Do you have a question about how to record? Do you want to find out more about what we do? Please check out our FAQ below or contact us and we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

How much does it cost to record a song?

I get asked all the time "how much" it costs to record a song. Well, in order to give you any kind of accurate estimate I need to get much more information from you in terms of your expectations. That includes lots of details on what you have going on and what you want the song to sound like. Look at it like you're asking a contractor how much is it to build a house? He would need a lot of information on what kind of house you want to build before he could get anywhere close to giving you a rough idea on the cost ;-) Look at your song as a house. Do you want a little shack in Van Nuys or a mansion in the Pacific Palisades? I will say that most "big" productions cost in the neighborhood of $1000 or more per song, I have done plenty of budget recordings for half that though so it all depends on the attention to detail and how long we take.

What are your rates and how do I budget?

This is related to the previous FAQ. My rates are listed on the rate page and start at $75/hour for studio time and drops down to $70 if you go over 3 hours. Since I don't work on a "per song" basis I offer things ala carte. That means, you pay by the hour for the studio and then pay me, Dave the musician, for what you need on your song. For example, if we're doing a typical pop type production all "in house" and it takes a total of 10 hours to complete, you're paying the studio rate of $70/hour times 10 hours. That's $700 for the time. Then include $160 to hire me to provide all the guitar tracks and all of the MIDI tracks to make the song sound like a band. The total would be $860 "out the door". If we're doing things faster and it's more of a demo then it would be less as there would be less time involved. Or, if you want live drums and additional instrumentation that I don't provide then you're paying more as you have to hire outside musicians. I'm good at giving realistic budget quotes so just contact me and we'll figure out what works best for you. The benefit of hiring me to play on your project is that I'm fast, have an excellent ear, can come up with (good) parts quickly and, in case we need to do something another day, I'm here and ready to go!

What hours do you work?

The studio is open from 9:30 am till 6 pm, Monday through Friday. Exceptions can be made for weeknight or weekend sessions at an increased rate depending on my schedule.

How do I pay you?

Cash, check, credit card or Paypal are all fine. I charge 3% service for credit card or paypal. I require a deposit prior to the session and have a 48 hour cancellation policy. Also, payment is due at the end of the day after every session.

What is your cancellation policy and how much is a deposit?

I need $100 deposit prior to your session and have a 48 hour cancellation policy. That means you have to let me know at least 2 days in advance if you need to cancel your session or you forfeit your deposit.

What other things do you do?

  • Voice over projects and demos
  • Expert vocal production and invisible pitch correction
  • Convert Pro Tools Projects to other DAW formats
  • Set your lyrics to music
  • Demos by mail
  • Custom Scoring for TV, Film, Internet, and Radio
  • Mixing and mastering of your home recording

What instruments do you play?

  • Guitar (all styles)
  • Square neck Dobro and lap steel
  • Piano/keyboards
  • Vocals (am very good at vocal arrangements)
  • Alto Sax
  • Clarinet
  • Recorder
  • Hand Percussion (shaker, tambourine, etc)
  • Harmonica

Do you make music videos?

We can film you lip syncing your song or get shots of you in the studio and edit that together into a nice little movie for YouTube distribution or DVD. This might come in handy for an audition for music school or just "for fun." We are not a "video" studio per se so we don't do music videos. We use Final Cut Express and can do a very professional job though so please inquire as to what you need and we'll see if we can accommodate you.

Studio rules

I am on the clock from the designated session time so try to be on time. Setup time of 20 minutes can be arranged prior to bigger sessions requiring drums and other instruments. Bringing friends along is OK as long as you realize sometimes that makes things take a little longer, especially during mixing. No drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or smoking inside studio. You are responsible for your own session so try to be prepared.

What are you like to work with?

I'm fun and easy going but have a serious, serious work ethic. I take great pride in what I produce and really get into a project. I have a lot of loyal customers, some of which I've been working with for well over 10 years. Golana has done 7 CDs with me and is now signed to Springhill Records and there are numerous other clients that have more than one CD out or have recorded many demos with me. Finally, my attitude is that it's all about you and your total satisfaction so I bend over backwards trying to make that happen.

What styles of music do you produce?

Everything and anything! I've done much commercial music in the pop/rock/country/hip hop vein, acoustic music in the folk/bluegrass/celtic vein and a lot of new age stuff. I also am a bit of a mad scientist so in some respects I'm trying to do my own thing and create a sound that is unique for the artist that I'm working with.

Why are singer/songwriters your forte?

Well, first off, I am one so I know the genre. Secondly, I'm great at "filling in the blanks" of a song. So, if all you have is a basic idea production wise I can easily help you achieve a full band sound without a band.

How do I show you what I want my song to sound like?

Many of my clients send me YouTube links or give me songs to look up on iTunes to better show me how they want their song to sound. This is very helpful. Keep in mind that many of these example songs cost thousands of dollars to produce, mix and master. I’ll always do my best to bring whatever production elements you want to your song!

Do you record bands?

Absolutely! I'm an excellent engineer and can provide a 2nd set of ears, or I can get more involved as a producer. Don't worry, I won't intervene where I'm not wanted. In the end it's your project, not mine so I'll try to do everything to make your vision a reality. I will say that in most band projects I've done I've become a much appreciated asset in the end as I'm doing all kinds of things "behind the scenes" to make things sound great! Also in many cases someone needs a little extra instrumentation such as a keyboard part or drum loop and I can jump in and get the job done in the blink of an eye.

Do you do recordings through the mail?

Yes I do. These can be simple demos or full productions. If you have a home studio and just need a missing musical element then I can provide that either by doing it myself or hiring an outside musician and helping you to facilitate your vision. Or, if you have a home studio and just need your song professionally mixed then that's not a problem either.

I'm a singer/songwriter, how will you produce you me?

First I start with listening to you and your song. To me the song and song arrangement are key. I try to help you develop the song and tighten it up where needed. Also, we want to try to establish the best key for your voice, which may or may not be the key you wrote it in! If you've already done a demo and have a rough idea of where you want to go production wise then I might put the demo into my software and recreate it (but make it better). If it's just you and a guitar or keyboard then I'll record you as is, possibly to a drum loop, just so we have a starting point. Then it's a matter of finding out what kind of vision you have for the song. I always ask for references to similar styles of music, if in fact you have any. If not, then we create the track together and go where the song takes us. It can be a simple 4 track production or 60 tracks with an orchestral string section and 20 backing vocals!

Can you set music to my lyrics and make a song out of it?

Absolutely! I charge my normal hourly rate plus I request 50% of the publishing on the song as a co-writer. Writing is a creative process and I'll do my best to make a great song given the resources you provide me.

How long does it take to record a song?

If you're doing a simple acoustic guitar vocal demo then I'd say 2 - 3 hours. If it's more of full production with drum programming, guitars, keyboards and vocals then it could be anywhere from 4 to 12 depending on the attention to detail and expectations. If you want David Foster's production quality done in 3 hours it won't happen but if you budget enough time to do things correctly then then it's not a problem.

How long does it take to record a whole CD?

Singer/songwriters
If we can record once a week and we're doing 12 songs then you're looking at 12- 15 weeks. If it's a typical commercial project with many tracks then I usually say to budget around 12 hours per song, which gets spread out of course. It's not unusual for folks to take up to a year to complete a CD from the time we start till the time it's pressed and out there but I have done projects that only took 3 months.
Bands
Once again, working in stages, bands can usually do things much quicker. If we only end up doing a few sessions then we can maybe get the tracking done in 5 recording days. I can then mix it you can get it out there in 2-3 months.

I'm a good singer but need a little tuning adjustment and don't want to sound like T Payne.

Not a problem. One of my fortes is vocal recording as I'm a fellow vocalist and have an excellent ear. I use a plugin called Melodyne Editor for pitch correction. Essentially, I process the vocal in the plugin so I can see the melody of the vocal track. Then, when I hear (not see) something out of tune I can easily grab it and and adjust it. It's not "electronic" sounding in the least. I can even fix notes within chords in an acoustic guitar for example. On the other hand, if you want the T Payne, or Cher FX then that's easy as well.

Can you fix timing issues with drums and other instruments?

Yes and yes!! Using Logic's built in "Flex Audio" feature I can now easily tighten up large drum sessions and make things lock very easily.

What is guitar re amping?

Re amping is the process of taking a direct guitar track (recorded dry with no amp) and then putting that signal back through a real amp or guitar amp plugin after you've already recorded. It is truly awesome and I love doing it! Being an expert guitar player myself I typically record my guitar tracks direct into Logic using an amp sim such as Amplitube 3 or Guitar Rig 4, which makes things fast and easy as I'm not worried about choosing the right (real) amp, picking out micrphones, etc and losing my creative energy. I then capture the magic and can then go back later after all the tracks have been recorded and tweak my virtual amp or I can use one of my many real amps and pedals to get a great sound. Even if I record a guitarist with his amp I might also be recording a direct track at the same time "just in case" his amp didn't sound good or he wants a different sound later.

How do you record bands?

The key to recording bands is in getting everyone comfortable in the studio. Typically I have the drummer setup in the big room, bass is in the control room going direct (no amp), guitar amp setup in an iso booth with the guitarist standing in the control room so no need for headphones and the singer in another iso booth. There are variations on this depending on how many people in the band and what you want to capture live. Typically though, the first step is to capture the basic tracks which include bass and drums. Everything else can be overdubbed later in stages so each player can focus on his or her sound and feel more relaxed. Budget usually determines how we proceed.

What is mixing and how long does it take?

Mixing is the process of taking all the recorded tracks and adjusting their relative levels, adding eq, compression and fx and making the song sound balanced. I've done mixes in 20 minutes or 8 hours. If it's a typical CD cut where we have a good number of tracks and it's going to be used on a commercial release then it's probably in a 3-5 hour range. If it's a demo one off and is fairly simple then maybe closer to an hour. I ask to mix by myself for round one as I work better alone and can really focus on the mundane things like eq and compression. I then send you the mix and you listen to it where you're used hearing your music and take notes. You can then send me those notes and I can make adjustments or you can come in and we can tweak it together. The tweaking process might be once or twice. It it's a CD with 10-12 songs then we might be tweaking things multiple times to make everything fit as a cohesive whole.

What is mastering, do I need it and do you provide it?

Mastering is the final stage of recording your master and is essential if you're doing a commercial CD or demo. In layman's terms, Mastering helps glue a project together making it sound cohesive from track to track. This is done with EQ and compression/limiting. EQ helps give each track a similar impact sonically and compression/limiting helps with the over all volume. If you're skipping from one song to another you want their relative volumes to match and you want the EQ to be similar. When I mix a CD I'm trying to achieve this but it's fully realized in the mastering phase. I do do mastering on demos. If it's a short run CD then I recommend getting your project professionally mastered but, if you don't have the budget for it then I'm happy to master that as well as I think I'll do a better job then someone who advertises cheap mastering!

How can I be more prepared prior to my session?

  • Know your song
  • Use a metronome to determine the tempo of your song
  • Have multiple typed lyric sheets and email it to me in advance
  • Have a chord chart of the song
  • Record your song on a cheap recorder or use Garageband
  • Bring CD examples of commercial works that you want to sound like so we can compare
  • Be relaxed and well rested and ready to have fun!

Can you use any of the tracks I've recorded at home?

Absolutely! I can easily open native Logic, Protools, Garageband, Digital Performer or Reaper files. But, it's common these days for people to bounce down their audio tracks at home into individual WAVE files and import them into any DAW they want. We can talk specifics depending on what your setup is when the time comes.

Do you promote or record people for free?

I'm not a promoter but I do advertise what I do so in that sense you will get more exposure. I don't work for free or for spec.

Are you hiring studio employees?

I am not hiring anyone at this time.

Can I intern with you

Probably not, only because my business is very one on one and my clients appreciate privacy during a session.

Are you available to teach recording?

That can be arranged. I always suggest that the best way to learn is by doing (that's how I did it). If you have something you want to record then let's use that as a teaching vehicle. I'll go into more depth on the recording process while we're doing it. I tend to do that anyway as I was a music teacher for 8 years so it's fun for me to explain what I'm doing.

If I'm a producer can I rent your studio?

Assuming you can find your away around my patch bay and I can get you situated with my basic equiptment then yes. It's still a full day for me as I have to be available to check in and make sure everything is going smoothly but you're welcome to "drive" the studio if you wish, no problem!