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Session Work-Multiple Takes

ocripes

Supporting Member
Did a session yesterday. One song with a band that is bringing in a bunch of dfferent players to put stuff down and then pick the best for each tune. Cool tune, had some fun. Took several passes and different approaches at parts: slide, rhythm, different styles of leads.

I find that when I have done sessions, I always get asked to take a bunch of passess at each part I'm doing. Later on, people mix and mash solos and so on. I also have often punched in a note, or a bend or something that a guy will say, "Do that one thing again," meaning "do it right/better, so on."

Well, w/my various neuroses, I think it means that I suck ass because a real player goes in, plays the perfect thing in one take and that's that. I mean, I wish I did that all the time, everytime.

Anyhow, I'm juts curious what guys think, what experiences they've had, etc.

A funny story from session I did several years ago. A guy heard me live, dug how I played and had me in the studio. He was a guy who sang a bunch f national commercials and toured/put out records in Europe. I'm playing this figure that the guys in the booth wanted and I'm sucking bad. After the 5th take, they forgot to turn off the talkback. I scrwed it up and heard them all go, "****! Sonofabitch, etc." It had the cold water schrinkage effect on my unit. The rest went bad, they dumped my ****.
 

WahmBoomAh

World Crass Guitarist
Silver Supporting Member
if it makes you feel any better ,,,there are players that can nail stuff but have other limitations ....It can be a right side/left side thing.
Find what you do best and search for the music there .....while tracking as much as possible in a home studio situation.
I once spent a couple of hours trying to get the right sound for a solo (home studio but for a pro CD) .....I got so fed up I plugged my pedalboard right into Protools and disgusted and kind of giving up ....wung it.
Tracked a solo in one take and thought .....wow, that came out musical!
When it came time to track the singer .,,, I told the engineer/producer (grammy winning name guy) ......sorry about the guitar sound. I`m gonna redo that solo.
He insisted I kept it and we doctored it up to sound nice.
anyway ,,, I never would have flowed into the solo with the mental baggage of tracking to make history!
Very often the need for approval or insecurity take over the musical vibes (it`s happened to me).
Now ..if there`s a phrase you have to play and you can`t get it under your fingers .....you have some practicing to do!
The challenge is to hear the music in a personal way, find your voice and walk in there knowing that nobody can play it like you do ...after that they can call who they want.
Takes a while! keep practicing
 

ocripes

Supporting Member
Thanks for the reply. The thing I did yesterday, the guys wanted me (and the other guitar players) to just do my thing.

I guess I wonder if 1 take is the norm, or do some guys do numbers of solos.
 

smallbutmighty

Supporting Member
I've done a fair amount of session work for radio ID's, jingles, etc. I wouldn't worry about being asked to "Do that one thing again".

Many times the producer doesn't have all the instruments/ vocals/ whatever down yet, and they just want to make sure that when mix time comes they have options.

Other times it's just a matter of finding the feel or vibe the producer is looking for. They've heard the thing a million times and they hear it developing a certain way. The session player, on the other hand, heard it for the first time 15 minutes ago, and doesn't always get the same vibe from it. If the mix is still missing instrumental or vocal parts, the player's job is even tougher. It's almost impossible to hear where the piece is going or what the producer's finished product is supposed to be. This where being a good listener comes in. You have to quickly understand what the producer is trying to accomplish, resist your natural musical impulses, and adjust your playing to what they want.

The best sessions, at least in my experience, are when the producer is able to communicate well, and the player is able to adapt quickly, tonally and stylistically. The "one take wonder" thing is a little bit of a myth.

ac
 

Dana Olsen

Gold Supporting Member
At studio sessions I've taken solos that I thought were very good - just what the producer was looking for as measured by their description to me of "what we're looking for here" - only to have them dumped and replaced by another take that only remotely matched what the producer was originally asking for, in my opinion.

I've also tried 10 takes of a solo where the producer asked for fast stuff, only to have them change their mind after 10 takes and ask for slow stuff instead.

Bottom line; it's hard to please everyone every time, even yourself. And in the process of "pleasing" either yourself or a producer in a musical job, one may find that what the producer thought he/she wanted in the beginning just wasn't working, and that changing the approach is what's necessary at that point to make the session or tune successful.

In those situations, you just gotta be willing to change and try something different. It's hard to "let go", and it's hard to stifle those little voices in our own heads, but it makes better music sometimes when you can just let it go.

BTW, my little voices are still just as loud as they've ever been ... oh well. (GRIN)

Thanks, Dana O.
 

Pat Healy

Member
I guess I wonder if 1 take is the norm, or do some guys do numbers of solos.
I did some session work with a studio engineer who had recorded Dann Huff in the 80's. He said Dann brought his rack into the control room, plugged in, asked the producer, "What kind of a feel do you want? What kind of a sound do you want?", then ripped off a guitar part, one take and done, and it went on the radio.

For me and most people I know, the multiple passes thing is much more the norm. Record half a dozen solos, each with a different feel, to give the producer more options later on.

The difference? I'm not as good as Dann. But I'm also a lot cheaper, so they can keep me around longer. :D
 
I don't think there's much of an expectation that a player will nail everything in one take, when it comes to musicans that are not professional session players. Even longtime pros get their parts comped in some cases, especially when it comes down to feel, or qualities that the producer or artist can't define clearly in their instructions to the player, or a solo or passage that is considered a centerpiece of a record.

That said, the more you record, the less self conscious you get about the process, and you skills in that arena build up, resulting in you needing fewer takes generally. I've been pleasantly surprised by this effect over the last year or so; I guess I assumed it would never get easier, but then it got easier, and that makes it more fun.

Also I think the interpersonal chemistry and attitudes between the people in the room are a big factor. Competition can be a plus sometimes, but you don't want unnecessary people hanging around during tracking, and no complainers, ill informed egomaniacs, or defeatists ever.
 

aeolian

Member
Consider the Peg solo. All the heaviest cats in town took a crack at it and they ended up with Frankensolo out of multiple takes from Jay.

I call it red light fever and I got it bad. Hit that record button and I fall apart. Maybe someday I'll have it together enough to play something all the way though as myself. Or maybe I'll just keep my day job.
 
I am a studio owner and also a guitar player, so I know what you're talking about. First of all, shame on the people who did not disable the talkback button when you were playing. That is a very amateur-ish mistake. That says a lot about their level of professionalism. Second, a single take NEVER happens. You never know what you're gonna' get if you press further. I am rarely the guitarist in final stuff, so I hire great people. A single take simply never happens. NEVER. I'm looking for stuff I can comp together, so I'm looking for variety. You just never know what will work, or be unexpected, etc.....Don't feel bad about not getting it in one take.

Mark Miller
 

cdaloia

Member
I've done studio work on and off since "76". I can tell you 2 things......sometimes you nail it quick and sometimes you get beat up by the whole process. The key is not to freak.........You do get better at it but even now with 30 plus years under my belt I'll get jammed up sometimes. Happens to everybody that falls in to the "mere mortal" camp.....Maybe not Dann Huff but I'll bet that even he's been through it at some point. :) And he is a monster's monster!

The 2nd thing is, don't try to quit smoking cigs on the day of a recording session.........ouch.

Chuck
 
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I read an interview with David Gilmour who said he'll sit down and rattle off a half-dozen solo takes and cobble them together to make the finished product. And this is on his songs! And he's David freakin' Gilmour! So if you take a couple of tries at getting the feel for someone else's songs? Don't sweat it! Sez I, the completely uninformed lay-person.
 

ocripes

Supporting Member
Wow, lot's of cool stories and comments. Thanks!

One of the questions I've heard EVERY time I have worked in a studio is, "That sounded cool, How'd you like it?" I almost always say, "If it worked for you, it works for me." I figure it doesn't matter whether I liked it or not. It's your tune and all I care about is what you think about stuff I've just done.
 
I dont know man, I can remember a session where I recorded solo after solo on a track and the artist (who was playing engineer) just wasnt liking it. He wasnt even keeping any of it just recording over it again and again with what I thought was fine stuff. He started pointing at notes on the neck and singing little phrases. Eventually I said why dont you play what your thinking and I can cop it for a pass - he did record it and I did my best to emulate what he wanted on another track. When I heard the mix he used his take which was awful IMO - ie bad timing, flat bends etc. Moral is you never know what people are looking for but a musical solution is not necessarily the goal.

That and keep practicing, we can always improve :)
 

Glide

Member
...Second, a single take NEVER happens. You never know what you're gonna' get if you press further... I'm looking for stuff I can comp together, so I'm looking for variety. You just never know what will work, or be unexpected, etc.....Don't feel bad about not getting it in one take.

Mark Miller
+1 - Mark's comments nailed my thoughts on recording guitar.
 

English Jim

Member
"One take" is pretty rare. Who ever's playing is it's nice to have options. Perhaps I'm old or jaded (or both) but as long as the phone keeps ringing and the check doesn't bounce I don't sweat it too much.
 


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