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Let's talk about Studio Etiquette/2nd engineers...


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Let's all share our Studio experiences for the youth of today :)


here's a few rules:


1..Yes..I'm impressed you spent the $$ to go to a fancy recording school (sort of...but I still should make you cut a weeks worth of radio sweeps promos together with a razor blade)... And, yes...I -DO- know that ProTools CAN do that.


2. No..I didn't know that ProTools could do -that-, but, next time...don't try to show me some cool new trick while CLIENTS are in the room. I don't know everything, but my clients don't know that


3. In my studio, you've got to be equally as much fun to hang out with as you have to have the skills. You'll learn a hell of a lot more if you just WATCH an experienced editor work for a week or two BEFORE asking a lot of questions. And, when you do ask them, have a sense of humor about it, share a beer, and hang out. We'll both learn more that way. We all do things differently. Ego's aren't fun to deal with. Trust me..I'll TELL you when you do something cool and right.


4. I will not argue PC's vs. Mac's with you. They both suck, and they both rock.


5. Really. I use both all the time.


6. Please don't compress the living crap out of everything when you track it. I don't want to fix EVERYTHING later in the mix, but I'd rather have lots of room to take stuff out (or add stuff back in).


7. A snare drum does NOT need 4 microphones to sound good.


8. LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN (then talk a little). Then LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN some more. Then GO OUTSIDE and listen to all those OTHER frequencies you haven't heard in a few hours.


9. If you don't want me to oogle at your little hottie girlfriend, don't bring her by the studio. I'm married, not dead.


10. Try to listen to a different radio station every day on your way to the studio. As hard as it is to believe, there is SOMETHING decent to be gleaned from a Rap/DeathMetal/Country song. Really.


11. Always OVER-prepare for you sessions. Anticipate the unexpected ('oh..you want to add a conference call in with the ISDN patch??"Always THANK your clients as the end of the session. And, once in a while, give them a free hour or two of your time. And buy them lunch.


12. Yes...that is a very rare guitar. Don't play it unless I tell you so. And, please don't use my piano as a coaster.


13. Laugh when I make a stupid joke


(special thanks to Mike Redman, Jim Rast, Mike Merrell, Rick Senechal., and Glenn Lorbecki for all the inspiration and education over the years).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Really funny, and it made me feel so good about my recent experience in a studio. I was doing a week's worth of vocal and percussion re-records for a DVD of a theatrical concert I musical directed, and I spent 5 long days at Studio West in San Diego. The main engineer re-corded the original performances and was overseeing the re-recids, but most of our time was spent with a smart, even gifted and extremely likeable young man named Kellog (23 years old, less than half my age).


I was walking around the control room, commands and requests flowing like water: "Let me hear a little less bass; grab that 4 bar passage and fly it back to the downbeat of the previous measure; I'm going out into the room to re-record some Hammond" etc. 12 hour days of this kind of stuff, while he managed 93 tracks synced to picture.


He never one lost his cool or complained about the complexity of the project. He never asked for a break--he'd only take them when offered, and we often forgot; he took direction from the film director, his wife (the producer), the MD (me) and the main engineer. ANd he came up with fast anc creative editing solutions when everyone else was stuck.


Man, it's a pleasure to work with someone like that!


I do wish I could have oggled his girlfriend, though.

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  • 3 months later...

L-O-V-E your rules, man! Particularly #8.


Regarding #9, my rule would be a little different:


Rule 9: Your friends may not tag along with you to the studio during a paying session. Ever. That includes your mother, your girlfriend, your other girlfriend who the first girlfriend doesn't know about, or your wanna-be producer friend. Sorry (not really).

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My favorite studio assistants have been the ones who:


1) Understand that they're there to learn and to facilitate the recording of the music, not to talk, produce, or comment (see#5)


2) Who are always in the room ready to jump into action or...

2a) Are no further away than in the lounge


3) Don't cop an attitude when they're asked to do something menial like get coffee or order food (the proper reaction is, "sure, I'll get the menu book")


4) Don't ask "why" when I want them to do some kind of whacky patching of outboard gear ("why?" is reserved for after the session, or during a break)


5) Don't comment in any way about the part I'm recording, the mix, how the song sounds like a hit, how the song doesn't sound like a hit, how the song sounds like some other song.


6) Have their cellphone off during the session or, set to vibrate mode that vibrates in their pocket, not on the producer's desk


...stuff like that...



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A must-read for any studio assistant, Phil Ramone's "Making Records, The Scenes Behind The Music". Full of lots of anecdotal studio etiquette tidbits. Keep a copy on hand.


It's also a good way to find out if your studio assistants can read!

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you guys crack me up. I love that SOMEONE gets my 'old' gear jokes.


I haven't bought any Roland gear in a very long time...Are the manuals ANY better than 'back in the day"?? I remember my D50 sampler manual just being completely useless. The 770 wasn't THAT much better, either.

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hahah :) No shame necessary...just take a number.


(now if only I had enough WORK to have ya'll work with me..) It's just me in my little studio....in the dark...all alone...just me and the greyhounds...no sunlight...



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  • 3 months later...
"... and, throughout the race, Hamilton has led from the front ...."

Perhaps the announcer's statement sounds redundant to you, but I suspect that he has, at some point, driven a car containing my mother-in-law.

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