Recording Studio tips?


Hey guys, my band and I are going to the recording studio June 1st. This is our first time, and I was wondering if you can give me any tips or advice. Thanks!


just have everything well practiced to not waste studio time.
fresh set of strings on all guitars, new drum heads, etc... be sure to stretch them so they won't go out of tune
make sure you get enough sleep the night before and eat well before going to the studio


Senior Member

Be on time. Dont waste studio time arguing. Dont waste time tweaking. Be ready to hit record and get it down. Do not get in the engineers way. Let him/her do what you pay them to do. Youre musicians not engineers. Lose the egos because if you dont youre just wasting time and money. Always back things up. Be ready for the unexpected. Crap breaks at the craziest times.


Senior Member
Don't bite off more than you can chew!

Tighten up arrangements before you get in the studio. No 8 minute pop songs!

Critically listen to your gear. No hums, buzzes etc. Make sure guitars and basses are properly intonated before recording. Preferably by them same tech. Everyone uses the same tuner in the studio.

If you don't have an extremely clear vision of how you are going to produce the tunes, get with an experienced producer ahead of time. If you don't have a clear approach for marketing the music once completed, PUT OFF THE RECORDING UNTIL YOU DO! This is one of the biggest mistakes of many bands that record. At this point, I don't even take projects from bands unless they have a clear plan for getting rid off a thousand CD's or enough downloads to justify the recording. There's nothing that hurts the bands or my reputation more that 1,000 CD's sitting in the basement.

Are the songs ready? Do the have musical AND lyrical hooks? Are they constructed with enough "breathing" in them? Do they turn on play for 3 minutes and turn off? Is every rendition of the chorus the same? Are there small events to hold the listeners attention? That can also be a moment of silence.

Bring lots of snares!!!
If you don't tune your drums well, hire a tech, it will save you more money to get a tech than it will to slog through studio time to get the drums right.
Drummer record yourself in advance through 2 mics and hear how well you balance yourself. Do you need to mack the snare harder, back off the hi-hat? These are elements the drummer can control extremely well and as soon as you try to mix those balances the sonics of the drums start to fall apart.

Guitarists-Use only the pedals required for each particular song. Use battery power if at all possible. Less chance of ground issues. If a piano is on the session, tune to it! Trust you ears for intonation. If it sounds out, it is. Tune every take! Seriously!!!

Bass - Kinda the same as guitar but especially in piano land. Pianos are stretched tuned. If you tune to a tuner you will sit sharp relative to the piano on the low end.

Keys - If acoustic piano is involved, it should be tuned at your arrival into the studio. Accept nothing less! If you need touchups or retuning over the coarse of the session you should ezpect to pay for them. Make sure your gear is in shape and quiet!

Voice - REST!!!!!!! Stop smoking if you can, or doing something aerobic to increase your lung capacity and power.

Use an experienced engineer and trust them. They spend everyday of their lives in the studio. Get recommendations! Believe me the engineer recording the music has more to do with the quality than the room you are recording in. But still, get the best room you can afford... very critical for drums.

Enjoy yourselves, have fun. Remember to PLAY and PERFORM music.

Now go make a hit record!


Old Guy...but not too old
Gold Supporting Member
If you have not done so before, practice montoring with earplugs/headphones while you play. Takes some getting used to.


There's a reason even big name bands go into the studio with a producer.

Don't be your own producers. Some (very few IMHO) engineers make worthwhile producers, but even if they often have great ideas, the guy who shoots the movie isn't the director.

A producer is a truly independent set of ears with a vision for the project.

It's not easy to find a good one, but it can be done.


If you have not done so before, practice montoring with earplugs/headphones while you play. Takes some getting used to.


Good point, nsureit. Krunk, if you prefer to use amps instead of recording direct you will probably want to get the amps cranked to get the tone you are looking for. You obviously cannot listen to the track to play to, and crank the amps at the same time so you will need cans. And you may get bleed if your engineer/ producer doesn't have a good pair. I would consider buying a personal pair of isolation ear plug / phones to take with you in case. They are just good to have anyway - especially if you get them form-fitted at an audiologist. I like Etymotic Research MicroPros and I cannot recommend them enough.

After you get a good seal with them in your ear you can crank the amps as loud as you want and you have total ear protection and at the same time you have excellent reference quality sound through the earphones so you know what is getting recorded - and I have experienced ZERO outside bleed with a Plexi, Twin and Komet cranked in my studio.

I recommend the ER 4S for recording. They are $299 on their site, but you can pick them up cheaper on ebay. I think I paid $160 - worth every single penny.

You kill two birds with one stone - You protect your ears AND you get reference quality sound that lets you know how things are going to print when you record. AND just for practicing at loud levels you can jam for hours and not bother your ears a single bit while enjoying that "cranked" tone that makes it all worthwhile.

If you record or simply practice with real amps, cranked, these are absolutely essential. And I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the company.

Also, you may want to consider getting a 20 or 25 foot extension cord from Radio Shack. Just a few bucks, and it has allowed me to walk anywhere in my studio with these on.

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Also, not to get overly anal with this, but what I do is mic two amps with 57's and then I place the MicroPros in my ears according to the mic placement on the amps as I am looking at them.

In the photo below the Komet is in my left ear (blue micropro) and the 68 Plexi is in my right ear (red MicroPro).

So it makes optimization easy. I can simply mute my right ear at the board if I want to adjust things on the Komet. And then walk over (now that I have a radio shack 25 foot cord - :) ) and make an adjustment to the tone on the amp. And then mute my left ear and do the same thing for the Plexi. Then unmute both and play something and see if I like the bass, treble, presence, etc...before recording. Also, I am not finished treating that back wall as you can tell, so that is also having a profound effect on the recorded tone, and I could never decipher the end result if I were listening with regular headphones with both of these guys cranked. The bleed would kill everything. When you are recording the only thing that matters is what is getting printed. Not necessarily what you hear in the room with your exposed ears. Isolate the room with these phones and you hear just what is getting printed - and then tweak THAT tone.

Using isolation ear phones is also a real good way to set volume equality if you are playing amps in stereo like I enjoy doing. Again, they kill the room sound and you can play and tweak, and play and tweak. So your exposed ear's perception of the room is never a variable to throw things off during your tone and volume optimization process before recording.

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Pat Healy

Big thing is have your arrangements done and well practiced.


Tighten up arrangements before you get in the studio. No 8 minute pop songs!

Don't track guitars with reverb.

Don't be your own producers.

+1 to all of that. Very good advice. I would just add this - make sure that you're as tight musically as you can possibly be. If your drummer and bass player aren't hitting stops, anticipations, etc., together, that will come through in the studio and you'll have to spend time getting them in sync with each other. Same if you have two guitars and the parts are clashing with each other. You'll have to fix them in the studio, which takes time and money.

You can get away with that stuff playing live, but the studio will reveal every flaw. Listen critically to how the drums and bass interact, how the guitars interact, how the guitars interact with the bass, and make sure the parts are tight before you record.


Best advice I can give: Get a 4-track (0r more track) and record your stuff BEFORE you go in there. Especially if you're going to layer everything. Sometimes it helps to run through all your parts a few times before you get in there. This way you're not spending $100/hr to practice a rhythm part a few extra times. It also gives you a chance to dissect your parts and find weak spots before you get in there. If I don't do this, I end up re-writing a guitar solo (or 2) in the studio, which takes time & money.

Also, spend a LOT of time mic'ing the drums. Your drum sound is the heart of your studio recording. Anyone can place a mic or 2 in front of a cranked amp, and you can always go back an re-record a guitar track, but once you get those drums done, and the set broken down, there's pretty much no going back. Plan to spend several hours mic'ing the drums, and another couple hours fine tuning the setup.

And, finally. Let the studio guys do their jobs, and don't chat with them as they work.


To further the thoughts on drums:

If you intend to use a click track, make sure the drummer can play to one.

Rent/Borrow great cymbals. All the studio magic in the world can't make a trash can lid sound good.

Go in with a plan as to what you want the drums to sound like. You don't have to understand how the sounds were achieved, the engineer should know that within the first few seconds of listening to a reference.

If budget is an issue, consider using the studio's kit...they will be used to mic'ing it, and will be able to set it up quickly. -That said, I don't believe a good engineer should take hours finding sounds on a drum kit...sure it takes time, but unless you've got the studio blocked out for a week(s), you may end up setting it up several times...

Consider making a few samples while the kit is set up, in case you need to do some editing never know when having a real clean snare hit can be a life saver.

Multiple snares are nice, so are bass drums...but there are options can create a trigger to make a midi event with every kick drum note, and then blend the actual kick, or replace the actual kick with a sample...

Think about what's essential...don't cover up sloppiness with too many cymbal crashes...

For other people:

Rock singers often don't think they need to warm up...maybe they don't for shows, but they should for studio work...part of the warm up is for the voice, and part needs to be for the ear, so practice tough intervals that appear in the songs...

Write out the lyrics and put them on a music stand...why not?

Try out a variety of mics on the singer, consider odd things, you never know...I often use a Shure Green Bullet (harmonica mic) on vocals, if I want a little grit, for example.

In general, familiarize yourself ahead of time with what is possible...decide where your limits are...don't retrack things that only require a little punch-in. Decide about AutoTune...

Trust your gut reactions to sounds and performances...if you have a doubt, it's better to address it right away.

Push your engineer...politely. Encourage them to take the time to try things that appeal to you...discourage them to toy with things that you know you won't want...if you're footing the bill, make stands where you need to.

Understand that recording is a musical skill, like playing, or'll get better at it as it goes, accept that...


Long in the tooth
After 15 years of session work..the old engineer used to say'" Son if you don't have a purpose for every note in that solo.....don't play it!! And...Jam belongs on a biscuit..not in my studio!!!! Also bringing doughnuts helps a lot!!!!!!!! Seriously..get your stuff together..if you can't play it..hire somone who can!!! If you can't afford that..don't play it!!!!! You'd really be surprised who ACTUALLY played the parts on some very big selling albums and CD's......


2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Record the whole thing yourself first... on some kind of computer or something...

Then do it all again in the studio...

Write 1.5 to 2 times the music you need, then cut the bad stuff after you record it all yourself.

+1000 to hiring somebody to mix. imho, an "okay" home recording mixed by somebody with great ears is better than a good studio recording mixed by somebody without them...

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