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Production Tip 2

This may seem like a very simple production tip but always invest your money in creating the best sound you can before recording. Instead of investing money and faith in tidying up your recordings (which we will look at later) work towards getting the best recorded sound that you can.

As a guitarist and bassist, I am amazed at the number of people who I work with that have out of tune instruments. They tune them at the open strings and they sound ok for the first couple of frets then things start sounding wrong. When I ask about the intonation of the instrument, they are not sure what I am talking about. So, intonation indicates whether or not an instrument is in tune for the whole length of the neck. You may be able to get away with poor intonation when playing live although it is painfully obvious to other musicians. On a recording it is painfully obvious to everyone.

To achieve excellent intonation requires a certain set of skills and patience. You need to adjust the height of the strings and the individual lengths of the strings, at the bridge, to gradually get the intonation right. Of course, this may be where cheaper instruments show their limitations. A poorly designed bridge or badly positioned bridge can mean the adjustment needed is not possible.

Patience comes from the, simple, fact that guitars and basses are made of wood and wood does not respond well to have the tensions on it changed dramatically. If you do that you may have the intonation sounding great one day and not the next. This is because the wood has adjusted itself to the new tensions. So, take your time and adjust a small amount at a time. The beauty of this is that once you have the intonation correct the chances are that the instrument will stay that way and only very small adjustment will need to be made.

The other thing, quickly, with guitars and basses is that if you want your recording to sound good use new strings. Bass strings have a longer life than guitar strings but they both lose their clarity of sound as they get older. For the sake of $20 or $30 for a good set of strings your whole recording could suffer and no amount of clever processing will fix that lack of investment.

If you want clarity of sound from your guitar and bass show them a little love.

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