I made a crapload of mistakes when I first got into recording. (And as I mentioned last week, I still make plenty of mistakes.)

But today I wanted to share with you 8 of my most common rookie recording mistakes (and maybe help you avoid a few of ’em while I’m at it).

The first four mistakes have to do with mindset, the last four have to do with technique.


1. Perfectionism – Focusing so heavily on a mistake-free recording generally leads to a stale, boring recording. Perfect ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

2. “I’ll fix it later.” – On the flipside of perfectionism is the idea that you don’t have to worry about capturing a great performance or a good sound. Avoid perfection, but also avoid sloppyness (and lazyness).

3. Failure to Commit – Endless track counts can lead to endless “versions” of a song, endless possibilities…endless frustration. Don’t be passive. Make decisions. Commit and move on.

4. Waiting – I would always be “working” on something, but I would tend to “wait around” to actually finish any projects. I’d put up fake obstacles, excuses for why I wasn’t finished. It turns out that whatever I was waiting for never came. I was the one who had to make things happen.


5. Levels too hot – A hotter signal isn’t better, at least not for modern recordings. Rather than going for as loud as possible, give yourself some room for the performance to work itself out, without having to worry about clipping.

6. Levels too low – There IS such a thing as levels that are TOO low. At extremely low levels, noise becomes an issue. Find the happy medium.

7. Mic too close – I had it stuck in my brain that the microphone needs to be really close to the instrument. I didn’t even question that idea or test it (for a looooong time). The result? Lots and lots of boomy recordings.

8. Too many mics – If one mic is great, two is better right? He he he. Mo’ mics, mo’ problems. Before you jump on the “I need more mics” bandwagon, remember that you can get fan-freaking-tastic recordings with a single inexpensive microphone.

So, those are some of my big recording mistakes.

What about you?

When I was starting out, I wish I had an inexpensive “guide” to recording, just something to get me moving in the right direction.

Björgvin’s “Recording Strategies” eBook would’ve been perfect.

It wasn’t available back then for me, but YOU can snag your copy here:


Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

P.S. Don’t forget I’m giving a free copy of Home Recording Tactics ($17) to anyone who buys using that link above. Just forward me your receipt.