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Every time I hear myself playing in a studio recording setup, I feel like my playing is inconsistent in terms of tempo and dynamics, regardless of the instrument (drums or guitar).

I know I can improve my tempo by practicing with a click but there are always some volume inconsistency between two successive hits or picks. In the case of guitar recording, sometimes I can accidentally hit open strings or get noise.

How else can I improve?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Those two problems you describe (mishitting strings and inconsistency in volume/tone) are only fixed by practice. Lots and lots of practice.

They are things you can get away with in a live environment, but they do show up in a studio where every mistake is very evident.

I had the same problem - I love gigging, but the first time I went into the studio I was incredibly disappointed in myself - I sounded terrible: out of time, many mistakes etc.

But the solution was to practice - I used a metronome to practice consistent alternate picking (this was the biggest problem I had) and worked out a couple of complicated chord sequences to practice over and over at steadily increasing speed.

Now I love the studio - I always want to improve, but my notes now sound like I want them to.

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The studio is a great way to have your nose rubbed in reality, which this is really useful, but you can also psych yourself out by overhearing mistakes. By paying attention to your recordings you can improve your awareness and sensitivity and learn to recognize opportunities for improvement as you play. This sensitivity is part of what makes great players great. –  Wanky McSpanky Sep 24 at 21:07

I agree with Dr Mayhem that practice is important to solving the core issues you raise.

However, in terms of dynamics between successive picks/hits, some compression might help you. In short, a compressor will even out a signal by attenuating the volume over a certain threshold. These are commonplace in any studio (in fact, if you ask me, they tend to be overused nowadays).

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I was looking more for a response on the performance side rather than the post-processing of recording side but thanks for the insight. It might be a good solution to "fix" things rather than solving it from the root of the problem. –  hazer_drum Oct 15 '13 at 18:10

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