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Recording Drills – Improve Your Skills With An Exercise a Day

A few folks have asked recently how they can rapidly improve their recording skills so that they can make better sounding tracks.

I always use the same answer: practice, practice, and more practice. But it is sometimes unclear exactly how to practice this stuff. That’s why we’re starting this four-day challenge.

Each day this week, we’ll be posting about a new exercise that you can do to greatly improve your skills. This is how you practice. Today’s exercise will focus on building your mic technique so that you can record your tracks well at the source.

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This drill will help you when it comes to recording just about anything with a microphone. You probably use a mic when recording acoustic guitar, and definitely when recording vocals. Good. But how much experimenting have you done with your placement?

The goal of this drill is to find the sweet spot of the mic for whatever instrument you’re recording. Start with acoustic guitar (if you use one in your recordings.) Place the mic about two inches off the fretboard around the 12th fret. Record a pattern.

Then move the mic. Put it about 6 inches off the fretboard around the 12th fret. Record the same pattern.

Move the mic again. Put it about 2 inches off the strings directly in front of the sound hole. Record the same pattern.

Move the mic one last time, putting it about 6 inches off the string directly in front of the sound hole. Record the same pattern.

Now that you’ve got four different recordings, go ahead and line them up in your DAW on four different tracks. Turn on your “single solo” or unlatched solo mode in your DAW so that switching between them is easy. Now you need to listen critically.

Listen to the tone of each track. Listen to the differences between them and figure out what qualities would be nice for specific types of recordings. Decide which technique you liked best, second best, third best, and least.

Now, using that knowledge, develop your own mic technique for that particular instrument. Place the mic somewhere different based on the spectrum you have just witnessed. You might put it 3 inches away from the fretboard and on the 14th fret. Try to get the absolute best mic position possible, then record the same pattern and compare.

Do this with different mics and different instruments – especially vocals. This drill might only take an hour to complete, but you will improve a ton in this hour. Take notes while you go so you can remember your findings later! And if you want to get even more mic technique tips from the pros, become a Multi-Platinum Member and start watching the 1,000 hi-def videos available!

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