Why You Should Record Your Playing: Bite-Size Guitar Podcast Episode 3

Episode 3 of the Bite-Size Guitar Podcast looks at how recording your guitar playing can help you become a better guitarist.

Whether you’ve spent time recording your guitar before or not, this episode will give you some new ideas on how you can use recording as a practice tool.

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If you have a question about this episode or any other question about learning or playing guitar, ask it here and I’ll answer it in a future episode.

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Tips for asking a question for the podcast:

  • Introduce yourself at the start (eg: Hi, I’m Aaron from Australia …)
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  • You have up to 90 seconds to record, so take your time providing any details you want

If you want to send me a question in text instead of voice, you can send it here.

Useful Resources

Here are some helpful guides to help you get started with recording guitar:

Here are some tutorials on how to get started recording guitar in different DAWs:

Podcast Episode 3 Transcript

Hi, I’m Aaron from guitargearfinder.com and this is episode 3 of the Bite-Size Guitar podcast.

In this episode, I want to talk about why you should record your guitar playing, how it can help you improve your abilities, and how to get started recording.

I’ll go through three reasons why recording your playing can help you grow as a guitarist, then I’ll walk you through the different methods of recording.

Whether you’ve never recorded something before or you’ve had plenty of experience, have a listen to this episode.

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to record your playing. You might like the idea of writing and releasing your own songs, you might want to have a go at creating some cover versions of songs you like, things like that.

Those are all good reasons to get into recording, but I’ll go through three reasons that focus on how recording can help you grow as a musician. I think of recording as just another tool you can use to develop as a guitarist, so if you’ve never thought about recording in this way before, you might find this interesting.

Point 1: Keeping Track of Your Progress

The first reason I recommend regularly recording your guitar playing is that it’s the best way to assess your progress.

Over time if you regularly practice guitar, you will improve. The problem as I covered in episode 1 is that most of the progress you make is invisible from day to day or week to week.

Think of a growing child. A parent isn’t going to notice the day to day growth of their child, because while the child is rapidly growing, the growth from day to day is too small to notice. But a relative who hasn’t seen the child for months will instantly notice the incredible growth between visits.

It’s the same with your guitar playing. You might be gradually getting better at the skills and songs you’re working on, but it may not be obvious to you for quite some time.
That’s where recording comes in. If you were to record yourself today playing any songs or exercises and listen back to them in the future, you’ll easily notice any improvements in your abilities.

Whenever I do this with my students, they’re always shocked at how much they’ve improved. They’ll complain that they’re not getting better, so I’ll show them a recording of their playing from a week ago. They suddenly realize they don’t play the same mistakes anymore or it’s obvious how much they really have improved.

I suggest regularly recording yourself playing the things you’re currently working on as a way to assess your progress.

If you don’t have a teacher to tell you whether you are improving, it can be hard to tell if you are getting better. If you can listen to a recording of what you sounded like a week or a month ago, you’ll know for sure what you’re getting better at and what areas you need to work on.

After you listen to this episode, use one of the methods I’ll explain later to quickly record yourself playing a few different riffs, licks, or songs you’re working on. Then in a week or two from now, listen back to the recording. If you notice that you are improving, it helps add fuel to any practice effort you put in. If you can hear that you’re making improvements, you’ll be more likely to keep pushing forward.

Point 2: Recording Develop Your Ears

The second reason I recommend recording your playing is to help develop your musical ear.

Now, this is something most guitarists don’t think they need to work on until they listen back to a recording of their playing.

To understand why this is so important, think back to the first time you heard a recording of yourself speak. You might remember how weird it felt to hear your voice and how different your voice sounds to what you hear as you speak. You might still feel this way whenever you hear a recording of your voice.

A recording of your voice sounds weird because you’re hearing it in a different way. You hear your voice in a completely different way while you’re speaking, so it sounds weird when you hear it in recordings.

It’s the same with your guitar playing. The way you hear yourself when you play guitar is completely different than how you hear a recording of yourself playing guitar.
While you’re playing, you’re thinking about the notes you play and your technique. So it’s really hard to step back and really listen to your tone while you’re playing.

When you listen to a recording of your playing, you don’t need to think about what you’re playing – you can sit back and really listen.

The first time my students hear a recording of themselves play guitar, they’re usually shocked by what they hear. Some of them will ask if that was really them and I didn’t just play back the wrong recording. They suddenly notice mistakes that they didn’t pick up on while they were playing. They notice that their bends are out-of-tune or chords sound wrong.

Even my advanced students have similar reactions. They might notice that their vibrato sounds faster than what they expect to hear or that the way the pick hits the strings surprises them.

Recording yourself playing guitar gives you a great way to listen to your playing style with a fresh perspective. You’ll notice areas you need to work on that don’t sound right, and you’ll notice things you’re doing right.

If you’ve never heard a recording of yourself play guitar before, you might be shocked by what you hear. And that’s a good thing because it will help you develop your ears and look for ways to improve your playing style.

Point 3: Recording Develops Control and Forces You to be Precise

The third reason why I recommend recording your playing is that it helps you develop control over your technique. Recording forces you to be precise.

Any musician who has spent time in a recording studio knows how important it is to really know your stuff before you hit record. Recording brings to light any sloppy technique or mistakes in your playing that you might normally not notice.

Being able to play something perfectly on demand isn’t something many guitarists can do. Session guitarists quickly develop this skill, but if you haven’t spent time recording before, you may not realize how hard it is to do.

If you have your guitar with you, try it now. Pause this episode, pick up your guitar, and see if you can play a full song without any mistakes, imperfections, or dud notes, all on the first attempt. See how far you get before you hear a slight imperfection or mistake.

From my own experience, I noticed massive improvements in my accuracy and technique when I started getting into recording. Small mistakes ruining otherwise great takes quickly became frustrating, so I learned to focus on improving my accuracy.

Merely recording your guitar playing can be enough to give your technique and accuracy a nice boost. Simply hearing yourself play mistakes in a recording will motivate you to do better next time.

If you really want to take your playing to the next level, recording can be a handy tool to give you an extra push.

Okay, so I’ve gone through three reasons why I recommend regularly recording your playing. So now let’s look at a few different ways you can get started.

Record Video With a Smartphone

The first and easiest way to get started is to use your smartphone to record a video of yourself playing guitar. Sit your phone somewhere where you can get a good angle on your guitar and hit record.

This is the method I recommend if you’re interested in using recording as a way of tracking your progress. Audio recordings can help, but being able to see your hands on your guitar makes a huge difference. You’ll easily notice any bad posture, weird technique, or ways to improve.

Once a week, I suggest using your phone to record a video of you playing the riffs, licks, or songs you’re currently working on. Every week you can compare your current video to earlier ones and see how you’re progressing.

You’re not going to get good quality audio using this method, but that’s not the point. Use this method as an easy practice tool to track your progress.

Record Your Guitar With a Smartphone App

The next method you can use is to use an audio recording app on your smartphone or tablet. Your phone might already come with an audio notes app, otherwise, there are plenty of free ones on the app stores.

You can either use your phone’s microphone or buy a compatible microphone to connect to your phone depending on what level of quality you want from your recordings. The dedicated page for this episode on my website explains what to look for if you want to connect a mic to your phone.

This method is handy for a few reasons. If you’re a songwriter, you can use this method to quickly capture any ideas you have for songs. Simply hit record in your app and you can build up a library of riffs, licks, and song ideas.

You can use this method as a practice tool to listen closely to your playing and look for ways to improve. And you can use this method to get started with creating some full song recordings. More and more musicians are starting to realize that they can produce excellent quality recordings using nothing more than an iPad and a good quality mic.

If you’re interested in getting into recording music but don’t have a computer, this is a great option.

Record Guitar With an Audio Interface or Mic

The last method I’ll cover here is to use an audio interface or microphone connected to a computer. The downside with this method is that it requires more hardware than simply using your phone, but there’s a lot of advantages.

Once you learn how to record in a DAW on your computer, it opens up a new world for you. You can start experimenting with guitar plugins, learn how to record and mix a full song, or simply listen back to high-quality recordings of your playing.

Recording guitar on your computer might seem intimidating at first, but I have a few guides and tutorials on my website to show you how to do it.

The key point to take away from this episode is that recording your guitar playing can be a powerful tool to develop as a musician. It’s not just for songwriters or session guitarists. Even if you’re a brand new beginner, recording your playing can help you learn faster.

This week, give the advice in this episode a shot. Use whichever method you want to record yourself playing. Record a video of yourself playing any songs or exercises you’re working on, and use that recording to track your progress.

Once you see how useful recording can be to your development as a musician, and once you see how fun it is, you’ll see why so many musicians get hooked on recording.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast so far or have gotten anything out of it, I’d love it if you could leave a review on iTunes or your podcast app. It’ll help this podcast reach more people.
I hope you’ve found this episode helpful and I’ll talk to you next time.


Check out more Bite-Size Guitar Podcast episodes here.