bass recI’ve spent a fair amount of time in my studio lately. Not because it happens to be in my living room, but because after a long time of recording, re-recording, editing, mixing, and remixing I’m finally wrapping up my acoustic album. It’s turning out better than I had hoped. I can honestly say it’s my best recorded work to date. So I thought I’d put together some thoughts on the process and what I learned about recording and myself.

Try New Things
I’m a real creature of habit, sometimes even if it makes more sense to do things another way. But this time around I made a conscious effort to try a few new things. I skipped my default EQ plug in and did most of the EQing with the standard Cubase (I’m still using LE4) graphic EQ. I also used a new reverb plugin that forced me to learn what the settings do. All in all it made me better at producing music.

Get Some Help
I started out with the intention of this being the ultimate DIY project, but somewhere in the middle I changed my mind and decided to ask a few friends to play on it. Those tracks made the album. For example, I play the mandolin on a few tracks, but my playing doesn’t come anywhere near the tracks that Will played on because he’s a much better mandolinist than I am.

If At First You Don’t Succeed
This project made me painfully aware of my singing abilities. I can’t count the number of vocal takes I did. But one thing I learned about myself is that if it isn’t working, forcing it won’t help. Often I’d listen to a track and discover that one line wasn’t quite there, so I’d re-record it days later and suddenly that one line was far better than the rest. Often I had no choice but to redo the whole vocal track and ended up with much better results.

Let Go of Perfection
One of the best parts of doing this DIY project is that I’m not paying for studio time. I can spend as much time in the studio as life will allow. I could keep obsessing over parts and arrangements and go back and re-record entire songs if I want. But I won’t. If I did, I’d never be done. So I’m leaving in a few vocals that aren’t quite perfect and a few timing mistakes. Part of that might be me being lazy, but I like to think that those mistakes are part of what makes this my album. I’m still pleased with how it’s turned out, but it’s not perfect and it doesn’t need to be.