How To Record a Song From Scratch

1. Getting Started

What does it take to record your latest song idea from scratch in your home studio? Turns out, not much!

Today I’m starting a new series where I’ll walk you through the entire process of recording a great sounding song from the ground up.

What’s more, is I’m going to prove it can all be done using budget equipment and Pro Tools First – a completely free DAW.

In this first video I’ll show you what gear and equipment you’ll need and then we’ll setup our software and record our first track!

P.S. To get a list of the budget equipment I use in this video series and my recommendations to fit every budget, download my Studio Gear Guide completely free here.

2. Drum Loops

Not a drummer? Don’t have access to a drum kit or enough mics, preamps, or space to record them?

No problem! Today we’re going to get some drums into our song with simple drum loops. Not only do most loops already sound great, they are actually pretty easy to customize to fit your song!

In this video I import a loop and edit it to perfectly fit my scratch guitar recording that we did in the last video.

Here are some places to get FREE drum loops that you can import into your software:

  1. Big Fish Loops (What I use in the video)
  2. Looperman (User submitted loops)
  3. The Loop Loft (They have a free sample pack)

Also I highly recommend EZ Drummer – check out my video on how to use EZ Drummer here.

3. Bass Guitar

I’m plugging away at my latest song and recording it from the ground up using some super affordable (and even free) gear!​

If you’re following along, recording bass guitar is the next step after you’ve laid down your drum performance (whether real drums, loops, or a virtual drummer).

Having the bass guitar super tight with the drums is the key to building a powerful song. And we do this by trying to match the bass performance as closely as we can to the drums – hence why I like to record bass so early in the process.

In today’s video I share two simple tips for getting a great bass performance in your home studio and how to make sure you get the optimal signal when recording. Let’s do this!

4. Acoustic & Electric Guitars

Ever struggled to get great sounding guitar recordings at home using budget gear? I think I can help!

We’re moving right along in this series, and after drums and bass it’s time for me to record my guitar parts. Specifically in this video we’ll tackle both electric and acoustic guitars.

Since many of you record at home, late at night – cranking up a guitar amp may not be the best idea so you might turn to a virtual amp. It’s becoming much more common to record electric guitars this way.

In fact for my song I’ll be doing just that – using a free guitar amp simulator plugin that came with my interface and recording direct. Plus I’ll show you a simple way to create more width in your mix when recording guitars.

For my acoustic guitar I’ll be using a $99 Behringer B1 microphone. This is the first mic I ever purchased and it sounds great – especially when you use some strategic mic placement that I’ll show you in this video. Alright, let’s dive in!

5. Virtual Instruments

Your recording software likely ships with one or two amazing virtual instrument plugins, you might as well use them!

Whether a soft pad or percussive synth, or even a string quartet – virtual instruments can play a huge role in your at-home productions and give some of that professional polish you’re looking for.

Today I’m going to build on the guitars I did last time and add some electric piano and organ to my song using a simple USB keyboard controller and even my mouse. I’ll also show you how you don’t have to be able to play piano to harness the power of the modern virtual instrument.

With some simple MIDI editing and strategic “fiddling” we can get a convincing performance that will subtly enhance our recording!

6. Vocals

Recording vocals well in your home studio is one of the most important things you could learn.

No matter how good the rest of your tracks sounds, if the vocals sound amateur, the entire song sounds amateur.

So today I’m going to show you how to get a great vocal recording!

In this video I teach you what type of microphone to use, where to place your microphone in the room, how to get the best sound out of your microphone, and a simple trick to making your vocals pop in the hook of your song.