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Preparing For The Studio

So you’ve finally saved up the money to record your masterpiece. You’ve found the perfect producer that “gets you” and you’ve set the date to start recording. Life is good! Now what?  You know there is more to it. But what is it that you should be doing from now until your project starts? Do the people who make amazing albums just get lucky? No they don’t.  Being prepared means everything. Football player and Super Bowl champion Ronde Barber has this to say, 

 “There is no such thing as luck. Bounces go either way.  Every day and you have to take advantage of those situations. You call it luck and I call it being prepared”.

Here is a quick list of things that you need to be doing.

Make sure that your band is rehearsing like crazy

It’s simple.  The more time you spend on your songs the more you will know your parts and the tighter they will be.  As a producer, if I have a band that knows their parts and can play their instruments I can move on to helping them make the song better instead of being bogged down by sorting through a jumbled mess.

Pre-production is key

Keeping in touch with your producer and making sure that all agree on the album game plan will be huge in helping you make the most of your time. Elements like song structure, tempo, song key and song selection can and should be worked out before hand.  Every album and every situation is different, but this should be kept as a general rule.

Keep writing songs

Just because you’ve set a recording date doesn’t mean you should stop writing. Matter of fact, it means just the opposite! Great albums have great songs, so try to beat out what you already have.

Attention guitar players

Change your strings a week before you come to the studio.  New strings stretch and can cause some serious tuning issues, plus the tone isn’t the greatest right out of the package. If you forget and its last minute yank on the strings (Within reason.  Don’t break anything) to stretch them out.  Wipe your hands up and down the strings (get some of the oil off your hands on it) and leave it out of the case overnight.This will help speed up the pace of wearing in your strings.  Drummers should also change their drum heads well before its time to record.

Do you have an “oh no bag”?

This is the bag that saves your life.  The contents should include a tuner, extra stings, cables, picks of all sizes, tools, and amp tubes. Drummers should have an extra snare, sticks, heads, etc.

Squeaks and squawks

There have been many a session delayed by a squeaky kick pedal or a rattle in the back of a guitar amp. Go through your gear and if you find something let the producer know ahead of time. That way if a new amp or pedal needs to be found there is time to beg, steal or borrow another one.

Girlfriends and friends are not invited

Be a professional. If your not serious about what you’re doing then nobody else will be either. Keep the hang outs outside of the studio. If people want to drop in with lunch and chat for a second then fine, but anything more than that is counter productive.


Sometimes what we all need to do is nothing! Give yourself some time to recharge before you hit the studio. Fresh ears and a clear head are priceless.I know musicians and football players don’t usually mix but I think Ronde is right on with this one. It is all about being prepared!

Reader Comments (11)

This article is by Blake Easter, who is NOT me , Mitchell Blake Easter! I don't exactly agree with all of this, anyway!

June 21 | Unregistered CommenterMitch Easter

Thanks for clearing that up Mitch. Don't want to give anybody a bad name by mistake by telling people to not use new guitar strings.

June 21 | Unregistered CommenterBlake Easter

no girlfriends? in 2011? people really still say this? sad.

plus, aside from rehearse + make sure your gear is freshly serviced + you have spares, I don't really agree with any of this. we *play* music - that verb is important.

June 22 | Unregistered CommenterShireen Liane

I would definitely want Mitch Easter rather than Blake Easter's advice when it comes to "preparing for the studio"

June 22 | Unregistered Commenterblastjacket

If the producer you've chosen isn't already telling you all of this and more then you need a different producer.

June 24 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Johnson

No girls, no guests, no unnecessary people in the session. No phones, no bullshit talk, no negativity. Just positive energy and focus. When you achieve all of this music can be created. At that moment nothing is more important, everything stops to exists.

June 25 | Unregistered CommenterDanny Volt

I don't know, I've worked a few sessions and wished the producer had supplied the client with a checklist. And the item I would add to the checklist is charts and lyric sheets, and lots of copies. Not only will that make the session players happy, but the artist or band should play to their charts too.

Beyond that the list of forgotten things and gear is too lengthy to go into. And, strings deader than dust, a guitar that had to go to the local repair pro before we could record it, lead singers who stayed up a little to late, legions of wives, girlfriends, other friends, family, and seemingly complete strangers. I think a checklist and a to do list can be a good plan, especially with new clients and those who haven't been in the studio for awhile.

For me it's all about budget and fun. Being prepared and organized means a session can be a lot more productive which will make the client's wallet happy. And when things are going well it's a lot of fun.

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Wow, some of you really don't like girls! Well, they probably won't buy your records anyway.

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterMitch Easter

Hey - Girls are great, at least the girl I spend my time with. But, a girl, or any partner, deserves undecided attention and can get really cranky when told "shut-up I'm trying to listen". And, the last thing I need in the studio is someones girl telling me how things should 'sound'. No offense sweetheart.

September 16 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Wow, I guess everyone in bands these days are straight dudes! Did I just go back in time? This idea that all these wives and girlfriends are going to show up and distract everyone from the real task at hand with their stupid comments and endless nagging for attention is total antiquated bullshit. Be careful guys, a conniving female might sneak into your males-only session and ruin it by having one of her silly little thoughts about your track, thereby destroying your sharp, testosterone-driven focus and instantly making your music sound like the Indigo Girls! Watch out!

September 16 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

There are some good tips in here. I'd add to have a written band agreement in place that will determine how the record money will be handled, AND the copyrights of each song - who owns them, who has what % of the writers' and publishers' share. Do this before getting in the studio so the legal stuff is covered and you can focus on awesome recordings!

September 28 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl B. Engelhardt

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