There’s always so much going on during a tracking session (especially one with a lot of players involved) that it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the details and demands and overlook some of the things that can really help the session along. Here’s a Basic Tracks Checklist from my latest Music Producer’s Handbook 2nd edition book that will help things go a little smoother.
“Before the basic tracks even begin, ask yourself the following questions to make sure your players will be happy and the sounds will be great.
☐ Do the drums sound great acoustically in the room? If they don’t, change the heads, rent a new kit or hire a drum tuner.
☐ Are the drums tuned properly? Before recording begins, the drums should have new heads put on and have all buzzes and sympathetic vibrations removed.
☐ Do you have a variety of instruments available? The greater variety of instruments you have, the better the parts will fit together and the more interesting the recording will sound.
☐ Are all the instruments in tip-top condition? Is the intonation set correctly? Is the instrument clean of any buzzes, hums, and intermittents?
☐ Are all the players happy with their headphone mix? Can you give each musician his or her own mix? Is a personal headphone mixer available for each player?
☐ Does the click have the right sound? Does it cut through the mix? Is it musical enough that the drummer can play along? Is it so “musical” that the drummer can’t groove to it?
☐ Does the click groove? Does it work better as quarter notes or as eighth notes? Is there a different sound for the downbeat?
☐ Is the click bleeding into the microphones? Can the drummer use isolating headphones? Can you roll the high end off so that it doesn’t leak as much?
☐ Do you have the studio talkback mic on? Can you hear the musicians in the studio at all times between takes?
☐ Is the control room talkback mic always on? Can the musicians hear you at all times in between takes?”
There are other issues when cutting basics as well, but following this Basic Tracks Checklist will go a long way to keeping everyone happy and providing a very efficient session.
You can read more from The Music Producer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.