[Video] Why I Only Record Three Takes

One of the great things about modern DAWs is their ability to effortlessly record and comp multiple takes of audio.

But sometimes we can go too far. Too many takes can actually do more harm than good to your audio.

Check out this video to see why I only do 3 takes, and why it makes my music better.

How many takes to you typically record? Do you find that it’s too many? Too few? Leave a comment and tell me your experience!

6 Comments

  1. Alex,

    I have heard of people doing takes like that and I do that with my students at school. But in my own work, I never do takes. If the performance isn’t a keeper, I erase it and do it again. Sometimes, I punch in a part but only if it is in a natural break. Some people copy and paste the various parts of their songs together and create something they have never actually played from start to finish. That style of creating isn’t for me but it works for others. If you haven’t seen the documentary “Sound City” I highly recommend it – it is worth it just for the story about the Tom Petty song that took 120 separate performances to get the band vibe right all the way through.

    Peace,
    Josh

    • Mmm yes that’s definitely another great way to think about it.

      I know that Joe Gilder has another method he’s talked about. He’ll play through until he messes up. Then he’ll stop, go back a few bars, and punch in. So in the end he has one good performance, but he just had to stop and start a few times.

      So, as always, there are plenty of valid ways to do it! As long as we don’t get stuck in the “record a bunch of takes and fix it later” mindset. That can work, but it’s not as efficient, and I don’t think it is the best way to get a good performance.

      Yeah, I definitely need to watch the Sound City documentary. I’ve heard lots of good things about it, but haven’t gotten around to watching it. I’ll have to do that :)

      Have a good one, Josh!
      Alex

  2. Agreed. Practice makes perfect. If you’re recording dozens of “so-so” takes, you’re essentially practicing anyway, so just practice without recording, and record when you have the part down. Then you don’t have dozens of takes to wade through and waste time comping. And sometimes you nail the first take and you don’t need more than one!

    • Yeah, exactly.

      On the flip side, I’ve definitely heard of people recording their “practice” and actually getting the best performance out of that one. If you want to record your practices for that reason, go ahead. You certainly could capture a great performance there.

      But yeah, don’t record each of your “practice runs” as separate takes in order to wade through them later. It’s not fun :)

      Thanks!
      Alex

      • True! Sometimes you can really capture some magic with that first take, when you’re not really trying!

        I really enjoyed the Sound City movie too – lots of fun to watch! If you have Amazon Prime I think you can watch it for free through them. Not sure if it’s on Netflix. The “Sound City – Real to Reel” album is also really good. Enjoy!

        • Cool! Yeah I don’t have Amazon Prime, but I’ll definitely search out the documentary. My wife said that it sounds interesting to her too, so we’ll make it a movie night :)

          Alex

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