Choosing the Right Instrumentation For Your SongWednesday, January 26th, 2011
We love giving musicians a lot of options for their songs, but not every option can be right for every song. You should always carefully consider the instrumentation you choose. Not only will the right instruments make your track sound appropriate for its genre, they will also allow you to showcase the parts that are most important to your song. Here are a few choices you may come across when picking the right instrumentation.
Real drum track vs. programmed drums
The first decision to make is whether you would like a live drummer playing a real drum set or would rather have a programmed drum part. Usually if your song is rock, country, and certain kinds of pop, you’ll want the sound of one of our Los Angeles session drummers to give your song that full band, live sound. But if you do R&B, hip hop, electronic or top 40 pop music, you’re most likely going to want the sound of programmed drums.
Real vs. synth bass
A great bass line is a key part of a great song. That bass line can be played by a studio bassist, or we can program a synth bass line. Once again, it all depends on what vibe you’re going for with your music.
There are many types of guitars that make all kinds of sounds: solid body guitars, hollow bodies, acoustics, electrics, etc. There are tons of different guitar sounds even out of the same guitar, too: different pickups, distortion, clean, reverbs, delays, and various effects. Different guitar sounds fit with different styles: acoustic goes great with folk and singer/songwriter music, hollow body electric is perfect for jazz, etc.
Guitars also sound good when they’re layered, and rhythm guitar parts are often doubled in songs you hear on the radio. But don’t go overboard laying guitars; more than 3-5 and your song starts sounding muddy and undefined.
Keyboards and synths
Keyboards are similar to guitars: lots of options, but add too many and the listener won’t know what they’re supposed to be listening to. With keyboard tracks, you can have piano, organ, electric keyboards (like a Rhodes or Wurlitzer), and synth instruments (including string sections). If the rest of your song sounds very acoustic or live, you probably want to stick with one of the basics like piano or organ. If you’re producing a dance track, you’ll probably want to have a lot of cool synths and sounds that aren’t quite as “natural” as your standard keyboards.
Vocals are instruments, too. Even if you don’t use one of our vocalists for your lead part, they can add a new dimension to your music with harmonies or other background vocals. You’d be amazed what a few tracks of “oohs” can do for your song!
Studio Pros also offers horn sections. Horn sections are essential for certain styles like swing and Latin music, but you might be surprised how many songs in other styles use horns, too. A horn section can add a very unique element to your song, and they often bring the energy level up considerably when added to a recording.
Don’t forget that you can always mix it up—there’s no rule saying rock music has to have a live bass track or that rap can’t have a real drum set. We love to hear artists experiment and push the boundaries of their style. Just remember to always pick and choose your instruments wisely… You want to make sure your listener gets the experience that you’re hoping for.