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Thread: looking for some studio advice

  1. #1
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    looking for some studio advice

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    Hey folks,

    my band's looking to book some studio time at a local studio. It'll be most of our's either first or second time in studio, so we're relatively inexperienced. We've toured the place and met the engineer and owner. They seem like really awesome really professional folks. They've worked on some records and with groups that we really like and we're very excited to be working with them.

    Unfortunately (as is usually the case) we're short of cash. We've only got enough for about 4 or so days in studio with them and the less time the better. We're running with the idea of doing drum tracks on our own with my gear and bringing them into the studio to do everything else. We're considering this because setting to record drum tracks and getting the right take is extraordinarily time consuming.

    Is this unusual? Do you think they'd feel slighted by this?

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    I don't think they would be or should be slighted by your approach. If they're truly professional, they'll understand and will appreciate your business either way.

    What I think you should consider, is to track the drums at the studio, in as short of a time possible, and then see how much time you have left to do your most important overdubs (vocals, guitars, pianos depending on the music, genre...),or the mix, and take care of the rest with your gear. It's important for drums to have as good of an acoustic environment as possible. Sound is in the air, not in the wood and skins. Most times, only a devoted recording studio can give you that, along with some great mic's and pre's that you probably don't have and can't afford. It can take quite a few mic's to mic up a drum kit. Remember, it starts with the drums, it's the foundation of your music, and the sound of your kick and snare are probably two of the most important sonic elements behind the vocals. Listeners key in and listen to the vocals, but they break their neck to the down and up beat whether they want to or not. Plus, if these guys are pros, they should be able to dial up a great drum sound somewhat quick, as long as your drummer's tight and knows his stuff BEFORE ever walking into the session and his kit is quality and in tune.

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    In four days you can achieve a lot.

    As Zane1Tsu says, professionals should be able to dial in a good sound pretty quick, so I don't think you should worry there.

    What you should think about beforehand is how well you know your material. Aim for wasting as little time as possible in the studio by making sure you've got your music sorted out: starts, ends, what everyone is doing, and when.

    I once had a band come in with a sense of urgency because they needed a demo done the next day, and the booking they had with someone else fell apart for some reason. We got eight songs recorded in a solid eight hours . . .but only because they knew their material so well that everything worked with just about one take. We did all the intruments in the morning, and the vocals in the afternoon. It was one of the easiest jobs I had . . . but it was all down to how well the band was prepared.

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    Some of the better recordings I've ever made were in real-time, direct to two-track. It all depends on everyone's level of preparedness.

    If you guys are *ready* - With the drums TUNED (not typical "they sound tuned" type tuned, but truly IN TUNE) with fresh heads, fresh strings all around and have all your parts down -- There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to bang out a wonderful recording in half that time.

    Understood, it's your second time in the studio. There are probably a few rough edges. But (A) Don't sweat the small stuff and (B) in the long run, it's all small stuff. You want a recording that everything sounds like it was "done on purpose" (which, in the big picture, is what everyone really wants). Get the parts down. Rehearse at half-speed for several hours (you'd be surprised what interesting things no one has ever heard before pop up at half speed).

    Just be realistic - You're not trying to recreate the "Black" album - Just go in and get a good representation of the band...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pony! View Post
    We're running with the idea of doing drum tracks on our own with my gear and bringing them into the studio to do everything else. We're considering this because setting to record drum tracks and getting the right take is extraordinarily time consuming.
    True...drums can take a bit more fussin' the other instruments...BUT...that may be the best reason to record them in a more "pro" environment (assuming that studio has what it takes).

    The most time consuming aspect of tracking for many bands are the false/bad takes...and that often comes from lack of practice and not being prepared. My advice is for you guys to go in as polished/tight as possible...don't leave all kinds of questions to be answered during tracking.
    HAVE A PRE-PRODUCTION PLAN...then it's easy to adjust/deviate to taste. Discuss all these things in detail with the studio guys…the more they know up front what you want, the easier/faster it is to get it. Also…many studios will give you an hour or two of load-in and set-up time free of charge.

    Bottom line, you want the drums to be recorded very well, for Rock/Pop, drums are IMO the MOST important element even though they are more of a “supportive” element. If the drums sound great, it always seems to help everything else fall into place. If you think you can do that yourself and bring the tracks to the other studio, then go for it, otherwise, you might get more bang-for-buck doing the drums and the “bed tracks” for your songs in the better studio environment.
    If you really have to save/omit anything to do on your own because of time/money issues...save the odds-n-ends and shit like leads, DI stuff that doesn't require mics/room, synths...and any extra ear-candy...
    ....unless of course you were expecting to track AND mix everything in that 4-day time frame?

    How many songs are you going for in that 4-day period?

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    We want to do about 10 songs and yes, we would like to track and mix in 4 days. I know it seems insane... That's why I'd like to do the drum tracks on our own. I have a decent recording rig and more mic's than any college student should ever own. My pre's ain't nothing to write home about but they get the job done (they're a 16 channel mackie onyx board). Our guitarist's living room is actually a pretty nice sounding room and I've got a bunch of bass traps that I can transport there to put in the corners to tighten things up a bit.

    As for planning and tightening things up we've been playing a lot of these songs for almost 2 years... but 2 or 3 of them are fairly new. So, we're a bit iffy on structure for those things. I can probably play through most of the tunes on the drusm in one or two passes... but the new stuff might be a bit tricky. I'd need someone playing with me (probably the bassist).

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    Ok, first off...congratulations on going in to record your stuff! It's a lot of fun and should be an experience you'll never forget. That said...have a plan that is manageable. And honestly, no matter how well you know your stuff (it's good that you've taken the time to polish it), 10 songs in 4 days is, in my opinion, impossible. No matter how good you are, or how good the crew in the studio is, it's just too much.

    If cash is a real problem and you just CAN'T go in for longer, aim small. Do 4 or 5 tunes and do them WELL. If you have time, and the studio dudes are up for it, maybe go for more. Before you commit to anything, talk with them about your plan. Tell them what you want to do, how long you have to do it, and what kind of result you expect to get at the end. If they're truly professional, they'll tell you whether it can be done or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by obsidian3d View Post
    And honestly, no matter how well you know your stuff (it's good that you've taken the time to polish it), 10 songs in 4 days is, in my opinion, impossible. No matter how good you are, or how good the crew in the studio is, it's just too much.
    A big call!

    In an earlier post I mentioned how I recorded eight tracks with a band in eight hours. Ten tracks in four days is very achievable. "impossible" is a word just dying to be contradicted.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zane1Tsu View Post
    Sound is in the air, not in the wood and skins.
    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    If you guys are *ready* - With the drums TUNED (not typical "they sound tuned" type tuned, but truly IN TUNE) with fresh heads,
    Um.....I think I'll go with Massive on this one.

    Of course the "air" or "room" are very important. But to say the sound is not in the wood or skins is ludicrous, in my opinion.

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