I’ve been making home recordings for about 10 years, which means I’ve learned through mistakes.
So here are five recording mistakes beginner producers make. Five mistakes I’ve made.
Updated December 1, 2019
Putting Too Much Stuff In Your Song
Sometimes we should be more like The Beatles in their early days and record a song with only four tracks — four instruments.
Yes, some songs need more. But a lot of songs need less.
If a song sounds muddled, messy, or something is just off, try removing non-essential parts of the song.
Do you need that third guitar? Do you need that rhythmic piano? Do you need that sample of that guy talking?
I’m all for recording every single idea you have and then combing through the good and the bad later.
But if a song sounds too crowded, try taking something out and see what happens.
Not Tuning Before You Hit Record
Please, please tune your instrument before you hit record. I’ve not always been good at this and I wish I could go back and tell this to my younger self.
One prime example of this is my song “Let’s Get On A Boat.” The G string on my acoustic is out. It’s annoying.
It’s so simple, but it kind of ruins the whole recording for me.
Recording With Distracting Background Noise
Listen carefully when you record.
Can you hear the air conditioning or heat kick on? Do the pipes click and creak? Are your neighbors walking around upstairs?
Pay attention to these things. You may have to do another take, but it could be worth it.
Here are some ideas for soundproofing your recording space:
- Foam seal for doors and windows
- Noise reducing blackout drapes to hand over windows
- Soundproofing door strip for the gap beneath your studio door
Also, I bought super cheap foam acoustic panels for my recording space. They’re mainly for sound diffusion, but they may help a little with sound blockage too.
Using Too Much Compression
If you’re mixing your own tunes, go easy on the compression.
I’ve heard time and time again from experts that the biggest mixing mistake beginners make is using too much compression. It’s best to use it lightly.
When in doubt, leave it out.
I’ve been conscious of this as I mix my upcoming album Everybody Breaks. Sometimes, I don’t use any compression at all, just to be safe.
Keeping Your Recording Equipment Put Away
If at all possible, have your recording setup as accessible as possible.
I know that some of you may be using a corner of a room (or a walk-in closet like I do), but make it so that if you have a creative idea, you can quickly record it.
If you can leave everything set up all the time, that’s great. If you have to do some unpacking, just make it as minimal as possible.
You don’t want to stunt your creative inspirations.