This is a guest post by Charlotte Daniels
Recording is a funny old business. Whilst nothing can replicate the adrenaline, excitement and sheer terror of getting up and playing in front of people, there’s still a certain romanticism around control rooms, recording desks and microphones that look about fifty years old.
However, you might also have noticed that booking a genuine studio can be one hell of a way to drain the wallet and lead to a stern lecture by your bank manager. That’s why we’ve put together this little list of great ways to put together a decent-sounding recording without remortgaging your house:
Use amp simulations. Whilst we’d all love to have the budget for a masterbuilt Les Paul, the Abbey Road mic collection and George Harrison’s old AC30, it’s not realistically feasible unless you’re a certain Shiek who owns a certain Manchester football team. Fortunately, modern guitarists are completely blessed with the amount of amp simulators available on the market, all of them able to provide you with a genuine high quality tone. Ignore the purists: Hendrix would have sold his kidney for a POD back in the 60s.
Use drum simulations. There is no more complicated and expensive rock instrument to record that the drums. Not only are they huge, cumbersome, and requiring of about five different mics at once, you also have to rely on a drummer to get it right! In this aspect, all hail the modern drum machine simulation. With programmes such as EZDrummer available for a little over a hundred smackers (and with preset patterns available), there’s really no need for anyone to spend a grand of their hard-earned money just getting a snare drum sound. The avoidance of snare rolls being practised whilst you’re trying to discuss chord changes with the singer is priceless in itself.
Learn to Use MIDI. Whilst it might be a term that inspires memories of cheesy Game Boy soundtracks, using MIDI effectively can be a highly effective way of introducing instruments into your recordings that you can’t play without hiring out genuine musicians. Essentially, you create a MIDI note that most modern recording software can play back as a variety of different instruments and synths. Whether you want to introduce strings into your chorus or are simply looking for some block piano chords to thicken out the sound, effective use of MIDI can save you a packet.
Practise in advance. This lesson is absolutely priceless in every way, and is one that EVERYONE should take to heart: if you cannot play your song from start to finish, flawlessly and to a click track, then you are not ready to record. So many bands end up losing a ton of money because they’re not ready to go, and end up spending the time they’ve paid for practising all the things they should have gotten down in advance. Cue frustrated guitarists, out-of-tune-singers and an engineer earning money for nothing.
Charlotte Daniels is a freelance writer and musician currently working in association with FactoryFast Online Shopping to help spread the musical love.