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5 reasons why you can't finish recording a song

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Telecaster Deluxe Electric Guitar, Maple Fingerboard, Black

If you've tried and tried to finish recording a song but just can't seem to do it, there are 5 simple reasons why you haven't.

If all you have is a little multitrack recorder, a guitar, a bass guitar, one cheap distortion pedal, one microphone and nothing else, that's all you need, if you take the right approach.

1. Are you overcomplicating things?

Do you need a guitar solo in the song? No. Do you need drum fills? No. Do you need crazy amount of audio effects? No.

To get a recording done quick and clean, simplify. Use the absolute bare minimum necessary to get sound recorded and skip anything that's a solo. Just get the damned song recorded so you have at least a working demo of it.

2. Are you messing around too much with settings while laying down initial tracks?

Whether using a standalone multitrack or software, don't mess around with EQ, effects or any of that stuff. Just get the track laid down and move on to the next one. Anything recorded can be fixed later with digital editing.

3. Are you foolishly trying to get everything done in one take?

It amazes me how many players don't use a feature that's been around for close to two decades called punch in/punch out.

You're recording digitally, right? Right. That means you can use punch-in/punch-out. This is a stupidly basic feature. Learn it and use it. If you don't, you'll waste hours trying to get "the perfect take." Perfect takes almost never happen, so don't bother trying to get them. Record piece by piece and punch in/out when necessary.

4. Are you palm-muting everything?

You'll notice in many of my songs, there's very little palm-muting. That's because most of the time, palm mutes sound like crap when recording. When you palm-mute, most of the time it ends up being a nasty, "thuddy" mess. So when you don't need to do it, don't. Let the guitar strings ring out.

5. Do you set deadlines and stick to them?

Example deadline: "This Saturday, I will finish that song."

So do it. Get it recorded and get it done. You have the equipment. Make it happen.

Will it come out exactly the way you wanted? No. But you will have a working demo of your song, which is a lot better than a half-finished thing sitting in a multitrack session or nothing at all.

To recap:

  1. Simplify.
  2. Don't mess around with settings other than basic volume levels during initial recording of tracks.
  3. Use punch in/out.
  4. Don't palm-mute unless absolutely necessary.
  5. Stick to a deadline.

Keep it simple, easy and worry about tweaking the song later in post-production. Just get the damned song recorded first.

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