A few days ago I started recording a song (not mine, it is going to be a cover version) and when I first recorded a guitar intro (just four bars of fingerpicked chords) I was horrified by my timing. But that was nothing compared to the horror I experienced while listening back to the two freshly recorded guitar tracks playing at the same time — I couldn't imagine myself play that terribly out of time.
And this is where I'm stuck. No matter how many takes I do, it seems like I do not get closer to the desired result (for now, I just want to fix my timing). The song itself consists mostly of one chord progression (Em Em7/C G D) with the chords syncopated (chord changes are shifted by an eighth from the beat).
Nevertheless, I have encountered several problems:
- Metronome was too quiet. I had to raise the volume of the metronome considerably to hear it better. It helped me a lot with my 4-bar intro. I also changed the default metronome sound in Reaper to the sound taken from Cubase (for those interested, please check this link).
- For some reason I am more comfortable playing at a certain tempo (looks like it is the original tempo of the song, which seems logical). Any slower, and I make more mistakes, tending to rush.
- I usually play guitar sitting on a bed (it has a wide wooden rim, so no I don't sit on a soft mattress which some people don't recommend), and to record a track I need to move to my desk and to sit on the chair which is not that comfortable for playing (no armrests thankfully, but still). Not sure how that contributes to sloppy playing though.
- I feel like I'm playing better when I'm not recording (the metronome is still on though, in fact I like playing guitar with the metronome on) but I'm not sure.
So my questions are:
- What would be the correct technique for recording without drums? My understanding is that where there are drums, they are recorded first (with a click track possibly) and then the other musicians record their parts listening to the drums. Should I record both guitars listening only to the metronome (and then hope they are in sync!) or should I record the first guitar part, and then record the second one listening to the first?
- (this one looks like already discussed here on music.SE) How should I practice to get better timing? Many suggest playing at slower speeds (should probably try this), many suggest recording yourself (this is what I was trying to do in the first place!).
- Is it normal to discover awful problems with timing when first recording with the metronome? (I've recorded myself before, just not with the metronome, and that sounded fine to me then.)
- Is it possible that I try to get in rhythm when playing with the metronome and that causes the problems? In other words, maybe I'm just using the metronome the wrong way?
I have read this (which seems to answer my question about practicing) and this (among other similar threads). I don't think I'm nervous when recording a take. Maybe I strain a bit too much though. And my audio interface latency is below 10 ms (about 5 to 6 ms) so the sole problem seems to be the player, and that would be me.