The tracking stage can be particularly painstaking.
Even before you start tracking it’s important to have a well defined blueprint for the song. Like an architect planning a building construct. If you don’t have a plan, you’re leaving the results of the song to chance, but if you know you have a good song and it’s well conceptualized, then you’ve won more than half the battle…The next step is just the labour that is required for seeing your vision through. Of course you’ll still be adding some or many creative ideas to the strong formative plan that you already have, but that will be mostly icing on the cake…, but occasionally an idea that really improves the song.
I almost always do all the tracking and mixing by myself as a one man band. That means, tuning guitars and other instruments, writing the songs, creating song arrangements (which usually takes a lot of time and effort), etc. I’m only using a 2 channel USB interface, so I have just 2 inputs for instruments and mics. That means I have to unplug my guitar after I’m finished recording guitars and then plug in my vocal mic and set up the boom stand and pop filter when I’m ready to sing… I also don’t have much space, so I have to keep one instrument out at a time. Then I have to reset the preamp gain knobs every time I change an instrument. Setting up to record acoustic guitar is the biggest PIA…,along with acoustic drums. I really dislike the preparation it requires just to start recording. And, if you’re not well rehearsed it’s easy to screw up your tracks. Timing has to be tight, and you have to know the arrangements really well, otherwise there will be slight hesitations in your performance. Then you have to do the whole take over again. Less preparation means more screw ups and more takes.
I sometimes think the tracking is more important than the mixing, but a great mix gives the music additional impact, and a bad mix can suck the life out of the music. For me, mixing is more fun lately. Probably because I’m learning a lot of new techniques and seeing how this can improve my music. I say mixing is more fun but I still feel like it’s a lot of work. Seems like everything that you want to be great at requires endless hours of hard work. There just aren’t any short cuts. No substitute for blood, sweat and tears.