I mentioned that Jack White article article yesterday.

We looked at why unlimited choices can really hurt your music.

Let me show you an example.

Meet Phil.

Phil is fairly new to recording, and he’s excited about all the possibilities.

He quickly writes a song and goes to work recording his masterpiece.

The first thing he does is record drums. But he doesn’t quite know how the song should be structured yet, so he has the drummer record 7 different takes.

He also records a few takes at 3 different tempos, because he hasn’t decided what tempo is best for the song yet.

Next up is bass. He records a total of 9 takes, 3 takes at each of the 3 tempos he recorded. Keeping his options open.

Next up is guitars. This takes months to finish. He records a total of 15 tracks of guitar, each with at least 5 different takes (so he can go back and comp together the best take for each). He does this for each of the 3 tempos, so he can figure out which tempo works best now that he has drums, bass, and guitars recorded.

Are you exhausted yet? Yeah, me too.

As you can imagine, Phil’s never gonna finish this song. The editing alone will bog him down for months. By the time he’s ready to mix, he’s gonna hate the song.

Phil needs two things — better planning and less options.

Without those, he’s doomed.

To see the process I use to plan out my recordings (it’s called pre-production) and use as few options as possible, check out my Production Club training series:


See first-hand how to complete a song from start-to-finish without getting bogged down in Decisionville.

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

  • Danny

    I am loving this discussion. It makes you think about how you go about things. Pre-production planning is essential, especially when you are paying for the studio time. It also tends to get you better songs as you put the time into having a quality product in the first place. Artists will do preliminary sketches and test paintings to get their ideas right before completing the finished painting. All true.
    But artists will sometimes paint freely directly onto the canvass with little or no planning and produce masterpieces. Brian Eno wrote an article on using the studio as a compositional tool, and the Beatles certainly did that as well.
    I guess my point is that we, as musicians need to make music and songs, produce finished work/albums, committ to and finish projects off, nomatter how we actually go about it. We need to make decisions, have vision for what we want to end up with, and go for it.
    Still reckon the Joe Gilder whiteboard is one of the great studio ideas!!!
    Cheers Danny

  • ironman2819

    I don’t think this is an example of too many choices as it is one of poor planning and no defined structure of the song before you get to the studio.

    Isn’t “know the song your going to record” pretty much the #1 tenant for going into the studio in the first place?