Advice on Double Tracking for Guitarists

As a guitarist with many years recording experience, working both on my own and with various producers I have complied a few simples rules and techniques for you to follow which will help you get the best out of your performance.

1)      Double tracking:

In the studio you will be expected to do double tracking as an absolute minimum. There has been time when I have quadruple tracked guitars for added depth and power. Being able to do this is an essential skill as a guitarist. You must be able to play the same rhythm, picking pattern and sequence EXACTLY the same many times over.

To do this, you must listen very carefully to the click and the other guitar parts, as well as any drums on the track at the same time. Regardless of percussion or drums, you should always use the metronome as this will give you the best tempo check as drums can speed up, slow down, alter rhythms etc which can throw you as you play.

As you layer the guitars, mute all non-essential tracks so you can play along effectively to the first take with no other distractions.

It cannot be stressed enough that all parts must be exactly the same.

2)      Tone:

When recording the guitars set the tone, or ask the producer, to the set the guitar tone and settings to be clear even if the end product is to be heavily distorted. This doesn’t mean it has to be a clean tone, but by having a clear tone you will be able to hear exactly what you are doing much better than if it is heavily distorted.

If you are recording using a real amplifier then this of course cannot be done, so you need to have the volume set at a reasonable level, and perhaps record a dummy track to play along to which can then be deleted afterwards.

3)      Time:

No matter what the purpose of your recording is, it is important to always strive for the best possible recording. It may sound silly to say, but TAKE YOUR TIME. Listen carefully as many times as needed and make sure it is correct before moving onto the next parts.

4)      No click?

When playing to recorded drums where no metronome has been used, it is harder to record the guitars! If this is the case, record 4-8 bars at a time on a loop and use the best takes to create the multitrack.

5)      Listen to the producer

The producer and the engineer are often the same person when not recording for major labels. You should always remember that they are in charge and responsible for the end product. If you do as they ask, ask questions when not sure and get the job done professionally then your chances of being rehired will increase.

6)      Practise makes perfect!

No skills can be perfected overnight. Recording many tracks like this is a skill, and needs to be approached as such. Record riffs, chords, patterns, and picking, everything you may never need to do in fact, on your own creating big sounding recordings so when the time comes that you are in a studio environment you are able to get the job done.

While you may not be expected to record everything in one take, it will not be expected that it takes all day, or that you cannot do it.