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  • Writer's pictureRandy McGravey

A Look at My Templates - Recording Production Music

The other day I created a template for an upcoming country music album and I figured I'd share it with you guys! This will give you an idea of my process, and how much time is saved by making templates for tracks. The goal with templates is to give the most routing, organization, and rudimentary mixing possible so that you can focus on the music.

Here you can see what it looks like when I open the program with the country template. I have almost all of the potential instruments ready to record. I organize them by color (red for drums/perc, blue for bass, green for guitar, etc). They are also routed to the appropriate input on my interface. I have 2 electric guitar microphones in inputs 3 and 4 (always set up in my iso box). Input 2 is used for DI (bass) and input 1 is a mic for percussion instruments and acoustic instruments. Software instruments are recorded with the USB input via a MIDI keyboard.

The metronome is of course on, and the tempo is set to a generic tempo for the given genre. In this case I left it fairly slow, but for other styles I would start faster (metal, punk, drum n bass). You can't currently see all of the instruments, but piano and a few other keyboards are below (which I color purple).

Most of the instruments have a generic EQ which I've created as an insert (banjo EQ, acoustic guitar EQ, etc). I also lower the volumes of every instrument and the master bus to make sure I don't have any clipping issues. EQ is the only thing I put as an insert for now, because compression depends a lot on the rest of the mix. As you will see below, I send to FX channels for reverbs and whatnot.

Now let's take a look at some of the busses and sends, starting with electric guitar. First off, I pan the 2 electric guitars out 80 on either side as a starting point. I have a bus created for the electric guitars in general, also a bus for the L guitars and a bus for the R guitars. The L and R busses have a generic electric guitar corrective EQ as an insert. The Electric guitar bus is being sent to "Electric Guitar FX" which has a light generic EQ'd reverb which by default is turned off until I start mixing.

The other instruments are given a similar treatment, I have an acoustic FX send (acoustic guitar and banjo are routed there) and a percussion FX send (for shaker and tambourine). The software instruments don't have sends or inserts, because I get the best sound I can within the software instrument before I bounce the track to a wav file. After that I can add inserts if necessary and send to FX channels.

So right out of the gate, we are ready to record! I start with guitar, because that's usually how I create the song ideas. After recording that, I'll program the drums, followed by bass. Next I re-record the guitar and any additional guitars so that they line up with the quantized drums. Finally I record the rest of the instruments before I start mixing.

Now it is mixing time! This isn't a post about how to mix music, but I'll try to give an idea of how I go about the process.

  • Throw on a master bus compressor/limiter for "glue" (make sure to turn off the plugin before bouncing the track)

  • Clean up any real instrument tracks (remove empty space, gate)

  • Set volume levels of the instruments until they are about even (also decide on which blend I want for both electric guitar mics).

  • Bounce software instrument tracks and EQ/route them as necessary

  • Adjust any EQ's to instruments that aren't popping out as much, or to fix any weird sounds

  • Compress any instruments that are inconsistent volume (often bass or acoustic guitar)

  • Dial in the FX channel volumes and amounts of FX to taste

With all of that, we should have a decent starting point for a rough mix. It shouldn't take too long to get to this point. I'll usually take a break here, and evaluate the mix hours or days later with fresh ears. The final steps are to automate track volumes for the different parts of the songs.

This process has significantly cut down the amount of time it takes me to record full albums. When I started doing full licensing albums, it could have taken me 2-3 weeks from start to finish. Now I can usually do it in half the time (sometimes 1 week). I've even done a classical acoustic guitar album in 3 days, and it is my most successful and one of my favorite albums to date! I have the templates to thank for that. I hope you found this post helpful. Good luck on your musical journey!

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