Recording Drums: Hours per average song?

Drumwiz

Member
Going into the studio next month with the band to record our EP of 6 tracks (songs, hard rock) professionally. I've got my stuff down pretty well but not extremely experienced when it comes to going into a real studio and laying down the tracks. We're trying to figure out how much time to book for the drums. I know this depends on many unforeseeable factors, but is there any general rule of thumb about how many hours one song should take to get down? Obviously time is money and we don't have very much of the latter!

Thanks.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
There's no guideline one way or the other. If it takes 10 minutes, or 5 hours, the only important thing is whether it sounds good. most musicians are on a budget, so the best way to keep costs to minimum is to be prepared. Drums tuned so the mics weill like them, songs well-rehearsed, and try to relax while in the studio.

Bermuda
 
D

Doctor Dirt

Guest
Wanna save money..........................leave your kit HOME! Use the studio gear maybe your hats or a ride but just go in and understand that you need to get comfortable right away. The engineers will appreciate your professionalizm. Doc
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
There's no guideline one way or the other. If it takes 10 minutes, or 5 hours, the only important thing is whether it sounds good.
This.

Likewise, I've tracked some in minutes and others have taken way longer.

As Bermuda said, know your stuff back to front and have it all down BEFORE you get in there.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
You didn't mention what kind of project you're doing (what kind of music, budget, etc), so here's a typical scenario for a 3 or 4 piece rock band going for a good, but quick, recording in a budget studio:

1. Show up and setup kit/gear either Friday night or Saturday morning-ish.
2. Spend until mid-afternoon getting sounds on drum kit, and everyone else.
3. Track drums, guitar, bass until 10pm-ish (with just scratch vocals).
4. Show up next day 11 am-ish and continue tracking to around 3pm. At that point, drums are done (whether they are or not!).
5. Then guitar/bass punch-ins and whatever additional guitar tracking until 9 or 10 pm.

The idea during the initial group tracking is to get a good drum take. If anyone else's parts come out good enough to keep, then that's a bonus. I wouldn't bother with a retake on any song where the drum performance was clean just because the bass player's part wasn't as clean as he might have liked. That's what punch-ins are for. Drums don't get that luxury on a budget.

After this amount of time, there might be 5 or 6 songs - that don't have vocals yet and haven't been mixed or mastered. But that's also highly dependent on how challenging the material is and how fast you can plow through it before getting burned out. Retaking a song too many times not only costs more money, but the performances start getting worse at some point (4th or 5th take typically), so being very prepared is in everyone's best interest.

Hope this helps.
 

marko138

Silver Member
I just recorded a 4 song EP a couple weeks ago. I laid down all 4 tracks start to finish in 1.5 hours. I knew the material front to back and played with a click.

My mind set was each song had to be done in 1 or 2 takes to stay on budget. Period. And I did it. I can sit and nit pick my parts, but I think that's the case with anything.

I play metal. It also took me almost 2 hours from when I arrived at the studio to when we actually started tracking.

Also, don't fuss over sounds. Have your drums tuned and be willing to make whatever changes the engineer suggests, and do it quickly. Time is money.
 

uniin

Gold Member
There's no guideline one way or the other. If it takes 10 minutes, or 5 hours, the only important thing is whether it sounds good. most musicians are on a budget, so the best way to keep costs to minimum is to be prepared. Drums tuned so the mics weill like them, songs well-rehearsed, and try to relax while in the studio.

Bermuda
100% correct.

make sure for 2 weeks before you go into the studio you spend at least 2~4hrs a day practicing all the songs you will record TO a click. with or without a band. if you do this, chances are you'll set up your drums, sound check etc (probably take between 1 and 3 hours) then nail each song within 1hr.

me generally, having next to no practice on a song (with a click that is) i average about 5~8 takes, with short breaks to listen to each take etc... this can take up to 2 hrs each song.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
The comments and advice already given are great!

What I do in a "non-live" musical setting (which is the way many things are recorded these days), I have the songs charted and play with a click all by myself. This way, the only one that has to get it correct is me. I've done sessions where I've been able to complete about 4 songs within 1 hour after sounds have been completed. That being said, I've been fortunate to have done a lot of recording and love to do it.

Bottom line is knowing the songs inside and out is a pay me now or pay me later deal. It's much cheaper to do it in the practice room than on a studio clock.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Yeah, my experience is that they want just one or two takes per song out of me. On a budget, we pretty much have to get the drums done and outta the way ASAP.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
Wanna save money..........................leave your kit HOME! Use the studio gear maybe your hats or a ride but just go in and understand that you need to get comfortable right away. The engineers will appreciate your professionalizm. Doc
Well said, if you bring your own kit then you have to tune it and waist time. Bring your cymbals and kick pedal. Know your songs and have a good time and don't try to hard.
 
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