Preparing for a JAL Audio Recording Session

December 09, 2013 by Jack Langfeld

To make the most out of any recording session and to ensure you get the best possible value for your money, it's absolutely paramount to be prepared. Below are a few helpful tips:

You - Make sure you know the song chords and lyrics. This sounds obvious but you'd be amazed how many don't. 
Your Instrument - Your instrument should be in good condition. Check for worn out drum skins, old guitar strings, broken keys. Electric guitars commonly suffer with bad connections on the jack input sockets and crackly volume and tone pots. Don't let things like these ruin an otherwise great session. 
The Song - Be sure to have the arrangement finalized as well as the key and the tempo. Make sure you have the song lyrics finished! Think about harmonies you might want.  
The Band - It's imperative that all band members are equally comfortable with the material and gel as a band.  
Record Your Rehearsals - A waste of your money & time visiting me at JAL Audio if you haven't invested enough time rehearsing. Without question this is an essential part of your preparation. At rehearsals you will always have a friend who will never tell you anything but the truth about your performance - the "rewind button" Whether good or bad your recording will tell it as it is. It will help you hear timing or pitching inaccuracies. It will also give you the opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses of tracks or musicians! Recording quality is not important. Any kind of recording device will be ok, even a camcorder

The Day Arrives - You will have rehearsed long and hard and now the day has arrived to start your journey to what may become musical history! Without doubt you will be excited. Whilst a few nerves are expected, it's very important you relax. Don't scrimp on setup time - scrimping never does you any favours. Set-up is without doubt one of the most important parts of the day, particularly when it comes to drums. The most common reason for a poor demo is a weak drum sound - usually the kick-drum and snare. As an accomplished drummer myself, I know it can be difficult to get a great drum sound quickly. If the drums don't sound good going down it will be very difficult to fix it at the mixing stage. 

Just as important is to spend time setting guitars, keyboards and other instruments. At the end of the day it can take as little a few minutes to lay down a great sounding performance, but it can take many hours to try and fix it later if it doesn't!

When you've recorded a few good passes, we will get together to assess. Many artists want to listen to their work with the volume loud and ask me to mute any reverbs on vocals or guitars! Any problems with pitching show up far easier at low volume and if your monitor mix sounds great "dry" and at low volume, then you're going to get the sound your after.

Playing Tips - Timing! It seems to be a human nature to speed up no matter what instrument you're playing. It's so so important you are relaxed in the recording studio and remember that it's not a race to get to the end of the song. Try had not to worry about any individual mistakes. If there is such a  "horrendous" mistake as to ruin a "take", I would stop it and rerun. Fixing the occasional mistakes on individual instruments can usually be quickly and easily fixed later (provided of course that spill between instruments isn't too much of a problem). 

It's very important that If for whatever reason you're not happy with anything, be it your headphone mix or anything else, you tell me immediately for at the end of the day, I can't fix a problem if you don't tell me about it.

Disaster - you've broken a guitar string or snapped a drum stick!! Need not be be a problem though if you've remembered to bring extra sets including drum skins, batteries, fuses etc. Also, don't forget to bring along any files you may need imported, and of course the very necessary lyric sheets. 

  • Default-avatarby Tina

    This is for me an excellent article which covers the sort of things that many are likely to overlook

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