Graybrook Studio
Before You Record
The more everyone understands what is expected in the studio, the better the recording will turn out. Here is a collection of tips that I have found useful when recording. If you have recorded in a studio setting before, you may know some of this but if this will be your first time in a studio, then take a minute to read through these notes to get a better understanding of how to approach your session. The most successful sessions are ones where you are comfortable, relaxed and ready to make the best music you can. 

1) Before your session, try and get a good idea of what you want. There are many things that factor into the level of detail you want in producing your recording. Knowing what you want will save you time and money when recording. 

2) Develop a budget that is in line with what you want. 

3) Rehearse the songs that you'll be recording for at least 2 days before the session. For clean starts, use an 8 beat count-off instead of a 4 beat count-off, with the last two beats silent. (Example: 1 2 3 4, 1 2 - - ). Practice the songs straight through, including intros, endings, and dynamics. Work out all your solos before you get to the studio. 

4) If needed, put on new strings and drum heads at least 2 days before the session. Bring extra batteries, strings, and cables, just in case. 

5) Bring friends if you feel more comfortable playing to an audience but beware that too many people end up as a distraction.

6) There are no drugs or alcohol permitted in the studio or on the property. 

7) If possible bring a lyric sheet with breaks and changes shown on it. It will help us when recording to know where you are. 

8) Start the songs cleanly and wait till the tape is rolling before turning up your volume (unless we've gated your instrument). Don't talk, play, or move for a count of eight after you finish a take. Wait for the last notes to die away completely. Use your volume knob to fade out at the end of a song. 

9) Don't jam or play between takes or songs. Graybrook Studio is a small studio and if we ask you to stop playing it is so we can do some work in the control room. Either tune up (there are tuners in each room) or sit patiently. Goofing off too much just wastes everybody's time. 

10) You may have to change your normal amp settings to get a better sound on tape. Sometimes your stage settings don't work in the studio and we may have to experiment to get your sound back - even to the point of switching amps or going directly into the board. 

11) If you screw up, don't panic, but point it out. Most of the time, we can punch it in later. If one song isn't happening, forget that song and move on to another song, or we'll take a short break. Don't bother with "I'm sorry" or "I'll get it this time." You're just putting more pressure on yourself. Screwups happen. Just relax and try it again. Recording is very stressful - don't make it any harder on yourself. If you feel yourself getting tense about a song, take a break. A break after every couple of songs can help a lot. Be open to suggestions and changes. "Screw-ups" sometimes turn out great. Maybe you didn't hit the note you wanted, but the note you hit may be better. 

12) After the final session, everybody usually wants a rough mix. Go ahead and enjoy it that night and the next day, then put it away. Get away from the music for a while, or you won't be able to hear clearly when you mix. Everybody should take a 2 or 3 day break (or longer) before the mixdown session to rest their ears. Listen (at moderate volume levels) to groups you like, and try to get a feel for their sound and their mixes. 

13) Before the mixdown session, play the rough mix (with or without the band there) and make notes on every song. Is it similar in sound to groups you like? Try to pinpoint the differences. Need more bottom on the kick? Less reverb on the vocal? Vocals too loud or soft? More edge on the bass? Move the lead guitar more to the left or right? Before you start the mixdown, we'll go over your notes and try to get the sound you want. 

14) Talk with your mixing engineer about the sound your looking for. Bring some example CD's in if needed. 

15) When you're mixing down, you want a finished product that's as good as any pre-recorded material. Listen to the whole song, not just your part.

Above all, have fun. Remember, at a session, everyone’s attitude comes across on the finished product.... relax and let the music do the talking.