View Full Version : Recording your practice & progress

Bongo Boy
09-25-2002, 02:59 AM
About a month ago I was able to get a Tascam Pocketstudio 4-track recorder--I'm thinking this was an incredibly good decision for me. Last night I recorded the Autumn Leaves melody, and finally got one laid down that was the best I could do. Tonight I did the same thing, but got a much better recording.

Anyway, I just compared these two recordings with my same attempt done late last month...who babeeee--what an incredible difference. I mean, I still suck, but I'm really amazed at how much more 'lifelike' the latest recordings sound.

But besides all this...when I turn on the RECORD button it really forces me to pay attention--compared to when I'm not trying to get a track down. This may be a crutch--but I think this attention has made a huge difference for me. I'm recommending it! It simply makes the progress you make, however slow it may seem, all the more apparent and encouraging.

Your thoughts? I'm wondering how other beginners may be using recording--especially those who don't have a huge interest in recording itself.

09-25-2002, 04:13 AM
Hey Bongo,

I recorded myself two months ago for the first time, which was after 13 months of playing. First of all, it made me nervous. I think I played worse because I knew "someone" was listening. That's something I gotta work on. I plan to record myself every three months or so. I think its important, especially when the gains start to not come as fast, so that you have a tangible gauge of progress. I do my recording with a cheapo cassette recorder, which is fine for now.

Another thing that everyone always preaches and I finally started doing was using a metronome (actually the drum simulator on my keyboard). I really like the results there. I find that that has really focused my playing, so that I play less sloppily.

I always enjoy your posts dude!

09-25-2002, 01:00 PM
Recording stuff, huh ?
Well, based on that topic, I start thinking off the band-coaching I did.... several of my students are in bands, and they occasionally ask me to drop by at a rehearsal or spend a day or two with their band to look into their performance, give them advice on what to work on, help them to improve certain things...

One thing I noticed is that many young bands do have problems with their timing. What I mean by that is nothing that seems to be too obvious... itīs not that they start a song at 110 bpm and end at 160 or something.
Itīs little things. Tightness. Many younger bands wonder why certain professional bands sound really good live, way better than younger bands. Of course, that might be due to better chops or better gear, but what most people fail to recognize is that it makes a band sound way better if they are TIGHT. Playing perfectly in time, on the beat.
In the beginning, you fail to notice most of the time when the guitarist is not right on the beat, when he / she drags a bit i.e.
But if you go and see an experienced band play live, you will notice the result of years of work as a band: good timing.

One of the bands I used to coach was about to go into the studio and pay for that with money they had saved up over months. I knew the guy who was gonna produce them, a dude with a pretty discriminating ear.
So I told the guys in the band "Make a preproduction. Get a computer or something into your rehearsal room, record the drums with a click, then let everyone add his part... bass, rhythm guitar, keys etc."
Now, keep in mind that those guys had been playing for quite a while, had written all those songs and performed them live many times.
Guess what happened ?
When they did that preproduction, they noticed how much they hadnīt been paying attention to their timing. The drummer had a TOUGH time playing the song all the way through to a click track. Rhythm- and tempo changes he had been playing for several years all of a sudden became problematic, cuz he never played them to a click.
The rhythm guitar was not in the pocket at all. And when they listened back to the recorded tracks with a click track running in the background they noticed.
It took weeks to get those pre-production demos done. All of the members had to sit down at home with a metronome and re-learn their parts ( which they had been playing for years and considered "easy" ). Most of the guys in the band neve had really used a metronome.
And many of us know how much it sucks when you, after years of playing, have to take a step back and re-learn something you thought you could do without a problem.
What am I trying to say ? Well, a metronome is an absolutely essential tool, not only to learn those shred-licks, but to work on your timing for everything... rhythm stuff, melodies, fills etc.
Better start using it NOW before you really have to depnd on your timing and notice that you still need work.

Bongo Boy
09-25-2002, 04:19 PM
Yeah..last month I was recording to tracks 1 & 2 while playing back a recording of PowerTab output on track 3. It wasn't easy. The concept of playing to something you're listening to in the headphones seems like a no brainer, I guess until you try it for the first time!

What about the idea of playing to a very simple rhythm track (say for example just a snare or kick beat). Do you think this would work as well as using a metronome click? I'm talking about just for guitar practice now. In other words, does it really need to be a very short, clean 'click'?

09-26-2002, 09:57 PM
Hey Bongo,

Personally, I think you should do both. A click is just so damn clean and short and it really uncovers someones timing. Well, ya might call it a masochistic approach ;)

Playing to a rhythm track is for sure more fun and gives you more freedom in your rhythmical approach (thus it feels more alive).

So, I recommend both.


09-26-2002, 10:11 PM
I agree...

It depends on what I wanna work on... for most stuff, I have a simple, dry click-sound ( "sidestick" )
But when I really wanna check my timing, i.e. when playing the "Perpetual Motion", I have a sidestick click on the downbeats, and a high-hat playing 16th-notes... the Perpetual Motion has all 16th-notes, so a high-hat playing 16ths helps quite a bit to really make sure I am in time

Should be a side-stick or other short sound... no long cymbal-sounds or anything, they are too undefined.

Bongo Boy
09-26-2002, 11:16 PM
Hmmm...'sidestick' to me just screams "timbales!!", and you know, I've been trying to come up with a good excuse for buying a pair.

Seriously, I thought it would be trivial to set up this PocketStudio to repeat a nice little metronone thing, but turns out to be a major project even if it's possible--at least for me without anything that has MIDI out on it.

I'm also thinking of using the recordings to monitor progress in the area of chord transitions (it's so easy to hear sloppiness when that's the only thing you have to concentrate on).

As always, thanks to everyone for the ideas.

Bongo Boy
09-30-2002, 04:36 PM
A brief update...which may be of interest. I used PowerTab with metronome on, a few bars of whole-note rests and a repeat 20x bar. Playback just gives you the metronome (although for some reason it doesn't repeat 20x). I then exported from PowerTab to a MIDI file (SMF), and finally, loaded that SMF to the SMF folder in the PocketStudio.

The PocketStudio can be set up to play back an SMF--and altho this worked the first time I tried it with a simpler SMF, it did not play back the file I just described.

If anyone uses this little recorder and has done something similar, please advise me!

12-04-2002, 12:45 AM
Hey Bongo,
An interesting thread.

Timing is one of those thingies in music you have to keep aware of.
The band I played with for twenty some years fell apart about ten years ago.
I haven't played with a group since, nor live anywhere solo. Just at home here, writing my songs and playing on the portch.

I bought a VS840GX and some other stuff about a year and a half ago so I could piece my songs together with leads, bass, vocals etc.
I also bought a Dr-770 drum machine.

Some of my songs were fifteen bpm off between start and finish. Just like EricV mentioned.
At first I thought it was the drum machine.

I recorded my vocals and guitar and listened. There it was. I was off.
Now I have three metronomes upstairs in different rooms and one on my computer.

I had to do a lot of rewritting and work to get a couple of my #1 songs in order. What a hassel that was.

Now I use a metronome or a drum machine when I practice.