Our band's recording dilemma

Guitar Tricks Forum > Recording > Our band's recording dilemma

Grizzled Spellchecker

Joined: 05/09/00

Posts: 2233

Well, I am looking for some advice for a dilemma we're having as a band. Here's the background: We are a three piece band with a bassist/singer, myself on guitar and a drummer. As for recording equipment, we have the drummer's computer with Acid Pro, or we sometimes record jams with either a high-quality tape or a MiniDisc.

Now, my bassist is getting all antsy, since it's been his lifelong dream (slight exaggeration, but not by much) to have an album of his own. We've tried recording several times and the only song we have recorded so far is an acoustic song with two or three guitar tracks and vocals.

The reason it's so difficult to record anything is that most of our songs have a lot of different parts to them, so it's hard to lay down one foundation track. Even with the drums, there are times when the drums aren't playing and then they jump back in.

What do we need to do to start recording songs? Someone gave a suggestion of recording a song jam-style and then using that as the foundation track and then delete it after recording all the otehr parts. That sounded like a good idea, but my bassist thought that we weren't tight enough tempo-wise to use that method.

Are there any other methods out there that can work for us? Since we're computer recording, we can only lay down one track at a time.

Thanks for your help everyone!
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]

#1

Well, I am looking for some advice for a dilemma we're having as a band. Here's the background: We are a three piece band with a bassist/singer, myself on guitar and a drummer. As for recording equipment, we have the drummer's computer with Acid Pro, or we sometimes record jams with either a high-quality tape or a MiniDisc.

Now, my bassist is getting all antsy, since it's been his lifelong dream (slight exaggeration, but not by much) to have an album of his own. We've tried recording several times and the only song we have recorded so far is an acoustic song with two or three guitar tracks and vocals.

The reason it's so difficult to record anything is that most of our songs have a lot of different parts to them, so it's hard to lay down one foundation track. Even with the drums, there are times when the drums aren't playing and then they jump back in.

What do we need to do to start recording songs? Someone gave a suggestion of recording a song jam-style and then using that as the foundation track and then delete it after recording all the otehr parts. That sounded like a good idea, but my bassist thought that we weren't tight enough tempo-wise to use that method.

Are there any other methods out there that can work for us? Since we're computer recording, we can only lay down one track at a time.

Thanks for your help everyone!
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]

Registered User

Joined: 03/28/02

Posts: 569

Assuming the song doesn't change tempos (it can change style, from slow to fast without changing BPM), you can record a track equal to the length of the song with just a metronome. Now, figure out the number of measures that the drums play, and have your drummer play along with the metronome. He won't get off tempo when he's not playing because the metronome will be steady clicking to keep time.

Once you have the drums laid out the bass usually comes next, then rhythm guitar, or vice versa depending on which musician is tighter. Finally add the lead guitar on top of that. That's how me and my brother would record when I went up to his house last summer, and it worked quite well.

One thing you might note - It might be best to keep a simple, easy beat on the drums when recording them at first and then once all the other tracks have been laid down, the drummer can come back and play something more complicated over the whole thing, recording on a seperate track. This allows for him to take some chances and do some fills in relation to what the guitar and bass are playing without worrying about screwing up the song. If he messes up he can start over, no problem. Once you get the final product of the drums, you can delete the original, simple drum part.

Hope this helps, and good luck ;)
"You must stab him in the heart with the Bone Saber of Zumacalis... well, you could stab him in the head or the lungs, too... and the saber, it probably doesn't have to be bone, just anything sharp lying around the house... you could poke him with a pillow and kill him."

- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Universal Re-Monster

#2

Assuming the song doesn't change tempos (it can change style, from slow to fast without changing BPM), you can record a track equal to the length of the song with just a metronome. Now, figure out the number of measures that the drums play, and have your drummer play along with the metronome. He won't get off tempo when he's not playing because the metronome will be steady clicking to keep time.

Once you have the drums laid out the bass usually comes next, then rhythm guitar, or vice versa depending on which musician is tighter. Finally add the lead guitar on top of that. That's how me and my brother would record when I went up to his house last summer, and it worked quite well.

One thing you might note - It might be best to keep a simple, easy beat on the drums when recording them at first and then once all the other tracks have been laid down, the drummer can come back and play something more complicated over the whole thing, recording on a seperate track. This allows for him to take some chances and do some fills in relation to what the guitar and bass are playing without worrying about screwing up the song. If he messes up he can start over, no problem. Once you get the final product of the drums, you can delete the original, simple drum part.

Hope this helps, and good luck ;)
"You must stab him in the heart with the Bone Saber of Zumacalis... well, you could stab him in the head or the lungs, too... and the saber, it probably doesn't have to be bone, just anything sharp lying around the house... you could poke him with a pillow and kill him."

- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Universal Re-Monster

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 07/06/02

Posts: 5021

You don’t even need to figure out how long the song is just record song length + 1 min of click. Then, record a track that talks you through what is happening where with say an acoustic guitar and mi mic / spoken instructions. This track wont be heard in the final mix however it is a good idea for the narrator not to say things that will make people laugh too hard.

This will save a lot of problems with people missing cues etc. from that point it is just a case of filling in the blanks and then archiving the click and the place keeper track.
My instructors page and http://www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

#3

You don’t even need to figure out how long the song is just record song length + 1 min of click. Then, record a track that talks you through what is happening where with say an acoustic guitar and mi mic / spoken instructions. This track wont be heard in the final mix however it is a good idea for the narrator not to say things that will make people laugh too hard.

This will save a lot of problems with people missing cues etc. from that point it is just a case of filling in the blanks and then archiving the click and the place keeper track.
My instructors page and http://www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

Insert witty remark here

Joined: 12/14/00

Posts: 1322

I use the same technique as The Dirt. Just keep a simple drum beat and then record the guitars and vocals. Then have the drummer redo his part adding in the necessary components. It seems to work quite well for me.
Sometimes I hit notes only dogs can hear.

#4

I use the same technique as The Dirt. Just keep a simple drum beat and then record the guitars and vocals. Then have the drummer redo his part adding in the necessary components. It seems to work quite well for me.
Sometimes I hit notes only dogs can hear.

Grizzled Spellchecker

Joined: 05/09/00

Posts: 2233

[QUOTE]Originally posted by TheDirt
Assuming the song doesn't change tempos (it can change style, from slow to fast without changing BPM)[/QUOTE]

Well, the song doesn't change tempo, but the musicians do.

[QUOTE]It might be best to keep a simple, easy beat on the drums when recording them at first and then once all the other tracks have been laid down, the drummer can come back and play something more complicated over the whole thing, recording on a seperate track. This allows for him to take some chances and do some fills in relation to what the guitar and bass are playing without worrying about screwing up the song. If he messes up he can start over, no problem. Once you get the final product of the drums, you can delete the original, simple drum part.[/QUOTE]

The problem with this with our band is that our drummer probably wouldn't be able to play the exact same beat twice. We've tried recording drums after recording a bass track (timed to a metronome) and the drums sounded way off in some places. How do you guys redo your drum parts and not have it off in places?

How much can a part be off tempo and not be noticed? I've never really noticed off-tempo sections in any commercially made music I've heard.

Thanks for all your advice, guys!
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]

#5

[QUOTE]Originally posted by TheDirt
Assuming the song doesn't change tempos (it can change style, from slow to fast without changing BPM)[/QUOTE]

Well, the song doesn't change tempo, but the musicians do.

[QUOTE]It might be best to keep a simple, easy beat on the drums when recording them at first and then once all the other tracks have been laid down, the drummer can come back and play something more complicated over the whole thing, recording on a seperate track. This allows for him to take some chances and do some fills in relation to what the guitar and bass are playing without worrying about screwing up the song. If he messes up he can start over, no problem. Once you get the final product of the drums, you can delete the original, simple drum part.[/QUOTE]

The problem with this with our band is that our drummer probably wouldn't be able to play the exact same beat twice. We've tried recording drums after recording a bass track (timed to a metronome) and the drums sounded way off in some places. How do you guys redo your drum parts and not have it off in places?

How much can a part be off tempo and not be noticed? I've never really noticed off-tempo sections in any commercially made music I've heard.

Thanks for all your advice, guys!
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]

Registered User

Joined: 01/25/02

Posts: 1149

[QUOTE]Originally posted by iamthe_eggman
...Now, my bassist is getting all antsy, since it's been his lifelong dream (slight exaggeration, but not by much) to have an album of his own...[/QUOTE]
This,I think,should make some interesting reading for your bassist:
http://www.guitarnoise.com/songwriting/2003/20030510.php
And how come he isn't on this forum?He has a comp!

#6

[QUOTE]Originally posted by iamthe_eggman
...Now, my bassist is getting all antsy, since it's been his lifelong dream (slight exaggeration, but not by much) to have an album of his own...[/QUOTE]
This,I think,should make some interesting reading for your bassist:
http://www.guitarnoise.com/songwriting/2003/20030510.php
And how come he isn't on this forum?He has a comp!

Crime Fighter

Joined: 08/04/02

Posts: 1518

It's always better to do the drums first, even if it's just a dummy track as some have said before. And when the drums stop playing make sure the drum keeps hitting the hi-hat (in metronome fashion) that way when the guitars record they have something to follow and everything will stay synchronized. Then once everything is together, you could easily use any audio editing software to silence the hi-hat.

Now if the drummer makes mistakes, and depending on what kind of mistake. It's is very easy to fix. If it's a mistake that throws the tempo off, you'll just have to do it over again from scratch. If it's just a small mistake like missing a beat but the flow of the music (tempo) stays on track. You can have the drum play on another track along with the previous track and then later cut out the mistake and replace it with the correct one. Make sure you start a few seconds before the mistake and a few seconds after. That way the tracks will go together smooth. Again this depends on what kind of mistake, and if there are quite a few. You're better off doing it over again.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.

#7

It's always better to do the drums first, even if it's just a dummy track as some have said before. And when the drums stop playing make sure the drum keeps hitting the hi-hat (in metronome fashion) that way when the guitars record they have something to follow and everything will stay synchronized. Then once everything is together, you could easily use any audio editing software to silence the hi-hat.

Now if the drummer makes mistakes, and depending on what kind of mistake. It's is very easy to fix. If it's a mistake that throws the tempo off, you'll just have to do it over again from scratch. If it's just a small mistake like missing a beat but the flow of the music (tempo) stays on track. You can have the drum play on another track along with the previous track and then later cut out the mistake and replace it with the correct one. Make sure you start a few seconds before the mistake and a few seconds after. That way the tracks will go together smooth. Again this depends on what kind of mistake, and if there are quite a few. You're better off doing it over again.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 07/06/02

Posts: 5021

noticingthemistake has it spot on. The techniques mentioned are very useful especially for recording vocals i.e. record 3 takes with all the settings in identical places (i.e. eq gain etc etc) and make a montage of the best bits of all 3 takes ! With a bit of careful editing you can even use the unused bits of the other takes to double track.

If you are using a half way decent computer package you can even fix tempo problems with out re-recording the track providing you have your drum kit miked up properly i.e. one drum is not bleeding into the mic of another.
My instructors page and http://www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

#8

noticingthemistake has it spot on. The techniques mentioned are very useful especially for recording vocals i.e. record 3 takes with all the settings in identical places (i.e. eq gain etc etc) and make a montage of the best bits of all 3 takes ! With a bit of careful editing you can even use the unused bits of the other takes to double track.

If you are using a half way decent computer package you can even fix tempo problems with out re-recording the track providing you have your drum kit miked up properly i.e. one drum is not bleeding into the mic of another.
My instructors page and http://www.studiotrax.net for all things recording.
my toons Brought to you by Dr BadGAS

Crime Fighter

Joined: 08/04/02

Posts: 1518

[QUOTE]Originally posted by iamthe_eggman
How much can a part be off tempo and not be noticed? I've never really noticed off-tempo sections in any commercially made music I've heard.[/QUOTE]

Well if your taking time to record it and your going to have people listening to it. You shouldn't settle for anything off-tempo. Something that is off-tempo is extremely easy to notice. And the better the quality of the recording the easier it is to notice. Like hearing the drummer have to slow down or speed up to keep up with everyone else. You probably notice this in bands that aren't that good. (key is listening to each other) The reason you don't hear it in commercial recordings is because they ain't off-tempo, they didn't get where they are by being sloppy. They also use means in which they have the tempo and time signature predetermined, like click tracks, midi sequencers, and drum machines. Now seeing you guys are more of a jam band, your better of going with having the drummer play first and play a hi-hat in solo parts. Your bigger commercial bands, especially nowadays, will go into a studio with song ideas and then the producer will arrange those songs into what they become. When you do this it's easy to predetermine tempos and such, then have the band play along with a metronome. Take multiply takes of every instrument, select the best, then take those and paste the song together. That's why you don't hear mistakes on commercial recordings. It's easy to do this on a home studio, especially if you have a computer. You said you used Acid, well that pretty much a song arrangement software. Just use it as I explained.

Now you said your songs don't change tempo but your instruments do. I think you might be confused in what your saying. Tempo is the speed of the music, and everyone playing together has to play at the same tempo. So if the song is 104 BPM then the instruments should be playing at 104 BPM. Rhythm is probably what you mean, and thats just the duration of notes in a measure moving at a tempo. So if your songs are at the same tempo, you can easily use a click track or whatever.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.

#9

[QUOTE]Originally posted by iamthe_eggman
How much can a part be off tempo and not be noticed? I've never really noticed off-tempo sections in any commercially made music I've heard.[/QUOTE]

Well if your taking time to record it and your going to have people listening to it. You shouldn't settle for anything off-tempo. Something that is off-tempo is extremely easy to notice. And the better the quality of the recording the easier it is to notice. Like hearing the drummer have to slow down or speed up to keep up with everyone else. You probably notice this in bands that aren't that good. (key is listening to each other) The reason you don't hear it in commercial recordings is because they ain't off-tempo, they didn't get where they are by being sloppy. They also use means in which they have the tempo and time signature predetermined, like click tracks, midi sequencers, and drum machines. Now seeing you guys are more of a jam band, your better of going with having the drummer play first and play a hi-hat in solo parts. Your bigger commercial bands, especially nowadays, will go into a studio with song ideas and then the producer will arrange those songs into what they become. When you do this it's easy to predetermine tempos and such, then have the band play along with a metronome. Take multiply takes of every instrument, select the best, then take those and paste the song together. That's why you don't hear mistakes on commercial recordings. It's easy to do this on a home studio, especially if you have a computer. You said you used Acid, well that pretty much a song arrangement software. Just use it as I explained.

Now you said your songs don't change tempo but your instruments do. I think you might be confused in what your saying. Tempo is the speed of the music, and everyone playing together has to play at the same tempo. So if the song is 104 BPM then the instruments should be playing at 104 BPM. Rhythm is probably what you mean, and thats just the duration of notes in a measure moving at a tempo. So if your songs are at the same tempo, you can easily use a click track or whatever.
"My whole life is a dark room...ONE BIG DARK ROOM" - a.f.i.

Grizzled Spellchecker

Joined: 05/09/00

Posts: 2233

NTM: Nah, I was just trying to be funny. The song is supposed to stay at one tempo, but the instruments (and the musicians) decide to play at a different tempo.

Thanks for all the input, guys! I've been talking to my band, and I think we'll use the suggestions on the drummer having to learn to play to a click track/metronome, and also having the drums keep a beat metronome-like when there's a drum-free part and then cut it out later.
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]

#10

NTM: Nah, I was just trying to be funny. The song is supposed to stay at one tempo, but the instruments (and the musicians) decide to play at a different tempo.

Thanks for all the input, guys! I've been talking to my band, and I think we'll use the suggestions on the drummer having to learn to play to a click track/metronome, and also having the drums keep a beat metronome-like when there's a drum-free part and then cut it out later.
... and that's all I have to say about that.

ALL generalizations are WRONG

[/sarcasm]