How To Record Your Guitar Playing
How To Record Your Guitar Playing
by Tom Hess
Most musicians already know that there are many skills they must develop to increase their chances of success in the music industry. However, there is one specific musical area that is often overlooked by many musicians (especially by guitar players) in their pursuit of a successful music career – their recording skills in the studio. Among the many things that you can do to maximize your value to record companies and to any band that you want to be a part of, having the ability to record your guitar parts very quickly and efficiently in the studio will help you with getting the music career opportunities that you want.
Sadly, most guitarists (including many of those who already play their instrument at a high level) don’t begin to realize the importance of working on their studio recording skills until they walk into a recording studio to record their first album. No matter how well you can play guitar at home (or even while performing live), walking into a recording studio for the first time can be a very humbling experience. Few things are more frustrating for guitar players than having excellent general musical skills but not being able to quickly and accurately record their guitar playing in the studio.
How does learning to record guitar parts well in the studio help your music career?
When you are ready to record your next album with your band, the costs of recording in a professional studio can reach hundreds of dollars per hour. The more time it takes your entire band to record the songs, the more money has to be budgeted for studio costs. On top of that, if after spending several hundred hours in the studio the music is still not recorded at the needed level of quality, you can expect to pay a whole lot MORE money for the studio engineer to edit the parts that contain flaws due to sloppy recording. You can do your part to avoid such situations by making sure that you are always prepared to record your music well in the studio.
Most bands that have a limited budget to pay for studio time face one of two choices:
1. Accept the mediocre recordings and settle for less than perfect sound on their album in order to avoid spending more money.
2. Hire experienced studio musicians (who do not play in the band) to help record the needed parts quickly, reliably and cheaply. Many record companies decide that it would be cheaper overall to hire a session musician to record the band’s album in the studio than to pay for an additional hundred (or more) hours of editing time that would otherwise be required by the engineer to fix the imperfect recordings of the actual band members .
The good news is that it is possible to avoid having to make such unpleasant choices (as described above) by becoming proficient at recording your guitar parts in the studio accurately and quickly. You can develop this ability in the same way that you develop your other guitar playing skills – by consistent practice! However, the ability to record music in the studio is a very special skill that needs to be practiced in a unique way that is different from how you normally practice. This is one of the reasons why even very advanced guitarists have a very challenging time recording even the most simple guitar parts PERFECTLY in the studio.
Spending more time “recording” will help you to improve somewhat, but until and unless you are aware of the most common mistakes that guitarists make in the recording studio you will find it difficult to track your progress in this area.
To find out how to prevent the most common studio recording mistakes, read this free guide about studio recording for guitar players.
The most difficult aspect of recording an album in the studio is creating totally perfect and tight rhythm guitar tracks. Most guitarists are already aware of the need to make rhythm guitar parts “in time” when recording. Even though “playing in time” is definitely critical, this is only one element (out of MANY) that must be thought about when recording guitar in the studio. Below is a sample of what is required to record a flawless rhythm guitar track:
- Keeping all of the chords and notes on the recording sounding perfectly stable.
- Not allowing any sloppy noise from the strings to end up on the recording.
- Keeping the palm muting constant on every track.
- Intonating the rhythm guitars flawlessly with the other instruments used in the song. TIP: Tuning/intonating your guitar in the same way that you do for normal playing and practicing will make it extremely difficult for you to achieve this! Read this guide on studio recording for guitar players to discover how to prepare your guitar for recording sessions.
- Recording the guitars perfectly tight (in time) with the bass and drums.
- Maintaining a consistent amount of pick articulation and tone on each track.
You probably noticed that the above listed elements are not all that hard to pay attention to and refine in isolation. However, the challenge of recording perfectly in the studio lies in the following 3 things:
- Getting ALL of the points listed above (not just 1 or 2 of them) to come out flawlessly on all of your recorded tracks.
- Doing steps 1 above as quickly as possible to save yourself and your band a LOT of money.
- Doing steps 1 and 2 above at least 2 times to double track or 4 times to quad track the rhythm section.
To help you with achieving the goals described above here several steps you should take right now:
- The first step you should take now is to determine how much you truly know about recording guitar parts in the studio. To test your current knowledge about recording in the studio, check out this free guide about studio recording for guitar players.
- After you uncover your specific strengths and weaknesses for recording guitar in the studio, start taking the needed action steps to improve your skills in this area of your musicianship.
- Be patient and persevere! Learning to record guitar well in the studio is a skill that can be refined like any other. Even though it may feel frustrating to realize that you must start from the beginning in this area of your musicianship, know that the vast majority of guitar players have gone through the same learning process that you are going through. Stay determined, continue to practice, and results will not be long in coming. As with all musical skills, you will have a much easier time mastering this area of your guitar playing under the guidance of a highly effective guitar teacher.
Improve your recording skills in the studio will put you far ahead of most other aspiring musicians and will greatly improve your chances for success in the music industry.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a recording artist, online guitar teacher and a music career mentor. He plays guitar for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Visit his website tomhess.net to get free music career advice, music business tips and music business articles.