CHAPTER 2 : Getting Started
Focus on Your Instrument
Keep it Simple
Get it Hot
Target Your Frequency
Limit Compression & EQ When Recording
Avoid Phase Cancellation
Focus on your instrument
Even in the hands of the best player, an instrument with bad intonation won’t sound good on record. Maintaining and preparing an instrument is the first step to producing a quality recording.
If you’re a vocalist, warm up and do your vocal
exercises before hitting the mic. Drinking warm
tea and honey to lubricate your vocal cords can
help, as will wearing a scarf around your neck to
keep your cords warm. Other common sense advice includes refraining from smoking and dairy
products to keep your throat moist and phlegm
free, and avoiding loud environments where you
might speak loudly and tax your vocal cords.
If you’re a guitar player, change your strings
before going into the studio — especially if it’s
an acoustic guitar. If you’re a bass player and you
don’t change your strings once a month, you
should consider changing those strings before
you bring your bass into the studio. In both cases
it will help the tone and the output, and you’ll
stay in better tune.
If you’re a drummer, change all your drum heads
before recording. If the heads have been on for
too long, they’re going to sound dull and they’re
not going to stay in tune. Also, take time to tune
the drums correctly — you may even consider
tuning the drums differently for different songs.
As a performer preparing to record, make sure
you’re rehearsed and comfortable with the parts
you’ll be recording, and make sure you enter the
studio well rested and with a clear head.
Check your cables
Good cables can make a big difference, so make
sure they all work and don’t rely on cheap product.
Make sure all your input jacks and connections
are working, and use a can of air spray to clean out any pots or faders that might have dust built up.
Create a comfortable, but functional environment
For artists who do not have a lot of experience
in the studio, the transition from a rehearsal or
performance environment to the studio can be
“I had one session with a young woman,” recalls
engineer, producer, and studio owner Jon Marc
Weiss, “she was a vocalist, and her dad and her
husband were there. We just couldn’t get a good
take out of her. Her dad was totally on her, he was saying things like, ‘When you’re in front of your mirror in your bedroom, you do such a good take, and then we come into the studio and you can barely perform!’ Part of the problem was that they were putting way too much pressure on her. You’re not going to get a great performance out of anyone that way.
“In addition to that, she was obviously in a comfortable environment and relaxed in her own
room — so we brought the mirror, and her bedside table, and candles from her room, and we arranged them in the studio. Believe it or not, it worked! She just needed something familiar to
make her feel at home. You’ve got to be careful
as an engineer not to make it too clinical and
sterile. You’ve got to keep the smiles going and
keep the vibe going.”
HOW TO MAKE HOME