1) Your Inner Musician…
Minimise the amount of other people’s music that you listen to when recording and producing your own guitars. It keeps your head clearer for your own ideas to flourish. Also, work hard developing your own sound and identity without constantly comparing yourself to others or caring too much about what they do or don’t do.
We are made to believe that we should always be looking for inspiration externally, but more often we should be seeking it from within. Give your heart and mind the space they need to feel creative. Find inspiration through nature and other natural things in the world, not just other musicians and their achievements.
“True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found” – Eckhart Tolle
Be careful with never-ending YouTube scrolling as well, it can really unbalance your creativity, confidence and productivity levels. And finally, avoid the jarring negativity on social media. I would say, even ban yourself from them both if you are writing, recording and producing music that is important to you.
2) Preparation First…
Preparation and practice are too often overlooked in this world of unlimited takes.
You could be wasting many hours with unproductive, frustrating recording time because you are not prepared to play what you intend to record, or your technique is not up to scratch to play what is in your head… If you are feeling unprepared and play insecurely the mic/preamp will pick that up and transmit it to the listener…
Set aside some practice time daily. It will establish a stronger bond between you and your instrument, and you will feel more prepared and secure when you hit the record button. Then the inspiration comes!
I aim to do 2-3 hours of technique daily and if I have important recordings/concerts coming up I know I must start preparing my technique weeks or even months in advance. If not I’ll be caught out and frustration entails.
Rely on your preparation more than inspiration to get your projects finished.
“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – BB King
One part of Tony’s recording rig
3) Editing On The Go…
Get fast and proficient with the shortcuts and editing features in your DAW. This is essential when managing bigger projects, recording multiple guitar parts and levelling up your productivity.
Learn to edit quickly, as you record. Keep the takes you want, delete the ones you don’t. Learn to commit to ideas and takes while you record and keep the pace up.
Edit with your heart and intuition, as opposed to just your eyes and ears. Be careful the Grid is not steering you to over-sterilise your productions either.
Also, don’t leave an audio mess for you to have to clean up later, it can be a real vibe killer. You want all your sessions to look clean, clear and welcoming next time you open them.
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali
Screenshot of a ‘Latin Guitar Underworld’ Pro Tools session in progress.
Screenshot of a ‘Latin Guitar Underworld’ Logic X session in progress.
4) Instrumentation & Timbre…
Push yourself by experimenting with different types of guitars, tunings, and techniques.
On my latest ALT-LIFE/BMG Productions Music release, ‘Latin Guitar Underworld’, I experimented with different styles of guitars and stringed instruments that I had never played before. I got as many stringed instruments as I could, worked out how to play them, what tunings worked, and the best way to record them. It had a massive impact on my compositions and the overall vibe and sonic scope of the album.
If I had stuck with just multi-tracking flamenco guitars as I had initially intended, it would have been impossible to achieve the atmosphere and variety found in each track.
Check it out here: https://app.bmgproductionmusic.co.uk/carrier/157425
5) Duplicating & Dimension…
This is a simple but powerful tracking technique that can help adding extra dimension and depth to your productions.
Record your guitar part. Then record the same part again, but this time with a different guitar, and played with a slightly different feel. Then blend them together.
I did this recently with the guitars for Slava Marlow-Aarne’s latest single, ‘Business Woman’. I recorded the chord progressions and melodies twice, once with my 1992 Fender Strat, and then again with my Felipe Conde flamenco guitar.
The producers loved the tonal variety between the steel and nylon strings and ended up using a blend of them both for the final production.
“I was made to work. If you are equally industrious, you will be equally successful.” – Bach
I really hope you have gained some useful insights from this tutorial.
I have mentioned words like ‘heart’, ‘intuition’ and ‘feelings’ above, but I should also add ‘dedication’, ‘love’ and ‘passion’. These are some of the real facets required to record meaningful, awe-inspiring guitars.
Recording guitars is not just a technical task, there is so much more to it than that. It is a craft and should always be a labour of love.
Aim for your work to become effortless… Creativity and Inspiration are always nearby, waiting patiently for the moment you are ready.
A big thanks to Chris and the Audient team for offering this awesome platform too.
Until next time,
Click here to read our recent Story Feature with Tony Calvo.
Tony Calvo has his next tutorial ‘5 Top Tips for Layering Guitars’ coming out with us soon so keep posted!
About The Author
Tony Calvo is a London based award-winning guitarist and composer (Winner of the 2019 Latin Lukas Awards). He performs regularly across the UK and his guitars have over 10 million YouTube hits. He records, composes and produces guitars for numerous production companies, record labels and artists internationally from his private recording studio in Epping Forest, London.
For enquiries you can contact Tony Calvo directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or via his PA Sandra Solwley on email@example.com