A part of the recording process that is often overlooked by local bands is production demos. It can be considered a rookie mistake to not thoroughly demo-out a song before heading to the studio.
Here we will go over the basics of how to start the process of the production demo. There are problems that can be addressed and fixed before spending time and money at a studio. Once all of the members of a band hear the song, changes often end up being obvious.
First, you need a computer and a recording application to go with it. Depending on your preference, Garageband or Ableton Live will suffice. We could write an entire article about the software, so be sure to research your options thoroughly.
Second, you will need a USB audio interface with XLR inputs so that you can track instruments with direct inputs. There is usually not really a need in doing a “live demo” if the purpose is to hammer out ideas. Running the guitar and bass through some preamps in Garageband should satisfy your need to get a certain tone; the demos are a rough draft, not a final copy, so don’t be dismayed by the limited choice. If you are really concerned about choices, one option is to mic your amp with a Shure SM57 instrument microphone.
Finally, you need microphones for vocals and perhaps drums. If drums are not available, you can use loops. An inexpensive MXL condenser or similar mic will work out fine. As far as vocals go, knock yourself out with recording them however you like.
At the end of the recording process, some mixing will be necessary. It’s important to remember that these production demos are meant for your ears and the ears of the people you are going to record with only. The process of releasing a demo of your own will be addressed in a subsequent article.