Studio 101: Get Your Rig Ready for Recording
Gigs are great, but they pass quickly and other shows loom ahead. Recording is forever and requires a different level of preparation. Your guitar and every piece of gear you depend on in your signal chain should be primed to create the best sound possible, so you can feel comfortable and play well in the studio, and make a terrific sounding album, single or demo.
Here are tips for getting your rig ready.
• Guitars: Be sure every guitar you’re planning to take into the studio is in optimum playing condition. Unless you’re a guitar tech-wiz or are confident your guitar is studio worthy, take any instrument you’re planning to record to your favorite luthier and tell him or her to go through it from tip to tail. Guitars need to be properly intonated, there should be no dead spots or buzzing along fretboards, frets should be dressed and comfortable for playing, electronics and tuning machines should work perfectly, and the action should be set exactly where you like it. Then it’s time to rock.
• Strings: Change strings before you studio track. Play them in a bit, so they’re not too bright and stay in tune. And if you’re going to downtune to C#, C or B tunings, consider using a heavier gauge like .11 or .12 sets.
• Cables: Use only high quality new or recently purchased cables in the studio to keep your signal loud and proud. Cable crackle of failure can ruin a take. And cheap cables can throttle your sound. Try the new Gibson Memory Cable, a high quality guitar cable that has a built in recording feature.
• Tuners: Always bring a tuner to the studio. If band members bring their own tuners, designate one individual tuner as the box that will be used for the session. Different brands of tuners may have their own calibrations of accuracy, so sharing a tuner means that every band member will be in tune with one another with 100-percent consistency.
• Effects pedals and racks: Make sure all of your effects are working and properly grounded to eliminate buzzing in your signal, and that all of their switches “click” on and off silently. Tighten the nuts on input and output slots. And unplug any effects that aren’t required from the signal chain to reduce noise.
• Amps: If you’re concerned about tone, you already keep your amplifiers maintained . But crusty pots, bad performing tubes, flubby speakers, grounding issues and other amp troubles become magnified under the scrutiny of microphones in the studio. Get old amps clean, replace funky capacitors, check speakers and retube in necessary before recording.