Be humble. It's a great job if you can get it. You'll never know everything.


Attention to detail. It's the little things that make or break you.


Always admit a mistake and be willing to make it right no matter how much it hurts.


Before you begin a project make certain the artist understands your role and responsibility. All too often engineers cross the line into producing without knowing it. Before long you may be wishing you were "just" the engineer.


Be in command of your domain. The artist needs to feel confident that you can operate all this fancy equipment so they can concentrate on what they need to do.


Allocate responsibility when appropriate. No one expects you to do everything. If an assistant can do something for you so you can concentrate on more pressing matters that's okay. Don't ask an assistant to do a task you should be doing. Work as a team with your assistant. They'll watch your back for potential disasters, especially if you're getting tired.


Never talk politics with a recording artist. You never know where they're at on any certain issue and some may take it very seriously. Why go there? You have enough problems.


Never get stoned during a session even if the artist offers it to you. If you make a mistake later it was because you're a stoner. No a way to start a career.


Don't blame the equipment. Everyone understands that equipment can fail from time to time. An engineer who is always complaining is a downer for the performers. Shut up and work around it, you're a professional.


It's your job to make sure you get the proper credit in the liner notes. Don't leave it up to a band member or assume the record label will take care of you.


Never do a "spec" project unless you are willing to do it for free.


Learn to accept the word "no" and move on. You will hear it a lot when looking for a job. There is some luck involved but you can make your own luck.


In the beginning say yes to any job offered in the music business. You never know who you'll meet or opportunities that may come from it.


Never loose your cool. Someone has to keep it together in the studio.


Don't allow the artist to keep you in a session longer than you can handle. Long hours don't benefit anyone; you're likely to make a mistake.


If you don't play an instrument start now. It will help you relate to musicians and their equipment better.


If you get a job at a studio it's your obligation to protect their best interest, report any problems to the manager or owner and make the studio look good.


Keep the equipment and yourself clean at all times. Dirty equipment is a bad sign. A dirty engineer is even worse.


Performance is everything, sound is secondary. Spending time on headphone mixes is better time spent than listening to a kick drum for an hour.


When an artist is performing they may be reading your face through the glass for reaction. Always be conscious of what your face is saying.

Tape Op is a free magazine exclusively devoted to
the art of record making.

 More Tutorials 
Tony Smith · March 4, 2014
With decreasing costs and increasing storage capacities, hard disk drives have become the ubiquitous nomads of studio environments. When the network is too slow and the project deadline was...
Jeff Laity · Jan. 15, 2005
The Alesis 3630 is a very popular, full-featured compressor. It offers up RMS and peak compression, variable knee, adjustable attack and release times, and great metering for under a hundred bucks....
Marydee Reynolds · March 15, 2005
Let's start with imaginary optimal conditions. A couple of months before recording, a singer goes into strict training. They give up all smoke, alcohol and drugs (including anti-depressants and...
Eddie Ciletti · July 15, 2002
In issue #29 I wrote about an IC op amp upgrade for the UREI LA-4, a '70s-era optical limiter whose ancestors were the Teletronix LA-2 (vacuum tube) and the Universal Audio LA-3 (solid state). The...
Garrett Haines · Sept. 15, 2004
The adage "garbage in garbage out" takes on added meaning when it comes to recording drums. An out of tune drum can ruin any recording session. Unfortunately, very few people know the basics of...
Chris Garges · Sept. 15, 2010
Die cast hoops Die cast hoops give a drum more body, not "crack." I totally think of triple-flanged hoops as giving a drum more crack without the substantial body that a die cast hoop adds. Nylon...
Ron Vento · May 15, 2009
You've seen the spikes and corpse paint, Satanic or ancient themes, or maybe even the blood and guts album covers. Maybe you assumed death and black metal was something not to be taken seriously, but...
Paul Abbott · May 15, 2009
I recently worked with a client who referenced a popular band as their sonic target for mastering. Although I was already aware of the band, I went on iTunes to really listen to a few tracks. After...
Chris Stamey · Sept. 15, 2008
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for first-time recordists is capturing acoustic guitars. There are many ways to mic these instruments, and also many ways to go astray. Good mic preamps and good...
  • Start A Discussion

Thu, May 28, 2015 - 8:49PM
Get a dialogue going below: