Carrying on from the recent ebook we have out soon, Understanding Recording, I wanted to touch on the importance of the little things when recording.
There is so much that goes into the process of a new recording session, from getting the band organized for days they all have free, accommodation if they’re traveling from out of town, to helping improve the tracks on the fly if you’ve been hired as a produced as well; so a lot of the smaller things can go overlooked.
Lets help keep those important, small details at the forefront of your memory - they impact your mix and the recordings far too much to go unnoticed.
New strings, drum heads and clean everything. It’s such a simple thing, but the amount of times I have started a session with a novice band that thinks that their 3 month old bass strings are ok for a final recording is laughable.
Make sure you have a backup of a few set of your favorites is my best advice - of course, whether you give these to the band or offer them a lower price is up to you but invariably if the band is reluctant to do it in the first place, I usually end up biting the bullet in the long run and just give them to them for the sake of the quality reflecting on me and my studio as well as the band. Plus, in the long run, you look like the good guy which will only help build the better chance of them becoming a returning client.
Strings lose their clarity and shine the more they are exposed to oxygen in the air, let along the more they are touched and oils from fingers are deposited onto the metal dulling them even further. The same is true of drum heads, but in the sense that they are worn over time the more they are played and exposed to tuning. In both cases, for strings and drum heads, it causes them to lose their snap and also their ability to hold tunings as well making it far easier to record an out of tune take and only to notice it far too late on.
Knowing your audience
Going into a new session, with a new band, can be difficult later on when approaching the mix if you haven't taken the time to just simply listen to bands they are influenced by. Most people try to use references in the context of the overall mix, but it’s rarely advised for some reason to use these references across the board - and again, as I’ve stated many times before, your source recording is 80% of your overall sound; it’s simple common sense to apply the references they give you to all aspects of the project.
This can be anything within the session days as well, from the depth and sizes of the shells you use with the drum kit, to selecting a pickup choice of a style of guitar to use for the certain parts of the songs you compile with the band. All of your small decisions will eventually equate to a much larger picture so keep in mind that going with what you might prefer, for example a humbucker pickup for guitars, on a country song with picked chords might not work as well as a tele pickup selection in a middle position for example. Make sure you do your research and don’t always stick to what you know - recording is the time to experiment and make the tracks your own with the band's vision always at the forefront of your mind.