While a drummer may be outstanding live, recording in a studio is very different animal. Here we look at some of the best ways drummers can save time, tears, and money when they hit the studio and ensure that the recording process goes as smoothly and productively as possible.
Guest post by Emma Miller
This article is written to help drummers who have never recorded music in a professional studio before, but also to help those a bit more experienced drummers to compare it with their own checklist and eventually extend it. You have spent the past few months practicing and you’ve managed to play some shows, but now the time has come to record some music. You should know this: good preparation ahead of time can be a great timesaver and spare you the trouble of struggling over the learning curve in the studio for hours. After all, you booked a studio with your band, so time is literally money. To all the drummers around the world, this is what you can do to help your session runs smoothly and productively.
- Check your gear before you go to the studio. Oil anything that might squeak, and tighten up any connections, bolts, nuts, or screws. This will help you prevent any unwanted sounds from popping in the mix (most of it is buried in the mix, but it can stand out when you least expect it). If something is broken – better fix it instead of buying new gear. Record using the same gear that you practiced on because that’s the gear you “know how to play”.
Change your heads a few days before studio time because they will sound better, and clean any debris from the bearing edge and hoops. Repair a damaged bearing edge before every recording. Bring extra heads, a spare kick pedal, some extra sticks, and good headphones for recording.
- The room you’ll record in will definitely impact on how your drums will actually sound, so tune to the room before you record. The drums may need some time to acclimate to the room, depending on the temperature. Test the drum mics on your kit before recording in order not to lose concentration by finding them obtrusive in the beginning. Your sound engineer may decide to place the mics differently or to use better gear (if the engineer thinks that you won’t damage their valuable gear).
- Ask the people from the studio if you can load up your drum kit earlier (some may even let you install your equipment the night before). You have more gear to bring than others, so be punctual.
- Be well-rehearsed, and make sure to rehearse with your band if you’re not there to record solo. Be willing to make adjustments and take notes from your producer (if you’re working with one) or sound engineer. Communicate openly and speak your mind. You want to create something that everybody involved will be proud of.
If you have any questions or concerns about the quality of the recording, don’t be afraid to ask or discuss it with someone. On the other hand, know your gear’s limitations because not everything can be changed or transformed during the mixing process. Always pay attention to what’s going on and learn from your experience. This knowledge can help you a lot further in your career.
- Come well rested, bring some band-aids and duct tape, have enough water, and be prepared to work hard. Practice will help you gain the stamina and strength you need to go through the whole recording session (which can last for hours). Enjoy this experience and see whether you like being a session player. There’s a chance you won’t like it and will never return to the studio again.
- The sound engineer, the producer, and your band members are the only people that should be in the studio during recording time. Avoid inviting other people to the session because they can distract you.
- Things should be kept in balance (regarding your band), and you should all make an effort to keep things that way. Some bands had a bright future in front of them, but they imploded from recording sessions. Know how to deal with disagreements and keep in mind that some things should be discussed in private.
If you want to take photos and videos to capture the experience and perhaps share it on your social media profiles to update your fans on your work, do it unless it doesn’t interfere with the ongoing work process. These are some of the things that may help you prepare for a drum recording session.