I shared the other day 7 Tips for Finishing Your Album.

Today I’d like to shift gears a bit and share with you 7 things that I would do differently, if I had it all to do over again.

As you may know, my latest album Out of Indiana is available over at joegildermusic.com. Next week it will be officially released on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Before I jump into the 7 items below, let me state that while my album is far from perfect, I’m very proud of it, and I’m excited about the next one.

Alright, here they are. 7 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently on my Album:

1. Recorded better acoustic guitars

The entire album is centered around acoustic guitar. I’m pretty happy with the acoustic guitar tone on the record, but it took a LOT of EQ-wrangling to get it to where I wanted it. On a few songs I had to simply let the acoustic guitar be “good enough.”

What did I do wrong? I recorded the guitars with the microphones too close to the instrument. My thought process was:

  • The closer the mics, the less likely they’ll pick up room noise.
  • The closer the mics, the more low end they’ll pick up, and I can always EQ out the excess low end.

I proceeded to record all of the songs this way. And while everything sounded fine in my tracking headphones, I realized when I started mixing the songs that there was WAY too much bottom end in the guitars. I was able to salvage them, for the most part.

Lesson learned: Backing the mics away to around 12-inches from the guitar yields a MUCH more natural result, and they doesn’t really pick up any more noise than the close mics did.

2. Mixed all the songs on the same system

I moved THREE times over the course of making this album. 2 apartments, 2 houses. I started mixing the record in apartment #2, and I finished mixing in house #2.

As you can imagine, those very different acoustic environments produced different issues/problems in the mixing process, resulting in some inconsistencies across the different mixes, particularly in the low end.

On top of that, after mixing the first three songs, I upgraded my headphones to the Sennheiser HD-650’s, which are AWESOME, but they sound very different from my other headphones (HD-280’s). I used them a lot when mixing, but I didn’t have them for the first three songs, so that affected how I mixed the final seven songs.

3. Involved more musicians/singers

I sang everything on the record, which was a lot of fun (especially when it comes to the huge background vocal tracks), but it would’ve been nice to have a few female singers sing harmonies on some of the songs.

I played most of the instruments on the record, except for bass (all songs), lap steel (“How to Fish”), and the guitar solo on “Treading Water.” It would have been a lot of fun to recruit more musicians and have a greater variety of instruments on the record.

4. Finished sooner

It took me way too long to finish this thing…probably two years. I would have loved to produce at least two albums during that time, and it would have been doable. However, like I’ve said before, I’m thrilled to have finished this one, and I already have my sights set on the next one, which won’t take two years to finish…this time.

5. Recorded real drums

All the drum parts on Out of Indiana are from EZDrummer. I programmed the parts myself. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s amazing how good it can sound. (I actually had a drummer friend of mine ask me who played drums on the record, because he loved ’em so much.)

That said, nothing can replace a real drummer. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I didn’t have the facilities, connections, or the money to pull off a real drummer on this album, and it was fun to showcase EZDrummer, but I’ll likely be pulling the trigger on a real drummer for the next one.

6. Recorded real piano

The final song on the record is a piano ballad. It’s a pretty song, and it features the piano sounds of Mini-Grand, the virtual piano that comes with Pro Tools 8.

I’m blown away by how good Mini-Grand sounds, but I would have loved to use a real piano. Maybe I’ll buy a piano for the next record. 🙂 We’ll see.

7. Recorded in an isolated room/booth

The bane of every home studio owner’s existence is noise. You sometimes simply can’t escape it. Homes are noisy. They’re not sound-proof, and computers/hard drives tend to make a lot of noise.

This last point is more of a wish than anything. I really don’t have a place to install a vocal booth, and I’m not really set up to add another room to my studio setup, so we’ll chalk this one up as a pipe dream.

However, if you have serious noise issues, you should think about experimenting with different ways to record your instruments in some sort of isolation. If nothing else, use packing blankets to create a faux booth in the corner of your studio. You’d be surprised how well it can work.

Well, that’s it. Thoughts? Anything you would add?

If you want to hear/buy the album, go here: www.JoeGilderMusic.com.

If you want to mix the whole album yourself, go here: www.MixWithUs.com.

[Photo by koalazymonkey]