Krist asks:

How do you work with a band or artist that can’t play to a click track? How do you edit if it’s not “on the grid”?

You probably don’t run into that too much at your level, but most of us are working with folks of much less skill.

It’s true. I do get to work with some killer musicians. But that ain’t always the case.

Sometimes people can’t play to a click (i.e. metronome), and the best thing for the song is to kill the click and just let ’em play.

Come editing time, though, you’re in a pickle.

There are parts where the drummer, guitarist, and bass player are all out of time with each other. But there’s no grid, no standard to measure them against.

So what do you do?

It’s simple.

Decide which instrument is going to be your rhythmic foundation, and pocket everything else to THAT.

For me, this is usually drums.

First, I’ll manually edit any drum parts that seem obviously out of time. (Without a click, I’ve got to do it by ear.)

After that, I treat the drums AS my click. Everything gets lined up to them.

It’s not always a perfect approach, but that’s one of the drawbacks of going click-less.

Things can still sound tight, but it takes a little “thinking outside the box.”

To sharpen your editing blade, you’ll want to go here:

6 Responses to “Going Click-Less”

  1. Shayne

    In logic you can “beat map” to an audio track. For those not familiar, basically you are setting each pulse or “click” to a specific part of the audio. Drums work well as you can visually see the down beats quite well from the wave forms. To get to the beat mapping grid, hold control and click on the Global Track. A window will come up and choose beat mapping. Open it up now from under the Global Track and have fun playing 🙂 The positive side of beat mapping is that you can adapt your click to any audio track…. down side is that it takes some of your editing time away 🙁

    I don’t know Pro Tools all that well, but I’m sure it has something similar.

  2. Andrew

    Funny you talked about this. I was just watching a video about the same situation for Nirvana recording “Something in the way”: They decided to use know click and use Kurt Cobain as a guideline (so they tediously punch in and out the overdub drum sections and bass parts towards Kurt’s live guitar/vox performance):

    Check out the video on youtube for anyone interested:

    Proves you need to do whatever you have to do to “serve the song” and make the groove pop.

  3. Letzter Geist

    remember, some people go “click-less” for other reasons besides for lack of skill. sometimes, going clickless can add an extremely natural groove to the song that adds a lot of character that might not be achieved if playing to a click.

    most of my songs, i record to a click, but once in a while, if a song is feeling to mechanical, i’ll turn it off and just lay down some drums, maybe do some stick clicks if there are any drum breaks where other instruments would keep playing, and just edit them out later. in these instances, it’s always turned out great!

    as you said, editing can be a bit trickier, but it is worth it if the song is grooving in a way you like.

  4. Tom pitman

    I don’t like playing to a click either do what I do i use EZDrummer as a click and it is much easier to follow. Since I just have a project studio and it’s mostly just me recording not sure how this would work with a band. Especially a drumer

  5. Dar

    Hey Joe,

    I’ve been “click-less” since I started! I’m in a band. When we record other member songs, it’s always to a click. No thing, they need it so they use it. I lay my tracks with my equipment elsewhere and they turn out great with no grid & no click. Same drummer! He’s more concerned to stay with the click for them. But what I get is a whole lot more creativity with timing, making my music sound way better and the drummer is a happy person. Hi diddly-dee, the click-less track’s for me! 🙂


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