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?

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 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.
    – Epanoui
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 21:07
  • For fast parts I like to increase until faster than normal speed to know the ceiling is higher than what I need to do. Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 2:03

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).

  • 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
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 18:10
  • @hazer_drum "rather than solving it from the root of the problem." Why not both? Get a great performance and then add great production. There's no need to choose one or the other.
    – Edward
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 16:32

This boils down to practice, but the key question is what to practice and how. This might be different for every person.

For exercise record and produce on your own, applying post-processing that is typical to the style of music. Nowadays the needed equipment is cheap, so is the software, there are also many free programs – so there is no excuse. This will give you the most direct feedback on:

  1. what are your specific issues and what kind of practice results in improvement. If you make a mistake, analyze what you're doing and focus on fixing it. There might be a detail of technique that you have not paid attention to before.
  2. how your instrument sounds in the mix. When we practice our instruments on its own the details that stand out the most might not be the same that are the most relevant for the sound of a full band. E.g. if your instrument has large dynamics, and another instrument in the mix has low dynamics, large variety of loudness of your instrument may seem like inconsistency, even if it sounds good on its own.
  3. how your instrument sounds after typical post-processing for the style. E.g. if a heavy compression is used, small dynamics inconsistencies might be completely irrelevant, while a wrong note, even if played lightly, would be amplified and stand out.

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