recording a demo

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Member Since: May 10, 2008

my band is planning on self recording a short demo, and we have a few questions. we are recording multi-track with 2 SM57 microphones for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. we are only recording covers.

1. how do we stay in time if we are doing multi-track?
2. what should we record first? (guitar, bass, or drums?)

it would be great if you can offer any other tips you have. thanks!

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Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Aug 10, 2009 12:11 pm

A metronome would be best for staying in time. If folks can't follow one or the song does not work well with it, just make sure the drummer does a nice 4 count before you start.

I like to record drums and a scratch guitar first.

Since: May 10, 2008

Aug 10, 2009 12:21 pm

what's a "scratch guitar"?

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Aug 10, 2009 12:28 pm

Whatever recording software you're using will have a built-in metronome. I can only think of 1 piece of software that didn't have a metronome somewhere in it. Usually in the project preferences you can set the overall tempo, and any time you engage the metronome it'll tap in time with the project tempo.

Playing along with a ticking metronome is a requisite for most players, but some players have trouble doing it without everything coming out sounding robotic or lifeless. Just practice with a metronome as much as possible.

Here's one suggestion that I can make as far as recording techniques:
- set your project tempo and turn on the metronome
- have the drummer record a basic drum track with the main goal of establishing the feel or groove of the song
- have the bassist record on top of that, making sure to stay in the pocket with the drummer's kick
- guitars, vocals, whatever, are next
- now, there should be a definite feel and groove to the whole tune now. have the drummer go back and put in a final drum take now that he has the rest of the band to play off of.
- go back and redo any other parts that you feel lack "groove"

Just a suggestion. Ive found myself doing the same thing with multiple vocal tracks, only with tuning instead of timing. I find that I can hone in on the correct pitch when I have another track to play off of. I keep alternating between recording each vocal part and eventually they start sounding more in unison instead of the usual dissonance that plauge my vocal takes.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Aug 10, 2009 01:59 pm

Scratch takes are like Tad mentioned, just temporary tracks that fill in the void for upcoming tracking. So the guitarist doesn't have to play against JUST a drum track, you can track in a 'scratch' bass track, then put in a better one later.

I usually whip up a drum groove in FL studio, so there's a kick/snare/hat thing running in the background. Then track things on top of it and remove the scratch drum track later.

By all means, play to some type of click. I've recorded a few guys that said 'nah, don't need or want one'. So I was stuck with their crappy timing. It went from around 95 to 80 over a span of 1.5 minutes. ick.

Don't be afraid to plug the bass into the board / interface. I've done some nice things with plugged in bass. I tweak it in software later, but usually i get something I'm happy with.

When I mixed my sister's song (in my profile), I put her vocals up first, then brought up other parts that were supporting her vox. So I brought up the acoustic guitar, then bass, then other stuff, though that's about it. I would probably do more now, but the project is no more.

Another thing that may not be fun . . . is try to get the vocals to stand on their own. Meaning, really push the singer to give an OUTSTANDING performance. One that you can solo in software and you go "yeah, that's nice". Otherwise, it's a real pain to try and hide or fix rough vocals. I think Tad mentions the dissonance =). I've certainly had my share, that's why I don't sing =).

I'm thinking you're the drummer, and I don't want to offend, but there's a few things I've picked up on forums. Get new heads, and tune them correctly. I'll assume you do this, but I had to state it. If you're looking for a rock type sound, don't be afraid to hit the drums. Cymbals probably not so much, but the snare, yes. Hopefully you can get it to mix well during mixing. I guess this area is best to experiment, but i figured I'd throw that out there.

If you're doing a lot of MIC recording, then it's probably a good idea to deaden the room as much as possible. Unless you've got a kickin room to record in, but I'm betting not. I use packing blankets, as they're dense and heavy. Cushions, clothes, couches, etc. can help deaden a room, getting rid of building bass and room reflections.

I am not a crook's head
Since: Mar 14, 2003

Aug 10, 2009 03:21 pm

I agree PJK, recording bass direct is a very good way to get a surprisingly good bass tone. Recording a bass amp is a little tricky, and if you're using an SM57, it's less liable to pick up all of the good low-end frequencies that make your bass thump and fill out the low end of the recording.

Go direct with the bass, use a software compressor in your multitrack app, and you'll be surprised with the quality of a bass track you can end up with.

And that's another great piece of advice from PJK for recording drums: don't be afraid to pound the hell out of the drums, but take it easy on the cymbals. It'll result in a better mix, less harsh high end on the drums, and "bigger" sounding drums.

Hold 'Em Czar
Since: Dec 30, 2004

Aug 10, 2009 04:28 pm

what's the intended purpose of the demo?

if yer tryin' to get gigs in bars, i'd set up the 57's in a room stereo, and record everyone in the same room at the same time.....for a better "this is who we are and what we sound like" feel.

if it's for friends/family and possibly to sell, then multi-tracking might be better (and more fun!)

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