Here’s some advice you may not want to hear.

You may nod your head in agreement as you read it, but when it comes to working in the studio, it may be obvious that you’re not completely on board.

(And I’m no exception. I have to constantly remind myself as well.)

Ready? Here it is:

The key to a full mix lies in the RECORDING phase, not in the MIXING phase.

Let me flesh that out a bit.

Probably 70% of the questions I get from readers have to do with mixing. That’s understandable. Mixing is difficult.

BUT…we tend to make mixing MORE difficult by how we record our tracks. We race through the recording phase, and then wonder why our mixes don’t sound “full.”

What I’ve found is this — if my mix doesn’t sound full, it’s because of one of two things:

  1. I didn’t record enough tracks.
  2. I didn’t record the RIGHT parts.

You’ll notice that neither of those have anything to do with my mixing skills.

Take-away point: the better your recordings sound, the better your mixes sound. Boom. Period.

I know, I know. It’s easier said than done.

But I’ve got a “secret weapon” that I’ll use if a particular song isn’t sounding full enough.

It’s not a huge wall of guitars. It’s not a bunch of synth pads. It’s not even a great B3 part (although I LOOOOOOVE to use B3.)

It’s something that works on nearly any type of song. Big huge rock tune? Yep. Intimate ballad? Yep.

What is it?

Background Vocals.

(Or BGV’s as we like to call ’em.)

There’s nothing quite like a big, huge, lush BGV part to fill out a chorus, or draw the listeners’ attention during the bridge, or make the turn between the chorus and the verse interesting.

Over the years, I’ve recorded HUNDREDS of BGV tracks. And I’ve developed a pretty cool system for getting great-sounding BGV tracks.

There’s a method to my madness.

Next week, for my VIP members, I’ll be doing a live training for VIP members. I’ll cover how I go about writing, recording, and mixing BGV’s.

To become a member (and get access to this video and over a dozen other in-depth training videos), go here:

P.S. You don’t have to be a singer to use this tactic. In fact, if you can learn the ropes of getting a great BGV part, your vocalist clients will LOVE you. (A lot of them want to record big BGV parts, but they just don’t know how.) You could be their hero. Sign up here.

P.P.S. Did I mention that VIP members get 20% off of my other videos? Yeah, it’s pretty cool. 🙂

  • rick

    Joe, I’m glad someone finally pointed out how important it is to record the right tracks! I’ve been struggling with this recently and came to the conclusion that when I am constructing a song, if the track doesn’t fit, don’t use it! If it doesn’t fit now, you’re not going to fix it in the mix! How many years did it take to discover that? Geeesh!
    Thank you for what you do,Joe!

    • You’re very welcome. Thanks for the comment, Rick!

  • ChrisPorro

    good post.

    there is a whole class of what i’d call “pads” in mixing. BGV is one of them. and synths, sub bass…most people don’t even notice them but they fill things out…make them warm…big. i added a sub to a rage against the machine-ish track and you can’t tell it’s there until you mute it. it’s a “miss it when it’s gone track”.

    • EXACTLY. You can’t quite pick it out, but you definitely miss it when it’s gone.

  • Mario Rebuffi

    “…the better your recordings sound, the better your mixes sound. Boom. Period.”

    best advice ever, thanks man, I never miss your articles :]

  • Guest

    “…the better your mixes sound. Boom. Period.”

    This is the best advice ever, thanks man, I never miss your articles.