Getting ready for recording

The time has come! You have a band, you have been practicing hard for the last few months and have all your songs sounding perfect, what’s next? Besides getting gigs, a recording would be ideal. Recording either a demo, an EP or going for a LP!

The recording process is really cool. Well, for first timers it can be scary, it was for me a few years ago. Perhaps I was musically well prepared but just the simple fact of being in a studio environment, headphones with a click track and trying to play perfect made me a bit stressed. I was thinking too much instead of trusting all my hours of practice and feeling the groove. I think I have now learned to enjoy the recording situation way more.

I did some recordings with a couple of bands in the last few months, and the other night, while being in the studio I started to create a to-do list in my mind before going into the recording sessions. If you wanna have a successful recording session, you have to fight for it and be prepared.

So this is my list – as a drummer, translated for you as a pianist:

The Gear: For the acoustic piano players. Your acoustic piano will be surrounded by at least 2 high quality mics, your sound will be captured at a 150%, whether it’s red hot or not-so. Perhaps your piano has a little problem that your ear cannot detect, well, the microphones will and you don’t want this in your recording.
So you definitely need to check out that your gear, whichever it is, it is in pristine condition.

The performance: Gear in perfect condition is very important but it is nothing if you are not prepared and ready to record. Unless you have your own home studio or you have an unlimited budget for recording you can take it slow and even go to practice in the studio. But most of us have to pay hundreds to get just a few hours of a recording session, so make it count.
Practice with your band as if you were in the studio already. Always try to get perfection in your playing. Practice extra hours at home on your own, practice and play every song at least a couple of times everyday. It won’t take you long and you will thank me once your recording is sounding amazingly well played.

Get a piece of paper and write down your parts, solos and ideas for every track, write down all the arrangements and have them all ready for when the time comes – this will be really helpful to nail things better.

It goes without saying, ALWAYS PRACTICE WITH A METRONOME.

Positive and open attitude: It doesn’t matter if this is your first or 10th time in a professional recording studio, always have a good attitude about what you do and also about what others suggest you might do.

A recording engineer has experience, he or she has listened to many bands, many great, good and not so good pianists. If someone suggests you do something, try it out; they are doing it to help you achieve a better sound. PLEASE DO NOT be offended if he or she tells you to change something with your playing or your gear, it is always worth trying every suggestion out! The results can be way better than what you expected.

Have fun. Recording is an amazing experience that will be captured on audio for the rest of your life, make it sound nice. Be happy while recording it, create a nice vibe between you, your playing, your sound, the studio and of course, your band. If you are positive and happy, your music will be influenced and will be heard like that!

I know recording can be stressful, you are paying money and spending a whole day in a room but try to love it! Experiences like this don’t happen everyday.

These are the things I always keep in mind and of course I do before getting into the studio. You should start preparing maybe a month or two before getting into the studio. You won’t regret it!

Hope this helps and don’t forget to let us know about your recording experiences. Any questions or problems you would like to share? Please comment them out!

Cheers!

Luis Tovar

Luis Tovar

20 Piano tips (1 of 2)

I wanted to make this blog post very simple but very helpful. If you are new to guitar or your playing has taken a bit of a dip, here are some tips that might help.

20 tips that can help your current guitar playing situation.

  1. Always learn new things: There are hundreds of different techniques that you can learn on guitar, research, ask and try.
  2. Learn a new chord every day. There are more than 200 chords and chord progression suggestions here – http://www.jamorama.com/chordbook. Learn some chord variations to spice up your playing.
  3. Buy a guitar course, either an online course or books and DVDs.
  4. Try learning another instrument too, drums, harmonica, piano, anything that you like or have an interest in. It will help you to improve your skills as a guitarist and mould you into a more rounded musician.
  5. Do you hate dancing? Make it your friend, it will help you to improve your rhythm.
  6. Try to play songs you like by ear . It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, an error always equals a new learning. Trying to play songs like this will help improve your chord recognition.
  7. Don’t stress when playing your guitar. Playing the guitar is fun. Love it!
  8. If you play electric, try acoustic. If you play acoustic, try electric. If you’ve tried everything, learn some latin jazz or Flamenco.
  9. Read and research for guitar websites like this and always post questions or comments on blogs or forums.
  10. Give your instrument some love. Always clean and maintain your guitar so it’s always at its best.
  11. Air your questions and doubts to other guitarists you know.
  12. Something we have mentioned here hundreds of times, listen to music! Not only your favorite style but every style.
  13. Learn guitar scales. The repetition will help develop consistency and technique.
  14. Practice consistently. Try for at the very least 1 hour every 2 days, 40 minutes everyday would be ideal!
  15. Always warm up. This is very important, every time you practice make sure you warm up for at least 10 or 15 minutes.
  16. Become a guitar geek. Learn everything about the guitar, technical aspects, what type of set-up you like; strings, amps, pickups, etc. The internet is the best source of information for this.
  17. If you are going to get serious about your guitar playing, buy a decent guitar. Never make a guitar buying decision hastily.
  18. Use a metronome when practicing. Enough said!
  19. Pay attention to your strumming hand once in awhile! Most guitar players spend way too much time focusing on their fretting hand.
  20. Don’t try and take on too much. If a song or an exercise is too difficult for you, you may end up getting frustrated and giving up on the whole learning guitar thing. Not cool!

I think 20 tips are good for now. Read them all, once, twice or more but most importantly, put a few into practice starting now!

I will continue throwing out some more tips over the next few weeks!

Hope this helps!

Luis Tovar

Luis Tovar