When it comes to getting the perfect take in the studio, there really is no “best” way to do it. There are a lot of factors, and here are a few “rules” I like to live by to make life easier.
Rule #1 – Always have your song written out or mapped out.
This is key. Before you even record enable a track, it’s important that you have worked out exactly what your song is going to be structurally. I remember when I didn’t do this. I would play through the first verse and chorus, but would forget if I wanted 2 bars or 4 bars after the first chorus. I would decide on the spot (which took my mind away from my playing), and would probably forget by the time I needed to lay down the next part – causing way too much confusion. Use markers to set up your structure, or simply create a simple chord sheet or lyric sheet to keep you on track!
Rule # 2 – (Almost) never use the first take.
This may seem like it will double the amount of time it takes to record your tracks – but it will actually save you time because you won’t need to edit as much! The first take is often tentative and a little “shy.” After you’ve played through it and gained some confidence, the second take is always more secure sounding. Only on the very, very rare occasion that I nail the first take do I keep it and move on. (We’re talking once an entire album!)
Rule # 3 – Set yourself up for success.
This applies to life in general, but especially to getting the perfect take in the studio. It’s important to keep in mind that practicing your parts as you’re recording them is probably not the best approach. If you spend a little time getting to know your parts, you’re way more likely to nail them when it comes to recording!
This applies to all parts of a production, but especially vocals. If you memorize your lyrics, you’ll be much better off when it comes to recording them. I like to sing through all of my songs that I’m working on at any given time at least once a day in order to help with memorizing the lyrics and get prepared for the recording process.
Have you come across anything that helps you nail the take in the studio? Please share!