I mentioned about a week ago that I’m in the planning process for my next album.

This time around I’m ditching EZDrummer and recording real drums. So I asked my buddy Tim Horsley (awesome pro drummer here in Nashville) if he would play on it.

After agreeing to play, Tim said, “Let’s get together and do some pre-production on these songs.”

I was a bit confused at first. The way I normally do pre-production usually only involves me.

I’ll sit down with my DAW, figure out the tempo/arrangement of the song and record scratch tracks. THEN I’ll bring in musicians to play bass, drums, etc.

Since I don’t play in a band, that’s how the songs tend to flesh themselves out.

But then here comes Tim, wanting to be involved in the pre-production process. I like this idea.

So Tim came over one morning, and we spent a couple hours going through each song, making arrangement and groove decisions, essentially mapping out each song on paper.

Here’s the list of gear we used:

  • guitar
  • pen
  • paper

Tim showed up with literally a pen and a pad. No drums. No sticks. No percussion paraphernalia whatsoever.


Joey likey.

Why? Because Tim brought his talents as a musician to MORE than just the recording process. He jumped in with me on the ground level, on the SONG level, and helped me make key decisions about how these songs should go.

There were several songs that were lacking direction, whether it was what groove to play, or how to transition from one section to the next. And I could bounce those ideas off Tim and get his feedback.

The result was a list of songs with real direction, rather than a list of songs with a vague idea of how they were gonna go.

That leaves me with the much easier task of simply recording all the scratch tracks. I won’t have to do a bunch of decision-making either, since we knocked out a bunch of the key decisions in that pre-production session.

So before you reach for your gear, before you fire up your DAW, reach for your BRAIN first. 🙂

Think through the songs before you start laying things down. ‘Twill be much more fun, I promise.

Then once you get everything recorded, the fun continues with mixing.

And one of the keys to a great mix is knowing how to blend all those glorious tracks together.

And EQ is your best friend. Learn how to EQ like a champ here:


Joe Gilder