Studio tips for metal guitarists

Lolly

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I'm putting together a little guide to handle to my clients before entering the studio: here's the part for the METAL guitarists (It's meant to be tongue in cheek so don't take the comments too seriously even if the tips can be useful to avoid wasting time and money IMO)


#1 - Learn your parts! Practice ,practice and practice your parts till You could play them while sleeping. Got to play them while sleeping? Practice again.

#2 - Set up your instrument. Do it yourself or take it to a professional. Have it set up and intonated for the tuning You're going to use in the recording.Also get the electronics checked: You don't want to hear your guitar buzzing due to a faulty input jack when You're laying down the best performance You've played in your life.

#3 - Put NEW STRINGS on: How can You pretend to sound good if You play a guitar with strings of your age?

#4 - Write your solos BEFORE entering the studio: You can consider yourself the king of improvisation but, believe me, You are not. You're gonna waste a lot of time and precious money (not that this is a bad thing for me :) )

#5 - Practice to a metronome. There are no excuses on this one: You go to a studio to record a professional record, then record it how all the pros do = to a CLICK!

#6 - Play your songs on an amplifier. If you practice your songs at home unplugged when they're are meant to be recorded with higain from hell tones, once You'll enter in the studio, You won't be able to do the mutes and the stuff needed to sound good.

#7 - Learn your bassplayer parts: sometimes You'll need to record them because We all know bassists aren't real musicians :) (except John Patitucci, Cliff Burton, Steve Harris and some more).

#8 - Listen to your AE/Producer and your bandmates.Try to pay attention to what's going on: being asked the same thing over and over is a recipe to piss off an engineer.

#9 - Did I say LEARN YOUR PARTS ?!?!?

#10 (and most important of all) - Have fun, be relaxed, and record the next big hit!!!




For MLP Forum:
Those little rules can sound stupid and simple but I had more than few cases in which I had to retrack the parts by myself because the band couldn't pull them off or wasted a lot of time tuning guitars, writing solos, fixing things and stuff like that.
I hope You can find them useful for your next studio experience.

:wave:
 

Freddy G

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pretty funny stuff Lolly!

really though, this should be considered as advice for total amateur newbies, because advice like "practice" is pretty obvious.


couple of things I have issue with here:

Yes, you should listen to your bandmates and the producer but in the end you should be true to yourself and do what you feel is right. (unless it's a producer like say, Mutt Lange or Rick Rubin, if you're in a situation where the stakes are that high then yeah...you should trust them).


So often I have recorded bands that tell me tales of their last recording experience and how the "producer" (typically the small studio owner/engineer himself) would have them change the way the played a part, or arrangements etc. and in the end they hated the resulting recording. Don't ever forget...this is your art.

I remember doing a session as a young guitar player in a major Toronto studio. The engineer assured me ahead of time that they have a collection of great sounding amps, and that I don't have to bring one. Well, I didn't bring my amp and that was a huge mistake. I couldn't get a sound I liked out of anything...it didn't sound right, it didn't feel right and my performance suffered for it.


The comment about new strings seems somewhat inflexible. Not everyone prefers the sound of new strings. I like the sound of new strings on some of my guitars while on others I like them broken in for a week or even longer for recording. Depends on the part and the sound I'm going for.

a recipe to piss off an engineer.

This is rich. Who's paying who? As far as I'm concerned, the engineer better not piss me off!


If I was doing a session as a player and I detected a vibe from somebody being pissed off, that would either be the end of the session or that person would be asked to leave.

Tact, diplomacy and bedside manner are all critcal skills for a producer....just as much as technical knowledge. After all their job is to inspire you to perform at your best and capture it, and that's impossible if the mood in the session is uncomfortable.
When my role is just engineering and not producing, then making any comments on artistic merrits, (such as performance notes, musical arrangements etc) is strictly off limits unless I am directly asked. I remember one new engineer who worked at our place constantly commented to the talent "well done!" or "hey, that was a great take!" etc. The talent gets wise to that kind of lip service and then just finds it cloying and annoying. The engineer should keep his mouth shut and let the producer steer the psychology of the session.
 

Lolly

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pretty funny stuff Lolly!

really though, this should be considered as advice for total amateur newbies, because advice like "practice" is pretty obvious.

Working mostly in metal music I have to work with quite a few of those "total amateur newbies" and, unfotunately, their practice isn't that obvious in my experience :)



couple of things I have issue with here:

Yes, you should listen to your bandmates and the producer but in the end you should be true to yourself and do what you feel is right. (unless it's a producer like say, Mutt Lange or Rick Rubin, if you're in a situation where the stakes are that high then yeah...you should trust them).

So often I have recorded bands that tell me tales of their last recording experience and how the "producer" (typically the small studio owner/engineer himself) would have them change the way the played a part, or arrangements etc. and in the end they hated the resulting recording. Don't ever forget...this is your art.]

I always do arrangements and such in pre production then eventual changes are well known and accepted by the band before the recording.

The comment about new strings seems somewhat inflexible. Not everyone prefers the sound of new strings. I like the sound of new strings on some of my guitars while on others I like them broken in for a week or even longer for recording. Depends on the part and the sound I'm going for.

I agree but again, recording modern metal I can assure You that old strings sound real bad. Not to mention old bass strings.


This is rich. Who's paying who? As far as I'm concerned, the engineer better not piss me off!


If I was doing a session as a player and I detected a vibe from somebody being pissed off, that would either be the end of the session or that person would be asked to leave.

I agree on this one.My line was a bit sarcastic.

Tact, diplomacy and bedside manner are all critcal skills for a producer....just as much as technical knowledge. After all their job is to inspire you to perform at your best and capture it, and that's impossible if the mood in the session is uncomfortable.

Again I agree on this one.

When my role is just engineering and not producing, then making any comments on artistic merrits, (such as performance notes, musical arrangements etc) is strictly off limits unless I am directly asked. I remember one new engineer who worked at our place constantly commented to the talent "well done!" or "hey, that was a great take!" etc. The talent gets wise to that kind of lip service and then just finds it cloying and annoying. The engineer should keep his mouth shut and let the producer steer the psychology of the session.

And agree on this one also.When I'm just engineering I keep my mouth shut:it's not my business if I like it or not. But when I'm producing I'm entitled to say what I have to say: if the band doesn't like my work it shouldn't have hired me to produce them from the beginning.
 

drugprowlingwolf

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I agree with Freddy... Not all of this applies. If you're strictly doing "modern metal" (no thanks!) than you might want to specify that. I'm also a fan of improvising bits and pieces of solos on the spot. That's just personal preference; It works for me.

#7 is horseshit. Young musicians read bullshit like this and think it's true. In a rock band, playing bass is a whole different beast. Then again, I doubt "modern metal" has any swing to it. I could be wrong, but doesn't seem to suit the genre.

Definitely agreed about coming in with your equipment squared away and your rhythm parts air tight.
 

Freddy G

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I'm also a fan of improvising bits and pieces of solos on the spot.

Me too...that's very often when the magic happens. I tend to write a framework for a solo but leave room for spontaneity. I find if I play a solo exactly as written, note for note, I'm missing out on exploiting those moments of being on the edge where you might just play something magical and inspired or you might sh*t the bed. The nice thing is that it doesn't matter if you blow it....erase it and try again.
 

GitFiddle

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#11 - Always bring an ample supply of fresh batteries. (If you are so inclined, to depend on them). :cool:
 

Barks McKay

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Yes to new strings, but make sure they are nicely settled and stretched in beforehand. With a telecaster, maybe put them on the week before the session...:)
Bring a stand for the guitar too, as sessions get suddenly energetic with lots of things going on "in the heat of the excited moment of vibe" - and a thoughtlessly placed guitar can go flying.


Edit: and a steady supply of bananas!
 

Lolly

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I agree with Freddy... Not all of this applies. If you're strictly doing "modern metal" (no thanks!) than you might want to specify that. I'm also a fan of improvising bits and pieces of solos on the spot. That's just personal preference; It works for me.

#7 is horseshit. Young musicians read bullshit like this and think it's true. In a rock band, playing bass is a whole different beast. Then again, I doubt "modern metal" has any swing to it. I could be wrong, but doesn't seem to suit the genre.

Definitely agreed about coming in with your equipment squared away and your rhythm parts air tight.

I'm sorry: I should have specified that I was referring to metal guitarists (will try to change the title of the topic).

I agree and I love some improvvisation in other music genres but for this style, where everything is super polished, and, in some cases, recorded note by note, I think improvvisation is a no no.

About the bass player: that's a joke between guitarists (at least here in Europe) and it isn't meant to be taken seriously.(This said, I can assure You that in many two guitarists metal bands all the guitars are recorded by the best player of the two :) )

P.S. I know You don't like metal and that's cool but, if You want, check the Andy Sneap forum on ultimatemetal.com where there are a lot of producers of this genre which also have the problems I've mentioned.Not to mention it's also a great source for learning some universal recording stuff.

With this thread I just wanted to give some tips and having some fun based on my personal work experience so I'm sorry if someone feels offended :)
 

yeti

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practice and record yourself before you go into the studio.
Bring an amp that records well, many times that's a smaller combo amp.
Know which one of your speakers is the best sounding one, if you use multi-speaker combo or cabs.
Have your guitar set up for correct intonation.
Avoid doubling everything,layering everything, etc. It's cliche, doesn't sound as good, especially if you're new at this.
 

martin H

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Quote:
a recipe to piss off an engineer.
This is rich. Who's paying who? As far as I'm concerned, the engineer better not piss me off!

Well... it rather depends on how the engineer is getting paid. . . .

If you're paying strictly by the hour, he may not care how you want to spend time.

However, as a engineer, one part of your job it to try and make things run smoothly and efficiently. Otherwise a young band in the studio for the first time will often waste much of it's hard earned cash doing everything except actually getting sound down on tape. If the aim was to do four songs, and you only got two, I do consider that to be partially a failure on my part for not managing things well.

Further, it's not just the effect on the enginers of the sort of problems the thread describes. Waiting for someone to fix and amp or learn a part seem to really suck the life out of the other musicians and kill the momentum.

I have encountered the following, and they did piss me of.

[1] Guitarist's Marshall starts to immediately emit farting sounds at beginning of session, then goes into oscillation. Guitarist looks at it in exasperation and announces "that's the third time in row that things's F***ed up - it did the same thing when we were rehersing last night! Ditto for bassist who, when I point out that his speaker had gone off center and is grinding, replies "yea...I've noticed that in the last couple of weeks too.- I'll take it in next week"

[2] Band insists on spreading every availabe guitar case, holdall, amp cover, equipment box, cymbal case, loose sheets of paper, etc etc over the studio floor insted of putting them in the offered side room. Guitarist then places several expensive instrumets on unsteady stands in the middle of all available walkways, rendering it impossible for anyone to actually move.

[3] Drummer arrives without favorite cymbal (one of 8) and announces that entire session must be cancelled.

[4] Drummer and bassist get into fistfight over who is not playing arangement correctly

[5] Band decides that session is a good time to try and record a song that is so beyond their powers they have never managed to play it from end to end before.

[6] Band brings friend "who has worked on some big time pro sessions" to offer advice- advice consiststs only of recommending that I use different, exotic, equipment, rather than that actually present. ("I could get a great vocal sound if only you had a vintage U87, an Avalon pre-amp, a Fairchild limiter and a tube echoplex.")

[7] Guitarist brings malfunctioning pedal/guitar intending to fix it in the studio ("Hang on, I've just got to solder a new pot into my Wha - dammit, does anyone have any solder"")

[8] Vocalist announces that he's NEVER EVER been in a studio before where they won't allow you to smoke while doing a vocal track.

[9] Bassist decides that recording session is a good time to try that super-strong designer drug he's been saving for a special occasion. Consequently, Guitarist has to overdub bass part on first song. Guitarist then announces that he's blistered his fingers playing the bass, and can't play guitar any more...

[10] Musician brings hyper-partisan girlfriend who sees her function as hanging around in the control room to make sure her loved one is featured more prominetly in the mix than anyone else. Afte two takes, she slips out and whispers in guitarist's ear that she doesnt think he's loud enough. Session stops while I try and explain that what I'm listenting to in the controlroom is not the "final mix" Girfriend them asks every 20 minutes if we're doing a "final mix" so she can be sure that boyfriend will be loud enough on the finished product.
 

John Scrip

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27) Turn your friggin' gain down. It's a guitar - Not a chainsaw. It has tone. Let it come out. There's a big difference between "CRUNCH" and "fuzzzz" -- With some shredder stuff, the latter is reasonable. With most rhythm work, the former.

F) GET YOUR EAR IN THERE where the mic is going to be. Half the people I know get a "great tone in the room" but when you throw a mic in front of it, it sounds like crap. Put your EAR down there -- If it sounds like crap, it's going to record like crap.

XIV) Don't even think about that darn sonic crapulator thing (see above).
 

LenPaul

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Stay out of the engineers way when he is micing up your equipment.
The last thing he needs is 5 band members hovering around a drum kit when he's trying to work.
 

Axe57

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.

#5 - Practice to a metronome. There are no excuses on this one: You go to a studio to record a professional record, then record it how all the pros do = to a CLICK!


:wave:


+1 on the metronome !! People think their internal clocks are spot.. They are NOT!! Mine included:doh:
 

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