recording drums to a click but other musicians are out of time

trecelyn

New member
Hi I've been recording some drums to a track but I'm racing in bits. I looked into this a deeper and found that the parts I'm racing on also coincide with the guitar and bass that are also out with the click. It mainly happens when there's some stabs or leading into the chorus. The producer wants me to be on the click but its hard if the other instruments are out. He said for me to play without the music but then I don't know cue points. Any advice please guys.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
I've been in this situation multiple times.
I write little charts and count the bars. It doesn't have to be music notation, just like:
Vs One 8 Bars - Bridge 4 - Chorus 16 - Vs two 8
Etc....
Or:
If you are working with already recorded tracks in a DAW, just mute the guitar and bass on those rushed sections and bring them back in when they are in time.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Hi I've been recording some drums to a track but I'm racing in bits. I looked into this a deeper and found that the parts I'm racing on also coincide with the guitar and bass that are also out with the click. It mainly happens when there's some stabs or leading into the chorus. The producer wants me to be on the click but its hard if the other instruments are out. He said for me to play without the music but then I don't know cue points. Any advice please guys.

Well, you can memorize the song, and the rhythms you need to play, or make a chart so you can keep track of what to play. This experience is an example of why learning to read and write notation is valuable.

What you should NOT do is follow the bad timing of the other players. Instead, inform the producer that they will need to adjust the guitar and bass so that they line up with your drums. Should be an easy/quick thing to do in a DAW.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I would record with a click and one guitar as a scratch track. Didnt matter if the guitar was off/made a mistake/whatever. As long as my track was locked with the click it was good. The scratch track was then erased, and guitars and bass would get laid down.
 

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
The producer wants me to be on the click but its hard if the other instruments are out. He said for me to play without the music but then I don't know cue points. Any advice please guys.

I've been there. Scratch tracks with tempos on a sliding scale.

Best option is to record to using a click and a quickie chart. If you have time, record your own click with vocal cues (Intro-2-3-4, Verse-2-3-4, etc.). Play along to that.

If this is your band, no excuse to not know the songs inside-out and back-to-front. Good goal before booking studio time is be able to sing/hear the songs in your head and play through them.

Even cold sessions - meeting/working with an artist for the first time - the same often applies. Wonky scratch track as a reference for the song. To track the drums, I would use the track to do up a quicky chart and play to a click.

This a great learning experience. Don't let it get you down. Or frustrate you. Work with the producer, and do your best.
 

TMe

Senior Member
Is the band's timing a problem, or is the click a problem? Sometimes it's appropriate to be a bit ahead of the click or a bit behind it. That sort of shading is part of what dynamics are all about, and it's sadly lacking in most modern recordings.

Having said that, you could get the band to play with a click, record that as a scratch track, then play it back in your headphones at a very low volume, just loud enough to keep you oriented while playing with the click.
 

trecelyn

New member
Thanks guys for your invaluable help. It's with a friend, so we have our own recording set. The song has a structure but no vocals. I had to come up with a new part for the middle 8 section with like a half time feel, so I was a bit wonky. It's good to hear some of you have been there. I'll try the volume lower and see if that works. I'm trying to manage the situation so the song writer doesn't get frustrated.
I wonder if i can put the music up on here to see what you guys think?
 

cburgess

Member
This is a common issue when playing with other musicians who have little to no experience with playing with a real-live drummer/kit. Many play by ear at their own tempo modulations most of their lives without any practice in following the drummer's beat/tempo.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Thanks guys for your invaluable help. It's with a friend, so we have our own recording set. The song has a structure but no vocals. I had to come up with a new part for the middle 8 section with like a half time feel, so I was a bit wonky. It's good to hear some of you have been there. I'll try the volume lower and see if that works. I'm trying to manage the situation so the song writer doesn't get frustrated.
I wonder if i can put the music up on here to see what you guys think?
Is is possible to re-record the guitar and bass parts? Or maybe just certain sections?

We all know that less experienced musicians will drift in and out of time. But this drifting will get even worse if the tempo is slow, and the click is only playing quarter notes. In these situations, a good practice is to use a click that plays 8th notes instead of quarters. This way, the musician has more information on which to judge their rhythm. For example, a "hit" on the "ah" will need to fall exactly in between two 8th note clicks; there is much less room for error.

An even better click will have accented notes on the downbeats (quarter notes) and unaccented notes on the upbeats ("ands"), so there's still an obvious pulse when the musician is tracking.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
This is the right answer. No point in a click if the whole band can't lock to it. This nonsense of it being the "drummer's job" is so out-dated and stupid; everyone needs to be in time or it's not helpful at all.
When you're right, you're right. The real question is: how to get the job done and not lose the gig.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
When you're right, you're right. The real question is: how to get the job done and not lose the gig.
If I was being forced to record with guys who expect me to not listen to their parts because they couldn't record them in time and told I need to do it in a silo because they can't record scratch or live tracks with me, then I'd tell the guitar/bass to get back in there and record a version where they don't rush the click pacing; only then will I record my drums to that scratch and click. If they honestly can't do that, they shouldn't be in studio yet. The session will most likely not end well.

Recording drums with no musical influence or just a click is probably the best way to get un-musical sterile tracks with zero life. We have a ton of that in pop music, but it's trash.

Probably the real best answer is drop the stupid click. For this band at this time it will cause more problems than it will solve. Just have everyone play it live into the mics as you always do and accept it's not perfect timing-wise because clearly that's how the band really performs. This is why I say bands should be "ready" to go to the studio, and if clicks will be used, they should ALL be ready for that completely.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
For this band at this time it will cause more problems than it will solve.

That's one way to look at it. The other way is that having those musicians correct these tracks will enable them to grow as players, and develop a better sense of rhythm. These players can then take this skill to other projects, songs, and gigs.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
yeah...unless you need the click for editing, I wouldn't use it.

we have this issue with the bass player in one of my bands. He notoriously leaves out 8th note or 16 note subdivisions sometimes...live, we have learned to make up for it, but it makes recording interesting. We always try to track bass and drums at the same time
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
I've worked with a keyboard player who couldn't play a chart to a metronome but would chastise everyone else for their tempo. Unfortunately people like this are frustrating to work with and have no intention of even addressing this issue with their playing.

If you are comfortable playing with the click and they can't synch with you then they have to up their game. God knows other musicians will point this problem out to drummers without hesitation.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
This is a common issue when playing with other musicians who have little to no experience with playing with a real-live drummer/kit. Many play by ear at their own tempo modulations most of their lives without any practice in following the drummer's beat/tempo.
And it made for some awesome music in the 70's. :)
Perhaps you two should record playing together live and make it raw and organic and forget about the need for perfect time?
Otherwise, lay down drums perfectly with the click and then rerecord the accompanying parts.

Regarding drum parts being lifeless when played in a silo... I keep the song playing in my brain when recording the drums and play to that. I don't think it's necessary to have other players playing (badly) in order to record an inspired drum part and in many ways the bass and guitar I have in my head is the ideal to me so it's even more inspiring than what the other players might actually be playing.
 
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