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Some tips for guitar players on how to prepare for a recording session

For a performing guitarist and composer, one of the major tasks is recording new tracks at the studio. Any studio session requires adequate preparation which is slightly different than the preparation for a live performance.  I’ll try to highlight some of the things that I personally do and find them to be good practices to get the best out of a studio session.

Composition to performance:

If you are performing a piece that you have composed, take your time to learn the piece first and then go back to the drawing board again to make some changes in the piece that you have written. Often you may find a slightly more musical expression or minor changes to what you originally wrote, after you learn to perform it. Once all the changes are incorporated and you are comfortable with your performance, take another few days to play it frequently and then hit the studio to get the most natural performance.

Recording a cover song/piece:

When you record a cover song or play a musical piece that is already released, my suggestion is to take a few days, preferably a week (depending on the complexity of the piece) and then hit the studio. A very important thing is to be able to add some embellishments to the original. A cover should sound like the original, yet should also carry the signature sound and expression of the performing artist. Adding that will make the cover you recorded a unique piece with added musical nuances.

Record on your best day:

If you have the luxury of having your studio then start recording when you feel the inspiration. Sometimes you may feel technically confident but lack the inspiration to start recording, feeling tired or just not at your musical best. Try to avoid those moments but hit the studio the moment you feel that inspiration. It could be at midnight or at times relatively unusual. Make the most of that moment when you feel you are in the zone. All the magic happens during those moments!

Learn to accept failure:

Unless it is a major commercial project and you have a deadline to meet, learn to accept that the take that seemed somewhat ok is not usable and retake the entire thing. Sometimes, either out of fear or impatience, we try to move on with a take that is functionally ok with minor issues and feel we can mix it to fix it. To get the best output, my suggestion is to stay honest, accept the take wasn’t the best, and reschedule another session. Until you feel that what you recorded captures the best expressions you can create with your guitar and it represents the highest level of your musicianship, keep recording.

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