Many bands/Artist come to the studio under-prepared for their session, which means they waste a lot of time – and in the studio, time is money! Failing to prepare can cost you hours in wasted studio time, and not familiarising yourself with your songs, means having to do multiple retakes of each song just to get them right. Another example is not prepping equipment, bad connection leads between pedals, not having spare guitar strings and faulty power supplies are all factors that can waste valuable studio time.
Lack of preparation before entering the studio means you are at risk of wasting time and money, but more importantly, you can end up rushing the editing /mixing and production stage, which in turn leads to a poor sounding recording. To record 3 or 4 songs with a standard 4 piece band would usually take around 3 days, 2 days for recording and tracking and 1 day for mixing, this is working with an experienced engineer.
Mastering is normally done after the mixing, however with modern computer programs it is possible to Master the track on mix down, this saves time and money, but if you are a bit of a perfectionist, then do it after the mix.
Here are a few tips on how to better prepare for the studio:
1. Know your songs! Know them inside out, upside down and back to front.
2. Try to get the band to play the songs without the singer, so they count bars and beats.
3. If you are not tight as a band, use a metronome to keep time, I suggest if you rehearse for 4 hours a week, go through the songs turned down, put pads on the drums and put a click through P.A. system, playing quietly will show up errors in the playing and tighten the band do this for about 1 hour and then turn up and have fun for the rest of the session.
4. Check all equipment, i.e. make sure amps work, and they don’t buzz or crackle, sorting this out in the mix cost time.
5. Turn up on time, have the drummer arrive before the rest of the band to set up his kit and sound check it.
6. Drums: If you need to change any skins, do it a week or so before the session so they are played in. also make sure the kit doesn’t rattle, tighten lugs etc….
7. Bass: replace strings a week before the session to settle them in, if needed, also make sure you can see the drummer when recording to lock down the rhythm section.
8. Guitars: replace any strings that are old, a week or so before the session, make sure the Guitar is setup properly so it stays in tune, doesn’t buzz or generally sound crap.
9. Keys: Get the keyboard player to work out their parts in advance of the session maybe on the computer to layer sounds for the production. Also bring all synths etc… with you as the studio might not have the right sounds for your songs
10. Singers: Know your lyrics and print a copy off for the vocal session, make sure to warm up your voice before you sing with exercises or run through songs on acoustic guitar. If you feel you’re getting a cold it’s a good idea to use a throat spray or gargle with TCP liquid (cap full in warm water) a week before and leading up to the session, this should keep bugs at bay, also buy some Vocalzone pastels, these help you to keep a clear voice. Don’t buy stuff of the Internet, go to the chemist or doctors.
I have attached some PDF files with studio work flow charts and song work flow charts to help you get better value for your money.
If you need any advice, I’m always willing to help at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Room Studios
And Remember it’s supposed to be fun!
StudioChecklist Chart Example
Studio checklist chart
Song structure chart example