Arlen Roth on Making the Best Album You Can
I’m sure many of you have already recorded albums, or at least have plans to eventually do so, and I hope this blog can offer you some tips and some help in achieving the best recording you can. These last few months I have been involved a great deal in recording my latest album, a “Slide Guitar Summit”, and there have been countless decisions made over the course of the recording to make improvements, and to affect its ultimate outcome.
For example, in the latest group of sessions it was important to deal with the fact that I am working with several artists with different sounds, varying equipment and different ways of liking to work. In each case however, I decided to create the rhythm tracks first, utilizing a kind of “duet” approach to that part as well, while we both cut intertwining rhythm parts. This is fun because it ends up creating certain nice subtle nuances that will forever be a part of the overall sound of the tracks and of the album, and what we will love to hear.
Then after the rhythm tracks were cut and we were satisfied with them, each artist and I indulged in some slide guitar overdubs which enabled us to truly concentrate on the parts we were creating and playing together, and also helped give us some more interesting footage for the documentary film we are making on slide guitar as the result of this album. It also enabled me to have the most thorough and complete interaction possible when it comes to me and these artists, and of course, makes for a better recording, for sure!
The making of each album seems to always require a different approach on many levels, but most of the time I try to achieve the most “live” kind of energy first, even before I start the overdub process, and before I add any “sweetening” to the overall tracks. This is something for you to keep in mind, and to especially not “overthink” the process, nor to become too “obsessive” over the making of your record. This overdoing it can result in a too “sterile” sounding kind of recording, and if the sounds captured on the recording are not too open and “live” feeling to begin with, it may be just too far gone for any real “live” energy to be injected back into the final product.
So, of course, it’s important to focus on the project at hand, and just what you are looking to get out of it. All recordings differ in how they are achieved, but regardless of how it actually gets created the proof will certainly be “in the pudding” and most of all must reflect what it is you’re really looking for. My main advice is to record everything, do not leave yourself with too many tracks to have to sift through, and most of all use good discretion when it comes to making the real important decisions you’ll need to make! Happy recording to you!