Stuff our producers tell us

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
I thought it might be fun to share bits of wisdom our producers have told us over the years. Here are some of my P's gems. And BTW, in case it's not obvious, I DO mean "gems" because I found every one invaluable. :D

If you're so inclined, add your own P's gems!

Stuff my producer told me:
Me: I feel like it’s cheating to double my vocals.​
P: If John Lennon did it, so can you.​
After messing up a line in an original song:​
P: Don’t you know how to play your own song?!​
After recording a lackluster vocal track:​
P: You need to sing that again and this time sell me on it.​
Me: What guitar do you recommend I use for this track?​
P (handing me a Tele): The Tele bridge pickup IS rock ‘n’ roll.​
Upon discussing some of the gear-related views posted on a Grateful Dead musicians' forum:​
P: I hate fundamentalists.​
After listening to one of my demos:​
P: I won’t tell you what to write but you could tell your story in fewer words.​
Me: I don’t like my vocals on this song.​
P: Well, that’s what you sound like!​


Doing a session with a recording school student:

ME (19 year old bass player): There's no bass, can you turn it up?
ENGINEER: You shouldn't hear the bass.
ME: Then why am I playing at all?
ENGINEER: (no response)

This was the conversation that led me to become a recording engineer myself.


A little different viewpoint, but overheard when an A&R guy brings his date to show off at the studio. She's ask what is going on with the console and the A&R guys says "Oh, their just flanging the VU meters right now"... :rolleyes:


I've only ever recorded in a studio once, it was a very long time ago, I wasn't very confident singing and all I remember is the dude screaming at me to "SING THE F***ING SONG!!".

He even came into the recording room and was like scream-spitting at me.

At the time I thought he was a tool - just banging on about his own accomplishments etc, I also thought his stuff sounded like balls - I did check it out shortly after and was like "THIS guy was shrieking at me to sing the song?"..

..but I do understand his point was most likely "sing with passion".

I was singing the song with notes, rhythm, lyrics etc in mind. I think he wanted me to forget that (not literally) and just sing the F'in song.


Gold Supporting Member
Me (the P) to our singer: "I don't want to hear any vibrato on that long note".

Engineer to me (P and lead guitar): "why is Mike essentially doubling Rick's part, and not doubling it very well?"
Me: "I have no idea. Let's hit it with some choppy trem and short delay, mess it up until it fits".

Me (the P): "this track sucks, we're going to have to break it down and rebuild a simplfied version".

Girl singer: "I want to do it again".
Me (the P): "It's good, we're moving on. I don't think you can do better".
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“A problem is not a problem unless you recognize and classify it as a problem. Look at it as an opportunity to be creative”


Silver Supporting Member
I was mostly a recording engineer, but "produced" thousands of sessions over the course of 34 years. Two things I had to say frequently:

1. Tune before every take.

2. Let's check the tempo (when doing takes for edits)

My first 'learning' was a producer telling us there are two things they can't fix, and this was them.

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