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Recording guidance

For a while now, I've been recording my vocals and guitar on the same track, mainly to save time, but it has led to a few challenges because I really need to focus on each to do them well.

When I try to record the guitar separate, I find myself getting lost in the song.  

When I try to record the vocal separate, it just feels really weird not holding and hearing the guitar at the same level I'm used to when I'm playing it.  

I also find that somehow my "emotion" in the song is tied to playing along with it on my guitar.

I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this and if you've got any guidance?



  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353

    This is common.  There is a connection between you singing the song physically, and you playing the song physically at the same time.

    It is also a fact that you will get a much more technically well-engineered recording if you can isolate the two and get your best guitar performance without any vocals leaking in, as well as getting your best vocal recording without the guitar bleeding into the track.

    I've recorded a lot of individuals that had that strong connection.  In many cases, the person simply can't make the transition.

    A very good keyboard player-vocalist, for example, asked me to record him.  He insisted that he would get lost if he tried to record separate tracks.  What we ended up with was the mic on his voice picked up the clickety-clack of the keyboard as he played.  We couldn't get rid of it.  

    I recorded a very good bass playing singer.  Her vocals had the clickety-clack of her bass strings on the vocal track.  

    In each of these cases, the person also made more mistakes from the challenge of doing both a perfect vocal performance AND a perfect instrumental performance.

    What can help you is when you record your instrument to have a dummy vocal track to follow along to, along with a click track, and possibly a dummy guitar track.  In other words you record some throw-away tracks to guide you along.  You can even put throw-away verbal cues in on dummy tracks, like "here comes the bridge, two, three, four..." and just delete that later.  You hear it in the headphones and have little voices guide you through the song so that you can relax and just concentrate on playing the guitar.  If your guitar has an electric pickup and won't pick up your voice, you could even lightly sing along to help yourself to feel more comfortable, while at the same time not worrying at all about your pitch, vocal timing, etc, because that doesn't matter yet. 

    You really should be able to sing without holding your blankie, er, I mean guitar... I know, I like to practice my vocal exercises with a guitar, but I end up singing at a drum set.  

    You will learn how to control your voice even better if you can set your guitar down, or just let it sit in your lap while you concentrate on giving your best vocal performance.  You will learn to be an even better singer if you can give your full attention to your voice while recording.  Some of the things you learn, you will remember in greater detail when you go back to live mode, singing and playing simultaneously.

    Give this some thought, and see what you come up with.

    All the Best!

  • stevessteves Pro Posts: 41
    Thanks @highmtn, it's good to know I'm not alone.  I like this dummy track idea a lot.  What I started doing is recording a track of me singing and playing alongside a drum track and I was planning to use that to help me follow along with the song.  I tried doing separate dummy tracks but I kept having to speak the words along with it, so I figure I might as well just combine the two.  After reading response it's good to know I am hopefully heading down the right path.  Thank you very much, Bob.

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    You can put in all the guide tracks you need to help you get through to the final recording track stages. Then strip away all of the guide tracks that aren't keeper tracks, and see what you've got as a result.  

    This is a great way to learn more about your voice and your playing skills, and to develop more independence to eventually need less and less guide tracks to help you get started.  

    It will help you to build confidence in your abilities, and to hear your strengths and weaknesses so that you can learn and improve.

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