Ah so – the ancient wisdom of a burnt out guitar teacher.
Well now – these tips are primarily for the beginner – if you are such a person these are guidlines that may well help – some are probably very obvious to those l ready in the know but I’m going to make these points regardless.
1. Tune your guitar – That’s right, forget what device you have, software, effects – forget all of it – tune your guitar first.
Now I’ll be the first to admit I have failed to do this on occasion – get all giddy with an idea – sit down and record in a flurry of activity only to go back later and find pitching issues – but it’s a good habit to form, an essential habit – tune it all – before each take – obsessive about it – get your intonation set. TUNE YOUR INSTRUMENT – no questions.
Yes you can fix mst things with auto tune but not chords and it sounds wrong – fundermentally though it’s lazy.
2. Practice – Practice your composition and practice your recording skills.
Forget about creating a masterpeice to start with – get used to recording.
Coming from a backgroung of 4-Track recording has taught me a few fundimentals when it comes to recording and they will fly in the face of a lot of advice.
Recording teaches you a lot about your playing – listen and learn. You’ll hear the good and bad and hopefully you should learn from both – sometimes a mistake/slip of the finger can produce something unexpected and useful. It also gives you insight into your playing abilties.
Forget about sound – that’s right I said it – forgo sound for quality of material – it’s pointless polishing a turd – really it is – get your chops down musically then worry about the effects.
Drums? Use loops to start with – something simple to keep your timing together.
Bass – unless you have one and are comfortable forget it.
First things first – get your compositions written then record.
Now for a contradiction – no ideas? Record anyway – Something simple – four notes palm muted to create a faux bass line or four chords to create a base for a melody line – keep it simple and build.
Recording and writing go hand in hand for me at times – I sometimes sit down with nothing and build from there – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but I always learn something.
The creative process(including recording) is a muscle that needs exercise to build strength – the more your do the fitter you become.
3. Forget the magpie effect or GAS
You need very little to record – Instrument, Input and Output
Or in these terms – Guitar – interface – DAW – Headphones/Speakers
Go cheap or find things that are lying about – your laptop/pc will have a built in soundcard – this will do – it might not be great but it will do to start.
Ideally the best way to go would be an interface – get the one for the job in hand – a simple guitar interface will do.
If your are recording acoustic guitar a cheap usb microphone will do.
Buy something that suits your needs now not future needs.
Forget expensive plugins and software for the moment, these will not make any difference to your recordings.
Too many effects = too many things to learn – limit yourself to what you need to learn.
It really is pointless having every device and effect known to man and having no idea how to use them or anything to use them with.
Go free: There are plenty of free plugins out there – get three if you must and learn those – an eq, a compressor and a reverb – play with them and use your ears.
4. Programming drums/bass lines
Drums: Remember a drummer has four limbs – hitting a snare, hi-hat and tom at once is not physically possible. Unless the drummer decides to kick one of them.
Bass: The best bassists are not heard, they influence – bass and drums are the most important factor in all bands and with a few exceptions the best drummers and bassists tend to sit back and keep everything solid so that the poseur guitarist and singer can do their posing.
Keep things simple, don’t overcomplicate something that doesn’t need it – don’t distract from the melody – don’t make it too busy – that includes your guitar and vocals.
5. Listen to what you have recorded and learn from it.
Your ears are the most important part of you musically – you need to use those above all else, be honest but don’t be damning of yourself.
Record what suits you not anybody else – if you are attempting to write a hit song – stop it.
Write and record what you want to hear – forget success from others – if you like it and enjoy it job done.