Studio News

Click Tracks: Yay or Nay?

By Rowan Bishop

Here’s something for all you audio folk out there: What is your position on click tracks? I have mixed emotions about them. In some cases they are not needed, in other cases they are pretty much a necessity, especial if the project is going to be assembled with everyone doing their parts separately.

We’ve all seen it before – the drummer who has never played to a click, but wants to try. I have rarely seen this go well. The result is usually awkward looks and frustrated band members. In this case I suggest scrapping the click and playing the way they play naturally – achieving a nice, organic take.

Meanwhile, drummers who CAN play to a click don’t seem to need them. Sometimes they opt for them, sometimes not. Personally I prefer that subtle ebb and flow of the groove to metronomic precision. Check out “When the Whip Comes Down” by the Rolling Stones – no click there and it’s a great song. But at the same time, polishing audio when everything is “on the grid” is a hell of a lot easier (and most artists are not The Rolling Stones.)

Playing to a click is a learned skill and I highly encourage learning it, if for no other reason than to become a better musician. If you’re coming in to record and want to use one, I recommend you spend some time working with it. You can tighten up your timing, and foresee any issues in the arrangement, such as a retard going into a pause before the rest of the song kicks back in. Something like this can be programmed into the click if need be, though it’s best to do it before the session when no one is standing around ready to go.

Here at Garage Mahal Recording Studio I can record your project both with a click and without. Give me a ring so we can discuss your options.