Less Takes, Less Stress

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.


How to Record Shaker


I was recording some shaker tracks a couple weeks ago. At one point, in the middle of a take, my wife walked in to ask me something. I jokingly asked her if she could hear me recording shaker, and if it was annoying to hear the same shaker rhythm for 4 minutes straight.

She asked me why I didn’t just record a small section and loop it. A. It’s really hot when your wife talks in audio terms. B. It’s a good question to ask.

I told her it’s usually faster just to record a full take and be done, since it takes a few minutes to find a good section, loop it, and make sure it works throughout the song.

I’ve done it both ways, and I’m not particularly “married” to one way of recording shaker (or any percussion track), but I decided to poll my loyal Facebook fans and see what they had to say. Here’s what I got:


Day 19 – Recording Takes [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 19 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Whether you’re recording audio or MIDI, if you’re using some sort of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), then you should have the ability to record takes.

What are takes? Takes are simply multiple attempts at recording the same part.

3-5 Full Takes

Whenever I record a lead vocal, I almost always record 5 takes. That means I have the singer sing through the entire song five times. At that point, as long as the singer is comfortable and singing well, I’ll be able to piece together one awesome take from those five takes.

When I record acoustic guitar, I usually record at least 3 takes.

Somewhere from 3-5 seems to be the magic number for me.


How Do You Record Takes?

Limitless audio. That’s the beauty of digital recording. I can record a lead vocal as many times as I want. I can have a guitarist come in and play a hundred different versions of a guitar solo. Then I can stay up until the wee hours of the morning, sifting through all the different takes to find the perfect one.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well, it can be. However, having all this hard drive space at our disposal can simply lead to more time-wasting than music-making.