Is there a certain part of the recording process that stresses you out? Recording? Editing? Mixing?

It’s different for everybody, but I can tell you, from personal experience, that whenever I’m stressed out in my studio, chances are it’s because of overwhelm.

In other words, my most stressful times in the studio are when I’ve got too much going on in a particular song. Too many tracks, too much editing to do, too many plugins, too many versions of the song…anything.

Stress isn’t always bad, and I always like to impose a little bit of stress (like creating a deadline and even using a timer) to keep me on task and productive.

Today I want to share with you one way to instantly remove one HUGE source of stress — too many takes.

When I say takes, do you know what I mean? I’m simply referring to recording multiple “versions” of the same track, so you can later go back and pick the best one. Don’t get me wrong, I think recording takes is a huge benefit to digital recording, but you can take it too far.

Pro Tools and most DAWs allow you to use “playlists,” which let you record as many takes on the same track without needing to create a new track for each take. Very powerful? Yes. Potentially stressful? Absolutely.

When I’m recording myself or a client, I try to record no more than 3-5 takes. That’s it.

Here are 3 reasons to record with less takes:

1. It forces the musicians to focus on performance.

If the musician thinks he can record 50 takes, and you’ll just sort through it later, he’s most likely not going to be trying very hard to get one great take. Sure, as a musician it’s helpful to know that you don’t have to get everything perfect, but as soon as you realize that you can keep screwing up and someone else will sift through the takes, that urgency to perform well tends to fade away.

Musicians need to be comfortable, absolutely, but they also need to feel a little bit of (good) pressure to perform well. Just like they want to perform well at a concert, they should want to perform well in the studio…in just a few takes.

2. Fewer choices when comping

If you have 11 takes of a vocal track, it’s going to take you HOURS to sift through those later. Putting together a comp track will be a nightmare.

Save yourself time LATER by recording just a few good takes NOW.

3. Keeps projects moving forward

Nothing stalls a recording project like having TOO much to do. If you think about spending a few hours tonight on a project, then you realize that there are 14 takes of guitar tracks on every song, you’re probably going to watch TV instead.

It’s too much work. It will take too long. You’re right.

If you’re lazy during the recording process, you’ll have a LOT of work to do to make it right. Take the time to get a few good takes in the beginning, and you’ll sail through the editing process, then you can move on to mixing.

How many takes do YOU normally record?

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