You´re about to head into the studio and record that awesome piece of music that you´ve wanted to put on tape for so long. But wait, have you prepared yourself? Is your equipment ready? Are you ready? Here´s some pointers for you:
- Gear: No matter what genre you´re playing, you need to make sure that your gear is well setup. For a classical guitarist, your guitar and your nails are extremely important. Don´t change strings too close to the session, they need some days of playing to really sound good. Be sure that your nails are perfectly polished and look after them as if they were your babies. When it comes to jazz music, the guitar is of course also important. Make sure it intonates well and change the strings in time before the studio session. But also, are you using any effects? Chorus? Delay? Nail the settings on your effects at home and try them out at rehearsals so you don´t waste time struggling with them in the studio. The same goes with your amp settings. I´m pretty sure that you want to use your own amp while recording, so make sure you know how to get the the sound you desire out of it. For a pop/rock-guitarist, the same rules as earlier stated applies. In some cases you might not use your own amp, and this can be scary. But if you´re going to use a studio amp, ask what kind of amp it is. Do you know this amp? If not, check around some Youtube clips and try to find information about the amp. Now´s the time to be even more meticolous with your effect pedal settings, and if you´ve got some extras that you first wasn´t going to use, bring them along to the studio. Hopefuly, they won´t be needed, but sometimes one of them saves the day. The case might be that your great distortion pedal won´t synch well with the amp in the studio, and maybe, just maybe, that old crappy pedal that you keep in closet sounds great with this kind of amp. But your main focus sholud always be intonation - if your guitar isn´t in tune, no amps or effects can save you.
- Rehearsal: Set the song straight on rehearsals. If you don´t cut it here, you won´t cut it in the studio. Make sure the parts comes in the right order, that everybody knows what to play and when to play it. At home, practice your parts so you know how to play them with ease. You don´t want to mess around in the studio, this costs money and makes everyone else uncomfortable. If you play your parts great at home, then you can focus on feeling in the studio without having to struggle with the notes. If you´re going to use a metronome, decide what tempo. If you´ve got the oppurtunity, do a demo at home first. After doing so, you´ll know if your ideas will work together and if everything sounds right. For a jazz player who´s about to improvise a solo, preparation is also essential. Sure, you shall improvise, but it´s not sure the day in the studio will be your most creative day ever. Make sure you have some backup plans, some licks and and ideas, they will come in handy if your inspiration in the studio falls out. Also, know the form, know the chords and know the feeling of the song. You don´t want to be stuck behind a paper of sheet music in the studio, you want to be able to communicate with your bandmates and make great music together. For a classical player, you need to be able to play the piece you´re about to record without mistakes. As stated before, if you don´t cut it when you practice then you won´t cut it in the studio. Instead, know the piece outside in and be able to focus on the dynamics and articulation when recording.
- Health: Take care of yourself. Eat well and sleep well the days before you´re about to record anything. You´re going to record some music that will be on tape forever, so of course you need to be in good shape. Don´t waste expensive studio time, use it well by come in with a fresh head and a fresh body.
These ideas might seem too easy to ignore. Still, musicians do ignore them. "Ah, I´ll be alright, I´ll cut the part in studio". No you won´t, not if you´re not going there well prepared. A recording of a song is something that will accompany you for the rest of your life, isn´t that fact worth spending much time preparing? Your preparations might be the difference between a great recording and a half-assed recording of a piece of music. So of course you should put down a lot of work before the session, that is if you want a great result. And don´t we all?