As a guitar player, there are a lot of things to think about when you’re in the studio for a recording session. Are the songs ready? Is the band on the same page? Can I play the solo like I did on stage? With so many questions turning in your head, the last thing you need is concern about your gear. The good news is that with some preparation you can minimize unwanted gear worries and stay focused on the music.
Here is a guitar player’s checklist to prepare your gear for the studio:
- Set up your instruments.Guitars can take a beating in rehearsals and on the road. Take some time before your recording session to ensure they are set up to your liking. This will also help eliminate any squeaks, creaks, or clunks that aren’t noticeable live but can show up in a recording.
- Bring extra strings.Even if you’re not a chronic string breaker, you want to be prepared. If you do need a string change during a session, take a break and work the string in a bit before hitting record. New strings will need time to stretch out, so a few minutes of strumming, picking, and bending will help you stay in tune. Make sure to bring the same gauge of strings, as a thicker/thinner gauge can throw off your intonation.
- Check your cables.Again, touring is hard on cables, so make sure your cables have no cuts, kinks, or loose solder connections. The studio will likely have quality cables, but if you have your favorites it’s important to make sure they are in top shape for recording.
- Bring extra batteries.Even if you pedals are cable-powered, you never know when you might need batteries. Cables can crap out at the worse possible time, or just as bad, you may get some noise from an unknown power source.
- Check your tubes.Tube amps sound amazing, but they need regular maintenance for ideal performance. The best-case scenario is to know months before recording where your tubes are in their lifecycle. If they are getting sketchy, change them early and get some hours on them before heading into the studio.
- Rehearse… or don’t.Rehearse and nail the parts that you want to record a certain way, such as a tough solo or a harmony part with another player. If you are going for spontaneity, know the parameters and work on some improvisation so that you feel comfortable stretching your playing during a session.
- Take care of callouses and nails.Once you’re in the studio, you don’t want to be developing blisters or taking the time to trim your fingernails. If you play a lot, you already know that callouses are your friend, but they need maintenance. Left alone, they can get too big and get in the way of your playing, or worse yet, start to come off under string pressure. Keep your callouses in shape by shaving them down or buffing them with a pumice stone.
- Practice with headphones.Recording can be very different than playing live. If you have a home studio, practice playing along with tracks through headphones, which you might need to do for overdubs.
Go through this checklist before heading into the studio and you’ll be less worried about what can go wrong and more focused on having the best recording session possible!