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I've been recording in my own room for about two years and I've been in semi-professional studios for a few bands as well. I have noticed that working in a studio, where a recording engineer gives you instructions and records your performance is much easier, since you only need to focus on your instrument.

When recording my own tracks at home, I usually record bass, guitars and vocals, which can be a huge task and recording each track on its own can become exhausting, when not done right.

My approach is to add a minimal compressor and EQ on every track to get the feel for the final song character while recording. Since I compose all my tracks fully in GuitarPro, I firstly record bass over the drumtrack and record the full vocals afterwards over synthesized guitars. If bass and vocals are good enough, I proceed with the guitars and finish the mixing with timing improvements in the DAW before mastering the whole track.

Time is always an issue, my last bass-session took about 2 hours, while the vocal tracks took 7 full hours to get right. This is mostly due the fact, that singing requires you to stand up when recording, so moving around in the room already takes much more effort than for example a bass.

Do you have any similar strategies to improve your own productivity when recording on your own? How about multi-tracking?

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One simple "technique" can improve your solo recording drastically: whenever you start recording a song, begin with recording a guide track.

This is a track where you sing the song, accompanied by a rhythm instrument such as an acoustic guitar or a piano. You don't need to play or sing everything right in this track, but it's important to get the rhythm right at least. Once you have finished recording at least a couple of instruments based on this track, you can remove this guide track from the recording.

When using this guide track, your "serious" recordings will go much smoother, since you'll be playing along with an audible version of the song, which gives you a more natural band feeling. When you try to play the bass guitar and can only hear drums or a metronome, it's very difficult to put the right feeling and dynamics into the song. You're essentially imagining the song in your head while trying to focus on playing correctly, which is very distracting and counterproductive.

  • Completely agree and couldn't recommend doing this more. Also, since you are using Guitar Pro, you could always export a WAV and use that as the guide track in your DAW. – Jamie Brace Dec 2 '15 at 9:18
  • I'm often using the guitar wav as guiding track, it's helpful indeed. However it always sounds very harsh and the "feel" of the song vanishes because of the very tight computerized tempo. Recording a rhythm instrument first in the right rhythm sounds like an excellent idea! – muffin Dec 6 '15 at 13:34
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I can't tell you what might work best for you to reduce the amount of time you are spending on your recordings. But I can tell you what works for me.

Before I am ready to record a demo of an original song, I have carefully written a lead sheet with lyrics and chords and practiced playing the song and singing with it as if I were performing it solo. Once I have fine tuned the arrangement and have an idea of what I want the final fully orchestrated demo to sound like, I am ready to start recording some tracks.

The first thing I do is select a drum track at the proper tempo and with the proper groove for my song. I do this through process of elimination and narrow it down to a few that I listen to and try to play and sing along with. Then I decide on the one I want to use.

After I select a drum track, I use this track as a metronome or click track and record the chord progression by playing my guitar. You could also play the bass line first, but as a guitarist, I prefer to lay down the chord progression (rhythm guitar track) before the bass line. I personally find it easier to sing the lead vocal over a simple rhythm guitar/drum track.

With a simple guitar and drum mix, I am now ready to record my lead vocal. I sing and record the vocal while monitoring the drum and guitar. The drum track helps with the timing of the singing and the guitar chords help me stay in key. Of course I position my lyric sheet directly behind the mic so I can read the lyrics as I sing. I also use headphones to monitor the guitar/drum mix and adjust the volume of the drum and guitar so that I can hear exactly what I need to hear to get the proper timing and sing the proper notes.

Now I have rhythm guitar, drums and vocal. The vocal provides the melody of my song. Then I can add bass, lead guitar, vocal harmony and anything else that the song needs to fill out the rest of the arrangement. At this point I can tweak the drum arrangement to add an intro, fills, transitions and a different beat for the chorus and perhaps an outro or ending.

After I have all the tracks recorded, it's time to start mixing and adding effects, EQ, compression, etc. to each track before mastering the entire arrangement.

You may need to experiment with more than one process before finding the one that works best for you. Good luck!

  • 2
    True. I tend to put the chords on top of the drum track - essential for keeping time - then a bass line is easier to record, as I have a better 'story line' to follow, on bass. – Tim Dec 2 '15 at 10:00

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