Bands

Pre – Production Jam Recording

Once Stuart has listened to any demos & pre-recorded shows of your band, it's time for Pre – Production.

Stuart will mic the band in a live room and record the songs you’re looking at producing; this is a guide, so you can discuss the songs, not the final product (actual production is a multitrack recording, where everyone gets time to nail it). You’ll want to do a decent take of each song showing how you usually play them (correct tempo, length of sections etc.)
Once your jam is recorded, you'll have a chat with Stu and shortlist the songs you want produced. Next, you'll go through structure and arrangement of each, to make sure they all work. Stu will have suggestions; he might ask you to lengthen some sections or shorten others. He could request you “keep the current layout, but try a queit chorus to open”, or “bring the bass back half way through the 2nd verse & see how it sounds”. Any glaring issues, like the key not being ideal for the singer's range, will be addressed at this time. Once you’ve tried the ideas and agreed which are keepers, it’s time to record decent takes, with the agreed changes, to serve as a guide for the production. By the end of Pre – Production you’ll finalise the songs you want produced; setting the duration of the recording process.

Production

A quick note on the recording process. Stuart will be recording your band one instrument at a time, not one song at a time.

This means whatever instrument is best to go first, will be recorded for all the sections for all songs, followed by the next instrument and so on, until the final part which is lead vocal (and double tracked lead vocal if needed) and then any harmonies. The Pre – Production recordings will be available to reference throughout the entire recording process; however you won’t be recording to these and will instead be using a click track at first. You'll be able to ditch the click and use other instruments that have been properly recorded as the project progresses, but the first person to record will require the click track. There will be other points in the recording process where a click will be needed (drums likely); if you're new to recording to a click it can be tricky, just know that it does get easier.

Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar

Stuart has had plenty of experience capturing great sounding electric & acoustic guitar

If you love the sound of your amp and peddle setup it’s a good idea to bring that stuff along. Stuart has some virtual amps but at the end of the day you can’t beat the sound of the real thing; if you’re using your own amp and pedals the songs will have your unique sound. Any double - tracking and extra guitar lines can also be explored; there's more than enough time to capture your sound.

Having new strings is important for recording electric guitar, but it's absolutely crucial to capturing a great acoustic sound. Make sure you have new strings on your acoustic guitar, and that they've been played in properly before the scheduled recording time. Having at least one set of backup strings for electric and acoustic is also important; you don't want a broken string to dictate your day.

Drums

Drums recording is the most time-consuming part of the recording process.

It can take 2 – 3 hours to set the mics and get the right sound, before you can even hit record. This leaves 5 or 6 hours in the day to record the songs. You can expect to get 2 – 4 songs recorded per day depending on how tight the drummer is. The most important thing is to get good takes, so if the drummer is not used to playing to a click track, it would be a good idea to download a metronome app, or use a real metronome to practice to before the drums session. It is common in pro audio to also use samples to beef up the kick and snare and this is usually something Stuart will recommend to achieve a modern sound. However if you don’t want that, Stuart has done some great work without the use of samples.

This is the only part of the recording that requires using an external studio, and the only part of production where an hourly rate for the studio needs to apply. Usually a local studio will be booked for the drums recording and this will be added to the price of the recording package (at cost price for studio hire) .

Bass, Keys and Synths

Make sure you bring your bass, amp and a set of new strings (yes even for a bass). Stuart likes to record the bass amp, and into a DI box similtaniously; this combination is versatile, gets your actual sound down, and allows a fuller and more audible result than just using the amp.

If you have a keys player, once again make sure to bring your keys with you; however Stuart has an 88 key, Roland weighted key digital piano and an effects rack (sound rack), as well as a library of midi instruments in Pro Tools. If you need keys done and don’t have a keys player, Stuart has 29 years’ experience on keys and is happy to do the keys for you.

Lead Vocals

Stuart has worked with experienced singers as both a Producer and an accompanist, in rock, pop and even opera singing. He knows how to get the best out of you and really make your vocal shine.

You will get more time than you need to nail your vocal performance. Stuart will be recording you one section at a time and giving you feedback when required to help you understand what you did better in a previous take, which will help you with your next one. He will clip out the best parts of each take and hang onto them. He will then edit together one complete section from these parts and you’ll hear yourself singing the best version of your song you’ve ever heard. This method is the industry standard done by all the top producers and is the biggest part of why songs on the radio and spotify can sound so damn good.

You’ll get up to 15 or 20 takes of each section to get it right. This doesn’t mean you need to use all those takes if you’ve just nailed it, but they’re there if you need them.

Double – Tracking, Backing Vocals and Harmonies

Double – Tracking, Backing Vocals and Harmonies have become common place in modern music and for good reason; they can work wonders on how your song is perceived

If you want layered harmonies and backing vocals in your songs, it's a smart idea to double – track your lead vocal. Basic double – tracking is just recording a second lead vocal track, that sits behind your primary one, and adds weight to it. You can also use this technique on specific words and phrases to accent meaningful parts.

If you’ve got some harmonies happening already then that’s great! But if you don’t Stuart is an experienced singer and harmony specialist and will help you get your harmonies right; there are several techniques Stuart has, that will help make this part of the process easy for you. Ideally the lead singer or another band member will be performing the harmonies, but Stuart can do that too if you need him to.