Whether you're recording at Violet Velvet or elsewhere, these tips and tricks may help you save some studio time and ultimately make a better sounding record.
The most important aspect of a great recording is a great, well rehearsed song. Rehearse your songs as much as possible so your performance is as tight as can be. Even if you have the time to experiment in the studio, come in with solid songs solidly rehearsed.
Come into the studio well rested and energized. Heavy partying the night before a session can leave you physically and mentally exhausted resulting in lackluster performances.
The condition of your drums/percussion instruments play a major role in how they will sound when recorded. If your drum heads have dents and heavily discolored spots from being hit with a stick, it's time to replace them. Pick up some new heads a couple days before the session, put them on, tune them, and do a little bit of playing to just slightly break them in. Don't beat them to hell, though; then we're back to square one.
Be prepared to do some tuning adjustments in the studio. You might find that the car ride to the studio, or even humidity changes, will require the drums to be re-tuned. It may even be decided that a certain drum tuning doesn't work as well for a specific song. While we normally have a drum key in the studio, it's never a bad idea to bring your own, just in case.
Studio drumming is very different than live drumming. Many venues don't mic the cymbals/hi hat so you may be used to hitting them extremely hard to make them be heard. In the studio this is not the case. Extreme cymbal hitting will cause an undesirable amount of bleed into the other drum mics.
The drummer should think of themselves as mixing their instrument as they play it; if you want a loud hit on a specific drum, hit it hard, if a soft hit is desired, just tap it. Dynamics are very important for percussion and the player has complete control of this. A soft hit can be made louder during mixing but it will only sound like a soft, whimpy hit that's been turned up loud. Consistency and dynamics are key.
Planning to record with a metronome a.k.a. click track? Be sure to know the tempo for each song and practice to those tempos. Many drummers who have never played to a click track may find it difficult at first. Time can be wasted in the studio trying to practice metronome drumming.
Stringed Instruments (electric and acoustic): Ever notice
how great your guitar (and bass guitar) sounds right after new
strings have been put on? If your ear can pick that up, so will
the microphone that's recording it. Pick up a new set of strings
the day before the session and put them on. Your guitar tone will
If you've got more than one amp or instrument, bring them to the session. We may find that a different sound will work better for specific songs. Additionally, you may find that your normal amp sound doesn't work as well with specific songs or the room it's being recorded in. Please don't be opposed to tweaking the sound to fit the circumstances. By the way, we do have a few amps laying around that you might like.
Have some soloing to do in a song or two? If your solos are set in stone and well rehearsed, you're good to go. If your more of the improv kind of solo-er there is still some preparation you can do. Make sure you're comfortable with the tempo, beat, and key you will be soloing in. Try practicing to a drum machine set to the tempo and beat. You'll come up with some great solo ideas and it'll save you some time when it comes to laying down that killer, spontaneous solo.
Consider your vocal cords your instrument. Take care of them. Beverages that are very hot or very cold are not good for the vocal cords and can cause them damage while performing. Alcohol can also cause you to strain your voice. Keep your vocal cords lubricated with room temperature water. Warm tea can also be good, but not too hot. We always keep purified water in the studio.
Some vocalists find it beneficial to bring a copy of the lyrics for the engineer/producer. With the lyrics in front of me, I'll know the song exactly, making it easier to follow during punch ins, overdubs, etc.
If you have any questions on how to make your session run more smoothly, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.