Ask and ye shall receive…most likely:

Questions covered this week:

  • How should I record a guitar/vocal performance with just one microphone?
  • How do I keep my acoustic guitar recordings from sounding thin?
  • When do you use mono reverbs and delays?

Subscribe via:

  • Florentin

    I am new at recording, and enjoying your website very much!

    I am a classically trained guitarist, and I play classical music as well as my own arrangements. I am getting ready to experiment with recording some of my music. I have an M-Audio interphase and a Audio Technica Pro 37 condenser mic, which I plan to use on GarageBand (MacBook Pro).

    Here’s my main challenge, which really has nothing to do with my equipment: I am fine with public performances, and I really enjoy practicing a lot, but every time I try to record myself, I get very picky about my sound, very picky about playing PERFECT, and I usually end up stopping for every single inconsistency or small mistake in my playing… really, things I would never stop for in a live performance situation.

    It gets so bad, that I end up not making it to the end of the song, without being unhappy about something in my playing… either a little finger slip, or a small buzz.

    … just imagine if the piece is 4-5 minutes long… it would take me a lot of takes until I got something I liked.


    • Do people ever record in chunks, and “glue” the chunks together when done? That would be a great help, I think, if I can do it that way.

    • How would you go about recording in chunks? Is that even viable for a CD recording?

    • Are you aware of any solo instrumentalists that have recorded an instrumental album in this manner?

    I would feel much ‘safer’ in approaching just one section at a time.
    What advice/pointers would you have for this topic?

    Thanks so much!

    • J A

      Hi Florentin,

      I would love to hear Joe’s input on this, as I fear I suffer from the same problem.

      But when I read this from YOUR perspective, you pointed something out that’s very interesting: the difference between your recordings and LIVE playing. What do we do in a live situation? Usually, we gun it, and play as best as we can, with what emotion we can, given the circumstances (loud environment, loud people, bright or dark lights, etc.)

      Since we are not distracted so much in the studio or at home, I would like to think that applying the “gun it, go for it” approach would do exceptionally well, since we are a bit more comfortable in our surroundings. So in an effort to answer your question, I’ve quite answered my own 😀

      I think the key is to capture a certain feel, and not have it “robotically perfect”. It reminds me of certain drum programs that utilize a “humanizer” feature to humanize the “too perfect” beats. In the end, its to make it sound more natural. In my opinion, when we tend to be picky, we are really only being perfectionists. And we must realize, nothing or nobody is perfect! It takes the fun out of everything and instead of being a cool project we look forward to working on, it becomes a chore that we need to finish out of “obligation”.

      Make it fun again, and I recommend reading Joe’s articles on pre-production and the other important steps for recording, such as mixing and mastering. Once you read that, you will feel confident, trust me 😀


      • Florentin

        Thanks for the reply, JA.

        Well, the environments I play in are quite different. My audience is usually very quiet, and so is the room. I play in “recital” situations usually. There is no distraction from the audience, ever.

        Maybe I did not express my concern clearly enough :O)

        The problem I am referring to is that when I attempt to record, I get bugged down by every inconsistency in my playing, no matter how small, BECAUSE I KNOW A RECORDING IS PUBLISHED AND REMAINS.

        If I could record in smaller chunks, which would later be “glued together”, it would be much easier to deal with that stress.

        I guess…

        • J A

          I understood your concern quite clearly; perhaps you didn’t understand my post though.

          I used to approach the recording process the same way, recording chunks or pieces so that each would be “perfect enough” to piece together. Although sometimes it did not sound fluid or natural, I’d go back and record it in one try or two and not in chunks (much like I referred to in my first post as “gunning it”). I would still be picky about some parts and re-record them, but I would only end up with a unnatural sounding, patched together piece, which didn’t really do me any good.

          But you have made me realize it is better to just practice the parts enough so that you are confident when it comes time to record. Also, to have a plan and have things organized and laid out helps tremendously.

          • Florentin

            The question is quite simple, and my wording on the initial post is so loaded… almost like a run-on Mariah Carey comment on American Idol :O)

            Is recording in chunks ever used in recording instrumental music?

            I should have just asked that :O)

    • Hey Florentin. I completely understand your perfectionism. I think you have a couple options.

      1. Right now your perfectionism is keeping you from recording and releasing anything. I would say releasing an imperfect recording is infinitely better than never releasing anything because it’s not “perfect.” I was just listening to a Ben Folds album and he hit several bad notes in the song, but I didn’t care. I liked it. It made him seem more human, and the vibe of the song was awesome.

      2. Practice more. Perhaps you need to simply practice more and REALLY perfect the performance? Although I doubt that’s the case with you.

      3. Record in chunks. The better option I think would be to record 3-5 takes. Record full takes of the song, each to a click track (if possible), then you can “comp” the best sections together. If you’re not playing to a metronome (which is understandable), then there really isn’t an option here for you.

      You can try punching into various sections, but starting and stopping recording like that can lead to inconsistent sounds from take to the next.

      I know this doesn’t really answer your question, but don’t feel like you’re the only one who deals with this kind of stuff. sometimes we need to swallow our pride and put out a slightly imperfect piece of music. The world REALLY doesn’t care if there are a few mistakes. You might be the only one that does…and it would be a shame to deprive the world of your talent because you’re too hard on yourself.