A producer's blog about music, recording, mixing, songwriting and gear! (I don't know everything, but what I know I'll gladly share!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

TOP 10 PRODUCER MISTAKES (I know, I've done them all!)

I notice things about producers... things that people do over and over again that I notice. I notice them because I used to do them, or struggle with these things myself. I thought I'd compile a list of some of these things. Here we go... my top 10 producer mistakes... (in no real order)

#1) Caring more for creating cool, technical band arrangements at the expense of the song and lead vocal.

** Guys, c'mon... it's about the song! it's about the vocal!

#2) Leaving bad edits in your song, not cross-fading and checking things before they head off to mix.

** I notice this because some producers do this to me! They leave bad edits, don't cross-fade those edits and general leave things "unfinished." This stuff could make it to the final mix! Don't chance it. Your mixer is not your editor.

#3) Picking the wrong tempo for a song.

** I'm aware that this is preference but I hear a lot of songs that are simply to slow or too fast for the style. If it makes the song sound awkward, then it's the wrong tempo.

#4) Not being patient enough to get good vocals!

** It can take a lot of effort to get a good vocal take. It takes a lot of psychology to coach an inexperienced or nervous vocalist. What is worse is hearing a poor vocal performance but a killer guitar solo.. THE VOCAL IS KING! Be patient and get the vocal! Nothing else matters.

#5) Over-tuning or not being careful when tuning vocals.

** This takes time, but listen carefully and make sure you can't hear the auto-tune working. You might have to dig into manual mode and get picky but it' worth it. I like hearing out of tune vocals more than I like the sound of auto-tune! YUCK!

#6) Double tracking everything!

** To many guys, double tracking is the key to everything. It makes things bigger, covers mistakes, and gets you excited about guitars! Double tracking everything can also make for a boring mix! Double what is necessary. Leaving some stuff un-doubled (does that work to say?) makes the stuff you did double sound bigger in contrast!

#7) Putting high-pass filters on everything.

** I know some people that put HPF's on everything including kick and bass guitar. Now, this can be necessary but it sound be determined by YOUR EARS not what you think you should do. Use HPF's on when you have instruments competing for low-end real estate. Your mixes will sound thin otherwise.
NOTE: check stuff on small speakers. If you blow one up, you have too much LOW END :)

#8) Phasing issues with Overhead mics and guitars!

** There's one thing that my poor hearing has done has made me listen in mono more. What you'll notice is phasing issues. It is very easy for guitars to be out of phase because of the complexity the wave form (particularly distorted guitars). If you check your work in mono and the gain is decreased and everything falls apart you know you have phasing issues (I say "the mix folds into itself! that's what I think phasing sounds like.) Search google for ways to avoid phasing.

#9) Using synth pads all the time!

** Sometimes you need space in a mix. I much enjoy it! Pads can make things muddy and ACTUALLY they can make stuff sound dated and lame! Sometimes it is actually the right thing to do, sometimes it's not.

#10) Not using me as your mixer!

** I'm affordable and good looking. I'm sure to do a good job on your next record :) ha!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME "Stay classy San Diego!"


  1. great post! I'm liking your blog (I'll be subscribing)

    btw... maybe you could do a post of your favorite blogs? I'd be interested to find out :)

  2. Fantastic piece ! It confirms something I've long suspected - that flavours of the month become indispensable bastions of invincibility that one dare not argue with, especially with a 'pro'. Many people say that in music, there is no right and wrong and to experiment. But in practice, it's a different story !

  3. I think there are some things that should transcend genre or the "hip cool current trend." Primarily that the art of recording takes a lot of time and attention to detail. I personally want to make great sounding recordings. Yes, I want the song to shine because it's a great song, but I want to create something sonically masterful! I honestly don't care if you're intending to be trendy and current, I'd still love for you to learn your craft and make great music.

    We have so many tools and so few resources for how to properly use them. Yes, we have manuals for how to tweak knobs, but the wisdom that comes from personal mentorship is a diminishing resource. It is in this mentorship that we can focus our creativity and experimentation in ways that are most worth our efforts.

    Many of us waste time experimenting, not to find a NEW and better way, but to find out how it's already been done. We're trying to achieve something sonically that we hear in our heads and in records. I wish there were more people willing to mentor so that we could experiment to be groundbreaking, not simply to keep up.

    Thanks for posting guys!


What do you think? Tell me... tell the world!

About Me

My photo
I'm a producer, mixer, songwriter. I recently moved from Orange County, CA to Nashville,TN I love making music. It is my means for creative expression. I've been married to my wonderful wife Erin for 7 1/2 years and I have a dog named Dexter.