Here is a bit of information that may be helpful while you're getting ready to record. If you want to discuss these issues further or have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Open communication between a band and their engineer is probably the most important factor when working to create a great recording that everyone is happy with!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A RECORD?
There are a lot of variables in this equation. I’ve spent a whole day recording vocals to a couple songs, and I’ve spent half a day recording an entire LP. In my experience, the biggest determining factor is how well a band knows and can perform their songs. You can save a lot of time by knowing all the parts you’re going to record and being well rehearsed. Lots of overdubs, writing new parts on the spot, or having to stop to fix issues with your gear are some other factors that can add a lot of time to the process. If you're worried you can't afford the amount of studio time you'd like to have for your project, let me know and we'll figure something out. As much as I love being paid for my time, my main concern is having fun making great records that bands can be proud of.
WHAT SHOULD WE BRING TO RECORD?
Basically you’ll need everything you would use to play a show (except for a vocal P.A.). All your instruments, plus stuff like cables, extra strings, drumsticks, batteries for your pedals, etc.
WILL WE RECORD EVERYTHING LIVE, OR WILL WE RECORD EACH INSTRUMENT ONE BY ONE?
There are a lot of possible workflows to follow, but because the studio is relatively small, there are some limitations (this is, after all, my basement). Most of the recordings I’ve done started with recording drums, bass and one guitar track all together, then we've done vocals, extra guitar parts, or other bits and pieces as overdubs. This usually let's us have a decent amount of separation between instruments while still being able to hear the main foundation of the song right away. Adding a second live guitar to that is totally possible, but doing much beyond that all live often starts to create some issues (I'm always willing to try though!). Putting together a recording one instrument at a time is also an option, although in my experience it can sometimes make it a bit harder to perform the songs properly. Again, it just comes down to what you as players are comfortable with. While the size of the studio can create some limitations that may affect the sound of the recording (excessive bleed between instruments when there’s a lot going on at once), I’m of the opinion that creating an environment in which a band is comfortable and can perform at their best is more important than perfect separation between instruments or pristine audio quality. This is why it’s worth budgeting a little extra time when first setting up for recording – not only do I want the sound to be great from the start, but I want to make sure we find a setup and workflow in which you and your band are comfortable performing.
DO YOU HAVE INSTRUMENTS WE CAN USE?
Yes, but I always encourage bands to bring all their own equipment. Even if your gear isn’t all that great, you’re probably pretty comfortable playing on it, and for better or worse, that gear is a part of how your band sounds. Sometimes it’s worth maintaining that sound and capturing it as best we can, and sometimes it is worth trying something new. And while I can’t promise you’ll like any of the studio’s instruments better than your own, there is a small selection of gear here that bands are generally welcome to use. Talk to me about it before the session so I can make sure the gear I have here will meet your needs.
SHOULD WE RECORD ANALOG OR DIGITAL?
Each format presents a different workflow and it depends on how your band likes to work. Recording digitally primarily offers convenience – there is an unlimited track count, things can be easily edited, we can do as many takes as we want without recording over anything, and we don’t have to spend time rewinding tape or switching reels. Recording to analog tape usually requires a little more planning – we have to map out tracks for each song to make sure we can fit everything onto the tape, editing is very limited, and while doing overdubs you’ll usually have to commit to either keeping a performance or recording over it with a new one. Regarding sound quality, all I can say is that it’s possible to make a great sounding record on either format. While I often prefer the sound and more minimalist workflow of my tape machine over recording digitally, I’m also of the opinion that the practical considerations of each format FAR outweigh any sonic benefits supposedly offered by either one. For most projects, I record most of the tracks on tape, then transfer the tracks to the computer for overdubs, editing and mixing.
DO YOU DO MASTERING TOO?
No, I don’t. I highly recommend taking your recording to a dedicated mastering facility once we’re done. They provide a fresh set of ears to evaluate the recording more objectively than the recording engineer can, plus a nicer sounding room and very nice gear. If your budget is extremely tight, or your recording is “just a demo”, I can probably provide very basic mastering, but again, I recommend taking it to a separate mastering engineer.