Studio time - what gear and how to prepare?

The band I am in got granted two days of studio time to record some of our songs - woohoo!!!

Now, I am trying to tap into the collected wisdom of this great forum to get pointers for a) gear, and b) how to prep. I am trying to soak it all up, so please send me your best advice!

But, in particular, I have this recurring problem of finding and defining my “sound”. I find myself constantly liking a particular setting/patch on my Studio 40 and then not liking it anymore and going for something else, before eventually returning to it anyway (and perhaps tweaking it). Also, after having played with the GT-1B (multi-effects board), I thought I had something I liked and that sounded good at home through a neutral setting on the Studio 40, but when I used it in the rehearsal room through the SVT, I thought it was lacking… (OK, different amp, different room, other sounds clashing with it…). So, what is the approach I should be focusing on for the studio:

  • just bring my bass(es) and rely on the effects there and the sound engineer to get me a decent sound?
  • bring my Studio 40, make up my mind about the settings there, and use the XLR out there to connect to the mixer? Or have it mic’ed up??
  • bring the GT-1B, make up my mind about the settings there, and have that connected to some of the amps they have in the studio? Or, again, directly to the mixer?
  • or, maybe, I shouldn’t worry so much about this at all, since - given that we only have two days - we should focus on getting the drums and the singer recorded, and then guitar and bass can be done later (perhaps via GarageBand etc)?? We might have to do something like this anyway, since we probably prefer to record “live” and without a click.

Other questions:

  • how many songs is realistic to record in two days?
  • what are the most important things to prepare BEFORE going into the studio (other than knowing the material, obviously)?
  • how best to deal with small mistakes during recording? Abort immediately and start over? Keep going and see whether it can be “fixed” later??
  • in this context, when recording “live”, is it easier to redo the entire track with all instruments, or just re-record individual instruments/passages?

I probably have more questions, but I’ll stop for now :grin: Thanks!

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Is it possible that it might have just needed some EQ tweaking to get this back where you wanted on the SVT? If so, trying tweaking the SVT’s EQ (or the amp sim EQ on the GT-1B) might help?

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Yes, very likely, @howard! The challenge is that I don’t want to use oodles of time when we are all together tweaking my sound (plus it is easier to do that via USB/computer than on the GT-1B itself), but I probably will need to delve more into this. My general frustration is that I find my sound less “transparent” in the rehearsal room than at home… So, yeah, I guess, that hints to a EQ’ing problem, right? Should I first try to address this by tweaking the Yammy’s onboard EQ??

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You can certainly try EQing the bass and see how it changes the sound. But if you have a sound you’re happy with on the amp at home (and through 'phones) but not happy with elsewhere, it is likely the other amp, or the space you’re playing in being different, and you might want to start with the EQ on the amp. Still, you have a very versatile bass and it can’t hurt to try that.

By “not as transparent”, do you mean you can hear the effects more or some artifacts from the GT-1B? If that is the case then the bass EQ might not help as much as the amp EQ (or GT-1B EQ).

Wish I could help more but I only record myself at home, never been to a real studio - I don’t know anything about that part :slight_smile:

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Hard to find the right word here… I am not hearing myself as clearly as I do at home (when, say, playing along a YT video or an mp3). When I play alone (in the rehearsal room), it seems bright and clear enough, but when we all play it feels “muddy”. It’s really bugging me because I play way more relaxed (and hence better) when I have an immediate acoustic feedback (i.e., I hear what I play). This most certainly has to do with the room (it’s fairly small) etc.

I am hoping that during a recording session, when I get my own mix on a set of 'phones, this should not be such a problem.

I appreciate that - I guess not many of us have actually tried this (apart from @JoshFossgreen and @Gio, obviously), but I still value your input a lot; not least, since you are VERY knowledgeable about how to shape sound and what influences sound.

So, if you have any input on how I should show up (only bass in hand; with the Rumble; with the GT-1B; Rumble and GT-1B), I’d be happy to hear that :smile:

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Yeah that definitely sounds like an EQ issue to me. This one both the bass EQ and amp EQ might help with. Try adding a little midrange (high mids if 4-band) and/or rolling the bass/low mids off a little.

Happy to help if I can :slight_smile:

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From my very limited studio experience, I just bring a bass unless there is a very unique sound I’ve generated at home that I don’t think the sound engineer can re-create easily. Some studios even have their own instruments, but I’d always bring one I’m familiar with.

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In regards to your other questions, again, based on limited experience…

I want so say it took around two hours a song, but this will vary wildly.

When I’ve recorded it was one instrument at a time. I believe it was drums first, then me on bass, then rhythm, then lead, then singing.

I did several takes of each song, some more than others. If it was a tiny error, just kept playing. If it was something significant, I’d start over.

This was awhile ago though and technology has advanced since then, so maybe they prefer to take cuts from multiple takes. When I did it, they just took the best cut of the selection they had recorded for each instrument.

Also, think about your strings. If you want a brighter sound, then change your strings a week or two before your session. In the unlikely event that a string breaks, you might want spare strings with you, but if the strings have been on awhile, you might have to change all strings if this happens or the old and new combination might sound a bit off.

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Great input! Thanks, @JT!

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YES ! :partying_face: I love studio work, you will discover a whole new part of the music world ! and I’m way too much excited :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

So.

about your bass tone, I would say that it’s not time to find “your bass tone”, AKA the ultimate and distinctive sound that only you in the world can have. no. be rational and go for a classic and efficient bass tone, something not fancy but that will work pretty well in a mix, considering the musical style you’re playing and the global sound of your particular band.

If I remember right, you play some sort of soft rock. a classic and basic Ampeg tone would work : think of an SVT model on the modeling gear you want, maybe, depending of what you prefer ergonomically. also it’s time to use your higher end gear of course. (an Ampeg B15 would work too, it sounds more or less the same but a bit more … classy)

If you want a less Ampeg-ish tone, a pure clean modern amp (or model) would work. Think MarkBass, Eden, SWR, EBS. in this list I would personnally go for a Eden but it’s very personnal and it’s already a very (very very) minor detail.

I don’t recommend to mic an amp. it’s complicated and does not sound better than another solution. I recommend using a modeling technology, plugged directly into the DAI. also I recommend you use your own gear and not what’s in the studio, unless you know exactly what you do. a recording session is absolutly not a time to experiment. for this, you have the covers, which are mini-studio-sessions :grin:

The important thing is, and what I will say here is VERY important, that you don’t search to have the absolute better possible bass tone ! you want the tone that will work best in the mix, serve the song, the band, the bass line and the music in general. an EFFICIENT bass tone is better than an EXCELLENT bass tone, in this context. and what sounds good in a mix often does NOT sound so good by itself. so, think efficient and practical. As an example : you play bass, and you could be tempted to push the bass knob because it would give you that cool low deep fat tone. even if it could sound amazing by itself, that’s not necessarily a good idea in this context, because it would overlap the kick frequency and make the drum sound muddy. Hope it makes sense because that’s a very crucial point.

Speaking about the instrument : choose the bass you’re the more familiar with, the one that feels comfortable and natural. again, think efficient. I know you have a Jazz Bass and a modern active Yamaha, both would work pretty well. (if it were me I’d go for the Jazz, those things sits soooo naturally in a mix, it’s a joy to work with in a studio)

Be sure your strings are not dead. If you change them for the studio session change them one/two weeks prior to the session to remove a bit of the excessive brightness.

keep going, and focus on the song. there is a magical formula for this kind of situation (which happen pretty often). say “auto-punch” to the guy who operates the DAW, he will smile and make you do something you probably don’t expect :astonished: the first time a musician uses the time-selection auto-punch is somewhat like the first time a kid sees the ocean. it changes everything.

a word about that because there are different visions. I personnally prefer to record each individual track one by one (which is not the standard “rock way” !) but a lot of musicians tell that it lacks some live band energy, which is not false. you have to be able to focus really hard to sound “live” (lively) when you’re alone playing with a hearphone, all the other musicians looking at you or at the DAW … it would not be my choice, but, yeah, it might be easier for you for a first session to record when playing live with the band. recording an individual track doesn’t feel natural at all when you’re not used to it, and it necessarily have an impact on your playing and finally on the recorded track. a lot of musician sound pretty cold when they record this way. it’s just a thing to know.

but I did not answer your question. it’s easier to do some auto-punch, at least for the instruments which work well with that. the bass works well. you should not stress yourself with this :slight_smile:

a little off-topic : just found a picture of myself recording an individual track about 10 years ago … funny to share this with you :

(I miss my snakeskin Soldano Avenger head)

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Oh, wow, how can I give more than one “like” here??

This reads like an absolute gold mine, @terb and I will have to digest that and get back to you tomorrow (with potential follow up questions :smile:) - tonight, I have to do some Saturday evening social stuff :grin:

Thanks so much! And… cool pic! Somehow I knew you must have had long hair once… I mean, your music pretty much dictates that :joy:

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yeah long hair were mandatory at the time :joy:

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Just wanted to say congrats on delving into this aspect of playing with others, and now getting to record!! We will want to hear your music once it is finished, and also know about the process, so, let us know how it goes.

I’m unable to answer any of your questions, unfortunately!! But damn, you always ask great questions, haha! This is another great archive thread to read the responses, when others are also ready to record.

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Wow that’s a great post. Studio time sounds like a really different experience. Only a little like home recording, more intense, on a clock and with an actual sound pro to help you out :slight_smile:

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Thanks, man! I have been fortunate, I guess. I would have thought I’d do a live gig before any studio time, though… so, you’ve got that going for you! And, I am sure, you’ll get to do some recording soon as well :smile:

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Sound advice, @terb (slight pun intended)! You are right, this is not the time to try to find my ultimate tone, but even finding that classic, efficient tone is a bit of a challenge… You know, I have something in my head that I am going for, but I don’t know if I can a) re-create it, and b) whether it is “efficient”. So, challenging but fun to work towards!

Yes, I would prefer to call it “melodic rock”, though :grin:

On the Studio 40, I work with a Bassman model right now, whereas on the GT-1B, I use indeed a MarkBass pre-amp model. From what you say, it seems, however, I shouldn’t consider bringing the Studio, but perhaps show up with the GT-1B and see if it can be used!?

Great point! So, I guess, studio time is the time to check your ego at the door and think of the band, and not (only) yourself.

Yes, I was going to take the Yamaha as the main bass, and the Jazz as a “back-up” or for one of the songs. I have been making use of the B string a couple of times and also the 24 fret scale of the Yamaha, and I also like its “natural” sound - so, this will be the main bass. Also, good point about the strings (@JT mentioned that as well): I got new strings around New Year, but we might first record in late April, so, yes, I keep that in mind. I was actually also considering to try these half rounds… or, should I not start to fiddle with new types of strings at this time?

Now, you got me really curious :smile:My one and only time in the studio is almost 30 years ago, and it was only for one song. I don’t think they had anything like that back then, but I remember they triggered and quantized my drums, which annoyed the heck out of me… Hopefully, they have a way to make technology help you nowadays, and not interfere with the creative, expressive part of music!

I think we need to do that… in some of the songs, there are some cues (either by the drums or the guitar) that don’t fit into a click track grid (i.e., we don’t count at that point, but wait for the cue), and I guess therefore we need to play and record “live” - or maybe I am getting this wrong!?

Thanks again so much for all this great input!!

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“SpectreSoundStudios” on Youtube does loads of very detailed studio vids, but beware; he has a thing about bass players.

I like him, but he can be very aggressive and moaning. He seems to know his stuff though and does plenty of informative videos as well as his more comical rants.

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Thanks for the tip, @PeteP! I think I have seen this guy before, when we were discussing compressors in some detail…

It looks like there is a ton of information to be gleaned here, but I guess you also need to wade through a sh*tload of expletives and rants to find it :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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That may be the both the most appropriate AND most inappropriate collective noun ever. :laughing:

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yeah, not sure the studio session is the right time for this

sorry ! :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

but if you record in a live situation, with all the band playing together, you will need an amp anyway !

if it were me, I’d wait after the studio session to try different strings !

it was the idea :grin: in fact it’s not so magic. the time-selection auto-punch is a way to re-record only a small part of a track. if you make a mistake it allows to correct it without having to re-record all the track, it’s incredibly convenient !

it would be possible with independant tracks too. in fact when you record track by track, the first musician doesn’t start from a blank DAW file ! you record first a raw track live which serves as a support, and at the end this track is deleted to be replaced by all the new tracks. it’s pretty much the same thing than using an album track as a support when recording a cover.

you’re welcome !

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