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View Full Version : TIPS for doing STUDIO work



Sjonesmusic
10-20-2002, 03:12 PM
Hey there,

I thought I'd share some of what I've learned over the years, and some of what I thankfully, learned from others...

First things first...

Be grateful, respectful, considerate, humble, compliant, responsible, and self-controlled...

Then, learn your instrument...inside and out...

Not merely how to play it with standard elements (harmonically, modally); but about getting different tones, different textures, unique layers...think in parts, think in sections, phrases...

Listen to every kind of player...so when a producer, client or engineer asks for a certain sound, you know exactly what they mean...

Learn to read music...

And not merely read, but interpret...so when you see the style marked at the top of the chart as "Bruce Hornsby Feel", or "Rock Shuffle", or "Modern Acoustic Rock"...you'll know how to pull those styles out of your instrument while reading the notes, chord symbols and rhythms...

Learn about and be aware of every other instrument, every kind of player...you may be the one calling the shots on a session...asking the drummer to play a Bernard Perdie shuffle...or a violinist to play more Celtic...

When you feel ready...just go around to various studios with a diverse demo of yourself, and pass it along...play with players who do session work, and if you've cut their gigs, they'll put the word out....

Leave your ego at home...and while suggestions aren't taboo, be very careful not to step on the producer's toes...just do what they ask...give them what they've paid you for, and if you can slip in an idea of your own, make sure it's for the betterment of the projcect, not just an excuse to rip your own thing...

Listen as well as read...did the drummer and bass player decide to change a rhythm or accent? ...then follow them...

Always be ready to totally re-do what YOU thought was a perfect take...it may NOT be what THEY wanted...

Really, it's about relationships, and building trust over time...establish with the right people, that YOU are the go-to guy, and you WILL get work...

DO NOT over book yourself...make sure you set aside the time to do the session and stay til the end...it's great to be busy, but if you send in a sub to your next session, he may wind up with the gig more than you...

Don't steal gigs from other players...if the client likes you more than the guy he's been using, GREAT...but don't go around stabbing people in the back to get work...those people might be hiring YOU someday...


Own, or have immediate access to, many different types of guitars...

Be able to bring:

-a strat or strat-like electric...

-a gibson or gibson-style electric...

-a guitar with a solid trem' system...

-an acoustic 6-string...

-some kind of mandolin or miniature guitar...

-know how to use a capo and alternate tunings...

-have one guitar available for low tunings, with heavier guage strings...

Also:

Own many different amps or, own one excellent modelling amp...

And think outside the box...

A friend of mine in Nashville told me a story of a session he was on, where the drummer Steve Brewster, made a hi-hat out of two giant crash cymbals...and also in the same session, placed towels on all of his drums for one tune, then manipulated the tracks in a sampler to create some wicked drum loops...

So think like that as a guitarist...how can you use your instrument in a way that's different from the norm?

Also...

Do not be afraid to utilize the recording technology...

In other words, if you've been playing the tune up to a point in an open string, guitaristic key, like G major...and after the bridge, the tune goes up a half-step to Ab major...don't hesitate to stop the recording, put on a capo, roll back and nail the rest of the tune with the more open sound allowed with the capo...it will sound much brighter and clearer than close fretting everything in bar chords, with no open strings...

Be on time...if you are late, even a couple of times, it's over...

Don't be rude or childish to the leader...it only shows off your insecurities...

Don't be rude or childish to the other musicians...the drummer might be the next Mike Portnoy...you never know where your next big break will come from...

Don't let yourself get all wrapped up emotionally if the music you are playing isn't your favorite...it is a part of the business...do your own thing on your own time...

Learn how to follow a conductor...

Learn how to play with a click...and with that, what it means to rush, push, drag, pull back, play on top, in the pocket...etc....

If there are 2 guitar players on the job, and a part comes up that the other guy is better suited for, let him play it...and listen to each other...compliment each other...don't try to outdo each other...make your blend work to the benefit of the music...don't be a showoff...and don't play in between takes...if you need to "work out a part", turn down and do it quietly, only if it is not a distraction...

If you get into the scene pretty thick, and you are going from date to date...have a cartage company get your gear from place to place...it is often part of the contractor's budget...if not they'll tell you, and you'll bring it yourself...

Thank the leader and the contractor at the end of the date...

I hope this helps...

Peace,

Scott

Guni
10-22-2002, 09:17 AM
Hi Sjonesmusic,

A great list!!!
Originally posted by Sjonesmusic
Be on time...if you are late, even a couple of times, it's over...
This to me is Rule #1. If you don't follow this one all is over - forget it. I have met many talented musicians that had all the skills in the world to become great session players. BUT they were not on time. Being late only once can break your neck.

I once saw an interview with Jean-Claude van Damme (ok, not a musician but in a similar field :D ). he said something in the line of: "There are hundreds of guys that have a better side kick. But through all those years I have never been late. This is how I built up respect and reliability.... and that's why I'm still around ..."

Guni