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  • How many takes is enough?

    While you record in the studio, or just recording in general, how many takes do you allow yourself to record? Living in an age of technology and DAW recording, we can easily fall into the trap of "unlimited takes syndrome". Recording in the past, you were only given a certain number of takes and tracks due to time constraints and tape limit. What you had at the end of the day was what you had to stick with. Nowadays I see a lot of people getting into the habit of taking 10+ takes sometimes. The issue that I find is that this hinders the whole creative process. You lose that sense of urgency and projects get pushed back farther and farther. Also the mixing process becomes less productive as well. So my question is, do you limit the number of takes you're allowed to record? If so, then how many takes? This concept and idea might especially apply to those doing recording at home, where you aren't always "on the clock". Please give me your thoughts on this.
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  • #2
    6, take the best one and comp the rest
    Last edited by ido1957; 02-16-2015, 06:44 PM.
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    • #3
      Depends. But generally, when the takes stop getting better, I stop.

      If I think it's an off day, I'll stop.

      If that's the best I can do (or the talent can do), then I take the best take, copy it, and then comp wherever there might be better takes. I generally strongly dislike doing more than about five or six takes unless there's some compelling reason for it or I am improvising, and I tend to mark stuff that I really like as I go, especially if I am recording someone else and have the time.
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      • #4
        One
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        • #5
          Two. One that's good enough to use and the other just for good measure.

          If the first take isn't good enough, you go back and practice some more and stop recording. A complete performance shouldn't be a patchwork of lucky breaks during recording. But I know that's the way it's done.
          Last edited by MikeRivers; 02-20-2015, 04:58 PM.
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          • #6
            A lot of this also depends on whether you are working out the parts while recording them, or they are a well-rehearsed song.

            If working out parts, who knows, keep going until I get something that's cool.

            If it's a part that I've already rehearsed, I should be able to nail it within 2-3 attempts, and normally do, usually doing one good take, and then doing one or two more in case I like the feel more or I edit one part in that feels better or some such thing.
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            • #7
              I usually assign 4 tracks as "Take 1, 2, 3, 4", then a "Comp VOX" track. I`ve noticed that I usually get the take I want in the 3rd or 4th attempt.

              I could sit there forever and re-record until everything is perfect but then the track gets boring so I really try to limit myself to 4 takes.

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              • #8
                Hey guys, thanks for your "take" on this.. lol. I'm just trying allot time accordingly and trying to maintain productive overall.

                I agree it might vary, especially when you're still coming up with stuff, which in my opinion shouldn't really count towards the recording takes limit. I would count that towards the arrangement/composing process. Practice/rehearsal should be considered separate as well. Tracking all the instruments on a song by yourself may seem tough, especially if you're not proficient at all the instruments. I think I might be lending towards a 3-4 take limit for each track/part. And maybe allow myself a choice of 2-3 extra re-takes for specific parts, at the end. Just in case I'm not totally happy with the result.
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                • #9
                  Be careful on retakes. In the last band I was in, I think we spent more on guitar retakes in our last set of recording sessions than on everything else combined.

                  Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

                  now: Fredfin Wallaby
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by davie View Post
                    While you record in the studio, or just recording in general, how many takes do you allow yourself to record?
                    Just one. Doesn't matter how the performance is because I'm gonna edit it until it's fine anyway.

                    Kidding! I kid!!!!!!

                    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                    • #11
                      I do what I feel and if I don't feel what I do, I throw it out. Or keep it sitting around unfinished, brooding about it...
                      .

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                      • #12
                        Multitakes for comping?

                        I'm not suggesting this would work for someone else but what I do is... 3 whole song takes minimum, and usually just 3. But, if after 3 I find I really haven't hit it just yet I'll do as many as 10 for just a section or a line even. Whole takes rock. Cut into it and replace if needed. and further if you "have to". but the immediacy of the track goes down accordingly. Sometimes you have to take the trade-off but I don't go there without realizing that trade-off and making the choice with taste intact.
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                        • #13
                          I used to be a first call sax players at a medium sized town recording studio. It closed when the owner had a stroke and with the proliferation of home recording gear, nobody has taken his place.

                          They called me "a one take jake" because the only time I needed two takes was if there was a technical flaw on the first one. I did prepare for the gigs a bit and most of the music was pop/rock/country/light jazz and not too technical.

                          I don't do commercial type recordings at home, but I do make my own backing tracks and record myself live at the gig for self-improvement purposes.

                          My backing tracks are done live into a MIDI sequencer, and more often than not, I use the first take unless I screw up the rhythm (wrong notes are easy to fix in MIDI).

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                          • #14
                            Most of the stuff I do is written on the spot so there may be some creative liberties taken getting the basics down. The main items are usually done in a single take and I'll sight read the part while playing if necessary. Sometimes when playing another instrument like bass, keys or doing vocals I may need to experiment finding a comfortable part to play but I don't usually record when coming up with those parts, I just jam with the existing tracks.

                            Later when I do record I admit, I may run out of steam playing one of those instruments or have an issue with my voice. I'll usually just stop at that point and just punch in for the rest. I rarely if ever redo the entire track during that session. I may do it several days later if the first attempt wasn't up to my standards.

                            There has to be something drastically wrong with my sound quality for me to have to go through all that trouble and even then it may not be a problem with that track. It may be the backing just isn't strong enough to carry that part.

                            If its a good song I'd be more inclined to just start the whole song over from scratch then to do patch work using band aids over the sore spots. I played live and recorded analog for too many years to change my habits at this point. I know my best material always occurs when I can do a great take.

                            Building a Frankenstein recording is a whole different thing. It can sound good but it usually doesn't have the same flow of emotion when its built from bits and scraps salvaged together and it just doesn't get me there.

                            If I "cant" play it all the way through in the studio I wouldn't be able to play it all the way through live. I want to know my recordings are live and do not have all that editing. Sound wise I could care less. I'll tweak it as much as needed mixing but the actual notes have to have that unbroken emotional stream for me to respect and enjoy it.
                            Last edited by WRGKMC; 02-20-2015, 11:38 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MarkydeSad View Post
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