When it comes to recording live instruments, it pays to have an understanding of how instruments should be recorded.
If you’re faced with a situation that calls for recording drums and other instruments, you have to know which instruments should be generally
recorded first because the last thing you want to encounter is difficulty in blending recordings well because you recorded them in the wrong order.
This post will discuss whether its better to record drums first or guitar because this is usually a question that I run into when working with musicians.
With that said, Should you record drums or guitar first?
It’s generally easier to record drums first, then guitar afterward because drums provide a good base groove and mood that one can follow when recording guitar. It’s difficult to play and record drums following guitar because the timing can easily be off making it that harder to record a drum pattern that properly follows the guitar.
However, some experienced musicians find it pretty easy to record drums following guitar but it’s not something I’d recommend for newbie musicians.
With that said lets get into some reasons why recording drums first may be good for you.
Recording drums first is better in my experience because it can set the base and give the overall song or beat general direction.
This can be a great thing because it gives you a way to go about your guitar recording.
Most people that experience creative block usually use good drum recordings to inspire them to create and layer guitar or other melodies on top of the drums.
This is why I always prefer to have a drum beat going before I decide to record guitar.
Plus a lot of timing issues when recording guitar can be avoided when you have a drum beat going because it can guide you as well as ensure that you that your guitar is played with a little more precision and in accordance with the tempo and groove of the drums.
Music is all about emotion. That’s why it’s called a universal language.
Melody invokes emotion and drums provide the groove and mood to go with that emotion.
This makes drum recordings a first priority when it comes to recording instruments…… because it can help you set the mood and create the necessary vibe that you can use as a baseline for all other instruments to be recorded on top of the drums.
Genre is another thing that has to be considered because it can pretty much determine how you should go about the recording of instruments.
Genres like Hip-hop are mostly drum based so it’s always good to start off with recording of drums.
Other genres don’t rely on drums as much so other instruments can be recorded first and drums can be recorded after.
Why do people record guitar first and drums second?
Some recording professions, like musicians and composers may find it easier to record melodic instruments first before they consider drums.
It’s all a matter of preference really and one can not really say its good or best to record one thing first and record another thing next.
I’ve worked with a lot of professionals that can start with either drums or guitar. When asked why they use one method in one instance and another method in another instance is always an issue of preference as well as many other factors.
The mood or feel of a record being made usually determines whether one will start out with drums or guitar.
Most people that choose to start off with guitar usually want to set the overall mood that drums can follow.
This is a good way to make music and I go this route at times. Usually when I’m working on an RnB record or anything that has to be really melodic.
In all honesty, if you are planning to record instruments you can go with preference in choosing what to record first.
This should be the guiding principle because preference differs from one person to another so my advice is to try to record guitar first and then see how easy you find it to layer drums under the recorded guitar.
Also try to first record your drums and then record your guitar over the drums.
Both these scenarios will reveal what works best for you and that should be the way you continue to carry out the recording of your instruments.
You can also use Metronome to record in order to take care of all the timing issues and make sure you have the tempo in mind.
Furthermore, you can rely on quantization that you can perform in your DAW to take care of any precision issues.
Practice recording drums first and then guitar second and also practice recording guitar first and then drums second.
The more you practice and become more familiar with both methods, the more you can easily use them both in situations that call for either method.