Do you want to become a highly successful professional musician? Would you like to release your music all over the world and join a successful touring band? If you answered “yes,” then you probably already know that there are many things that you must do to reach these goals. In addition to the obvious steps you must take, one of the skills you have to develop is the ability to record your guitar playing in the studio. Having the ability to record your music at a high level while observing the allotted budget and meeting strict deadlines will help to maximize your potential for success in the music business.
Unfortunately, most guitarists don’t begin to consider the importance of developing their studio recording abilities until they feel the pressure of recording in such an environment for the first time. No matter how well you can play music for yourself (or even on stage), walking into the studio to record your first album will make you aware of the hidden flaws in your guitar playing that you never knew you had. This happens because the skills needed to record guitar well in the studio are unique to the experience of recording in a studio and require you to pay attention to fine details that many musicians never consider. One of the most frustrating experiences for musicians is having good musical (and guitar playing) skills but struggling greatly to record even very basic guitar parts “perfectly.” This situation is very common for many guitarists who are new to recording.
Why is it necessary to learn how to record music in the studio?
If you, or you and your band, desire to make an album in a professional recording studio, the costs of recording can run anywhere from $50 per hour to hundreds of dollars per hour. The longer it takes you and your band members to record the parts for your songs, the more money has to be paid out in studio costs. On top of that, if after spending several hundred hours in the studio the music is still not recorded at the needed level of quality, you can expect to pay a whole lot more money for the studio engineer to edit the parts that contain flaws due to sloppy recording. All of this wasted time and money could have been avoided if you and your band were better prepared to record in the studio.
Most bands (particularly those on a smaller level) that have a limited recording budget, end up either having to “accept” a mediocre sound on their album recording in order to meet their budget, or end up hiring studio musicians (who are not members of the band) to record the music in less time, with greater accuracy and for less overall cost. Record companies do this a lot more frequently than you might think, even though people outside the band and record company rarely find out about this.
The good news is that it is possible to prevent situations such as the ones described above by learning to record your own guitar parts reliably and consistently in the studio. This ability is something you can develop with practice, just like you develop your other guitar skills. The challenge here is that the skill of recording music in the studio must be practiced in a unique, special way. This is one of the reasons why even very advanced guitarists have a very challenging time recording even the most simple parts perfectly in the studio.
Spending more time “recording” will help you to improve somewhat, but until and unless you are aware of the most common mistakes that guitarists make in the recording studio you will find it difficult to track your progress in this area. To learn more about the biggest mistakes guitarists make while recording, check out this free guide on how to record guitar parts in the studio.
The most difficult aspect of recording an album in the studio is creating totally perfect and tight rhythm guitar tracks. Most guitarists are already aware of the need to make rhythm guitar parts “in time” when recording. Even though “playing in time” is definitely critical, this is only one element (out of many) that must be thought about when recording guitar in the studio. Below is a sample of what is required to record a flawless rhythm guitar track:
- Recording the guitars tight (in perfect time) with the drums and bass parts.
- Cleaning up (preventing) extra noise on the strings (that is picked up either from sliding your fretting hand up and down the neck of the guitar or from touching the strings that you are not playing).
- Tuning and intonating the rhythm guitars perfectly with the other instruments, especially orchestral instruments. TIP: Tuning your guitar in the same way that you do for “regular” guitar playing will make it very difficult for you to do this! In my free guide on how to record guitar parts in the studio I talk about the best way to avoid this problem.
- Managing the amount of pick articulation and the quality of sound (tone) that comes from the pick attack.
- Keeping the palm muting sound perfectly consistent on every one of the guitar tracks.
- Keeping all of the recorded chords sound perfectly “stable.”
You probably noticed that the above listed elements are not all that hard to pay attention to and refine in isolation. However, the challenge of recording perfectly in the studio lies in the following three steps:
- Getting all of the points listed above (not just one or two of them) to come out flawlessly on all of your recorded tracks.
- Doing the Step 1 (the previous step) as quickly as possible to save yourself and your band a lot of money.
- Doing Steps 1 and 2 at least two times to double track or four times to quad-track the rhythm section.
To help you with achieving the goals described above here several steps you should take right now:
- Be patient and persevere! Learning to record guitar well in the studio is a skill that can be refined like any other. Even though it may feel frustrating to realize that you must start from the beginning in this area of your musicianship, know that the vast majority of guitar players have gone through the same learning process that you are going through. Stay determined, continue to practice, and results will not be long in coming. As with all musical skills, you will have a much easier time mastering this area of your guitar playing under the guidance of a highly effective guitar teacher.
- Find out how much you truly know about recording guitar in the studio. Get my free guide on how to record guitar parts in the studio to become aware of any mistakes you may be making when recording your music.
- After you uncover your specific strengths and weaknesses for recording guitar in the studio, start taking the needed action steps to improve your skills in this area of your musicianship.
Practicing to improve your recording skills in the studio will give you a huge advantage over most wannabe professional musicians and will make the process of achieving your music career ambitions a lot easier.