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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Recording Instrumentation

Our major series on the process of recording, mixing and mastering a band continues – and this issue, we’re onto the challenges of recording various instruments. Mike Hillier offers a selection of hands-on tips and advice on how to make the most of recording guitars and other band instruments, with a view to the final mix…

FROM STUDIO TO RELEASE Recording A Band Part 2

Gita Langley of Lock records her lead part on her Gretsch – it’s often a good idea to let the artist record with the instrument they’re used to

In this feature, we’re continuing our look into the recording phase of two songs: Fade Out by Lock, a modern-sounding electro-rock track combining electronic and acoustic drums with synths and guitars – and Shore by Reptile, which is a more traditional rock song but with a progressive arrangement driven by acoustic drums, electric guitars, electric bass and organ.

In the first part of this series, in MT164, we looked in-depth at the drum tracking for both songs, delving into the minutiae of the drum positioning, microphone choice and placement, preamp, EQ and compression choices made while tracking. But with the drums now recorded, it’s time to move on to the instrumentation, before we finally end up tracking the vocals.


The reason we start by tracking the drums (and occasionally other parts of the rhythm section) before overdubbing is that it provides a bedrock for the additional musicians to play along to, locking themselves into the groove as it’s laid down. Occasionally, the groove won’t be provided by the drums and you’ll need to plan the tracking around whichever instrument(s) do provide the groove. However, assuming we’re working on something with a standard drum-based groove – as I am on both of these tracks – once the drums are tracked, it’s important to tidy up any edits, perform any drum alignment you might want to do, and essentially commit to the drum recording at least in terms of timing. If you leave the drums loose, with the intention of tightening them up later and then layer on guitars, bass and keys, these additional instruments will have followed the groove and timing set by the drummer – meaning any edits you make will now most likely need to be applied to these new recordings as well as the drum tracks.

This isn’t to say you can’t make any drum edits after the event, as there’s always the possibility that you, or the band, might want to change the structure or performance later in the mix. But getting this in early does help to speed things along.

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About MusicTech

The new issue of MusicTech Magazine is on sale Thursday 16th February and this issue we reveal the studio gear and production trends for 2017. Also this issue we have part 2 of our studio to release guide detailing the process your music needs to undertake to get in the charts. We review Orchestral Tools Metropolis Ark 2, plus new gear from Nord, Rob Papen, Spitfire Audio and more, we’ve also got tutorials covering Roland mimicking in Modular, how to use two Macs with Logic and continue the lazy guide to Live. Plus a huge DVD featuring 1.1GB of samples…