How long will it take to record my songs?
This is probably the most common question (other than “how much will it cost?”) and is the one with probably the longest answer! The length of time taken for a recording project depends upon many factors, including: the length of the song(s) to be recorded; the number of parts (instrument/vocal) involved; the number of re-takes needed, and; the method of recording used…
Overdubbing is the process in which parts are recorded one-by-one to build up a complete multi-track recording. For an average rock/pop band this would mean recording the drums first and adding the bass guitar, then rhythm guitars, keyboards, solos and vocals in subsequent sessions. This method is undoubtedly the best way of capturing each part to the highest standard as individual instruments/vocal-lines can be focused upon without acoustic ‘bleed’ from other instruments. All efforts can be concentrated upon getting the best sound from the source in question. Also, any mistakes made in performance can simply be addressed by doing another ‘take’ without affecting the other parts of the arrangement.
This method involves recording a band essentially ‘as-one’, with the band performing together as if playing live. All instruments are individually mic’ed (or DI’ed) so that each part of the ensemble can be edited and mixed later. This is often quite a good way of capturing the ‘live’ spirit of a band, but there are limitations to this approach that can compromise the ultimate quality of the capture of parts. Sound from neighbouring instruments can ‘bleed’ into other part’s microphones and as all members of the band are playing at the same time, a mistake from one can render the recording unusable – often requiring many re-takes until everyone is satisfied with the end result.
For those clients that desire a ‘live’ recording method (due to budget or the wish to capture a live feel) I strongly advise allowing for key parts (such as vocals and guitar solos) to be overdubbed at the studio in a later session. In this way, important lead parts (that can often take several attempts to perfect) can be focused upon without being unduly influenced by the rest of the recording.
As a very rough guide, the instrumental recording of a basic 3-ish minute song by a four piece band (taking account of setting-up and sound-checking but discounting additional instrumental parts/harmony vocals etc.) would take at least 6-8 hours using the overdub method, and at least 3-4 hours using the live method. These estimates are based upon a pretty straightforward recording project – bear in mind that a more in-depth recording (such as one intended for commercial release) may involve additional factors such as the recording of guide-tracks, extra supporting instruments/vocals or doubled tracks and experimentation with recording techniques that would all require extra time.
Once the basic tracks of a project have been recorded (and unless the client wishes to simply take the basic unedited multi-track recordings from a session) they will need editing, mixing and mastering to create a finished, stereo version.