People ask me all the time, "I'm thinking about recording so how can I make it go quickly and smoothly?"
Here are 20 tips I came up with.
1. Record demos of the songs you plan on tracking.
2. Know your songs/parts before you enter the studio.
3. If you plan on using a click track, spend some time practicing with one. It helps to know the tempos of your songs ahead of time.
4. Take care of your body, both before and during the session. Drink water. Sleep. Don't forget to eat - it sounds strange, but it's very easy to work for 12 hours without taking a break.
5. Go over songs with the engineer ahead of time. Discuss what you want to accomplish, and what you want to avoid. If possible, bring previous albums and your demos as reference material.
6. Think about mastering before you start. Make sure to budget both time and money to get your songs mastered. Think about who/where you want to take it to. We can provide recommendations if necessary.
7. Have your guitar setup before the session. Put new strings on it (unless old string are part of your 'sound'). Replace worn out drum heads - it's much easier to tune a new head than an old one. Have sticks, strings, picks, and cables on hand.
8. Make the studio comfortable for everyone involved. Relax. Leave the drama at the door.
9. Don't abandon your instruments. While we have a lot of gear to offer (and encourage trying things out), trying to record with a completely foreign guitar setup can be difficult.
10. Emotion, feeling, and sound and performance are more important than technically perfect takes. Don't get frustrated chasing perfection.
11. Keep in mind the focus of the music. What are you trying to communicate?
12. Concentrate on getting the best sound to tape: don't plan on 'fixing it in the mix'.
13. Keep guests to a minimum during the session. Unless they have valid opinions to add, they usually slow the recording process down.
14. TUNE THE GUITAR. TUNE IT OFTEN. We like to use a strobe tuner, and between every take if possible.
15. If you plan on singing, take care of your voice. Drink water (but not ice water) or warm tea. Avoid dairy products the day before and day of vocal takes.
16. It can be helpful to take a few days off between tracking and mixing. Your ears get a break, you have a chance to gain perspective on the project, and you'll even get to see some sunlight.
17. Listen to rough mixes at moderate levels in your car or on your home stereo. Make notes of anything you might want to retrack or add, and any mix ideas you might have.
18. Reference other material while mixing. Take a break. Go for a walk. Listen to different music.
19. Consider the songs as a whole - while it's important to focus on details, remember to step back and look at the big picture from time to time.
20. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Have fun. Remember why you started playing music in the first place.