Chicago's Recording and Rehearsal Studio

Mystery Street Recording Company - Chicago Recording Studio

Planning for the Studio

Planning to Record

When it comes to studio recording, you and your band have some decisions to make. The primary things that will influence your choices will be budget, time, aesthetic, and purpose.

Prior to booking your recording please think about the following questions so that we can best serve the needs of your band and provide you with the best recording possible within the realm of your budget, time restraints, aesthetic, and purpose. We want you to walk away completely happy with your recording. Proper planning will help ensure that you do.

1. Why are you recording?

Is the final product of your recording going to be a free demo, a full length album, an EP, a single, etc.? Your answer will help determine the length of time you need to complete your project.

2. What is the style of music?

Different genres and musical styles will take different amounts of time to complete and the recording process will vary. Know what you want to sound like so that our engineers can make accurate aesthetic decisions for your specific project. Give us names of bands whose sound you’d like to resemble. For instance, you might like Weezer’s snare sound, Hank III’s guitar tone, Pennywise’s bass, and Cher’s vocal effects. If you want something unlike anything you’ve ever heard, let us know and we can experiment!

Ultimately, you know your music better than anyone else. It will make it much easier for us to find your sound if you know what your sound is.

3. What is your budget?

No one wants to spend more money than they have to, so it is important to find a balance between financial and aesthetic decisions.

We have had 28 song albums recorded, mixed, mastered, and out the door in only 2 eight hour sessions. We have also spent the same amount of time (or more) recording a single song. Knowing your budget will help us make decisions that will effect your recording. The higher your budget, the more time you will be able to put into your project.

Decisions on overdubbing, mixing style, mastering technique, and total number of recorded tracks will be affected by your budget.

4. How much time do you need? How much time are you willing to spend?

Generally speaking, the bigger the project, the more time you will need to complete it, or at least the more time you SHOULD take to complete it.

If you are well-rehearsed and can play your part exactly right in one to three takes, you’ll need less time than if you need five or ten takes. Therefore, if time and budget is an issue, practice frequently and have a good idea of what you are going to play before coming into the studio.

You will also save time and money by scheduling more than one day at a time. For instance, let’s say you want to record 6 songs over 2 days of recording and each song includes drums. It will take at least an hour to set up microphones for a drum kit, so by scheduling those 2 sessions back to back and leaving the drums set-up overnight, you will save yourself an extra hour of time. We also offer incentives if you book back to back recording sessions, which also saves you some money.

Please keep in mind that our schedule is typically booked up at least a couple weeks in advance, so if you only book one session at a time it may take you months to finish your recording project.

If you have a big project and it is a priority to get it done in a timely manner, plan to take some time off to get it done. It will be worth it in the end.

Preparing for the Studio

Below is a list of items to bring and a couple of things to consider doing before recording day.

Bring with you…

  • Extra Strings
  • Extra Drum Sticks
  • Fresh Guitar Picks
  • Guitar Tuner

We sell all of the above as well, so if you forget to bring your own, you won’t be left high and dry.

Preparing Your Band and Your Instruments
  1. If you are bringing your own drums, TUNE THEM and tune them well. Fresh heads will help a lot, but slightly worn (non-abused) heads that are well-tuned are generally just as good. I cannot emphasize this enough. TUNE! TUNE! TUNE YOUR DRUMS! For the love of God. Please. Tune your drums. Lube your kick pedal, too.
  2. Have new strings on your guitars and bass and don’t be cheap about it. Buy good strings and lightly play them for about a half hour to stretch them out so they don’t go out of tune in the middle of a song.
  3. Decide whether or not you will play to a click track. If you play to a click, overdubbing will be easier, more accurate, and your overall timing will be better (but some people think it sounds too mechanical). If you chose not to play to a click, you may have timing issues and your songs will probably sound more live (good or bad depending on aesthetic). Nonetheless, if you want to play to a click, practice to a metronome before coming to the studio and know the tempo of each song. This will save you a lot of time and confusion during recording. Even if you don’t plan to record to a click, we recommend knowing the BPM and Time Signatures of your songs before your session… just in case.
  4. Have your songs well-written and know what you are going to play. If you need to hear yourself back a few times to get that song perfect, we suggest getting a mini-recorder and recording your practices or coming into the studio for a rehearsal recording before your actual session.
  5. Try not to come to the studio hung over or on drugs; you won’t enjoy it as much and your recording will suffer. Go to sleep early the night before. I promise that you will have fun at the studio. You can stay up late and celebrate afterwards.
  6. Show up on time.