Proper pre-production is key to saving time in the studio. Make sure everyone knows the start and stop points for all the songs. Recordings done today are to a click track, it is not meant to keep you rigid, but meant as a guide so you don’t lose the groove.
Let’s start at the top. You’ve written a new song, you bring it to the band. You have a good idea of the tempo and meter. Get out your iPhone with your BPM app and get the exact tempo that feels good in the rehearsal room. So many times bands and singer songwriters don’t know the tempo of their song. They wait until they get into a studio environment to settle on the tempo (BPM). Unless you have a lot of studio experience you most likely will be playing the song a little faster than you did at home or in rehearsal. Try to get the BPM’s in rehearsal. There’s no pressure in a rehearsal room so you’ll probably have a good groove.
Next, we need to work with a click track, or at least the drummer needs to work with a click track. A click track can be anything that helps keep the time. A cross stick or hi hat, cowbell, anything that’s comfortable to play to. DO NOT WAIT until you get to the studio to try and use a click track. I have seen drummers that have been playing their whole life wait until they get into the studio and try to play to a click, and fail. The drums in any genre are the building blocks of a song. If the drums and bass are tight and relatively close to the click then you can put anything on top and it will still have a good groove. Groove is everything. Work together.
How good do you want your tracks to sound? The best possible. If not, they’re just demos and not for release. Do yourself a favor, have new heads for the drums, beater options, hi hat options, snare options, cymbal options. Learn how to tune your drums. Have new strings for the guitars, get the guitars intonated. Bring extra sets to the studio. Guitar players should all use the same tuner or make sure the all tuners are calibrated to each other’s tuner. Make sure the guitars don’t buzz, check the grounding on the amps. Bass players, do you have round wound or flat wound strings. Bring an extra set just in case. Singers, bring an extra set of lyrics for the engineer so they can make notes, double spaced. Keyboard players usually don’t have a problem other than noisy cables.
These pre-production ideas apply to all the instruments in the band. Spend a little extra on your instrument then you won’t have to spend more time fixing it in the mix.