that is normal.

    The parts that non-guitar players love are the simplest and cleanest. Don't overplay, don't go for flash if you don't need it. Relax and if everyone else thinks the take is good, feel free to move on. "Perfect" is enemy of "done". And don't worry too much about "tone". What sounds great in a full mix might sound thin or weird on its own. That's OK.

    Time is money and that means efficiency is the name of the game. And THAT means preparation and practice. All the flashy guitar parts in the world mean nothing if the basic "boring" tracks are not spot on, so work on those. You should have your basic parts prepared note-for-note. Bring written notes if you have them or need them. Making things up as you go along and trying to get a great performance at the same time is the exact opposite of efficiency. So don't do that unless the person paying for the studio time specifically asks you to.

    Don't practice too hard the day or two before you go in. You can't risk tiring out your muscles before you get in the studio. And if your strings usually need a day or two to settle in and give best tuning stability, change them that many days before the recording. Read Jack Endino's "Tuning Nightmares", you can google it. Practice tuning if you have to. Make sure you have every cable and adapter and battery you will need and test them before you go.

    And most importantly - be positive and helpful and kind and patient with everybody in the studio. Be the best team member you can. Know when to speak up and when to shut up. Sometimes the right thing to do when other people are trying to get their parts down is to give advice and helpful pointers. But sometimes it's to shut the F up, stay out of the way and bring coffee and water at the right moment.


    Last edited by DrKev; 06-28-2020 at 03:44 AM.
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  3. #3

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    Practice practice practice. Know your stuff down cold before you go in there so you can enjoy the experience. Also really know how to dial in your rig the way you want it to sound.

  4. #4

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    My limited skills will never lead me to a recording studio but reading these tips was most interesting. Thanks.
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  5. #5

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    Top notch advice, thanks!

  6. #6

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    So much in that advice, a really fascinating read. Even as someone who only records in my own home studio, and hence does not have all that pressure, I took things from it. I could not agree more with “getting the basics” right. For rhythm guitar parts, which should be routine, it’s so important to get them tight. There will still be the human feel in there, even if you play as tightly as you can. Sloppy rhythm will mean the whole song sounds wrong, and no amount of flashy playing elsewhere or on top will make up for it!

    Also, as someone who is a real “one man band” who records guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards and programs my drums, as well as mixing, pseudo mastering etc, it is hard to be objective sometimes. So it’s interesting to read that you feel non-guitarists prefer the simple bits, whereas I (as a guitarist) love the twiddly bits best! Something for me to keep in mind. Goes back to what percentage of (for example) Dream Theater fans are guitarists? Pretty high me thinks!

  7. #7

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    Great advice from all above, i remember my first time in a recording studio. As soon as the recording light went on my brain went blank! I could remember anything. After a cuppa and time to relax it all went great. You will love it, enjoy.
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  8. #8

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    Hi CBC,

    Ran across your question while searching for used JP15. I run a semi pro studio, the one piece of advice I can give that can give you the most mileage is practice your performance to a click track until absolutely perfected. Additionally, many first time studio musicians (myself included) will have difficulty performing great takes while being recorded/watched. It might be worth practicing your parts to a click while in front of band mates or family to get used to the added pressure.
    Also, try to be open minded to suggestions from the producer/engineer, it's easy to get married to a particular part but might not be the best choice for the song. Have Fun! working in the studio is a great experience.



  9. #9

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    beej said it all basically. Commencing studio sessions without perfectly knowing your parts is a waste of your time and money.

    Good luck!!

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyboogie View Post
    beej said it all basically. Commencing studio sessions without perfectly knowing your parts is a waste of your time and money.

    Good luck!!

    You have to know exactly what you have to play. And remember that playing perfectly an "easy" part will sound much better that playing badly a virtuoso part ...
    We always try to push the limits but humility sounds better ... (it took me 40 years to realize that I am neither Joe Satriani nor John Petrucci ...)

  11. #11

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    Time as they say is money.
    Having spent some time in the studio over the years there are several things that are essential.
    1.You should be a 100% rehearsed.Wasting time rearranging or half practiced is not cool.
    The studio don't care if you're not rehearsed they get their cash anyway but it will cost you
    time and more cash if you're not .
    2.Make sure your instruments have new strings ,stretched and stay in tune.
    3.You know your own gear better than any sound guy so take your own amp and know your own settings.
    Using the studio's own gear that is unfamiliar to you is a waste of time twiddling knobs to get that sound you loved.
    4.Make sure all your pedals have fresh batteries ( guitar included if it has one).
    unless your using a power supply.
    Pedal Patch leads are another part that should be checked.
    5.Spare strings and picks also make sure your whammy bar is in the case.
    I forgot a bottleneck once and ended up using a disposable lighter in it's place.
    6.Make sure all band members are on the same page regarding the set and what you're going to record.
    The most essential thing is to make sure you and all band members turn up on time and can set up
    without wasting time and are - Oh and no hangers on ie. Pals ,GF's or wives.
    they will only get in the way ,add their tuppence worth and be a distraction.
    Good luck
    Last edited by Pops; 06-29-2020 at 10:53 AM.

  12. #12

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    Prep is the key. Know that the gear you use live doesnt always work for the studio. Dont bring a ton of gear especially large amps. Most studios will point to a miced up Princeton or small tweed And ask you to use that unless you already have and use a kemper or the like. Dont record alot using alot of efx. Verbs and delays can be added during a final mix session. Be ready to deal w the sound engineer. If time is critical then learn to live w what you played. Production is the better place to spend money. Even being prepared expect to use 2 or 3 times more time than you thought you would need to record. Just understand that the studio is very different than what you thought it was going to be.
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  13. #13

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    Can't thank you guys enough for all the advice, it really means a lot!

    We've paid for a full weekend with sound guy and producer. The producer, a great guy, visited our rehearsal space yesterday and helped prepare some of the songs for recording - we're already discussing guitar parts, sounds etc. in advance to save studio time.

    We'll start out by laying down a couple of takes as a full band in separate, isolated booths, using a click track as well. We'll then start working on our individual parts, but can still use parts of the initial takes if they're good, trying to catch some of that 'band-magic'.

    Luckilly, the rest of my band is quite experienced with studio recording, so it should be fine.

    DrKev: I read the entire tuning article, a brilliant read. Thanks!

  14. #14

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    1. The studio is harder than you think it is. It will expose weaknesses you never thought you had. Be prepared to realize that you don't sound like what you think you sound like. That's OK. Chill, You got this.

    2. Don't just know your parts, if you haven't been playing them with just a click, start practicing that right now. Also, practice with everyone staring at you while a clock face labelled with dollar bills clicks away in front of you. Chill, you got this.

    3. Know your parts cold, just like everyone said BUT I can't tell you how many times I've showed up prepared and then either they change something in the tune or you just find out that your part doesn't work...see #4

    4. When you find in mid-session that your part doesn't actually work don't be afraid to try something new. This is where a good producer and/or engineer can be worth a zillion dollars recognizing what's working and what's not. 1st time I was in the studio we decided to change a song and I needed to come up with some solo stuff AND FAST. I was panicked but the old head behind the board just looped some stuff and told me to play anything and in less than 15 minutes we had what we needed. He pulled out the good riffs, trashed the bad ones, gave me the right kind of encouragement (more of that...less of this etc) and had it together into a great solo in no time. Still one of my best recorded solos and I really didn't write it, I just gave him some phrases to put together. So yeah, chill, you got this.

    5. I still struggle with overplaying. When you've been under the cans and focused for too long, it can be hard to do the easy thing. If you've been playing for 20 years, you probably are better than you think you are even if you're not John F Petrucci. Trust that even stuff that doesn't impress you is still good guitar playing and might be exactly what the song needs. (As I type this I'm listening to some fills I added to a song just last night and I'm shaking my head wondering what I was thinking...)
    Last edited by BUC; 07-02-2020 at 01:03 PM.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    Practice practice practice. Know your stuff down cold before you go in there so you can enjoy the experience.
    Beej stole my comment! Know the music like it’s spelling your name. Obey the click. The click is life.
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